Summarizing the Myriad Threads About Mapping

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nutterb
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Summarizing the Myriad Threads About Mapping

Postby nutterb » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:45 am

Mapping membership data seems to be a hot topic right now, and I have read through about twenty of them now. Some of these have been a great help, but I feel like they can be awfully hard to find. As such, I've put together this list of threads that all go to discussions about mapping, mapping programs, and a couple about maintaining privacy of membership data. Should we consider making this a Sticky: so that it is a little easier to find?

Before proceeding:
If you're thinking about taking on a project to map your unit's membership, be aware that in the (September) 2009 Tech Talk, Rich Farr mentioned that

We have out in a beta environment right now a new version of maps. As we put the mapping data, and overlay it with the mapping technologies that already exist, using the various providers and technologies, it enables members (especially in places that are more dispersed) to understand where the members are at. (Thanks to Atticus Ewig for the Unofficial Transcript)
If you put in the effort to map your ward, you may be duplicating something that the Church is getting ready to make available to you.

If you just can't wait to get started on your project anyway, here's the list of resources.

Safeguarding Membership Data
Google Earth and Membership Data
Yahoo Maps Terms of Use
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=25036&postcount=142Mapping Programs
Another Mapping Program (HPaulsen's WardMap)
Ward Map
Yet another Map-maker post
Tools for Making Ward Directories and Maps

Map Links on Membership Directory
Membership Maps

MLS membership to Google Earth or Google Maps http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=549
Other Discussion About Mapping Membership Data
Standardizing MLS Addresses

MLS to GPS Georeferencing members info
Using Web Tools to Map the Members
Map Location of Members

Using Free Mapping API's for Meetinghouse Locator
Missionary SmartPhone/PDA Ideas
Open Source Mapping Project
Why isn't MLS using the U.S. National Grid?
Stake / Ward Bounadry GIS in Google Earth

If I've missed any you think should be on the list, let me know and I'm happy to add it.

nutterb
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Postby nutterb » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:15 am

Okay, having gotten that off my chest, I did actually have a question I wanted to ask. Has anyone used the different mapping applications found on the boards? I'm most interested in the first three under "Mapping Programs" in the first post. Does anyone have a preference for a mapping application? Which ones are easier, more useful, more flexible, etc?

RossEvans
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Additions

Postby RossEvans » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:33 am

Thanks for posting this. Here are a few other forum links I have squirreled away:

Boundary change info in MLS

GEO Codes and Boundary Realignment

Does the church maintain meetinghouse locators at Google Maps?

Household Geocode?

WardMap file updated

GIS Data and Church

Fast offering routes in MLS


And on the Wiki ...

Maps and boundaries

Boundary realignment (MLS)

Geo code


p.s. You might eyeball your original post. There are a few lines with more than one link, and they seem to blend together fuzzily. They would be more readable on separate lines.

atticusewig
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Postby atticusewig » Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:23 am

nutterb wrote:Okay, having gotten that off my chest, I did actually have a question I wanted to ask. Has anyone used the different mapping applications found on the boards? I'm most interested in the first three under "Mapping Programs" in the first post. Does anyone have a preference for a mapping application? Which ones are easier, more useful, more flexible, etc?


I've used the first two. Kevin's was a .vbs script that used the yahoo mapping service, and is pretty good for more dispersed units. Each
Household shows up on the map with a speaking bubble (like you see
in the comics) with the household name. The problem is when you have
long names near each other. They have a tendency to overlap. With
the household labels, the printouts are very helpful. I think there might
have been a concern about privacy, so I don't know if we are still
"allowed" to use it.

HPaulsen's WardMap is what I have been using lately. It does take a little
extra setup (you have to install Adobe AIR), but it is a more complex
program. It uses google maps, which seems to catch more addresses in new developments, shows households as circles that are bigger with bigger households (that is, circle size=household size), and allows you to selectively
view portions of membership data (show households only with Youth, for example). It also can work with drawing regions and assigning geocodes
to them. This helps with setting up disaster recovery zones very much. The one problem is that any printouts are just a bunch of circles on a map, and would need to be manually labelled to be of any value. Other than that,
it is an excellent piece of software, and the one I would recommend. Not only because of it's fantastic features, but also because it uses google maps, which is what the church's solution looks to be using as well. I'll probably
still be using it until the church's solution catches up to WardMap's current
feature set. It would be nice for it to be open-sourced and ported to Java from a developer standpoint, but for End-users it is supberb.

- Atticus Ewig

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:33 am

atticusewig wrote:I've used the first two. Kevin's was a .vbs script that used the yahoo mapping service, and is pretty good for more dispersed units. ... I think there might
have been a concern about privacy, so I don't know if we are still
"allowed" to use it.


There is no problem with privacy or policy in Kevin's program. The early version of the program was configured as a web site, so that did have a problem. But Kevin quickly rewrote it so it runs on the user's local PC, and the private data stays there.

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:43 am

nutterb wrote:Okay, having gotten that off my chest, I did actually have a question I wanted to ask. Has anyone used the different mapping applications found on the boards? I'm most interested in the first three under "Mapping Programs" in the first post. Does anyone have a preference for a mapping application? Which ones are easier, more useful, more flexible, etc?


Of the three programs you mention, HPaulsen's stands out for its geocoding accuracy. AFAIK, his is the only application among those three that filters out known geocoding errors and allows the user to correct them. HPaulsen's interface is not designed to be an all-purpose mapping platform, but I think it could grow into a more generalized tool if he chooses to take development in that direction.

For my own ward's use and for varied purposes, I still use my own homegrown scripts. But they are of limited use to others because my geocoding method is based directly on my own city's database.

nutterb
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Postby nutterb » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:24 pm

Thanks for the comments guys. I just tried Paulsen's WardMap and it didn't go over so well for me. I loved the layout and the simplicity of it. Load in the Membership.csv and boom, all the work is done! Unfortunately, it never actually plotted anything on the map. And then it bogged down my computer so much it was practically unusable. My computer is probably a little above average and so I'm concerned that it would turn my ward's computer into a very large paper weight (it takes the ward computer 5 minutes to load MLS as it is). Part of me wonders if it's a Windows Vista thing. Perhaps it runs fine on Windows XP? Are there any Vista users that have successfully used the program?

I've not tried kevandcan's Ward Map for the simple reason that he recommends removing XP specific code before using it. I'm not expert enough to do that, nor am I motivated enough.

The one I have found useful is redzarf's mls2GoogleEarth The major disadvantage I see with this is that it generates the KML code for you without giving you the flexibility to classify and group your members. What I've ended up doing is stripping the KML code to get the coordinates, merging the coordinates with the data I supplied to mls2GoogleEarth, and then writing some scripts to generate the KML code*. This ends up being a lot more work** than I would like, but seems to be my best solution.



* I used R to generate the KML code. Anyone that's interested is welcome to e-mail me if you want to take a look, but you'll find is rather coarse.

** mls2GoogleEarth does at least tell you which addresses weren't able to be mapped, but doesn't give you a chance to interactively fix the errors. As such, you're kind of forced to keep a really clean membership database.

techgy
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Postby techgy » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:29 pm

nutterb wrote:Thanks for the comments guys. I just tried Paulsen's WardMap and it didn't go over so well for me. I loved the layout and the simplicity of it. Load in the Membership.csv and boom, all the work is done! Unfortunately, it never actually plotted anything on the map. ....



I had a similar problem. The resolution was to uncheck the box that turns the display of the plots on the map On/Off. I forget what it's named and I'm not on the computer with the map program. Anyway, cycling that check box solved the problem.

There's still a few bugs and remember that it's still in Beta mode. So little things like this are bound to crop up. Still, it's a great program.
Have you read the Code of Conduct?

fraserredmond
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inside knowledge

Postby fraserredmond » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:36 pm

Well, I've used the first two, and am the person that wrote the 3rd one, and it was based on the last one.

With that close knowledge, and from the point of view of someone who cared enough about the topic to spend a day or two's worth of work making a program that would generate maps, the only one worth bothering with is the 1st one, WardMap by HPaulsen's (and maybe the 5th which is a different type of product.)

I've been testing and using WardMap for the last couple of months, and am really happy with it. It's still beta software so theres bugs in most versions, but you get what you pay for! ;-)

Nutterb & Techgy - Depending on when you tried it there was a version I tried that didn't plot results at all for a week or two, so you might want to try running it again so it can check and download the latest version.

Another forum post I just read mentioned that the Church may be releasing something similar in the next month or so, but even then, I suspect that Hyrum's may still be more useful - once he can find the time to finish ironing out those bugs! ;-)

Nutterb:

Yeah, you do have to keep a clean membership database - but you're meant to anyway! ;-) The way I used it, I'd run it once, check the errors then clean the input text/file. I was the ward Clerk so I was also able to fix anything that was actually wrong. Wasn't sure what you meant about classifying/grouping members - what might work is to edit the input csv in Excel first and sort there, and save multiple csv files and process them individually. But like I said, I'm not entirely sure what you wanted...

I could potentially customise it to what you were wanting, if its just a different format to the KML then that should be easy enough.


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