How do I build an app to map bike trails in my town?
January 24, 2021 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to build an app for my town with bike routes that connect cool homes. I've got routes already, plus home descriptions and pictures. I've always had an amateur interest in GIS stuff, and would like to build an app as a way of learning more about current work in that area and to showcase something fun to do in our town.

I've looked at Google Maps API, along with Leaflet, Graphhopper, and about a dozen other different services that all seem to do the same thing. At least until I dig more deeply.

The last time I did web development was twenty years ago. Clearly a lot has changed.

Where do I start?
posted by atchafalaya to Technology (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For a service to use, I would start with Mapbox. They've got a bunch of great examples which you can draw on and have a freemium model which should keep hobby-ish projects in the unpaid tier.

Generally, you'll want to put your route/destination data into the GeoJSON format, which is the preferred format for small-to-medium-size geographic data on the web. You can get a feel for what this looks like at, a simple tool for creating GeoJSON features and adding properties/attributes to those features.

You can take that GeoJSON and import it into Mapbox to display it on a map. I believe you could also create it in Mapbox directly - they call it a "dataset".

From there, I'd look at a web page template such as this, which gives you the "scrollytelling" effect - as the user scrolls down the screen, you can configure vantage points for the map which match up to your content for each location.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 10:26 AM on January 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

PocketSights is another service you might want to look at. You can develop a tour for free and see how they do things.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:35 AM on January 24, 2021

Have you looked at Strava heatmaps?
posted by Patapsco Mike at 5:36 PM on January 24, 2021

Just to clarify - when I read the title and intro to your question I assumed you meant a phone/tablet app. But the rest of your text suggests you actually want to build a website?
posted by fabius at 5:17 AM on January 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I believe that you can submit trails to Open Street Map, then make a custom map that include all your trails.

After that, put together a web site an embed your custom map.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:17 AM on January 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: A phone app. I want to build something people in my town can carry with them while they cycle, something that will give the turn-by-turn directions and then some information about the house they're looking at.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:02 AM on January 25, 2021

An art organisation in my city did a bike/walk art tour using Ride with GPS. It had the route all mapped out and gave turn-by-turn directions between stops and then gave descriptions for each place you stopped at. If you download the Ride with GPS app and search Biennale you can see one of the ride routes they have on there. It works well.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:29 PM on January 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

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