Isle of Man

Kaart Çheerey - a Manx language map of the world

Kaart Çheerey - a Manx language map of the world
A Manx language map of the world -

The month of September has been renamed to Maptember this year because of the number of geographic conferences that are going on. With the thought of a month of maps ahead, I decided to make a new map: a Manx language map of the world.

The map - known as a kaart çheerey in Manx - displays continents, countries and oceans that have been documented on the Manx language Wikipedia and visualises them as a browsable map which can be accessed at

My great grandparents were some of the last native speakers of the Manx language, and the language lost its last native speaker in 1974. In an effort to re-introduce the language to the island, Manx has been taught in schools on the Isle of Man since at least the early 1990s. Some children on the island are brought up as native Manx speakers (in addition to English) at the only Manx language school, Bunscoill Ghaelgagh. Manx translations can often be seen on road signs and other official signage, and can be heard on radio broadcasts and at the annual Tynwald Day ceremony.

I learned a bit of Manx at school, though not much of it has stuck with me. Because of that, I struggled a little to find all the names I wanted from the Manx Wikipedia, and I ended up simply searching for each country and seeing what was returned as the top result (or near the top). Often the names resemble the English version - especially if read out in a bit of a Manx accent - so it was usually obvious which article referred to the country. For example, Germany becomes Yn Ghermaan, Finland becomes Finnlynn and Canada becomes Yn Chanadey. Some smaller island nations didn't appear to have articles about them, but that there was an article for most countries in the world still struck me as quite impressive, for a language that is spoken fluently by such a small number of people.

The cartography on could do with some tweaks still, but hopefully the map will be useful for anyone curious about this language from the heart of the British Isles. If you see any mistakes on the map, please let me know in the comments.

I'll likely be tweeting geographic things more often than usual this month @dankarran and may blog a little about the Society of Cartographers and FOSS4G conferences that I'll be attending as well.

Logos and locations in QR codes

Custom design QR code for themap.imI have spent a bit of time this afternoon looking into QR codes, and how they can be customised to incorporate logos or other information. I think the first I saw of this trend was a BBC logo embedded into a QR code, but numerous people have tried it out, such as these ones from Japan, where the QR code has already been used much more widely than in the UK.

If you haven't come across QR codes before, they are much like barcodes, but have the ability to store much more information in them. Perhaps the most common use is to store a website address in them. When scanned with a mobile app like Bakodo or the Google app for the iPhone, the handset can load up the website it points to, and instantly give the user more information about the tag they have scanned.

These 2-dimensional barcodes have a tolerance for errors, meaning that bits of it can be missing or covered up, while still being able to be read and used. That's quite handy, if you want to make them look a little more interesting and include a logo or something to attract people's attention to them. Even better, it's as simple as generating a normal QR code from the Google Charts API (e.g. one for, downloading it, opening it in your favourite graphics editor, and inserting your logo. Check to make sure your scanner can still read it, tweak it if necessary, and you're set. Set the error correction level to the highest value possible (chld=H in the chart URL) and keep your URL as short as possible to give you most flexibility around your logo and less chance of it breaking barcode scanning applications.

Using QR codes to improve location-based information

Custom design QR code for OpenStreetMapQR codes could be quite useful for tourist information signs, to give people quick access to more information about the local area, a map of local amenities, or directions to whatever they are looking for. Most phones that have the ability to recognise a QR code probably also have a GPS or some other form of positioning built in, which could help them find their location on the standard Google Maps, but doesn't necessarily help them get at other detailed information, perhaps provided by the likes of OpenStreetMap or provided by local information sites or the local government. Using these codes to point to targeted local information could be of great use to visitors (as long as there's a note to tell them how to make use of the QR code).

A QR code like the one at the top of the post could be useful for someone standing at a tourist information point in the Sea Terminal in Douglas, Isle of Man, as it takes them to a map centred on that point. The site it points to doesn't do much more than providing maps of the Isle of Man at the moment, and doesn't work too well on a mobile yet, but could (and hopefully will, before too long) provide much more information that could be of use to visitors. Similarly, the one to the right points to a map of Douglas on the OpenStreetMap site.

I haven't seen many QR codes in use yet, but hopefully they could become much more widespread in coming years. Could you see yourself making use of codes you found out on the street?

New maps of the Isle of Man

Last week I launched a section on to show a gallery of maps of the Isle of Man. The aim is to create localised maps for different towns and villages around the Island, so for example you could bookmark a map of Castletown, Colby or Cregneash, or any other place listed in the gallery.

Maps of the Isle of Man

The maps got some great coverage with a BBC Isle of Man article, which has generated a good amount of interest in the site. The more people the map is available to, the sooner we can iron out any issues in the map data. There may be the odd typo, things accidentally added in the wrong place, or things that are missing completely, so all feedback is welcome.

For me, building this site is a great opportunity to use Drupal to help promote OpenStreetMap data, using the OpenLayers mapping library (and Drupal module) to display the maps on the site, and I'm looking forward to building the site out further.

Welcome to the new map of the Isle of Man

Re-posted from blog logoWith less than a week to go until the third Isle of Man mapping day - to be held in Douglas on Saturday 2nd October - we are launching a new version of with the aim of helping to promote the new map of the Isle of Man.

For over four years, volunteers have been building up the map of the Isle of Man as part of the OpenStreetMap project, creating a map of the Island that can be used by anyone, not only as an online map, but also as a source of information for their own projects. is one such project, built by Dan Karran with the aim of promoting this new map of the Isle of Man and showing what can be done with open data to help promote local businesses and organisations both within the Island and to a wider audience.

The site will continue to grow from this initial stage, to include an online directory of much of the information contained within the map, and an ability to simply update any of that information, which we will then use to update the OpenStreetMap project itself.

If you are interested in this new map of the Isle of Man, please do come along to the Velvet Lobster at 10am (or 1pm) on Saturday to the mapping day for an introduction to the OpenStreetMap project, what it's all about, how to update the map, and how to use the information in various ways.

Isle of Man mapping day

Map of the Isle of ManOn Saturday 2nd October we will be holding the third Isle of Man mapping day for the OpenStreetMap project and it's open to anyone.

If you're on the Isle of Man and interested in maps, new technology or are just keen to get out and about and explore Douglas for the day, why not come along to join us on the mapping day to find out more about the project and get an introduction to mapping.

We'll meet for a coffee in the morning (from 10am) at Velvet Lobster on the North Quay in Douglas, and after a short introduction to the project and chat about how to get started mapping, we'll head out onto the streets to add some detail to the open map of the Isle of Man. After a while (1pm) we'll meet back at the Velvet Lobster for a bite to eat and chat about the morning's mapping, before heading back out. At 3pm we'll meet up at the cafe again and to introduce you to the basics of making your own updates to the map.

If you're keen to use the maps yourself, we can help you get set up to do that, and point you to some of the useful services available that use data from OpenStreetMap.

Want to find out more? Drop me an email to dan at karran dot net, tweet me @dankarran or give me a shout on 07736 314138. If you'd like to come along, I'd appreciate if you could let me know in advance, so we have an idea of how many people to expect.

iPhone guide to Isle of Man businesses

If you're on the Isle of Man (or thinking of visiting) and you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you may be interested in the latest mobile guide to the Island that's been released for the iPhone.

I blogged last year about a couple of specialised iPhone apps that let you see offline maps of the Island - but not much more - and I also mentioned OffMaps which at the time was simply an offline map viewer that let you download maps of anywhere in the world. Having released their latest version though, OffMaps now provides much more functionality in the form of a local guide to businesses, services and attractions, and access to Wikipedia articles about the places around you.

Now, if you're looking for a bar, cafe, restaurant, museum, tourist attraction - or, in theory, anything else - you need look no further than the guide in OffMaps. It'll show you its location, give you their address and phone number (though there aren't many of these yet) and link you through to their website if they have one. Note that not everything is in there, and in particular it's lacking in the shops it covers, as well as in some other areas.

OffMaps guide for the Isle of ManPubs on the Isle of ManJava Lounge café

If you run a business or service - or know of one which isn't already covered - and you'd like to advertise yourself in this guide to the Island, you can be a part of it for free.

All of the information is based on the OpenStreetMap project and Wikipedia, so you can add your information yourself. The easiest way to edit is using the free Mapzen POI collector app for the iPhone, but if you're not comfortable, just drop me an email and I'll happily add your details in to OpenStreetMap for you, for free, and you should get into the guide the next time it gets refreshed.

Note: the app is currently only listing things in certain chosen categories, so if your business falls outside of those categories it may not show up in the guide. You're still free to add your listing to OpenStreetMap though, as it could be used in the future either in OffMaps or in any other application.

Guess where on the Isle of Man

Points representing places not previously in OpenStreetMap Since I received the DVD of high resolution aerial imagery and maps from the Isle of Man Government last week, I've spent most of my spare time starting to digitise information for the OpenStreetMap project.

Using QGIS to load in the data, I started to gather all the names from the map that I could, including both place names (for small local areas, hamlets and villages that weren't already in the database) and also farm names. With over a thousand names, this is already a massive boost to the data in OpenStreetMap as it is data that would have been immensely difficult to gather on the ground.

The image to the left represents the shape of the Island, made up of all the points obtained from the map, and soon to be imported into the main database.

The three images below are of small areas that I have started to digitise the buildings of. I'm offering a prize (a pint at the next London mapping party perhaps) to the first person to guess all three places correctly. Two of them may well look familiar to anyone who I chatted to at the 5th birthday party of OpenStreetMap.

1 2 3

Most of the data in the images above (and future data others would like to extract for OpenStreetMap) would have been impossible (well, certainly extremely impractical) to gather were it not for the very generous support of the Isle of Man Survey in giving us a license to derive this information, for which I'm personally very grateful, and I know a lot of other people in the project are also excited about.

These images are licenced as CC-by-SA and the data behind them all will be in the OpenStreetMap database very soon.

Using official Isle of Man map data in OpenStreetMap

Before traveling back to the Isle of Man for the second Manx mapping party, I received an email from Juan Watterson, the Member of the House of Keys (MHK) responsible for the Isle of Man Government's mapping efforts (as part of the Department of Local Government and the Environment) who was interested in OpenStreetMap and in particular the Isle of Man mapping project. Juan kindly put me in touch with the Government's Senior Cartographer, Rob Clynes, with whom I met up when I was on the Island.

Back in 2007, Rob offered Nick Black the use of the official 1:100,000 small scale map of the Isle of Man from which to gather data for OpenStreetMap. Since then, CloudMade mapped the Island more thoroughly than we had done previously, and donated their data. While that gave a massive boost to the map data for the Island, there was still plenty more information which could be added to the map, hence the recent mapping party.

Meeting with Rob, he talked me through me some of the work he does, like digitising high resolution aerial imagery, change monitoring, co-ordinating the updates of the imagery, and cartography for the smaller scale maps (1:100,000 and 1:25,000) they produce - largely as a side product - and turn into printed maps. It was interesting to compare the data collection and management processes they have with those we use in the OpenStreetMap project, comparing my Walking Paper scrawls and GPS tracks from the weekend before with the official map data creation.

Having chatted with Rob for a while, he mentioned that he should be able to sort out some more data to help out the OpenStreetMap project. I got home yesterday to find a DVD of geodata sitting on my door mat. We now have access to two datasets from which we can derive data for the project:

  • the 1:25,000 tourist map (2007), provided as a set of four GeoTIFF images
  • the high resolution aerial imagery (2001), provided as a set of three MrSID images
OpenStreetMap IOM Government 1:25,000 IOM Government aerial imagery using overlays
Crosby, Isle of Man - OpenStreetMap Crosby, Isle of Man - 1:25,000 Isle of Man Government map (2007) Crosby, Isle of Man - Isle of Man Government aerial imagery (2001) Crosby, Isle of Man - OpenStreetMap, Isle of Man Government aerial imagery (2001) and 1:25,000 map (2007)

There is a massive amount of information which we can gain from these datasets still, and I will be posting some ideas soon about different possibilities, such as collecting place names, paths and tracks, historic sites, outlines of the national glens, open rambling land, etc. as well as using the data for error checking and correction in the existing OpenStreetMap dataset.

I am planning to make these datasets available as a WMS server that can be used in JOSM (and Potlatch) for editing, once I've had a chance to organise it, and have had an official license document through.

If you're interested in helping collect data from the data to add to OpenStreetMap, please leave a comment below or get in touch.

* Isle of Man Government map data and aerial imagery © Crown Copyright, DLGE; OpenStreetMap data © OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-by-SA.

Help map the Isle of Man

Overview of Douglas, Isle of Man from OpenStreetMap

In just two weeks time, on Saturday 1st August 2009, I am going to be organising a mapping party in Douglas, Isle of Man for the OpenStreetMap project. The aim of the project is to build up a map of the world that can be used without the restrictions that are typically imposed by mapping providers such as Google Maps.

The Isle of Man already has a great amount of map data in the database - as you can see on the map at - so we have a good starting point, but it isn't yet complete, so there is plenty of information that we can still add. While the road network is very close to complete, we are missing many of the points of interest you might like to see on a map, or be able to search for (perhaps through a website, or in the future from your in-car navigation device), like pubs, cafes, restaurants, libraries, hotels, historic sites or museums, for example.

We also have some Manx names for places and streets, but this isn't yet widespread, so it would be great to capture this information from street signs around the town.

As we have a good street network already, the need for a GPS isn't as important as it was earlier on in the project, so the plan for the mapping party is to use printed maps (from the excellent Walking Papers project) onto which we can add annotations during the day. At the end of the day, we can use the paper maps for reference when entering the information into the map through the OpenStreetMap website, or scan them in and deal with them later, depending on how tired people are after a day's mapping.

If you're on the Isle of Man and interested in making or using maps (or just the underlying map data), then do come along and find out more. If you're also interested in a little exercise, come out with us and explore Douglas for the day, collecting information to add to the map. You can find out more on the OpenStreetMap wiki, or alternatively contact me if you'd like more information.

If you run an organisation on the Isle of Man which uses geographic information (e.g. business listings) and would like to find out more about including your information in the map database so they can be displayed on the map, or would like to use the maps on your website with your own information displayed on top, please get in touch.

(map from OpenStreetMap, CC-by-SA)

iPhone street maps for the Isle of Man

Isle of Man street maps on the iPhoneI was looking recently to see what applications were available for the iPhone (or iPod touch) relating to the Isle of Man, and was pleasantly surprised to see that a mapping application had been released.

The application, simply called 'Isle of Man', gives users a map of the Island for use on their iPhone while they are visiting. In addition to the map, it lets users find amenities and streetnames that have been added into the OpenStreetMap database. I decided this morning to pay the 59p to download the app and try it out, but beyond the initial excitement of seeing OpenStreetMap data being used for mobile maps of the Isle of Man, I haven't been so impressed with the execution of the idea for a number of reasons...

The website promotes this app and hundreds of other similar ones from around the world, each just a download of OpenStreetMap data packaged into an application, for which they charge 59p. While it's not a large amount to pay, the company producing the applications is profiting off the generosity of the OpenStreetMap community (and in the case of the Isle of Man, Cloud Made as well, thanks to their donation of data) with little attribution, and no mention within the app itself of the license under which the data is available.

Hopefully the company will fix the attribution issue soon, by adding a mention to the pages in the iPhone app store that the data is from OpenStreetMap, and also by adding information about the license to at least the about page of each app, and to the side bar of the pages on their website.

The app itself could be quite useful if you're visiting the Island, but it has quite a few usability issues that hamper its use:

  • Zooming in to the map, you are not shown beyond a certain level, leaving many streets in the center of towns and villages left without names.
  • Navigation within the app could really be improved... there's not even a back button to get back to the map from various other screens.
  • After searching for items, you're taken to the map, but you are left looking at the place you were looking at before, with no obvious indication that pins have been added to the map outside of your current view.
  • There is no way of clearing the pins from previous searches from the map, leading to possible confusion when searching for other things.
  • Clicking on the pins for search results doesn't give any more information to the user. It would be nice to be able to get contact details where available, what the nearest street is, etc.

If you would like to access maps offline for more than just a single place, and be able to take advantage of recent updates to the maps, you will probably be better off downloading the OffMaps app which I have yet to try, but costs just a little more at £1.19 and lets you choose the area and level of detail you wish to download, and lets you do it for as many places as you wish.

While free and open geodata from OpenStreetMap gives a great boost to these applications, it also has its downfalls in that it's likely not (yet) complete for any given area. To give an example, searching for 'cafe' amenities in the Isle of Man resulted in just the Silverdale cafe being shown on the map, where in reality there are many more cafes that aren't (yet) listed.

To help improve the amount of data in the Isle of Man that's represented in OpenStreetmap, in particular relating to points of interest (POIs), I'm planning to hold another mapping party on Saturday 1st August. I'll post more information about this soon, but put the date in your diary if you're interested in helping put some of these amenities on the map. If you'd like more information in the mean time, please get in touch.

Update: having contacted the author of the apps, he's already been working with the OpenStreetMap community and has agreed to improve on the attribution, which is good. I also tried out OffMaps and liked it, but one thing it doesn't give you that the individual place-based apps do, is the access to find the location of POIs and streets while you're offline (though it does work when online).


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