Cartagen 0.6.1 – Speed

We know we just released Cartagen 0.5 a couple weeks ago, but after testing it extensively in the wild, we really wanted a fast, low-resource release so that users of netbooks, older computers, and older browsers could use Cartagen too.

So, as well as including some general cleanup, this version hums along on a variety of machines. Please send feedback on speed/load times/CPU usage, etc; we tested it on an 800mhz G4 iMac and while it wasn’t super responsive, it did load and was somewhat usable in Firefox 3.5. For reference, Hulu.com’s Flash player does not run on that machine. On more powerful machines (4x3ghz Intel Xeon, 2500×1600 monitor), it can load over 10,000 objects in the viewport without hiccuping. For most users, a typical browser window size yields a responsive and reasonably low-resource experience.

Download Cartagen 0.6.1 (We did 0.6 and just rushed directly into 0.6.1 before announcing.)

There’s definitely a lot more we can do to improve speed, but for now we feel good about our optimizations. We identified the high CPU usage as generally poor management of timers in JavaScript, and wrote a TimerManager class which adjusts its timer intervals automatically, easing the CPU load. We elected to maintain a relatively high CPU usage to keep things rendering smoothly, but users of TimerManager can ‘turn up the heat’ or turn down CPU usage by tweaking a ‘spacing’ parameter. We also broke more intense tasks up by creating a TaskManager class, which preserves UI responsiveness and framerate while staying in a single JavaScript thread. We plan to use the multithreaded, asynchronous Web Workers spec in HTML5 when available, but for now we wanted to work on older hardware/software.

We hope that TimerManager and TaskManager will be of use to others working with JavaScript animation and we’ll be packaging them up separately for download.

For now, look at http://code.google.org/p/cartagen for source and http://wiki.cartagen.org for update docs.

Warcraft map stylesheet for London

So this is an accurate (in terms of coordinates) map of London, generated from OpenStreetMap data:

[field name=”iframe”]

You can pan around quite a bit and use the scroll wheel to zoom. To achieve this, I created the following geographic stylesheet:

http://unterbahn.com/cartagen/warcraft.gss

The map is built on Cartagen, a mapping framework for viewing and geographic data in a dynamic, personally relevant way. Cartagen uses the GSS (Geo Style Sheet) format, which allows users to design maps with CSS-like styles. Learn more at Cartagen.org and the Cartagen wiki, or download the source at Google Code.

Go to Cartagen.org to view anywhere in the world through this stylesheet.

Dabu!

Quick update: some users (read: most) are having trouble zooming in and out! This is because of a known last-minute bug in the 0.6 release of Cartagen, and only affects maps embedded in other pages. It does not affect cartagen.org. For a quick fix, to zoom you can also hold down the ‘z’ key and drag up and down on the map.
Followup update: zooming with the scroll wheel should work now. Thanks for your patience!