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Apr
11

Location Report WordPress Plugin

Several fellow cruisers asked me whether I can recommend a WordPress plugin for position reporting, that is, a plugin to show the latest position of your vessel on a map and normally also to show the route traveled so far. The truth is I cannot really recommend one. But what do you use on Pitufa.at? On Pitufa.at I use Geo Mashup, or rather a highly customized, old version of it. Why highly customized? Because it couldn’t do all the things I wanted. And now I can no longer update it…

Geo Mashup is a powerful and extensive plugin. It has one feature very important for sailors: you can report a position using a shortcode. Why is that important? Because in this way you can report your position by e-mail! We often post blog entries from underway or remote anchorages by e-mail via our SSB radio and when we include such a shortcode in the post, our position gets updated automatically. There are many other map and travel-route plugins available for WordPress, but I haven’t seen one that provides such a shortcode. Instead, those plugins extend the WordPress post editor or add administrative pages to your Dashboard, but that all is of no use when you don’t have Internet out there…

Some good plugins became orphans, that is, nobody maintains and updates the source code anymore. Sometimes the reason for that is simply because the plugin got too complex and had too many dependencies. For example, Google frequently changes its Google Maps JavaScript API, and each time the plugin needs a major rewrite…

To summarize, I cannot really recommend a position-reporting plugin because they either lack a position-update shortcode, are too complex and prone to run into updating difficulties or are orphaned already. For that reason I wrote a simple and modular plugin myself, called Location Report.

Location Report is purely and simply a position-reporting module, not a map plugin. It is used to record the location of only a single object, normally you (or your vehicle/vessel), so it’s tailor-made for travel blogs. It provides the [locationreport...] shortcode that lets you update your current location. It generates two kml files (Google Earth files). The first has a placemark of your current location and the second one shows the route along all your location reports. Those kml files can be displayed by one of the many available map plugins (e.g., OpenStreetMap or Flexible Map) in your WordPress blog.

I expect Location Report to be robust and long-living because of its small code with minimal dependencies. It does not have any administrative pages or GUIs and does not store anything in your WordPress database. The locations are only recorded in kml files, so your data is easily available and portable. Kml files are human-readable text files, so it’s even easy to manually edit them.

The Location Report plugin is and remains free and can be downloaded/installed from the official WordPress plugin repository.

1 comment

  1. Fons says:

    Hi Christian,
    We use winlink positionering update and a modified RSS reader plugin in combination with a Google map plugin.
    This work fine for us. Always a position update, even in the midle of nowhere.
    But you need a HAM radio callsign for this.
    Regards,
    Fons

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