Thumbnail Cartography

    I remember such a funny incident. During my business trip to one of the now foreign cities, friends invited me and my companions to a beer bar. The matter is good, timely (the first snow was already falling on the street), so we gladly agreed. As we were told, the bar was located on the main street, it was quite famous and large, so we did not even go into too much detail like the exact address or notable landmarks. We hoped that we would find him anyway. As a result, we walked past the appointed place three times , until we guessed to see the exact address, using, as you might guess, a search in Opera Mini.

    You can regard this as advertising or something else, but Opera Mini browser turned out to be the most affordable and simple way to navigate in an unfamiliar city. And I can say that perhaps very soon it will be even easier to do this with the help of a miniature mobile browser thanks to the new service under the explicit name deCarta . Developers from the California company of the same name have prepared a special version of their service for use in Opera Mini. Naturally - while this is only a test and a very crude option, but there is already something to see live. Under the cut - a brief overview and many screenshots.

    So, as I said above, deCarta is a service that offers an interactive map of the whole world right in your mobile phone with Opera Mini browser installed. Using it is very simple - just go to :
    First you will be asked to indicate your location. Well, we indicate, for example, the city of St. Petersburg, choose a country ...
    ... and - voila! We find ourselves right in the capital of Russia, the hero city of Moscow.
    And I warned that the service is still quite crude. However, this is not the last bug in the service, so let's continue the study. Using magical triangles, which is not very convenient (whom I am deceiving is simply awful), we gradually still get to the settlement we need.
    I could not resist and asked deCarta developers why they did not provide for the ability to scroll the map with keys or manually (on devices with a touch screen). It turned out that it was not a strange love of triangles, but the limitations imposed by the Opera Mini browser itself and the hardware capabilities of inexpensive handsets: for smooth scrolling and scaling the maps, huge sheets of images would have to be loaded into the phone’s memory (carefully - traffic!). The excuse is so-so, of course, and I think that soon the developers will be able to solve this problem, since there is someone to learn from.

    By the way - about scaling. In order to get to this function, you still need to scroll up the page (in a real test on the phone the scale was already displayed at the bottom of the page) - then the scale switching scale will open:
    ... as well as some very useful links. Especially the second, Settings . As I understand it, after quite a long study of the service with the English interface, it is there that you can switch to the Russian version. This explains why my screenshots are made with different localization. The red lines on the map are not traffic jams, but federal roads. We, who grew up on Yandex.Tubes, are unlikely to get used to such an interpretation of color, and I don’t have to, I think: they promised to change it.

    In addition to useful links and a scale scale, there is another rather useful element here - a drop-down list of categories. You can choose, for example, a cafe and get on the map exact pointers to the nearest establishments of this category:
    If now we scroll down the page with the map again, then we will see a list of all the institutions that are in focus, with the name, phone (it is hidden behind the icon, when pressed, it is proposed to call this number) and the distance from you (more precisely, from point, which is the center of the map at the moment) to each institution.
    If you wish, you can see (most often - still theoretically) and some kind of image associated with the institution, as well as get a little more detailed information about it.
    Now let's go back a few screenshots - to the map of Peter. In the upper left area of ​​the screen there are a couple of curious icons - with a compass and an asterisk. Let's deal with them. The first is a search by address. In the sense - search for an address. More precisely ... In general - see for yourself. We press the “compass” and open a window with fields where you can specify some important data:
    After the data we have known have dried up and we don’t know what else to indicate, click the “Search” button (in fact, it seemed logical to add another button like "I'm lucky," but it's a matter of taste). As a result, we get comprehensive results that fully satisfy our curiosity:
    Let's make a temporary discount on the fact that the Russian language has always been considered by foreigners difficult to learn and understand. It is only strange that the second one was chosen from the “Nevsky Prospect” tandem as a keyword, so we can easily study all the prospectuses existing in St. Petersburg due to this unique feature of this funny bug.

    However, choosing the appropriate option from the proposed list, we get exactly where we wanted to:
    ... which in itself is already strange, because the map does not contain house numbers. I suspect that there are numbers, but they are stored in the database on the server, and are not temporarily displayed on the card. Yes, and it’s not necessary to find fault with the test version - the place was found, which was required ... Well - well, it wasn’t found, but at least it was indicated in the style of a request to stop a fixed-route taxi - "that's somewhere around here." Let's leave the developers to "finish" the search and try to poke an icon with an asterisk. In fact, everything is simple: the place that was at the time the center of the map was pressed is marked with the corresponding icon, and we can add some information to it:
    All our saved points will be placed in a certain archive, accessed by one of the convenient links which I talked about a little higher.

    This concludes the brief review and proceeds to the conclusions. I understand everyone who is now preparing to leave sarcastic comments - yes, I agree, for a long time we all have been using much more convenient and informative, and for many, completely specialized Java-applications in terms of traffic costs. But this service has certain advantages over competitors, such as:

    1. deCarta works around the world (and, by the way, the information content for many foreign cities is much higher );
    2. The service does not require the installation of additional specialized applications on the phone;
    3. The service will soon be integrated into Opera Mini by default;
    4. Service is not a development of Empire G;
    5. The bee’s flight speed is almost eight times higher than that of a bumblebee.

    However, the fifth paragraph does not apply to the topic, just an interesting scientific fact. As an indicator that the first four points of questions and objections do not cause.

    As I said above, the project is highly tested and has not yet shown its full potential. Much more is planned, including the addition of geolocation support, a more intuitive interface, and other improvements. By the way, those who wish can help in this matter - reviews and suggestions from the Russian-speaking audience can be sent to [at] Also noteworthy is the fact that deCarta has a certain shortage of Russian-speaking employees, so for someone active assistance in improving the service can result in a full-time job placement.

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