NZRM Progress Report 2023-08-13A: Formats, Views, Webmaps

So a little bit of detail got left out of the last report, this one is a supplementary.

The work that is important at the moment that isn’t tied specifically to the Midland Line is in two areas:

  • Map formats. This was covered to a considerable extent in the Field Testing post last week. MapBooks was a major topic covered in that post, with the intention of determining the format to appear in printable volumes of the maps, which are formatted as a PDF that can be taken to a print shop and printed as a hard copy. At this stage the Project will consider offering copies for sale if there is a demand, but probably not until the whole maps project development is completed in 2031.
  • Map Views. A map view is a subclass of the Volumes format. Up until now the diagrams have been produced as a composite diagram that shows all the details that ever existed in a particular yard. Where a former location for a station was later taken up by a yard, such as at Otira where the first (1900) station site was later used as a freight yard, it is difficult to use a composite diagram because the tracks in the yard will tend to obliterate the detail of things like a station building and platform. For this reason map views have been added to the maps. An earlier version of this was tried in Wellington where the WMR station at Thorndon was later built over and changed a lot as a part of the current Wellington rail yards. Both versions of Map Views work the same way in principle, but the new innovation introduced last week and used for a last minute revision of the Otira station maps is to automatically filter the layers that have Views assigned to their features, which overcomes the tedious task of filtering each layer manually (currently nine layers in Volume 7). There are some minor technical issues to be further resolved in the development of this capability. For context, all map production is undertaken using Python scripts working in the PyQgis scripting console, which automates a lot of the manual steps that would otherwise be needed to produce the various maps, especially all the different editions with multiple generations of aerial photography for a particular station site.
  • Webmaps. As previously signalled the implementation of a new webmap system is currently proposed to be undertaken in the second half of 2023. That time has now arrived and work will begin next week. As much of the work requires learning new techniques and software packages, it will be some time before there is anything to report in this regard.

So these areas are all important to the ongoing maps project work and it has been determined this is the best time to work on them, especially Webmaps. Hence there will be something of a pause in volume development for the present. But there are also some minor revisions of Volume 7 content to be completed as well as attempting to finish Volume 7. The slowdown is also to catch up on other more general things that took a back seat recently in order to meet a deadline for the Volume 7 to Otira content.