I’m happy to announce I’ve finally completed a cool little Silverlight app entitled “Worldmaps Stumbler” (thanks Andrew for the name!).
So what is it? Worldmaps Stumbler essentially plots Worldmaps data in near-real time using Silverlight and Virtual Earth. While the current stats maps currently use Virtual Earth and web services to plot data, the experience is largely utilitarian, and due to the nature of the application, I wasn’t able to incorporate any real-time information.
With Silverlight, it’s much easier to enhance the experience to include not only real time data, but more of a stylish presentation.
As the application runs, it watches for changes and plots the data on the map – for example:
The app will zoom in, show the browser used, the URL of the map, and the date/time of the hit and how long ago that was. When the Worldmaps server records the hit with the time, it bubbles up to the Stumbler to get plotted. When the hit is plotted, the age of the hit is calculated so you can see precisely how long ago the hit was. This process can take anywhere from about 4 seconds to about a minute, depending on a number of factors.
The folks at Earthware have posted a great tutorial on how to create a minimap using the Silverlight Virtual Earth control. (They also have a cool demo called Silverlight Twitter Map. Although a word of warning: while it’s a great background show while discussing Virtual Earth and Silverlight integration, a lot of potty-mouth tweets always seem to end up on screen.)
There are a few options in the app:
The maps button allows you to select which Worldmaps maps to plot. By default it is all of them, but it can be narrowed to your preference. The slider to the right of the minimap controls the delay between plotting hits. Higher is slower. Also, if the dot in the middle of the minimap is blue, the app is running fine. Yellow circles indicate network activity (polling for data – this should barely be perceptible) and red means an error of some kind. Hopefully you won’t see red, but if you do, no data will be available.
To use the Stumbler, simply visit: http://www.myworldmaps.net/sl/WorldmapsStumbler.aspx
If you’re a Worldmaps user and want a customized experience for your maps on startup, your map IDs can be passed in through the maps parameter in the querystring (pipe delimited). For example, to launch the app observing only my two maps, I can use the following URL: http://www.myworldmaps.net/sl/WorldmapsStumbler.aspx?maps=FECB0AFF-083E-4F42-9B08-9A01E3CB714A|495A96ED-A6AC-495B-A134-72C434EEA880
At this time, only the top twenty or so maps are plotted, however more will be added soon. So go check it out – it’s fun to watch!