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

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Think global, act localized

After tonight’s upgrade, OpenFlights can now support languages other than English, and we’re starting off with two: Finnish (suomi) and Japanese (日本語).  French, German and Russian are also coming soon, and we’re looking for people to help us translate other languages (more on that below).

To try out a different language, simply select it from the Language pulldown before logging in.  All existing users are still set to default to English; if you want to change this, just browse to your Settings and change the language there.

And a disclaimer: this upgrade entailed changing, quite literally, every single part of OpenFlights, so please let us know immediately if you run into any sort of error, garbage string or mistranslation.

How you can help

Creating a translated version of OpenFlights does not require any special technical skills: you just need to translate about 400 strings, mostly short but some long. You do not need to translate everything, and translating even a small part would be very helpful; somebody else can easily continue from where you left off.  All users who help will get free elite level access for a year!  Here is how you can do it:

0) Mail info at and let us know you’re interested in translating; this will help avoid duplicated effort.

1) Download and edit POEdit, a specialized editor for translation. It’s free, and versions are available for Windows, Linux and Mac.

2a) To create a new language, download a copy of this blank template:

2b) To edit an existing language, browse the “locale” directory here and find the “messages.po” file for it:

For example, English is under “en_US/LC_MESSAGES/messages.po”.
3) Load the .po file in POEdit.

4) From the “View” menu, activate “Show comments window“, so you can see comments about what strings mean.

5) Translate! Just Press CTRL-Arrow Up/Down to move between entries.

Style pointers

– Especially for short entries, try to roughly match the length of the existing string. If the English uses an abbreviation (“Reg.”), keep the translation short.

– The special strings %s, %1, %2, %3 etc are automatically filled in by OpenFlights. Keep them in the translated string, but you can change the order if you want:

"Results %1 to %2 of %3" --> "Total %3 hits, last result %2, first result %1"

– HTML markup like <tag>text</tag> or <%s>link</a> is used in some entries. Do not change content between < and >, but do translate everything else, including text inside tags. Again, you can change the order:

"<font>Blue</font> is a delicious cheese" --> "Un fromage delicieux, c'est <font>Bleu</font>"
"Look, <%s>my favorite site</a>!" --> "<%s>Lempisaittini</a>, katso!"

– If you get a “Fatal error” when saving, don’t worry, it’s not fatal at all, you’ve just typed an extra ” or % character somewhere and your changes have been saved just fine.  We can easily fix these for you.

When finished, or just tired, mail the revised .po file back and we’ll put it up for your review.

Speaking your language,


Banners, blog badges and forum signatures

Some of our users have been asking for a way to add OpenFlights stats to their websites, blogs or forum signatures.  Wait no longer, banners are now here!  Here’s mine:

Banner contents update automatically every hour.  They can be used with HTML markup (used by web and blog pages):

<a href='' target='_blank'><img src='' width=400 height=70></a>

With PHPbb markup (for bulletin boards):


Or as a simple hotlinked image:

In all the three cases above, substitute in your OpenFlights username for “yourname”.  Easier yet, just login to your OpenFlights account and click Settings, and it will generate the markup for you.

Anything else you’d like to see in a banner?  Smaller, larger, more data?  Let us know.

Flying the flag,

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Trains, planes and automobiles

To date, OpenFlights has been all about flying — too bad if you occasionally used other modes of transport as well. But today, a major new feature has been rolled out: instead of just flights, you can enter train, road or ship journeys as well.  This introduces a large number of other changes, some obvious, some subtle:

  • Travel is now color-coded: flights are still the familiar orange, but trains are red, trips by car brown and ships a light blue.
  • Handy icons (shown to the right) quickly tell you which mode you’ve selected.
  • For 3D Google Earth (KML) exports, land and sea journeys stay firmly anchored to the ground instead of soaring in the skies, and they’re color-coded as well.
  • A new “Mode” filter lets you filter your journeys by transportation mode.
  • Estimated travel durations are adjusted for mode, from a zippy 500 mph for flights to 100 mph for trains, 60 mph for cars and down to 40 mph for ferries.

Now, rest assured the focus of OpenFlights is and will remain on flying.  The primary purpose of allowing more than just flights is to “fill in the gaps” between those flights, which is why all journeys still have to start or end at airports.  Take a look at a sample trip that shows how this works:

The Serpent Across the Mekong

To add your own train, car and ship journeys, just switch into the Detailed editor (or pull up an airline search dialog in Basic) and choose your mode from the Flight pulldown.  We’ve also made it a little easier to enter new railway/bus/shipping companies, since there aren’t too many in the database at the moment: just hit Save after entering an unknown carrier, and you’ll be asked if you want to add it.

Last but not least, OpenFlights has switched to the Google Charts API, so those little pie charts under Analyze now look a whole lot nicer.

Find any bugs, or something simply not working the way you expect?  Let us know.

By sea, air and land,


Give your flights a spin in 3D on Google Earth

Today I’m delighted to announce OpenFlights‘ coolest feature yet: KML exports.  KML, or “Keyhole Markup Language“, is the data format used by Google Earth and many other 3D visualization programs, so now you can turn your OpenFlights maps into this:

Exporting from OpenFlights couldn’t be much easier, just click on List flights and then hit the new KML button up top.  Load the resulting file in Google Earth — just double-clicking should do the trick — and there’s your map, in glorious 3D!    And if your planet looks a little too busy, you can tweak your OpenFlights filter and export, say, only one airline’s flights or only this year’s flights.

Airports are sized and color-coded, from big and yellow (busiest) to small and green (least visited), and you can click on them for more information.  Flight routes take into account the airport’s altitude and even approximate takeoff and landing paths, although runways and actual approach paths are not accounted for.

If you want to give 3D maps a shot before you start entering your own, download this sample (337 KB) and load it in Google Earth.  Tip: zoom into an airport and “tilt” the view with your middle button/scroll wheel to see the flight paths!

Anything else you’d like to see in your KML exports?  Let us know.

Going for a spin,


Facebook application launched

This has been one of the top feature requests since day 1, and we’re delighted to announce that OpenFlights now has a Facebook application!

Install the app and give it your OpenFlights username, and something very similar to what you see on the right will appear, showing the number, total distance and total duration of your flights.  Click on the map or any of the links, and it will pop up your full OpenFlights profile.  What better way to share your travels?

By default, the profile box is updated whenever you click that “Refresh” link or visit the application’s page.  However, you can also opt to give the application permission to update your Facebook automatically whenever you add new flights.  As a bonus, it will also add notices to your feed describing the new flights:

What else would you like to see on Facebook? Join the discussion on the application’s About page, and while you’re at it, join the Facebook fan club as well.

Keep on flying,