Saturday, November 03, 2018

More Google Maps annoyances

The other day I got another email from Google


In June 2016, we announced a change to Maps JavaScript API requests. At that time, we gave you temporary free usage based on your consumption to ensure that your applications would continue to function. The services included in this transition period were: Elevation, Directions, Distance Matrix, Geocoding and Places.

We appreciate you as a loyal and long-standing customer. Our goal is to make sure everyone is on a simple, consistent, and scalable plan with Google Maps Platform.Starting on November 29, 2018, we will bill all your usage for Elevation, Directions, Distance Matrix, Geocoding and Places, according to our new pricing plan.

To help you with this transition, we will provide you with two months of credits, which we will automatically apply to your billing account. Please read our FAQs to understand what these credits cover and how to estimate your monthly bill.

Thank you for using Google Maps Platform.

The Google of 2016 was clearly a different company to the Google of 2018, since grandfathering of old customers when a radical change to pricing is introduced is exactly the right thing to do unlike the recent shenanigans. And generally grandfathering is a permanent thing…

So once again I’m going to have to spend some time switching things off, moving other stuff over to one of Google’s many competitors who have more sane pricing and making other things require a Google Maps API key (the route elevation page now does, sorry)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

House price data for England and Wales September 2018

I’ve uploaded the latest Land Registry data to my website. Prices continue to creep up at around 2% a year, although several regions have seen falling prices

Implementing my own version of the Google Maps Timezone API

I noticed the other day that my usage of the Google Maps Timezone API was failing. I realised this was down to me not passing in an API key with the call. In their attempts to monetise their Maps API, Google now requires the API key and each call is chargeable. So I added the key and it still didn’t work, although with a different error message. Apparently using a key with a HTTP referrer restriction wasn’t allowed.

So I decided to add a server-side handler on my server that called out to the Timezone API using a server key instead. This was fairly straightforward since it just bounced the AJAX request from the browser to the Timezone API URL.

I checked back the next day to see what my API usage looked like. I’d spent $5 in 24 hours. Continuing with that meant with my other Maps API usage I’d hit the $200 per month free limit and would have to start paying Google money again, something I’ve been loath to do since their ridiculous price increases*

I realised at that point that the Timezone API wasn’t actually doing a huge amount behind the scenes. I guessed there would be libraries out there that could do the same thing but without paying for the privilege. Turns out there is. GeoTimeZone will give the time zone ID for a location and TimeZoneConverter will convert that to a Windows TimeZoneInfo that gives me everything else I needed to build my own version of the Timezone API. The code to do that is something like this

     var lat = double.Parse(HttpContext.Current.Request.QueryString["lat"]);
     var lng = double.Parse(HttpContext.Current.Request.QueryString["lng"]);
     var tz = TimeZoneLookup.GetTimeZone(lat, lng).Result;

// get other info
var tzi = TZConvert.GetTimeZoneInfo(tz);

// write out as JSON
     var jsonObj = new JObject();
     var rawOffset = tzi.BaseUtcOffset.TotalSeconds;
     jsonObj["dstOffset"] = tzi.GetUtcOffset(DateTime.UtcNow).TotalSeconds - rawOffset;
     jsonObj["rawOffset"] = rawOffset;
     jsonObj["timeZoneId"] = tz;
     jsonObj["timeZoneName"] = tzi.StandardName;
     jsonObj["status"] = "OK";

    var json = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(jsonObj);

The only thing to consider is that time zones change so it’s worth keeping the two packages up to date.

* For the record, I used to pay about $200 a month to Google. Now I pay about the same to here maps and nothing to Google. I’m intrigued to know how their new pricing has worked out for them, I’m assuming most websites would have made the same decision I did and moved somewhere else.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Downloads on Chrome

If you’re having problems downloading files from my website, it may be down to the latest release of Chrome. It seems it’s got a bug that stops downloads working in some cases. I’ve found a workaround for some downloads but there are a few places where I haven’t figured out what to do you yet. Right clicking and selecting ‘Save link as..’ may fix the issue but if that’s not offered as an option, all I can suggest is switching to a different browser

Sunday, October 07, 2018

New features on

I’ve been making a few enhancements to the website recently so thought I’d point out a few things that might be of interest.

Editable labels on geocoded locationsThe labels displayed on the map after geocoding can now be edited. Editing the label will update the text output and the KML output.

Coloured elevation charts – I’ve updated my elevation charts to include colours based on the gradient at that point of the route/segment. Here’s Box Hill in all its technicolour glory. Due to the variable quality of elevation data, it can sometimes be difficult to calculate sensible gradients, so let me know if you see anything that doesn’t look sensible.

View your starred segmentsThe segment viewer page had fairly limited functionality before so I’ve now added the ability to view all your starred segments. If you’ve connected my website to Strava on the segment explorer page, you should see a ‘View starred segments’ button which will display them all on a map. This will be quite slow to load initially if the segments are not already available on the site, but should be quicker on subsequent loads. It’s also currently limited to 100 segments.

Friday, September 28, 2018

House price data for August 2018

Another month has flown by and it’s time to upload some more Land Registry data to my website. Annual house price inflation sits at 2%, another drop that may be becoming a trend. Number of sales also appears to be on a downward trend

Thursday, August 30, 2018

House price data for July 2018

I’ve uploaded the latest house price data from the Land Registry to my website. Not much excitement in the overall figures but there’s more interesting data at the regional level. A year after being the City of Culture, Hull is suffering the hangover and the wild swings continue in central London (although this is mostly down to the small number of sales that occur in the WC postcode area).

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Decoding paths in here maps

In my panic to move my website off Google Maps, I took some shortcuts. One of those was to continue to use the helper function google.maps.geometry.encoding.decodePath. I primarily use this for decoding the paths of Strava segments, since these are encoded using the same algorithm as Google. But loading up the Google Maps API script for a single function is rather ridiculous, so I’ve converted the path decoder from the rather marvellous (and seemingly abandoned) Strava.NET library.

For your pleasure, here is some TypeScript that will create a here maps LineString from an encoded path. Other map providers are available and adjusting it for them should be fairly straightforward.

function decodePath(polylinechars: string): H.geo.LineString {
  var poly = new H.geo.LineString();

  if (polylinechars == null || polylinechars === "") {
    return poly;

  var index = 0;

  var currentLat = 0;
  var currentLng = 0;

  while (index < polylinechars.length) {
    // calculate next latitude
    var sum = 0;
    var shifter = 0;
    var next5bits;
    do {
      next5bits = polylinechars.charCodeAt(index++) - 63;
      sum |= (next5bits & 31) << shifter;
      shifter += 5;
    } while (next5bits >= 32 && index < polylinechars.length);

    if (index >= polylinechars.length)

    currentLat += (sum & 1) == 1 ? ~(sum >> 1) : (sum >> 1);

    // calculate next longitude
    sum = 0;
    shifter = 0;
    do {
      next5bits = polylinechars.charCodeAt(index++) - 63;
      sum |= (next5bits & 31) << shifter;
      shifter += 5;
    } while (next5bits >= 32 && index < polylinechars.length);

    if (index >= polylinechars.length && next5bits >= 32)

    currentLng += (sum & 1) == 1 ? ~(sum >> 1) : (sum >> 1);

    poly.pushPoint(new H.geo.Point(currentLat / 100000.0, currentLng / 100000.0));

  return poly;