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Google Maps Issue 
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Joined: 17 September 09 6:44 pm
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Post Google Maps Issue
We are having problems with our Google Maps.
https://geocaching.com.au/caches/availa ... u/vic.gmap

A while ago Google reduced the number of "free calls" to their mapping solutions. Geocache Australia is far, far below this daily limit.

"Just in case" Geocaching Australia exceed the limit Google now want a credit card so they can charge us for any additional usage.

Even if we stay under the limit and opt in to "turn the service off" if we exceed the limit Google want our credit card details.

As such Google are now holding out site to ransom by limiting the functionality available, even when we are under the daily limit by watermarking the maps and removing some capability.

Until such time as we, a group of volunteers, can work out how to get around this challenge, we are going to have to live with the reduced functionality set.

We apologise for the inconvenience caused by Google to our game and site and will keep you updated with any progress we make.


26 July 18 10:35 am
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
The Google Maps issue is a pain, but not surprising. Monetization sucks :). I'm not sure if GCA have looked into it, but there is a Non Profit program at google which includes credits for maps. Details at https://www.google.com.au/intl/en/nonprofits/ and https://support.google.com/nonprofits/a ... 7?hl=en-AU, i'm not sure if eligibility is met 100% though.

I'm in the GIS/WebGIS space and would be happy to volunteer my time if i can be of any use. The main limitation at this point that i see is that the maps use the Google Maps API, locking the site into Google base maps. A valid alternative would be web maps using Openlayers or Leaflet, allowing connection to almost any basemap.

Openlayers could use your existing cache feeds via https://geocaching.com.au/caches/gmap_caches.php, a slight format change could speed things up quite a lot. I've also wanted to look into/revisit clustering and heat maps for GCA data similar to what i did years ago viewtopic.php?f=2&t=15158, but automated.

There are a couple of alternative base map options available if Google doesn't come to the table. I'm using MapBox a lot at the moment, they have generic-ish OSM base maps, but have a great platform and a generous free tier. Here maps are also quite good. There are some others like OpenMapTiles as well, although their quality can sometimes be a little sketchy.

Happy to discuss. I cannot provide a solution tomorrow, but could work towards a overall improvement.


27 July 18 12:29 am
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
If you want to see what Leaflet JS looks like check out ozultimate NSW maps: http://ozultimate.com/maps/


27 July 18 11:19 am
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
TeamGeoPlesk wrote:
The Google Maps issue is a pain, but not surprising. Monetization sucks :). I'm not sure if GCA have looked into it, but there is a Non Profit program at google which includes credits for maps. Details at https://www.google.com.au/intl/en/nonprofits/ and https://support.google.com/nonprofits/a ... 7?hl=en-AU, i'm not sure if eligibility is met 100% though.

I'm in the GIS/WebGIS space and would be happy to volunteer my time if i can be of any use. The main limitation at this point that i see is that the maps use the Google Maps API, locking the site into Google base maps. A valid alternative would be web maps using Openlayers or Leaflet, allowing connection to almost any basemap.

Openlayers could use your existing cache feeds via https://geocaching.com.au/caches/gmap_caches.php, a slight format change could speed things up quite a lot. I've also wanted to look into/revisit clustering and heat maps for GCA data similar to what i did years ago viewtopic.php?f=2&t=15158, but automated.

There are a couple of alternative base map options available if Google doesn't come to the table. I'm using MapBox a lot at the moment, they have generic-ish OSM base maps, but have a great platform and a generous free tier. Here maps are also quite good. There are some others like OpenMapTiles as well, although their quality can sometimes be a little sketchy.

Happy to discuss. I cannot provide a solution tomorrow, but could work towards a overall improvement.


Interesting stuff, and certainly worth looking into. Incidentally, Leaflet is currently being explored at the moment, and the senate are looking at alternative options as well.

Thanks, of course, for your offer of help. We'll certainly let you know if we need any further assistance.


27 July 18 10:07 pm
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
I looked in to the Non-Profit eligibility. We'd have a hard time justifying an application given it is skewed highly towards humanitarian and social change websites.

We are a game, played by people who an afford devices to do such, hardy a worthy cause really :lol:


28 July 18 9:07 am
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
CraigRat wrote:
I looked in to the Non-Profit eligibility. We'd have a hard time justifying an application given it is skewed highly towards humanitarian and social change websites.


If you don't want to be a registered NFP association, you will never meet the free-for-NFP requirements of any third party services.

Edwin


28 July 18 12:46 pm
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
A little more on the Google Maps challenge.

A while ago Google reduced the number of "free calls" to their mapping solutions. Geocache Australia is far, far below this daily limit. We have provided a temporary credit card to Google and the senate is still in the process of sorting out the issue in the longer term.

To try and ensure we keep the costs below the free threshold we have implemented three changes to the website which may have an impact on the way you experience the site.

Our elevation data which was coming from Google is now being charged for so we have swapped over to (Open Street Maps) OSM. The OSM interface is a little slower and there may be a few more seconds of delay when submitting a geocache page so the new API can work out how high your geocache is.

The locale name data we use to give you a better experience in identifying the location of the cache (vs. just Victoria or NSW) is also being charged by Google so we have also moved that to OSM. This is also a little slower so another few seconds of your time will be appreciated. As the OSM data is created by people there may be locales which are not exactly, perfectly correct and we hope you can appreciate the difference and the reasoning behind our change.

Finally the static maps that appear on our geocache pages are now also being charged for by Google so we have introduced a simple "click to reveal" toggle box. This way you only see the map if you need to see it and we save a call or two to Google (and therefore save the cost) if you are not specifically looking for a map. Of course you should feel free to click to open the map if that's what you are looking for and there may be a second or two delay while the static map is loaded.

We have not taken these decisions lightly but without a ready source of income, some services that were free and which are now being charged for will need to be amended.

Geocaching Australia is still here now and will be in the future, we're just going to have a few minor inconveniences along the way.

We will advise when we have more comforting news regarding our ongoing challenge in provide a credit card on a permanent basis.


06 August 18 9:43 pm
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
> The OSM interface is a little slower and there may be a few more seconds of delay when submitting a geocache page so the new API can work out how high your geocache is.

Could we please get an identifier on the cache page if the altitude has not been determined yet, and an option to force a recalculation on the CO tools for that cache?

The first one will make it clear what the status of the request is, the second one will be advantageous when the CO notices that the altitude is wrong, like the zero meters altitude issue from a past GeosportZ game.

Thanks heaps,
Edwin


06 August 18 10:57 pm
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
MavEtJu wrote:
> The OSM interface is a little slower and there may be a few more seconds of delay when submitting a geocache page so the new API can work out how high your geocache is.

Could we please get an identifier on the cache page if the altitude has not been determined yet, and an option to force a recalculation on the CO tools for that cache?

The first one will make it clear what the status of the request is, the second one will be advantageous when the CO notices that the altitude is wrong, like the zero meters altitude issue from a past GeosportZ game.

Thanks heaps,
Edwin

Every Geocaching Australia geocache has an altitude determined based on the information available at the time it was calculated. We have an admin link that will force a refresh of the elevation data but this is not available to the community en masse. This minimises calls to the API's. Too many, too fast, too frequent and our site is denied access.

Data which is pulled from the OSM API is based on this https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/SRTM so there are likely to be differences between what you can see on your GPS or altimeter at GZ and the data we are using. For our purposes whatever the geocache says is what the geocache says.


07 August 18 9:36 am
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
caughtatwork wrote:
Every Geocaching Australia geocache has an altitude determined based on the information available at the time it was calculated. We have an admin link that will force a refresh of the elevation data but this is not available to the community en masse. This minimises calls to the API's. Too many, too fast, too frequent and our site is denied access.


Could you please run the elevation refresh on the following caches? https://geocaching.com.au/my/query/screen/10119

Thanks heaps,
Edwin


07 August 18 6:11 pm
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
Ran the first and it's still at 0m. Ran the second at it's still at 0m. I will presume the rest of the lighthouses are probably at sea level. If there are further queries, please start a new thread so we keep this one on topic.


07 August 18 6:47 pm
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Post Re: Google Maps Issue
To keep you up to speed; as you may recall Google changed the volume of maps (changed the pricing model) that would limit the number of free maps we could display to you. While we're not yet caught by having to pay, we are at risk should a rogue bot or spider (crawler) hit our site and suck down too many static map images.

A static map image is one where the map does not move around when you click or drag. It's a simple picture with a marker.

We display a static image on the home page showing your home location, on each geocache page (which we have hidden behind a toggle box) and other places like our toolbox, centroid calculators, your saved locations and other such areas of interest where seeing a marker on a map helps with clarity and understanding.

Tonight (your developers have been very busy over the last couple of nights) we released a new set of code that would display a static map image from mapbox rather than Google. We have kept the geocache page Google Map images behind the toggle box for now, just in case we need to revert quickly but you will see a new mapbox static map without having to toggle it on and off.

As the maps look a little different to what you may be used to we ask for your patience and hope that over time you come to view the new maps just like you did the old. The same information is there, the same zoom, the same marker placement, they might have fewer street names or be a little different in colour or presentation but they are fundamentally the same.

Mapbox gives us 50,000 static map views per month which is more than double Google and as we're split the static maps from the dynamic maps we now have about 4 times as many map views as we did just a few days ago before we hit any limits. There is still a risk that we may exceed the mapbox limit, but if we do, then the service is simply shut off and we don't pay a cent until the next month. We are trying to work around that bridge before we come to it.

Again, we would like to thank you for your patience as we continue to undergo changes that minimise the risk and exposure to a cost that we cannot justify and cannot pay.


07 August 18 9:16 pm
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