OpenFlights

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


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Great Circle meets OpenFlights

Many aviation enthusiasts will be familiar with the Great Circle Mapper, a handy website that does just what it says on the box: maps great circle routes on top of a world map.  And now, thanks to a patch contributed by an OpenFlights user, you can get your OpenFlights maps up on GCM as well: just choose List flights and then click the shiny new GCMap button, which will open up GCM in another tab with a map that looks something like this:

Since the GCMap export is based on the currently shown list of flights, you can apply filters before listing and thus control the output of the map quite precisely.  And since GCM generates its maps as flat images, you can save them locally and reuse them as you wish — although it’s worth bearing in mind that GCM, an external service not affiliated with OpenFlights, retains the copyright to anything you create there.

The same kind contributor also provided the new Class by distance piechart for Analyze, which shows how much time/distance you’ve spent in each class of seat, whereas the existing Class chart just showed number of flights.  As frequent flyers will know, while short hops are quite tolerable even in steerage, it’s the long flights where those lie-flat business seats really make a difference.

In new circles,
-j.


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Quick and easy URLs for airport and airline route maps

Today’s feature is a new trick by an old pony — now, you can finally open up (or link directly to) airline and airport route maps, instead of needing to go to the main page, type in your search, select the correct choice and load up the map you actually wanted.  Observe:

Finnair: http://openflights.org/airline/AY

Alice Springs: http://openflights.org/airport/ASP

Singapore Changi: http://openflights.org/query/WSSS

In other words, take http://openflights.org, add any of /airline/, /airport/ or /query/, and plug in either a two-letter airline IATA code (eg. AY for Finnair), a three-letter airport IATA code (ASP) or a four-letter airport ICAO code (WSSS), and you’ll get a link to a map of the airline or airport’s routes.  At the moment, it doesn’t matter which form of the URL you use, but the long-term plan is to make query behave in exactly the same way as the  search on the main page, so using the airport/airline forms is preferable if you expect the results to stay the same.

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out which airports and airlines are covered by OpenFlights, check out this page for a full listing.  As always, a tip of the hat to Airport Route Mapper for providing our data.

Maptastically yours,
-jani


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Facebook updates back online, for now

A few weeks back Facebook once again broke the OpenFlights app, this time in style: by deprecating a critical API call, status updates started to aborted halfway through, causing some people to get an incessant stream of spam since the status went through, but the fact that it went through wasn’t recorded.  Gar!  My patience with Facebook long since exhausted, I simply disabled the updater for time being, but fortunately Niko was kind enough to send us a patch that seems to fix the problem and adds in country names to your updates as a bonus.

So, long story short, if you disabled your app because of this problem, you can turn it on again.  But it’s only a matter of time until Facebook breaks it again.

Sigh,
-j.


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Animate your flights with FlightGlobe

There’s a long-standing feature request to create an animated “slide show” of your OpenFlights, and I was delighted to find out recently that it’s been done in the best way possible — by somebody else!

FlightGlobe is a nifty desktop application for Mac and Windows that takes an OpenFlights CSV export (“List flights”, then click on “CSV”) and displays them on an animated 3D globe that spins about as you criss-cross the world, providing a neat way of viewing your travels if you’ve been methodical about recording your flight dates.  While the current version is simple and straightforward, the Java source code is available so any programmers out there can try their hand at adding bells and whistles.  Give it a spin!

Syndicated,
-j.


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Improvements to FlightMemory imports

I’ll be frank: the bit of code for importing flights from our friends at FlightMemory to OpenFlights has long been riddled with bugs, and that’s why we’ve at long last thrown out the bulk of the plumbing and rebuilt it with shiny new pipe.  This has already fixed a number of bugs (most notably, accented characters getting lost), but there may be loose fittings somewhere, so please let us know ASAP if something’s leaking on the floor somewhere.  The next roaches in queue to be swatted are this (can’t handle ICAO codes for airlines) and this (duplicates in database).  And if you’d be really keen on one-step imports (that is, give the site your FM password and it’ll slurp up all your flights), now would be a good time to say so!

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Farewell to Facebook

Like many other developers, I have hated the way Facebook handles applications for a long time: the APIs are buggy as hell, poorly documented, change constantly, crippled beyond belief, completely proprietary, a vast pain to test and debug, and increasingly obviously geared towards moving everything off the open Web and into Facebook itself.   But with several thousand OpenFlights users happily using the app, we put up with the pain.

But now the camel’s back is broken.  Only a few short weeks ago, Facebook announced that profile boxes were doomed and that all applications had to migrate to profile tabs.  We duly did so, only to get smacked in the face with another wet trout: as of today, profile tabs are also gone.  Their replacement?  Nothing: all applications have to live on their own pages within Facebook, and users aren’t allowed to attach them to their profiles in any way, shape or form.  Too bad if you want to share your flight map with your friends, because as of now, you can’t.

So we’re going to do the only thing we can: say a nice, big hearty “fuck you” to Facebook and start looking for alternatives.  Any suggestions?

(And just to be clear: the part of the OpenFlights Facebook app that feeds your flights to your Wall is not affected and not going away for the moment.  However, it’s a matter of time until Facebook breaks it again, and at that point we’ll probably nuke the app for good.)

Blackfaced,
-jani


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New map servers online

We’ve been having a bit of trouble with our map servers lately, so I’m delighted to announce that we’ve just switched to new and, hopefully, more stable ones today.

The default “political” blue-and-gray map is the same as it ever was, only it’s now hosted by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo).  OSGeo are also the folks behind the OpenLayers map system that powers the entire site, so please show your love on their Donations page.

The full-color geographical “world” map has been offline ever since NASA pulled the plug on their Blue Marble map server a few months back, but today it’s back courtesy of OpenGeo, another non-profit which, confusingly enough, is entirely separate from OSGeo.   If you haven’t seen this before, here’s how to activate it: click on the top right  icon, then choose “Base Layer > Geographical (OpenGeo)”, and the background of your OpenFlights map will now be the real world.  The two caveats are that 1) it’s considerably slower than the political map, since there’s so much more detail, and 2) OpenGeo’s map isn’t quite as high-res as the original, so you can’t zoom in all the way to the airport runways like you could previously.

Tiled and ready to go,
-j.