What's new @ OPENAPRS?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Layout, Again, Updates and Fixes

I'm a bit of a web design freak and I'm trying to bring the site into the new Web 2.0 look so I've put up a new layout that I think I'll stick with for a while. I've also made some repairs to the parser that was preventing some TinyTrak MIC-E packets from being parsed correctly and not showing up on the map. The Ham's near you options has also been improved considerably.

I was browsing Google as I do sometimes and noticed that some TinyTrak users were having issues getting their MIC-E packets to parse through OpenAPRS. I investigated the problem and found a mistake in the MIC-E parser that had to do with the checks on the destination field. The mistake is corrected and those affected users should now be able to see their tracks on OpenAPRS.

Ham's Near You (HNY) is quite the fun feature but has been somewhat limited previously. I noticed that I had the default limit set to 100 HAM's which was a bit small and was cutting off several icons from being displayed. I've since upped that limit to 500 with a maximum of 1000 so now
when you click on the HNY icon at the top you should notice that if you weren't previously listed correctly on the map, you are now.

With the new look and feel of the website there is now a status window at the bottom left that will display the current live map status, number of users online in chat and a set of mini icons for chat, messaging, friends list and the tactical callsign list. Once any of those windows have been opened for the first time then closed a miniature icon for each will be displayed which can be clicked to reopen the window. When one of the windows status change, for example in chat when a new message is received the miniature chat icon will begin to blink until the window is opened or clicked on, same goes for messaging. This will also be the case when a new friend pops online but it is not implemented just yet. Just think of the mini icon bar like the start bar in windows where you can minimize applications.

I've also added a bunch of "Surveys" to the "Tips" help page, if you get some free time take a look and fill some out. The surveys are very simple, just one click and you cast your choice and get to see a pie chart showing what others have chosen. These surveys will help me in the future to direct developement to improve the site based on your feedback.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tactical Callsigns

We've had tactical callsign support for a couple of weeks now but I've moved it to the tools window. Before tactical callsign support was under the Options menu where you could specify a list of callsigns and their translated tactical calls through a commas and pipe separated list. Now in order to use tactical callsign support you must have an account and be logged in. The advantage is that your callsign list will be saved to your username and password instead of your browsers cookies. Whatever browser you happen to use in the future now all you must do is login and your tactical list of callsigns becomes active.

Under the tactical callsign list any calls listed will be automatically detected and displayed on the map with their associated tac callsign. This list can also be used to see when a station is actually advertising packets on the APRS network.

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Bug in Message Creation Fixed

Last night a noticed a couple of users trying to send out APRS messages that were failing. The failure was because the callsigns were typed in lower case and were not being converted to uppercase before they were stored for transmission. The server backend is coded to be very picky about what it sends out so it rejected the messages. I've fixed the bug and callsigns can be given in upper or lower case from the APRS messaging window and they will be accepted and transmitted correctly.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Live Updates Broke Last Night

I woke up this morning to find that the live updates on the map had stopped injecting records. I've since fixed the problem but I've also added an early warning system so if it happens again I'll know immediately so the down time is limited.

I also fixed a couple of bugs in the new object and ruler code that was causing errors in IE.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Messaing, Object and Ruler Support Added

After over a months worth of developement I think we're finally ready to announce our new Object create, messaging and ruler support. You'll notice under the new layout the Tools icon on the left sidebar of the site. With the tools window open live APRS updates will temporarily be paused until the window is closed to even out the clutter.

Most of the tools available require you to login and verify your account. To find out more about how to create an account or verify your account click the Options link on the main page.

To create a new object open up the tools window and click "Create Object". From there you click on a location on the map to set the object down. You can drag the object if you didn't quite get it in the position you wanted when you clicked the map. Clicking the object once will allow you to choose an icon for your object and then set the object's properties (like altitude, course, overlay, beaconing). Once you've finished and sent the creation request turn off tools and within around 30 seconds you'll notice your object appear over the APRS-IS network. Objects are not sent to RF but should show up on any client connected to APRS-IS.

To kill and object, under tools click kill object and type in the name of the object exactly how it appears over APRS-IS. You can only kill objects that exist over the network (i.e. objects OpenAPRS sees). Again close the tool bar and wait 30 seconds and your object should be destroyed.

I've added full APRS REPLY-ACK messaging support with help from Brent Hildebrand KH2Z (the creater of Viewpoint+). Brent was instrumental in the debuging of REPLY-ACKS and a big thanks goes to him for his time. Messaging of course is also under tools and once open you can close the toolbar to resume live APRS updates and leave the messaging window open. Messages with a white background are sent to you, messages with a grey background are messages you've sent. APRS messages sent from OpenAPRS have the possibility of being iGated and like object creation require you to verify your account with us.

You'll also notice a friends list tool. Open up your friends list and add any callsigns (no ssid required) of people you want to talk to on APRS and when they are seen sending a message over the network they will show up as available on your list. After 5 minutes if they haven't sent a message over APRS they are shown unavailable. Clicking a friends name will automatically open up APRS messaging and fill their name in the to field for you, ready to send a message.

I've also added a ruler tool, it's pretty self explanitory. Click the ruler tool then click on the map and a new ruler will be added (you can add more than one simply by clicking somewhere else on the map). Once added to the map drag the endpoint icon to the position you want to measure. A line will be drawn between the start and end points and bearing data and distance will be displayed between the two points.

Todo in the future will be message killing...

Hope you enjoy these new features!

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Friday, September 5, 2008

We're in an ARRL article!

While viewing our webstats earlier this week I noticed that our attendance rate went up to about 30 users at a time all at once and found that ARRL started referring users to our site. A little further investigation and I found out that Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU wrote a nice article about us. Thanks for the wonderful article Stan!

I haven't written any updates on the blog recently because I've been adding some new and exciting features, but they aren't quite ready for announcement yet. See if you notice the new features that are in beta testing before I announce them! :)

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