Committing to Paper
Updated: May 18
"Until you commit your goals to paper, you have intentions that are seeds without soil."
When I want to explore a new area, be it for a trail run or a family walk, there's something about having a map printed on paper that solidifies my plans.
Phone-based map apps are all well and good for every day use, but as an Orienteer and Adventure Racer (or just for exploring the outdoors), a good paper map beats having to whip out the smartphone every few seconds. And it won't run out of battery or lose signal!
In the UK, we're blessed with the excellent maps produced by Ordnance Survey (OS), as well as companies such as Harvey Maps. Quite a few years ago I discovered that OS maps are visible for free through Bing Maps (although not on mobile), if you can find the right settings*.
Preparation for a day's exploration would often involve taking screenshots of Bing Maps at the appropriate zoom, then joining them together on the computer & printing out the resulting page - rather laborious.
In 2016 I discovered Bing Maps had an API! I could write a program to do all the hard work for me! The first iteration of my program just sat on my home laptop. Whenever I wanted to use it, I'd open it up, check I had all the dependencies installed, manually fiddle with the longitude & latitude input settings, and run it - then (hopefully) I'd have my map for the day.
Recently, I had the time and motivation to convert the program on my laptop to an actual public website with a nice user interface - something that's been on my agenda for a while. No more dusting off the old code & checking if it still works!
So, now One Page Maps is available at https://maps.rocksalt.partners for anyone to use! Just input the size of paper, map scale & center point, and a few seconds later you can print your map. Perhaps it's an opportunity to avoid looking at a phone/computer screen for a while and explore some of the outdoors!
*Since then, OS have launched their own direct digital services for a monthly subscription.