A long time ago I got a mountain bike. I liked it. I liked it a lot. Then I found myself employed by a GIS (computer mapping) company. There I learned to like maps along with a little something about web programming. Then I bought a GPS and all the puzzle pieces were there. Crankfire was born. Sort of. It sat there for a few years collecting dust and doing nothing. It finally got off the ground when I broke my ankle and spent the summer coding. On painkillers.
The idea behind Crankfire is to create a consise, organized, community driven, completely free and easy to use repository for everything mountain bike. The goal has always been to provide the information to make it easy and realistic for users to bike trails entirely unfamiliar to them.
We also wanted this venture to be as "Open Source" as possible. We are not looking to "cash in", we are honestly looking to be as philanthropic as possible and really want to cater to like minded entities.
Commitment to Open Data Format Standards
As GPS devices became part of (some of) our everyday life, companies did not seem to really want to agree on a standard format to exchange and store data. Whether it was to lock people into using their products and software for financial reasons or even because they honestly believed their format was the best - it put the consumer in a crappy place.
Times are changing though, a few consortium and companies have stepped up and championed a handful of different data formats that are both accessible and open standards. These formats allow websites like Crankfire.com to exist and successfully catalog and distribute data to all.
Crankfire.com prefers and supports these open formats:
- GPX: GPX (the GPS Exchange Format) is a light-weight XML data format for the interchange of GPS data (waypoints, routes, and tracks) between applications and Web services on the Internet.
- KML: Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is an XML-based language schema for expressing geographic annotation and visualization on existing or future Web-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers.
- GeoJSON: GeoJSON is a format for encoding a variety of geographic data structures. A GeoJSON object may represent a geometry, a feature, or a collection of features.
The Open Source Community
This site is built upon a framework of a lot of freely available and/or open source software. These scripts and programs represent thousands of hours of development that are then simply put out there for anyone to use, free of charge. Why? Well I like to think because these developers feel it will make the world a better place.
Without many of these, this site would not be nearly as fun as it is - so I would like to pay some homage:
- CodeIgniter Framework: CodeIgniter is a powerful PHP framework with a very small footprint, built for PHP coders who need a simple and elegant toolkit to create full-featured web applications.
- Google Maps API: Our mapping system is built upon the Google Maps API. Without it, well, we would use something else. It is pretty kickass though.