Home Articles Travel mapping on the net for ICICI portal – An innovative approach

Travel mapping on the net for ICICI portal – An innovative approach

Jayaprakash Athmaram1, Dr. Smita Sengupta2
1Senior GIS Executive, 2GIS Manager
TATA Infotech Limited
Tel: 91-022-8216466, Fax: 91-022-8216463
[email protected] , [email protected]

Abstract
Traveljini.com was interested to do something different and innovative at least in this part of the world. They were interested to place maps via the net but not as non-interactive images. They wanted people to “talk to maps”. They were later pleased to have selected MapXtreme Technology for its interactiveness, scalability and proved performance. The whole project involved making a formal interactive travel map site for public with Map centric data. The following functionality were available to the general user to Zoom in, Zoom out, Center Placement, Information tool, Nearest Hotel locator or Landmark Locator, Search within radius, Layer control for better Navigation and understanding via a Map. Developed using Visual Interdev and ASP Programming with MapXtreme for NT Technology. Please note that in the client side only the thin-client (browsers – IE, Netscape) is required to browse and the user can use the above functionalities from the site.

Purpose of Development
We have aimed at developing an interactive web GIS on the net, which is distinct from those Web applications that only support simple search and display of a map. The main purpose has been to develop an Internet GIS for business use specifically for travel. We have made a great effort to collate large amount of data up to street level maps for travelers.

We have set our goals to the development of a server application with GIS functions for use in web environment, which can be used by normal thin clients (browsers) for utilizing this server application.

Client Interests
Before commencement of any web project in particular with GIS web development, it is always imperative to know and understand, whether the customer is sure what he needs? Traveljini.com was very much sure what it wants and why. This certainly helped us to visualise and plan the entire project cycle. Based on their requirements we broadly, chalked out the vital points. They are,

  • Proposed solution to be “first” of its kind
  • Robust and comprehensive data sets.
  • Simple to advanced queries
  • User-friendly navigation
  • Interactive and Impressive
  • Robust and comprehensive data sets.
  • Helps in making effective decisions
  • No performance related issues

Apart from the above interests, we at TATA Infotech Limited sensed the importance of such an application and included “Mapping awareness among masses” as one of our interests. Thus, making this application as user friendly as possible for any type of Internet user.

Selecting the right tool
Having understood the customer interests, we certainly know that the proposed solution should be scalable, extendable and of course without any performance issues. We selected MapXtreme for NT as Traveljini.com used Windows NT server and it was told that they wanted to implement the mapping application as soon as possible.

MapXtreme Architecture

Comprehensive Data
A large amount of data mainly city level maps (not to scale), was made available at Traveljini.com. Today Traveljini contains detailed street maps with the following layers hotels, hospitals, temples water bodies, city boundary, tourist places, landmarks, railway lines an railway stations for more than 55 cities of India. Please note that about 80% of time was spend in data collection, data rectification, data quality checking procedures and data building activities. Data quality and rectifications was done using MapInfo Professional and finally, saved as MapInfo native format (.tab files) to be used by MapXtreme Application Server.

Application Development
We used Visual Interdev for programming in Active Server Pages (ASP), which uses the functionality of MapInfo libraries (Map X) to be used in the application. Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) was used as web server.

Functionalities

  • Zooming Controls – Zoom in, Zoom out
  • Select preferred city
  • Search Operations – Find and Find nearest
  • Select within radius – Buffer Operation
  • Attribute Information
  • Center Map and View full extent
  • Display Layers of Information – Layer Control

Technical challenges
The application was checked on leading browsers like Internet Explorer v5 and Netscape v5. Regular troubleshooting was done from time to time after uploading the application and we found out that balancing the text styles, colors, images in both browsers took more time. We also took much care on response time while using the find nearest function, based upon user input and this was made possible by standardization of the code.

Reference

  • Inside MapInfo Professional, 1996, Larry Daniel and Loree Piula.
  • www.mapxtreme.com.