Online application design: Walk The Thames Path
Online application design. We were approached by a client asking whether we could create a web site specifically based around ‘Walking The Thames Path’ that would provide his clients with the ability to plan, map and book hotels for their walking holiday by creating a route based upon daily walking distances. Chris in our online application department put his hand up for the job.
What we did
This requirement consisted of two sites, with the front end operating on a WordPress site and the back end, which managed the route, was developed in .Net running on a Windows Server.
The WordPress web design was developed first which then gave our client the ability to manage the site further so that news updates, such as flooding alerts could be uploaded for his clients to view. See walk the Thames path here.
The backend was more complicated requiring online application design, and this involved two sections, the user interface, and the management interface.
Online application design: Management interface
The management interface allowed our client full access to carry-out the following: –
- Create a Map of the Thames from the source in Gloucester to its outlet in London using a grid system.
- Within this map, icons can then be added, representing, accommodation, landmarks, areas of interest, locks, pubs, restaurants etc. Further information an image, description and link can be added that pops up on clicking the icon.
- Icons and the path are drag and dropped on to the canvas. To produce a schematic of the Thames. Icons can be removed easily. The path is not a straight line and crosses the river and leaves the river several times. So, the path itself is a series of horizontal and vertical footsteps that can laid to mimic the path itself.
- The ability to add new map tiles not just at the end of the path but between existing map tiles
- Breakpoints and distances can be added to all the map markers. We have also given the ability to add the exact longitude and latitude coordinated to the map markers
- User management module
- Client Itinerary management
- The ability of customers to pay a deposit and the balance of their holiday online
For users wishing to plan their route, they could create their own account, login and plan their holiday. This system provides the ability to select a starting point or end point of their choice, and based on the daily walking distance that was chosen, the system would work out a daily route for the amount of days selected, going East or West. At the end of the daily route, accommodation tabs (Hotels, B&B’s, Airbnb, Camp Sites etc..) are displayed so that you can click on the link, view the hotel information, and make a booking.
Not only can accommodation be booked, Pub/Restaurants, Places of interest can also be booked all through one interface; but that’s not all. You can book Airport pickups and even arrange for your luggage to be couriered each day between your accommodation.
Online application design (.net) overcoming problems
- We tried a few tiled versions of the map of the Thames but to produce an easily navigable version of the Thames. We stretched the river into a straight horizontal Line.
- Calculation of distances walked was a tough nut to crack. We decided to have break points along the river, points along the route that leave the Thames path. Assuming travellers would like to walk the whole path, we calculated that if a traveller leaves the path they would re-join the path at the same break point. So, we needed to calculate the distance from a break point to the nearest hotel and back again.
- In producing the itinerary, we have to consider the distant a traveller would like to walk in a day, say 10 miles. We needed some validation so only the hotels within this distance are displayed but we have added a couple of miles threshold so travellers can view book the next few hotels.
- Navigating 150 tiles to book 6 hotels is not an easy task, so when booking hotels, travellers booking their holiday can view just the tiles of the maps with hotels on them.
- Navigation: We have used a two step navigation system sliding tiles and below it a sliding bar so browsers can navigation to the whole of the Thames Path with ease.
- In order for people that are familiar with the Thames path we have a text booking system and visual mapping booking interface.
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