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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

Apologies if this has been asked before and feel free to point me to an appropriate discussion but I couldn't find one with the search.

The OpenChargeMap App, at least on Android... is it just me that finds it hopeless? The search doesn't work properly, the maps frequently don't load, particularly when zooming in and out, it doesn't exit when you press "Back" from the main screen, and the locations seem to be extremely unreliable.

I hugely applaud the idea behind it but while the App certainly looks slick, I've found it totally unusable.

Or is it just me?

It's a real pity as the idea is great, a big thumbs up to those working on it, just looking forward to it actually, well, working...

Are there any other apps? The MyAmpera app seems pretty good in this respect but doesn't show all charging points.

Thanks all
Richard
 

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I agree that the app isn't all that helpful at times.
I actually just look at it on a computer rather than my phone, not ideal but does the job.....
 

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Tesla Model S, Ford Transit Flt Bed (Smiths), Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Vectrix VX-1, Aixam Mega City
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I've found the maps give problems on my iPhone if location services are deactivated
 

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Hi Guys, I've the developer of the Open Charge Map system (including the current app). Honest feedback is hugely appreciated, it's something I only rarely get.

The app (on mobile devices and at http://openchargemap.org/app) is one view of OCM and it's OCM not in itself, just one of the tools. The app is currently a cross-platform HTML5 app, this means it just uses web stuff to deliver an app-like experience. The reason for this is so that I only have to maintain one set of code (which I do in my spare time), rather one set for each platform (iOS, Android , Windows Phone etc). The compromise is that it can have a few rough edges that need extra sorting out. The main compromise here though is that it doesn't use the native mapping on each platform, instead using a web page version (which can never be as slick). That said, usability isn't all about technology choice, sometime it just because work work is needed (and it is). On iOS it doesn't help that I don't own a Mac, that makes it especially tricky.

My plan for the app is to adopt a more Map-centric view and iron out some of the more obvious deficiencies in how the map view works. Currently though it's just at the ideas stage and I'm constantly considering different approaches. Editing/Adding locations may move entirely to the web and this currently makes the app more complicated than it needs to be. I've started working an app for Windows 8.1/Windows Phone 8.1 which uses OCM data using the native mapping as an experiment to see how much work is actually required just to do all native - this will eventually be released under a different name but will be 'powered by openchargemap.org'.

@martinwinlow re: tomtom do you mean importing POI's via SD card or similar? The issue there is keeping it up to date and filtering it. Also OCM wouldn't have the time to do specific work for each make/model of satnav so you'd need a POI conversion tool instead. The OCM API can be used to generically export the POI list. I'm not aware of an easy/working method to publish OCM POI data into google maps, the example you pointed to is manually maintained.

@Richard Gledhill thanks for the feedback, I need you to be as specific as possible though - 'search not working' etc doesn't really tell me enough to fix anything, because obviously the search works in general but something about it doesn't work for you. As mentioned above, the maps view is pretty crap and needs a lot of work - the question is if it didn't have a map at all would that mean the app is then generally usable? The list view should be working fine for you though. Thanks for pointing out the issue with the back button not exiting, I hadn't noticed that has stopped working. You mention that the locations are unreliable - I can't help you there as I don't provide any locations myself, the community and sources such as the UK Charge Point Registry (and other sources in other countries) do that. My suggestion would be to use the Comment feature where you see issues or even better Sign In and use the Edit function to fix what you see is wrong.

@Ecoskene yes, the maps (specifically gelocation/find near me) will struggle a bit if you switch of location services, it should still work for searching by location name though.

@Hoa Tu if you need any help getting things work let me know, the OCM API is definitely the way to go as you can also use it to fetch user comments about locations and media items (photos), where present. You can optionally cache the data locally (probably at a country specific level), assuming the user has the option to refresh it whenever they like.There is an outdated Java version of the data model at https://github.com/openchargemap/ocm-system/tree/master/API - feel free to fork that and submit your changes - I'm looking for a generic model definition tool which will spit out C#/Obj-C/java /Javascript - might be Haxe?

Thanks all for the feedback, any offers of help/support/sponsorship for development are appreciated.

Cheers,
Christopher Cook
openchargemap.org
 

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Hi Christopher, thanks for the feedback. The html5 stuff explains why it works well on a computer, but is less successful on iphone and ipad.
If you want help with testing, replicating issues, etc, I have iphone, ipad and windows phone devices I can test it with.

Otherwise, the concept is good, and the information and the way it displays works well on my laptop, so that you for bringing it all together. :)

Cheers

Lee
 

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Hi Guys, I've the developer of the Open Charge Map system (including the current app). Honest feedback is hugely appreciated, it's something I only rarely get.

The app (on mobile devices and at http://openchargemap.org/app) is one view of OCM and it's OCM not in itself, just one of the tools. The app is currently a cross-platform HTML5 app, this means it just uses web stuff to deliver an app-like experience. The reason for this is so that I only have to maintain one set of code (which I do in my spare time), rather one set for each platform (iOS, Android , Windows Phone etc). The compromise is that it can have a few rough edges that need extra sorting out. The main compromise here though is that it doesn't use the native mapping on each platform, instead using a web page version (which can never be as slick). That said, usability isn't all about technology choice, sometime it just because work work is needed (and it is). On iOS it doesn't help that I don't own a Mac, that makes it especially tricky.

My plan for the app is to adopt a more Map-centric view and iron out some of the more obvious deficiencies in how the map view works. Currently though it's just at the ideas stage and I'm constantly considering different approaches. Editing/Adding locations may move entirely to the web and this currently makes the app more complicated than it needs to be. I've started working an app for Windows 8.1/Windows Phone 8.1 which uses OCM data using the native mapping as an experiment to see how much work is actually required just to do all native - this will eventually be released under a different name but will be 'powered by openchargemap.org'.

@martinwinlow re: tomtom do you mean importing POI's via SD card or similar? The issue there is keeping it up to date and filtering it. Also OCM wouldn't have the time to do specific work for each make/model of satnav so you'd need a POI conversion tool instead. The OCM API can be used to generically export the POI list. I'm not aware of an easy/working method to publish OCM POI data into google maps, the example you pointed to is manually maintained.

@Richard Gledhill thanks for the feedback, I need you to be as specific as possible though - 'search not working' etc doesn't really tell me enough to fix anything, because obviously the search works in general but something about it doesn't work for you. As mentioned above, the maps view is pretty crap and needs a lot of work - the question is if it didn't have a map at all would that mean the app is then generally usable? The list view should be working fine for you though. Thanks for pointing out the issue with the back button not exiting, I hadn't noticed that has stopped working. You mention that the locations are unreliable - I can't help you there as I don't provide any locations myself, the community and sources such as the UK Charge Point Registry (and other sources in other countries) do that. My suggestion would be to use the Comment feature where you see issues or even better Sign In and use the Edit function to fix what you see is wrong.

@Ecoskene yes, the maps (specifically gelocation/find near me) will struggle a bit if you switch of location services, it should still work for searching by location name though.

@Hoa Tu if you need any help getting things work let me know, the OCM API is definitely the way to go as you can also use it to fetch user comments about locations and media items (photos), where present. You can optionally cache the data locally (probably at a country specific level), assuming the user has the option to refresh it whenever they like.There is an outdated Java version of the data model at https://github.com/openchargemap/ocm-system/tree/master/API - feel free to fork that and submit your changes - I'm looking for a generic model definition tool which will spit out C#/Obj-C/java /Javascript - might be Haxe?

Thanks all for the feedback, any offers of help/support/sponsorship for development are appreciated.

Cheers,
Christopher Cook
openchargemap.org
I commend you for taking the HTML5 approach. My biggest issue is the responsiveness of the mapping. Slow load times, poor draw performance.

Rather than use native mapping why not stay platform independent and use the Google maps api? Ok, it's not open standards but it's fast, ubiquitous, HTML5 friendly and feature rich.

I also .have real problems with click detection when trying to click on a map marker it seems to have problems detecting if I want to scroll. Take a look at Mobile Boilerplate fast click handlers - might help (though if you use Maps api and their markers Google.should manage this for you)
 

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One thing I can't work out on the iOS app is how to exit from the image viewer. Once I'm looking at an uploaded photo, I can't figure out how to get back into the previous screen. I end up having to close the app and reopen. Maybe I'm just missing something?

Christopher, where should one report bugs or suggestions? Is there an official place to do so? Whilst the app can sometimes be a bit clunky, I still find it really useful and the most reliable way to find charging points whilst on the move.
 

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Feature request: I'd like to be able to "share a link" to a specific charge site.

I can't find any way to do this from either your website or the web application.

I'd like to be able to send/share a link that would go specifically to the charge point information and/or centre and select it on the map.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi Christopher,

Firstly many thanks for taking the time to post and join in the discussions here on the forum. My main gripe really is with the mapping - Google maps would be far superior; it simply doesn't load the map, more often than not, and zooming in/out has no effect. Even if I give it a couple of minutes to download the map, it still never appears. I'm a software engineer by trade so I'm pretty reasonable when it comes to the foibles of systems like Android ;) but equally it means I know what should be possible, though of course I would never claim it's easy nor in any way undermine the effort you've put in so far.

As an example: I've just started the App while sitting here at my desk in Coventry with a good Wifi connection and GPS coverage. All I'm getting is a blank grey map with the +- zoom buttons and a mysterious 2 in the middle. Swiping around or pressing +- does absolutely nothing although the +- buttons do highlight when they're tapped.

If I go back to the main menu and do Search, then Search near me, I do indeed get a list (a good thing :)) but then when I click on Map, I'm back to my grey map with a couple of 2s on it this time. It still says "Leaflet | (c) OpenStreetMap contributors) in the bottom right, I just don't get any map.

If I click ona search result in the list, I do get a properly-formed page for that charging point, complete with a map picture which has been statically generated originally from Google.

Back on the search screen again, if I put in a location that could be ambiguous or isn't recognised (e.g. "St Ives", of which there are two in the UK), it seems to just pick one (in this case the one in Cornwall) and give results for that, rather than offering a selection of the possibilities.

Hope this helps in some way! It has the potential to be exceptionally useful for EVers but at the moment is rather frustrating...

Many thanks
Richard
 

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet but has anyone here given PlugShare a go?

It's not focused on any one network, has a decent selection of charge points in the UK and has the best mobile app I've seen in this category. I use iOS and the app is great.

Anyone can easily add charge stations, check in, report the working status of the point and inform others of how long they plan to charge for.

It is US focused but I was pleasantly surprised by the number of charging stations shown in the UK. Interestingly, many other countries are covered as well and you can see just how many rapids are available elsewhere, Japan for example. (Hint: Wow! :cool:)
 

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Hi Guys, sorry didn't notice the replies, was thinking I was setup for emails. Thanks again for more feedback.

You can provide feedback via the site forum or (I think preferably now) the google+ community:
https://plus.google.com/communities/112113799071360649945

I've updated the web version of the app at http://openchargemap.org/app to go back to using Google Maps. We'd used OSM/Leaflet out of solidarity for open-ness but google have the resources to test on more devices etc. I've thrown in some new map marker icons (the previous ones were the default from the Leaflet mapping library) and even a Legend(!). There is not a Refresh Results button on the map screen which will do a search based on the map centre. so if you move the map to Paris for instance and hit the button, you'll get new results. One day this will be an automatic search.

There seems to be a bug setting the bounds of the map so sometime the view zooms right out to the whole world, just zoom back in for now.

If this is voted as an overall improvement I'll update the Android app first, then move onto iOS.

Chris
 

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I can't add photos from my Android device. I was going to go round all my local charge points too :-(
Ok, what version of Android are you on and is this using the installed app or the web version linked above? Can you describe the error/fault you see?

Generally though I've found that it's best to take the photos as you go then upload them later when you're on WiFi (depends on your connection I suppose). If you're on a slower connection the multi-MB image files are pretty slow to upload.
 

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Sometimes I really don't like it when you "have" to call on the big boys like Google and Facebook to help power your tools, but you know, sometimes they just work so well you're daft to ignore them. :)

At least you're listening and acting, I really wish Ecotricity were so active with their map "issues"! :D
 

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Ok, what version of Android are you on and is this using the installed app or the web version linked above? Can you describe the error/fault you see?

Generally though I've found that it's best to take the photos as you go then upload them later when you're on WiFi (depends on your connection I suppose). If you're on a slower connection the multi-MB image files are pretty slow to upload.
Thanks for the reply. I'm on a Galaxy Note 3 OS version 4.4.2 and I'm using the Android app.

I select the charge point and then select the camera icon from the top bar. This then gives me a "Choose photo" prompt with the text "No File Chosen"
Pressing the "Choose file" makes the button flash but nothing else.
 

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Thanks for the reply. I'm on a Galaxy Note 3 OS version 4.4.2 and I'm using the Android app.

I select the charge point and then select the camera icon from the top bar. This then gives me a "Choose photo" prompt with the text "No File Chosen"
Pressing the "Choose file" makes the button flash but nothing else.
Looked into the problem, its a known issue with the android 4.4 webview for file uploads and will require an OS update as a proper fix. As a workaround you could use chrome or Firefox on Android and just use http://openchargemap.org/app instead of the installed app. In the meantime I'll investigate other options.

Chris
 
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