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Keeping the Map System Running - New BC Basemap link
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Change Id: 613 Written: 2019.05.14

Lately it has been an increasing challenge to keep the GMap system running. First was Google's decision last May that the Google map API on which GMap is based would no longer be free. This caused various websites to scramble to replace it with different API like Leaflet to outflank Google. But because Bivouac is not a free website we could stay with the Google API. One good reason to stick with Google is some of the maps such as Hybrid view themselves belong to Google, so will never be available in huge volumes for free via leaflet.

But then in the last couple of weeks, both BC Basemap and then Open Cycle map disappeared.

Open Cycle map seems to be moving to a pay model. They sent out a bill for a substantial amount. But I think the bulk of the usage was from an associated open website, and robots were hitting it. So Bivouac got Open Cycle map reinstated because it wasn't us that tipped the balance and caused the big bills. (Bivouac carefully controls the access to the maps, such that only registered users see them).

BC Basemap data is another story. As you may rememeber, it used to be available from the CalTopo tile server till last month. But now CalTopo is some new map format, essentially just a duplicate of the old 1:50K raster maps, with fancy new colors. A pile of crap. So I scrambled to find what happened to BC Basemap. Of course all my government phone numbers I had used for the old BC Basemap a few years ago no longer worked. And no one I was talking to even remembered the old BC Basemap. I thought it was dead, and the BC government must have shut down the tile server. But then Simon Chesterton found another website that had it, accessing it with the new interface called "Leaflet"! So I set about to study enough that I could talk to the beings of higher intelligence on this subject and Doug Brown and I concluded it must be possible in Gmap. So that enabled me to send a concise email to Joseph GMap, and by the end of the day we again have BC Basemap. I wish I had those 20 meter contours on our ski trip last week!

Anyway, I'm just telling you all this so you know what goes on behind the scenes. I could never keep this running myself. I depend on a network of beings of higher intelligence, and it is all I can do to talk to them. But in the long run, I think we've got the right model, with paid subscriptions.

On that subject, I noticed a couple of months ago that there is a new form of aggressive Google ads. It used to be that the google ads would be related to the content of your website. Eg: A mountaineering website would have mountaineering related ads. But now the new mechanism is you see ads for whatever website you may have been at previously. So I go to the Globe and Mail website, and I see ads for Arcteryx jackets, or new computers. Anything I have looked at recently follows me around from site to site.

I am tempted to cash in on this at Bivouac, since the person running the site gets some money for every ad. But so far I'm not bothering, because the Bivouac subscriptions are enough to keep things running. I'm surprised that the Globe and Mail has all those ads, even though I pay them over $240.00/year for a subscription. That's a lot more than the $17/year for Bivouac.


#6493 - 2019.05.15 Lucas Earl - Good to see the 1:20k maps return
I agree that the 1:20k BC topos are very valuable, and nice to see them return. I often use CalTopo site directly for trip planning and was disappointed when those layers disappeared. In reading the forums over at CalTopo it seemed that the person who runs that site ran across issues with licensing for the BC topos so it's good to see that wasn't an issue for GMap.

I'm certainly of the generation that is resistant to paying for any content on the internet, but work like this to keep Bivouac relevant and functional makes it well worth the subscription.