Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Is ActiveX stopping you from using online mapping on your Mac or PC? We have the solution

When an online mapping service crashes or fails to display maps properly many service providers blame you. They tell you that there’s something wrong with your ISP or the way your PC is set up.

The root of the problem, however, can frequently be found in the ActiveX software you are required to download in order to run some online mapping services. ActiveX will only work with a limited range of hosts - usually Windows in combination with Internet Explorer (IE). This means that whenever a new version of IE comes out you need to install an ActiveX update.

This problem was highlighted when Windows 7 was released. The ‘professional’ mapping service providers using ActiveX did not respond quickly enough and customers were left in limbo. They were given no idea of when the new operating system would be supported and eventually waited a month and a half before the problem was resolved. We are all busy enough already, surely this is a hassle we can do without.

The problems with ActiveX are magnified if you have to maintain it on a range of PCs. It will only ever work reliably on PC with a specific single combination of Windows and IE. Don’t bother to try using ActiveX on Firefox or Chrome – it simply won’t work. It won’t work on Linux or Macs either. So what’s the answer? Switch to a new mapping platform which doesn’t rely on ActiveX.

One of the reasons that FIND's online mapping platform is straightforward to use is that it doesn’t need ActiveX. Our technology uses Flash, a nifty programme that's automatically installed in over 95% of web browsers. We know that Flash is reliable. It’s behind powerful sites like the BBC and Youtube. FIND also works with Windows, Apple and Linux computers, as well as on Firefox, Chrome and IE web browsers. With FIND you don’t need to lift a finger or involve your IT department. We maintain the software and take care of updates and new releases behind the scenes, without you even noticing.

Register for FIND free here or find out more at

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Maps of High Speed Rail Link through Warwickshire

Earlier this year the Department for Transport announced the proposed route for a high speed rail link between Birmingham and London Euston. For about a third of its length the proposed route passes through Warwickshire.

Above, PDF of a background map with several geo-datasets layered over the top, including the proposed HS2 rail route through Warwickshire, property locations and ownership.

This will have a considerable impact on the area a major consultation is planned for next year. Following a chat with Mariam Crichton, Director of FIND, the team at Warwickshire County Council became excited about the prospect of using PDF mapping layers to inform that consultation process.

The team produced layered maps showing the proposed route of the rail link through the county. The maps show the locations of WCC property, ecological, archeological and historic landscape sites along the route. Also, the maps link to the detailed plans on the HS2 website.

Because PDF maps can be viewed regardless of hardware or operating system this makes them extremely accessible to the general public. In addition, they can be applied and viewed either individually or built up in layers. This gives much of the functionality of a sophisticated online mapping system, but at a fraction of the cost.

Using maps in this way has not only enabled the team at Warwickshire to inform the public about plans and the development of those plans, it has also allowed a broad range of interested parties to become involved in the process. The maps have also prompted people with detailed local knowledge to give valuable feedback. 

One of the team told us, "PDF maps have been of great help. We have had incredible user feedback from the public. It's a fantastic way to provide a wealth of mapping data in an easy to understand, accessible format. Users have even identified flaws which we have been able to correct."

At FIND we are delighted that the GIS team at Warwickshire County Council has used PDF mapping in such an innovative and imaginative way. Their work has helped to show the public what a powerful tool it can be.

HS2 WCC website

Monday, 18 October 2010

Avoiding the new conservation area constraints for estate agents

Recently, several Local Authorities have banned 'For sale' boards within conservation areas. In London this policy has already been adopted by several boroughs.

Kensington and Chelsea were the first to enforce the ban on 27th September shortly followed by Camden, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Westminster. The same restrictions currently apply in parts of Bath, Brighton, and Bristol; more Local Authorities are expected to follow suit.

Above, Conservation Areas over the FIND OS Plan map (OS MapsterMap Topography, 1:1250)

When new regulations like this are introduced it is essential that planners, developers and estate agents know about them. Failure to keep abreast of changes can result in additional costs and even legal action.

If you have the time to devote to searching for detailed information about how these restrictions apply you will find it no doubt tucked away on individual Local Authority websites. However, we know from experience that this can involve trawling through long and detailed planning documents - often emerging none the wiser about how your site is affected.

At FIND we have already done the searching for you. Our conservation area maps can be instantly viewed online, giving you the information you need to get on with the job in hand.

Conservation Areas on
FIND offers conservation areas to view and print over ordnance survey maps.
Tell me more

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ordnance Survey new pricing and licensing model

Last week the Ordnance Survey revealed phase one of its new pricing and licensing model, with phase two due out in the new year. The aim is to enable greater access to Ordnance Survey products and geographic datasets under a simplified structure.

Above, OS MasterMap on 

A lot of time and effort has obviously gone into creating these changes; the new model means companies like FIND will have greater flexibility in how they can onward license Ordnance Survey products. This will encourage more organisations to go online and use desktop analysis as a routine part of their work. Ultimately, there will be an increase in the use of sophisticated professional online mapping tools like

The new licensing arrangements will allow FIND to be more flexible and imaginative in how we use data to create web solutions for our clients. We look forward to even more progress in this direction from Ordnance Survey.

FIND offers several OS products to view, print and export:

1:1250 MasterMap - OS Plan
1:1250 MasterMap - FIND Map
1:10000 Ordnance Survey map "Street View"
1:10000 Ordnance Survey map "Street detail"
1:25000 Ordnance Survey map "Locale"
1:50000 Ordnance Survey map "Town"
1:250000 Ordnance Survey map "GB"
Boundaries (Parishes, Ward, Electoral division, Constituencies' Local authority district, County)
Contours (Panorama 50m)
Contours (Profile 5m - 10m)
Postal addresses
Postcode areas
Postcode districts