Triposo Labs

For the readers of Douwe's Blog this is old news, so this is for everybody else. We've just launched a new feature on our site, called Triposo Labs. It's a place where we put interesting experiments. In Douwe's words:

We collect data from all over the web and use clever algorithms to produce travel guides. Obviously before we get something working we play around a lot with that data. Quite often we hit upon something that is interesting, but maybe not immediately applicable, but if they make us go, ooh, that's cool, why not share it with the world?

The first experiment we're publishing, tracks the development of the wikipedia on a world map.

Each geocoded article is plotted in order of appearance showing how the Wikipedia initially focussed on the US and partly on Europe and later spread to cover the world. There are some interesting things you can see if you watch the visualization of the data. Which countries adopted Wikipedia first? Which countries are still lagging behind? And why does this region in Uzbekistan light up before the rest of Asia? And there is actually also some stuff we can actually use to make our algorithm better.

Check it out!

The world is your Oyster (2)

A few weeks ago we launched the “Triposo Travel Guide” for Android: a container travel guide in which you can choose which destinations you want to download and then take it with you just like you do with all the destination guides we have.
At that time, we didn’t call it a world guide, because in the app you could only download 50 different guides. That wasn't enough to call it a world guide, we felt.

Step by step we’ve been adding new destinations. Places like New York City, Moldova and Tanzania. In the process we found that different places pose different challenges: it was pretty hard squeezing good info out of our sources for Moldova – it is equally hard keeping the file size of our United States guide down to under 100 MB.

So we had to crack a few tough nuts. The Moldova contains a fair number of bars with just minimal info and where we invite travelers who visit them to drop us a few lines when they make it there. For the United States have to leave out some cities where we have perfectly fine content just to keep the file size down. Tough luck for Topeka.

We don’t cover every single destination yet. We're still working on reducing the file size of the United States further (but we already offer separate downloads for major cities). We also had to leave out the guide to Anguilla for example because it had too little information. There are a few other issues that we'll solve in the coming days. When you download the world guide you will see the remaining countries popping in one by one. So even though there are still places missing, we believe that the best way to describe our app is as the Triposo World Guide.

That’s what we’ll call it from now on. We’ve just logged into the Android Market and made the name change. So it’s official: Triposo World Guide. Has a nice ring to it, we think. Makes us feel happy. Happy and proud.

How we do it

Over the last few weeks we have been very busy with the Jamboree. Thinking about exciting new things, making them and then launching them.
On this blog, we’ve also focused so much on the new stuff we were busy doing, that we didn't give really have time to update some of the important background info. Like how we actually make our guides.
Today, we took a little time to update the How we do it section on our website.

Party time!

Just launched new version of our Amsterdam App in the market. Wait! Another new version of the Amsterdam App in the market?

Yes, indeed. But there's a good reason to update this time. The new version contains an invitation to the first Triposo party ever. Everytime we will have a jamboree somewhere in the world we'll throw a little party and invite all the travelers that happen to be around.

We're not telling you where it is (just that it's in Amsterdam), you will have to download the Android app for Amsterdam (or the one for the Netherlands).

So what about iPhone? No sorry, we didn't make it in time. So this time there will be no iPhone users on our party. Our loss because iPhone people tend to be very nice and friendly. Good looking too.

We didn't build the new version only to invite people for this party. We like being able to contact our users while they travel and interact with them. So we set up the invitation feature in a way that we can use it in the future for lots of other fun stuff.

Vector maps

This morning we launched an update of our Amsterdam guide that uses vector maps. We're pretty proud of it already, but we will continue to smooth out the rough edges. The great things with the vector maps is that they show more detail, and take up less space.

Just for fun I looked up a (pretty) old screenshot of our map and compared it to our current. It's not 100% fair given that the old screenshot shows an overview and the new one is zoomed in on one of our favorite bars, but it still gives you an idea of how far we've come...

For all our iOS users: we're working on it!

A cute yellow bird

We've just uploaded two canaries with our new mapping stuff to the App store. We love it and we hope to hear from you what you think about it.

As things go with canaries, we still have a few things that we want to improve on. We're also still working on an Android version that uses the same maps. Taking the time Apple requires for reviewing apps into account, the Android version may still be the first in the market...

Mapping tech talk

Today, Vincent gave us a tech talk to explain what he's been up to lately. The talk was very insightful, we heard lots of interesting details on Mapnik, PostGIS, GSHHS, nodes, relations and ways in the Openstreetmap. At the end we all felt like little Mercators.

The mapping stuff Vincent is busy working on, made us go wow - and will make you go wow pretty soon as well, when we launch a few canaries which use the new maps.

Eating out in Erfoud

We combine data from a number of open content sources to produce our guides. It's amazing to see how good the information us that you can find on wikipedia, world66, wikitravel or openstreetmap. So we're always busy trying to optimize our data extraction process: get fresh data, try to match different sources better, make the scoring better. We optimize the scripts that produce our database and we get a new dataset.

We have a number of tests to see if that new dataset is any good, but I like to browse through it by hand just to see how we are doing. Today I had a look at some place in Morocco I know quite well. One of them is Erfoud. It's a small town very close to the sand dunes. Nothing much to do there, besides renting a jeep that takes you to the dunes.

In the new dataset, we have a pretty nice Erfoud guide. There's even a nightlife section. It has one place: a bar where you can get fresh orange juice, and that's how I remember the nightlife of this desert town. And there's a bunch of places to go eating out.

The top spot is taken by...

The snail street vendor. There are street vendors offering snails all over Morocco. I'm not much of a snail eater myself, but apparently this one does a great job making snail snacks. We even have the guys location:

Day one of the Jamboree

Sunny weather, a stately canal house in the centre of Amsterdam, 6 iPhones, 5 Macbooks, 4 ipads, 3 Galaxy S, 2 huge screens and 1 Yarvik: we're ready to rumble on day one of our Jamboree!

We started with a brainstorm to get in the mood. Jon got us all to share the most crazy ideas and then we voted to get just the 5 ideas that we really wanted to work on. And now: it's time to work!