New route finder application KevNav

If you need to find your way from ‘a’ to ‘b’ you have a number of options available to you, with the most modern of these being to use a SatNav. However, some people (hello!) find their nagging insistence that you do what they tell you somewhat annoying, so very rarely bother to use them.

A less technical solution might be to look at a map, and work out a suitable route from that – and somewhere between the two, there are online solutions to finding that route, such as your favourite in-browser mapping system which, as well as allowing you to find a location, typically offer to provide step by step directions to get there from a given starting point.

Kevin Wells has just released a new application that allows you to do that from the RISC OS desktop.

KevNav allows you to input your start and end points – as UK postcodes – and will, using Wget, interrogate the Transport API website to find a suitable route between them. There are options to have distances reported in either Imperial or Metric form, and to find a route suitable for either a motor vehicle or a bicycle.

The results are then displayed as step-by-step instructions, which can be saved as a plain text, HTML, or KML file. The plain text option will allow you to use the directions in another application – perhaps to reformat and tidy them, then print them for use on a journey. The HTML option would allow the directions to be easily incorporated into a website – for example, if you want to provide visitors to your RISC OS show with easy directions from the nearest railway station.

And finally, the KML – or Keyhole Markup Language – file provides a way to pass geographical information to a mapping application that can understand the format, such as RiscOSM to plot the route on a map. The XML-based notation incorporates coordinates that make up the route – though these extend beyond the directions given, because twists and turns in roads have to be taken into account, as well as the junctions you’ll need to be aware of for the step by step instructions.

The current version KevNav only provides the shortest route between the two postcodes, but Kevin notes that should the API change to allow more options, he’ll look at how to make use of that for additional possibilities for future versions.

If KevNav is a useful tool in your arsenal of applications, why not consider rewarding its developer by buying some merchandise or bunging him a few quid.

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