OpenFlights

News from OpenFlights, the site for flight logging, mapping, stats and sharing


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Customized OpenLayers cluster strategies

Extremely technical content ahead — if you’re looking for news about OpenFlights the website, check out this post instead. Programmers using OpenLayers, read on.

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Airport codes and dynamic clusters, oh my

Codes and clusters demoToday OpenFlights rolls out a very simple feature indeed: airport codes are now shown on the map, right next to each airport.  Better yet, if you happen to forget what “BHX” or “NTQ” stands for, just hover your mouse over the airport icon and it will pop up a label reminding you that they’re “Birmingham, United Kingdom” and “Wajima-Noto, Japan” respectively.

But wait, there’s more!  To speed things up a bit and reduce clutter on screen, we’ve also rolled out a funky feature called dynamic clustering.  In plain English, this means that if you’ve got a lot of airports smushed up into a small space, OpenFlights will now show only a single airport on your map.  There are two ways to know that there’s more here than meets the eye:

  1. If one airport is more important than the others (has more flights), that airport will be shown as the usual but with a “+” character added to the code, like “SIN+“.
  2. If all airports are roughly the same size, they will be shown with a special cluster icon .

In either case, just click on the airport icon to get a list of all airports, and then you can pick the one you wanted.  Alternatively, just zoom in and the hidden airports will magically show up.

One final change: the simple-yet-oh-so-confusing hand/lasso (“select/region”) map controls are now history and OpenFlights is now always in “select” mode, where a single click selects airports and a double click zooms.  If you want to select a region to zoom into, hold down the Shift key, then click and pull the selection rectangle.

Making all this happen required an upgrade to our OpenLayers mapping software and a lot of poking about in the background (an excruciatingly detailed technogeek explanation can be found here), so please do let us know ASAP if anything seems wonky.  Feedback about the clustering is also welcome: is it great, terrible or somewhere in between?  The current cluster rule is “3 or more airports within 15 pixels get clustered”, should we be more aggressive or more laid-back?

Dynamically clusterphobic,
-jani


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Comprehensive airline route data released

One of OpenFlights‘ most popular features is our dynamic airport and airline route mapping, and today, we’re proud to release the underlying data in an easy-to-use form, up to date for October 2009.  Behold 56749 routes between 3310 airports on 669 airlines spanning the globe:

The data can be downloaded from our Data page and is free to use under the Open Database License.  In addition to IATA and ICAO codes for airlines/airports, which can be difficult to use due to controlled duplicates and code recycling, we also include the unique OpenFlights identifiers that can be used for easy cross-referencing to our airline and airport databases.  So, for example, a route map entry like this:

BA,1355,SIN,3316,LHR,507,,0,744 777

Can be cross-referenced to the name, codes and country of airline 1355:

1355,"British Airways",N,"BA","BAW","SPEEDBIRD","United Kingdom","Y"

As well as the name, codes, location and even timezone of airports 507 and 3316:

507,"Heathrow", "London", "United Kingdom", "LHR", "EGLL", 51.4775,-0.461389,83,0,"E"
3316,"Changi Intl", "Singapore", "Singapore", "SIN", "WSSS", 1.350189,103.994433,22,8,"U"

As always, we’d like to thank the folks at Airline Route Mapper for doing the hard work of collecting and maintaining the route data, all we’re doing is repackaging and providing it online.

Routing for the winners,
-jani


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Airline editing implemented

Things have been a little quiet in OpenFlightsLand lately — this doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing anything, it’s just that it’s mostly been unglamourous bugfixing that doesn’t really warrant blog updates.

But we do have a small new feature today: in addition to our existing airport editor, we have now enabled editing for airlines as well.  The same restriction applies, namely that you have to be logged in and can only edit airlines you have added yourself.  We’ve also made public a previous hidden field that reveals whether or not the airline is considered “active”, active airlines being those that either have published routes or flights recorded within the last year in OpenFlights.  Inactive airlines will not be offered by autocompletion.

What would you like to see next?  Let us know at OpenFlights’ Feature Request Tracker.

Reactivated,
-jani