Launching MapHub Beta

If you remember how the Internet looked before YouTube, you would never forget how every website implemented custom video players, which were half broken, half waiting for Flash to load, and all shared one thing in common: they were all black boxes you could not interact with: there was no way to watch videos pleasantly on mobile devices, to share them with friends, to download them or to interact with their creator.

Today, 11 years after Google Maps and OpenStreetMap have launched, the landscape for creating, sharing and embedding maps on websites is largely the same: every website implements a custom map viewer, or sometimes just a Google Maps screenshot, which at the end are all so similar to what video players used to be: black boxes with no way to view them pleasantly on mobile devices, to download their data or to collaborate with their author.

Google tried an alternative with My Maps, but the platform is so closed that most websites prefer not to use it and have no choice but to keep implementing custom solutions.

I believe there has to be an open alternative: a map platform which allows anyone to create maps which can be shared, embedded on websites or downloaded to any mobile app a user prefers to use.

So, after years of experimenting with simulating holograms on tablet screens, working on making an educational OS for the Raspberry Pi and hacking educational games using 3D sensors, at one point I realised that if no one is going to create this website I should try doing it myself.

This idea got so strong, that after living in the UK for 5 years, I left my London life, returned to my home city, Budapest, and decided to start working on MapHub full-time. It was a really intense time, learning about the rich ecosystem of open-source tools around OpenStreetMap, setting up my own full-planet tile-server, implementing an interactive map editor and trying to create importers and exporters for crazy file formats like KML.

In the meantime my good friend Gergely from Holfuy weather stations joined me part time, and after eight months of this intense learning, experimenting and hacking time I guess we can finally call MapHub beta public.

I will be writing more about the technical details and how we built MapHub, but for now, we would love if you could share your feedback with us, either on our forums, or by emailing us.

Zsolt
(hyperknot)