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In Development: a Personal Travel Guide

In Development: a Personal Travel Guide

Personal Travel Guide (PTG) is being developed as part of the Atlanta Travelers Information Showcase for Battelle Inc. by a partnership of Hewlett Packard, Etak, Skytel, SanDisk, Marriott and Metro Networks. PTG is envisioned as a portable electronic street map, business guide and real-time traffic information system. The application programming is being done by Etak Inc., the worlds leading provider of digital street maps.

An initial screen shows an overview map of a particular area, in this example, Atlanta, GA. Map manipulation is available using the softkeys, F9 for zoom in, F10 for zoom out, and the arrow keys to scroll the view. There are three sets of softkey labels accessible in a ring using the More softkey. Only the first is shown here.

Personal Travel Guide opening screen shows an overview map of a particular area, in this example, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Press (MENU) Travel and select the Traffic option to provide real-time traffic incident and speed information which will be provided to the application via a Skytel 2-way pager link, with an Etak Traffic Workstation as the data source.

Another particularly useful item on the Traffic menu is the Address option, which helps you find a particular address on the map. Select Address, fill in a street address or intersection and press Find. It is often possible to have more than one match to a set of address inputs and a dialog box displays the resulting matches. Highlight the desired match and press (F10) to display a map of the city with the address location displayed as a black dot. The map is zoomed to the area of our match, which is displayed as a dot with a blinking selection box surrounding it. This point will continue to display as the map is zoomed and panned.

The Address option lets you display the location of a particular address on a map.

The Places option, accessed from the main menu, lets you locate "Places of Interest," "Food," "Hotels," "Banks" and "Gas" (stations). Most selections from this menu show businesses or attractions as icons on the map. The tab key can be used to move the selection box from one icon to the next, and a description of that particular icon is displayed in the information line just above the softkeys.

The Places option also provides a "Guide and Yellow Pages" option, which lets you select categories of places and qualify them (i.e., select all attractions within three mile of your location). Category and qualifier items are set up as listboxes whose items are viewed and selected using the Arrow Keys. The Guide and Yellow Pages dialog box looks like this:

The Guide and Yellow Pages dialog box in the Places menu lets you select Category, Qualifier, Name, and Distance from current location.

So if we selected "Attractions" from the Category field, "All" from the Qualifier field, and "3" from the Distance field, Personal Travel Guide would display a map similar to the one shown below.

Use the Guide and Yellow Pages option to select places of a particular type within a specific radius of your location. You can then display the results of that selection on a map of the area.

The 17 matches are shown on the screen, with one initially selected, surrounded by the blinking selection box, with information shown on the information line.

The developers initially considered using the "Lotus Handheld Application Programming Interface (LHAPI) to write a straight System-Manager compliant application. But because the developers would be using a number of large model utility libraries for functions such as geocoding and map display, and because of the sheer amount of functionality involved, the developers opted to write a large model PAL application instead. Given the short development schedule (is there any other kind?), PAL has been a lifesaver. Just the right amount of functionality is supplied, valuable things such as menus and dialog boxes, without an overwhelming framework to get in the way. The source code distribution made it easy to compile, made it easy to correct problems as they were brought to light on CompuServe, and even made it easy to make our own minor modifications.

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