WherePost: now even more useful!

Since I launched Where Post? on Friday morning, the response has been pretty gratifying. My thanks to David Eaves for his nice post about Where Post? this morning. I launched the app with a total of 28 mailboxes and 1 post office. Since then, 29 contributors have added in another 400-odd mailboxes and about 20 post offices. (NB: ‘contributors’ are identified currently via a combination of a cookie & IP Address – so it’s not exact, but close enough).

I’m please to announce a very useful addition: Every post office in the Google Maps database, everywhere, pulled in from the Google Places API. I had noticed while adding post offices that there was often an envelope icon already in the map where I wanted to add a post office. After some digging this afternoon, I was able to pull in the places API to just get all the places that identify as a post office.

There’s a few oddities to figure out:

  1. Often each post office is listed 2 or 3 times at least in Canada: The french name & english name appear to be 2 places, and sometimes the post office in english, the post office in french and the store containing the post office are all listed. Odd, and I haven’t yet figured a way to filter this, but still pretty nice.
  2. I have a rate limit of 100,000 queries a day. Given that each time you see the “loading mailboxes” message there’s a query to Google, there’s a distinct possibility I’ll reach that. For now not a worry, but definitely a scaling/caching issue to think about in the future.
  3. Integrating with the “nearest” function. Currently, the “nearest” mailbox is simply pulled from an SQL query – which means that post offices, coming in from Google, are ignored. There’s likely a way to merge the two, but nothing’s coming to mind at the moment.

As always, if you have any suggestions, comments or anything else, please let me know!

  • Eringath

    Hey Steve, thanks for the awesome tool, I think it’s great and you might have to find a solution to problem 2 sooner than you think …

    I’ve posted a few mailboxes myself today, and then I wanted to add a comment to one of them and couldn’t find a way to do it.  I ended up marking the mailbox as missing and adding a new one, which is probably confusing until the “missing” one gets actually deleted.

    Is it possible to make it so the comments are editable by either the person who added the mailbox, or any user?  Then people could easily add the “pick-up” time info, or comments about how to locate the mailbox.

    (FYI the mailbox I mentioned above (“missing” and re-added) is at the corner of 107 avenue and 169 street in Edmonton, Alberta.)

  • http://tannock.net Stv.

    Thanks!

    I’m glad you like it. I’m working on a couple of simple “identity/edit” solutions – I’m tempted to steal the wikipedia idea and open edits, but tie it publicly to a persona – we’ll see.

    Once I get a little free time, I’m hoping to finish wrapping this up into an app, so we can use the on-device camera too. If only I had time! 

    I’ll try and figure something out in the near future to address to commenting/pickup times – I’ve got a couple of ideas, but as most side-of-the-desk projects, time is an issue.