Refresh of Map Tiles, Geocoding, Routing

Today we’re releasing a new CloudMade platform.  As well as building out new products, we’ve been busy making the CloudMade APIs that you depend on better, faster, cheaper and more stable.  I’d like to share some highlights with you:

- >99.9% uptime on Map Tiles, Geocoding, Routing in 2012.
- Uninterrupted service delivery through 3 Amazon AWS outages.
- We continued pushing the envelope of AWS’ capabilities to reduce costs, improve speed and stability.
- Leaflet has hit its 0.5 release to become the leading HTML5 map library on the web. More big Leaflet news to come over the next few weeks.
- The global OpenStreetMap community now numbers over 1,000,000 contributors who are curating and creating the world’s biggest and best map.

In 2013 we’re passing the benefits directly to you. We have simplified our pricing and from the 1 March we’re rolling out new, lower priced services:

- Map Tiles: $25 per million tile transactions. First 500,000 free each month
- Geocodes: $15 per 100,000 geocoding transactions. First 10,000 free each month
- Routes: $15 per 100,000. First 100,000 free each month

All users – paid or not – get the great service you expect from CloudMade:
- 99.9% uptime SLA or 2x your money back
- 24 hour guaranteed email response times
- SSL for just $2 extra per million map tiles

Its been a great ride over the last 4 years at CloudMade. The developer community has built some stunning apps, websites and services. The CloudMade team are here to make the next 4 years even bigger and better.

February 25th, 2013 - Posted by Nick Black in for developers, products

Better for users, game developers and brands

CloudMade has found a way to add value for people playing mobile games, generate additional revenue for game developers and create a very compelling way for brands to drive retail traffic and revenue.

cute guy with a phone

Mobile games are a huge marketing opportunity
Millions of users are having fun playing mobile games every day. This creates a huge marketing opportunity for consumer brands.

Banners are not the perfect solution
The only way brands and game developers are really taking advantage of this huge marketing opportunity is through banner ads adopted from the web. The banners do add revenue for game developers, but most gamers don’t like seeing banners in the middle of their game. In addition, the banners are rarely the right tool for consumer brands and retailers to achieve positive branding, retail traffic and an increase in revenue.

Sponsored Locations
We need to find a tool that ensures that game developers make money and that brands get a great marketing tool in a way that people playing mobile games love.

CloudMade has solved this challenge by talking to leading brands and top game developers and building a service that meets their specific needs. The solution we have come up with is Sponsored Locations.

We look forward to talking to you too
If you are a game developer or a consumer brand that we have not yet talked to about tailoring Sponsored Locations to YOUR needs, we look forward to connecting with you soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about Sponsored Locations here.

December 19th, 2011 - Posted by in for developers, news, products

Announcing Leaflet: a Modern Open Source JavaScript Library for Interactive Maps

Web Maps API — our JavaScript library for putting CloudMade maps online — has been a hugely popular tool that has enabled web developers to create unique map experiences like these.  Web Maps API v2 has served our users very well, being praised for its performance and ease of use. But there’s a problem: it wasn’t designed with mobile devices in mind. Last years there was an overwhelming progress in what mobile browsers are capable of thanks to technologies like HTML5. What if online maps could work as smoothly as native apps on mobile?

There’s one more thing to consider: CloudMade developer community has a lot of talented people in it that could help with the development of the library, but so far Web Maps API was not a part of our open source efforts.

Today we’re announcing the first public release of Leaflet — a new open source JavaScript library for interactive maps for both mobile and desktop browsers, developed by CloudMade to form the core of its next generation Web Maps API.

Leaflet is built from the ground up to work efficiently and smoothly on both platforms. It’s very fast, lightweight while still having a strong browser support, and really easy to use. It also has a clean, simple and readable OOP-based code, and it’s hosted on the world’s best open source collaboration platform — GitHub, so contributing is a snap.

It’s still in the beta stage of development, so it lacks a couple of features and has some rough edges, but it’s moving fast — try it and give us some feedback, either by tweeting to @LeafletJS or reporting bugs and discussing features on the issues page.

Find out more on the Leaflet official website.

May 13th, 2011 - Posted by in for developers, geodata, products

How Python is Used at CloudMade

This is a repost from my personal blog.

I’m starting a series on explaining how and why CloudMade uses Python. The following one explains why we ditched OSM’s stack in favour of in-house solution.

Intro

It’s been almost 2 years as CloudMade has ditched mod_tile and renderd as main rendering solution in favour of in-house solution. As the principle designer of the said alternative, I must say that this decision led to higher development pace. This article will try to cover the general architecture approach, reasons of decisions made and short comparison to other rendering alternatives.

Before The Switch

As some of you might know, CloudMade has its roots in OpenStreetMap and it was quite natural to adopt OSM’s software stack to have something to start with. But as CloudMade grew, the needs and requirements changed rapidly and the task of supporting and developing mod_tile became more of a burden, the decision to switch to more high-level language as the main was made. The language of choice was Python, due to its generous set of already existing spatial libraries (e.g. Shapely, GeoAlchemy, Mapnik bindings, etc), ease of deployment and its simpler support for cross-platform development. And, well, I knew it better than Scala, Ruby or Perl at that moment. Here goes a list of our tasks with mod_tile and renderd that we found easier to implement with Python:

Variable priorities
mod_tile has the notion of “dirty” and “general” requests, with dirty requests having lower priority and thus having the property of being rendered when there’s little-to-none on-demand rendering required. While this seems enough for most applications, it does has its warts, as it makes the priority system overall less general. What this means in practice, is that every time we need to add some special priority (i.e. in case we need to health-check system by forcing rendering) we get into adding quite a lot of code, rather than changing the “priority” property of the request. It might seem silly, but off the top of my head I can remember that we have at least 6 different priorities now
Replicating cache
When it comes to scaling rendering and serving of tiles, the simplest solution that comes to mind is adding more servers. It’s as simple, as pushing several links in web interface or even using automated process and Amazon Web Services API. But when you add new server with rendering stack installed you lose all the cache that has been on other servers and furthermore all the instances don’t share cache, which makes the cacheto use system less effective. There’re several solutions to this issue, each of them making use networking or database libraries, programming against which is tedious task in C (and C++).
Being tied to Apache
mod_tile is an Apache module, which makes it less interesting if you look at it from “commodity server” perspective. Having to program against a monster that is Apache, using its APR library is one giant leap into full-blown programmer depression. The autogenerated documentation make the matters even worse. And two last things about Apache are its comparatively slow serving of static files and complicated configuration scheme. One might say that Apache might be winning in other parts of comparison, but the things that have been mentioned were essential to our rendering services.

These were the main reasons to switch, as mod_tile and renderd didn’t seem like the right thing for CloudMade. Of course, there were a lot of others, more and less subjective reasons, but having even before mentioned ones, it was enough to seriously consider a switch.

The Switch

With all the warts of the existing system and requirements for the future in mind, we decided to move on with the new approach. There were several things to consider in our system:

Decoupling
This was our main goal — thoroughly decoupled system, where every part does one thing and does it good. This makes scaling much easier, but also incurs additional penalty on the amount of code, because of the need to write communication utilities. This also makes the system as a whole seem much more stable, as every other part of the system can work as a replacement in case of failure. Of course, the price is having network overhead and supervising system parts.
Handling styles
One of the main CloudMade web-services is the style editor, which gives ability to edit map styles using WYSIWYG technique. Handling thousands of Mapnik styles wasn’t something any existing system was prepared for, so unique way of doing exactly this had to be devised. Of course, this meant that style state in every part of the system had to be consistent at any given moment of time, making this even harder to accomplish.
Cache expiry
To minimize load on the system, as much cache as possible has to be available. But for rapidly changing OpenStreetMap data, having all tiles cached for month wouldn’t work and at the same time rendering all images on the fly would be an enormously heavy goal to accomplish. Whatever cache update approach is taken, unless there’s a hardware possibility to render maps on the fly, someone will be unhappy about cache expiry scheme.
Health monitoring and high availability
In order to meet requirement of having usable web services, one of the most important things to consider is having as high service uptime as possible. Without having health monitoring which knows about state of every part of the system the said objective is almost unreachable. Of course, the ideal can not achieved, but having a setup that covers at least 80% of the nodes would satisfy our needs.

The system that’s currently in use at CloudMade has been developed with exactly these goals in mind, with minor additions and subtractions along the way. To summarize, the goal was the system where every part has a maximum level of independency from every other while succumbing to the general goal of having fast and easily-deployed rendering stack.

To Be Continued

I’ll continue the talk about moving from mod_tile to our in-house system in follow-ups, where I’ll try to get into technical details, explain our shortcomings and issues that arised while developing.

Stay tuned.

January 17th, 2011 - Posted by Andrii Mishkovskyi in for developers, openstreetmap, technologies

Learning more about developers’ needs at Apps World

Last week at Apps World Conference and Exhibition industry experts and newbies gathered together to discuss the current state and future of mobile applications development. Even the heavy London snow didn’t prevent 2,400 people from attending the show, and it turned out as two excellent days of networking.

With three simultaneous streams (Developer, Marketing and TV, Handset and OEM) the Apps World event aimed to address the entire app ecosystem, and the challenge of development, design and delivery of apps across multiple platforms. Nick Black, CloudMade Co-Founder and Head of Products, spoke at the conference on how location is helping to create and monetize outstanding apps.

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CloudMade also exhibited in Developers Zone where we were busy meeting with new and existing developers.

We are always looking for new ways to meet with developers and understand how we can help you build better user experiences and increase your revenue. You can help us by sending information about any interesting events you plan to attend to iryna@cloudmade.com

December 9th, 2010 - Posted by in events, for developers, news, talks

Minibar App Building Contest

MiniBar is looking for developers who will create innovative apps mashing, mixing, streaming, enriching music, pictures and video content from the likes of Universal.

There is a total of £7,000 ($11,000) up for grabs and the chance to connect with and impress major content providers with your work.

Through this contest ALL entrants will get the opportunity to become part of the IC tomorrow testbed environment that connects app developers and content providers such as the like of Sony, Universal and many others and get the chance to showcase their inventiveness and build valuable relationships for the future. The goal is to develop applications that make use of the content in an innovative, experimental or simply put, fun way, and to use IC tomorrow as the testing ground to evaluate its potential.

Don’t pass up this opportunity to get your talent recognized.

If you’d like to take part and learn more about the contest then join the contest briefing event this Thursday 4th November at Skills Matter in Holborn, London, UK from 4pm to 8pm where you will meet the team behind IC tomorrow.

Chris Jackson of Metabroadcast and former Head of Strategy at the BBC will also be there to offer his advice and tell us about his experience being the first member to develop an app for the platform. You can read an interview with him here.

It’s only early days for the platform so this is a cool time to join in with an app that remixes, or repackages creative content and get the attention of big content owners.

The event is free to attend and pizza and beers will be provided.

RSVP today via our Eventbrite page here.

Details of the event

Date: 4th November 2010, 4-8pm

Location: Skills Matter, 116-120 Goswell Road, London, EC1V 7DP

RSVP: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/985903865

This event is produced by Openbusiness, creators of MiniBar. For more information please contact info@openbusiness.cc

November 3rd, 2010 - Posted by Nick Black in events, for developers

More examples of CloudMade-powered apps, more great ways to use location

Our app gallery is growing fast, and with every new addition it’s clear that combining  CloudMade’s tools and services with great ideas and skills from developers results in some extremely powerful, compelling products. Take a look at some of  the latest updates to our gallery below:

Galileo Offline Maps is a mobile app that can be used on a daily basis or while traveling. This app allows users to import maps from a computer to an iPhone or iPad and then view them in offline mode. Being able to choose from five attractive CloudMade map styles makes the use of the app a real pleasure. CloudMade tools used to create this app include GeocodingRouting and Style Editor.

galileo_ipad

“CloudMade provides plenty of stylish and good-looking map styles which please even the most fastidious users.” – Evgen Bodunov, galileo-app.com

Travelers who own Macs should be really excited about Knapsack 2 app. This new version of Outer Level’s personal travel planner, built with our Geocoding and Web Maps Studio, adds interactive maps with street level detail and world-wide search. Knapsack allows you to lay out your travel plans, destinations, activities, and can be even used as a trip journal.

knapsackMainMapScreen

“Our customers wanted a searchable world map with street level detail and CloudMade was the perfect solution.” – Jon Trainer, Knapsack

iGMap proves that products created with CloudMade tools are not only really cool, but can also meet the most diverse needs. iGMap iPhone app is a virtual GPS designed for use with the desktop flight simulators. It provides a wireless hand-held moving map display to aid navigation, especially useful on VFR flights, while saving valuable screen real-estate on the desktop, and uses iOS devices to display the current position of the aircraft. The app was built with CloudMade’s StyleEditor and Web Maps API.

igmap2

“CloudMade services allow a small company to deliver cutting edge mapping solutions while targeting a niche market – without the prohibitive cost.” – Fermin Fernandez, FSWidgets

Thanks to developers of Map My Tracks, outdoor sports and fitness enthusiasts have their own social network now. With this website they can easily track, review & share outdoor activities with friends & family. Map My Tracks provides a comprehensive range of tools to help better understand how your training session went and keep a central log of all your outdoor activities.

mapmytracks

“The flexibility of CloudMade’s API mean that we can always deliver the maps we want.” – Nick Tatt, Map My Tracks

If you like Map My Tracks and plan to use it, you should really consider complementing it with this OutFront app. Not only will this app allow you to measure speed, pace, calories burned, duration, elevation gain/loss and much more for each activity you do, but it will also give you an an easy way to share information about your outdoor activities live on Map My  Tracks, Facebook or Twitter. CloudMade Map TilesStatic Maps and iPhone SDK were used to create this app.

outfront

“Using CloudMade’s iPhone SDK made it super easy to add maps to our iPhone app. That, and reliability make CloudMade our first choice map provider.” - Nick TattMap My Tracks

Cycling fans will enjoy using Bike Hub, also  called a ‘satnav for cyclists’. It displays clever short-cuts and bicycle-friendly routes on OpenCycleMap, cutting journey times for many users. The feature I really like is ‘bike shop finder – a simple button that can call up UK bike shops within a six mile radius of an iPhone. Map Tiles and iPhone SDK are CloudMade tools used in this app.

BikeHubScreen

Cloudmade API provides the slippy maps within the app and helps to fast-track the development of all the map interactions that users have.”Carlton Reid, BikeHub.co.uk

Want to see more CloudMade-powered apps?  Check out our Application Gallery.

Inspired by these cool examples and feel that you could create something great yourself? Sign up to our developer zone and try out our free tools and services.

November 2nd, 2010 - Posted by in api, featured apps, for developers, iPhone, style editor

Upcoming events – come and see us there!

This fall is packed with industry events and CloudMade is making sure not to miss the most exciting ones. Here are some events we will be speaking and exhibiting at, sponsoring or just attending.

 

MobileAppsWorld – October 19-20, London

This two-day conference led by speakers from all parts of the mobile ecosystem will probe the latest thinking in app creation and promotion to achieve real business benefits from apps. Nick Black will be sharing his valuable insight into the future of mobile apps in a panel discussion on Day 2 – don’t miss it!

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October Geomob Event – October 21, London

 

If you are a London-based geo or mobile developer and prefer more informal gatherings, you should definitely participate in the October Geomob in London next week. The event promises to be both informative and fun and we’ll be sponsoring it, so come talk to us.

 

Ad Tech New York – November 3, New York

Brands, agencies, publishers and service providers will come together at Ad Tech New York to network, learn and do business in the area of digital marketing. We will also be there to hear great speeches and check out Innovation Alley, Mobile Marketing Zone and App Exchange exhibition zones.  Send us an email if you want to meet up an learn more about our Location Based Advertising for developers, advertisers and ad agencies.

edTech_photo3_people

MeeGo Conference – Nov 15-17, Dublin

Another interesting event we will be attending, the MeeGo Conference, targets a technical audience of MeeGo developers, operating system vendors, original equipment manufacturers and other MeeGo project contributors. The first two days of the event will have scheduled sessions, and the third will be unconference day, with great lightning talks and wonderful networking opportunities.

ME Awards 2010 November 18, London

ME Awards evening rewards companies doing outstanding things in the mobile content space. The organizers have introduced  a new nomination category for the Best Location Company this year and announced CloudMade as one of the finalists. This promises to be an exciting evening and we’ll be in great company amongst other innovative location companies such as Foursquare, Layar, Rummble, Skyhook,  and Booyah.

Apps World – November 30-Dec 1, London

For those willing to become educated and inspired by the latest developments within the multi-platform apps industry, Apps World is the right event for you. There will be workshop sessions available within three different zones –  focused on Marketing, Developers and TV, Handset and Operators. One of the sessions will be led by our co-founder Nick Black and will cover the different aspects location-based applications development. Also, CloudMade will have an exhibition stand, so you are welcome to stop by and take a closer look at our products offerings.

October 15th, 2010 - Posted by in events, for developers

Mobilize 2010: “Location will make it into every type of App”, says CloudMade Chairman and CEO

Last week, our Chairman and CEO, Juha Christensen took to the stage at Mobilize 2010, in San Francisco. He was there to kick-off a discussion from mobile industry leaders on what the the future trends are for Cloud Computing and the mobile industry.

Juha presented specifically on what the location landscape looks like in 2013, how location will make it into every type of app available and why companies and developers in the mobile value chain are acting now to be a part of this money train. He emphasized how over 300,000 people are crowdsourcing an incredibly detailed, rich map of the world and how this is an invaluable resource for creating the most contextually relevant content and location services possible. Here’s his presentation:

October 5th, 2010 - Posted by Nick Black in events, for developers

More awesome apps touchdown in our gallery – check them out!

We’ve recently posted a whole host of awesome new mobile and web apps in the CloudMade App Gallery, if you haven’t seen them yet, then here they are. All these apps have been created with our innovative CloudMade tools and APIs. Check them out below and then why not take our tools and APIs for test drive yourself here.

Fans of various outdoor activities will find Scout, a very useful navigation app for the iPhone. With Scout you can make use of topographic maps for hiking adventures or check out your training data with the integrated speedometer, or use it for cycling and other activities to record your route for subsequent analysis.  CloudMade services used to create the app include: Geocoding, Map Tiles, Static Maps, and Style Editor to ensure the best quality user experience.

scout

“CloudMade is the best supplier of data for OpenStreetMap. We like their tools and services a lot. They comply with our high standards.” – Joerg NesteleMagicMaps

 

Finding a place a place to live is not an easy decision.  If this is you and you live in London in the UK, then another CloudMade-powered app, Where Can I Live is just what you need. This web service is for people looking for an affordable home with an acceptable commuting distance to work. You can specify criteria such as maximum travel time, number of bedrooms and maximum price and you’ll get suggestions for properties that suit your needs displayed on a beautifully styled and convenient to use map, created with the help of CloudMade’s Style Editor.

Whereicanlive

“The Style Editor allowed us to match the map color scheme to our brand, disable unimportant map features, while highlighting others.” – M. MettenLokku Ltd

Small businesses, entrepreneurs and marketers who cannot afford the money and time associated with traditional market research, should really get acquainted with Ask Your Target Market (AYTM)– an online, self-service market research web application with a built-in U.S. consumer panel. AYTM uses CloudMade Web Maps API and Style Editor to integrate maps into its service.

AYTM_34

“We are thrilled with the elegance of the CloudMade maps platform. It allowed us to customize the maps to blend right in with the overall experience of our app.” - Lev MazinAskYourTargetMarket.com

Polymaps, is hot off the press and now featured in our App Gallery. It has already gained huge popularity among the developers making interactive maps in web browsers. It’s a free JavaScript library that provides speedy display of multi-resolution geographic datasets with powerful dynamic styling through CSS and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). Polymaps can load both image and vector data at a full range of scales and is ideal for showing information from country level on down to states, cities, neighborhoods, and individual streets.

polymaps-ex

“CloudMade is the natural choice for integrating OpenStreetMap, thanks to flexible styling, realtime provisioning and friendly licensing.” – Michael Bostock, Stanford University

Living in the UK and looking for a good school to send your child to? Look no further than Schoolscope, an honest, independent, straightforward guide to how your local schools are getting on. The web site takes official Government-backed information about state schools in England and try to tease out something interesting from the dry tables of statistics – how well kids perform at school, how happy they are there. Schoolscope takes all that information and presents it in clear English, and understandable smiling faces. Its maps our powered by CloudMade’s Style Editor and Web Maps API.

schooloscope-cloudmade-2

“Maps are a key part of Schooloscope’s identity. CloudMade Custom Map Styles gave us the flexibility and integration options we needed.” - Tom ArmitageBERG

These are just a few examples of how CloudMade is helping developers around the world create really outstanding products. We’ll be bringing your more next month so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out our App Gallery for more cool apps powered by CloudMade.

All our services and tools are free so why not get coding and see what cool apps you can come up with.   Simply sign up for a developer account here, and start building the next best-selling location app today.

September 30th, 2010 - Posted by Nick Black in featured apps, for developers

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