Social Hiking will be closing down permanently on 1 July 2021.

I regret to inform you that Social Hiking will be closing down permanently on 1 July 2021.

Ordnance Survey have announced that the OS OpenSpace service (that Social Hiking uses to display OS maps) is being withdrawn in August 2021 to be replaced by a new service.

Whilst the new service has a free tier which may be sufficient, costs, which are based on map tile downloads, could quickly ramp up and exceed any income we receive.

Implementing the new service is also tricky – we use a library which helps to switch between OS and Google Maps. This third party library has not been updated for 8 years and does not support the new service, so I would have to rewrite all the map integrations.

Ultimately we could just support Google Maps, but I am under no illusions that, whilst we have a number of non-UK based subscribers, the majority of subscribers use Social Hiking for the OS maps, and there are plenty of better alternatives that use other mapping products.

Ordnance Survey changing their API (APIs are how we integrate with other services) is just the straw that broke the camel’s back – the Flickr API has been broken since Flickr was bought by SmugMug, the Twitter and Instagram integrations are using depreciated APIs (ones that will get turned off soon), and it is only a matter of time before Garmin replace the old Delorme API and SPOT / Viewranger turn off their 10 year old APIs.

Despite best intentions and a burst of enthusiasm each time the site is rescued from closing, I need to face the hard truth that I do not have the space in my life to undertake even a fraction of the required development to keep the site going. I run a growing business, I have a young family and I need to keep on top of my mental and physical health.

Perhaps the hardest truth to face is that I no longer believe in Social Hiking. Social media is now a hugely negative influence on society, dividing us whilst carving up our likes and dislikes to better propagate inequality and difference. Our culture of sharing for likes and clicks is impacting on our collective mental health and distorting the everyday reality of all our lives. With hindsight, I am actually a little ashamed of the small part I played in this process.

There are still some echoes of a more positive past, and it is no coincidence that the majority of subscribers have been with us since the early days. You are wonderful people, many of whom have become friends. Watching you in the early days of the site interacting with each other on Twitter and becoming friends is perhaps one of the things I am most proud of. I am sorry to let you down, but it is finally time to call time.

A few practical details – anyone who subscribed after 31 June 2020 will get a full refund, and all other renewals will be cancelled so you can continue to use the site until the last day at no additional cost. We will also let anyone taking part in TGO 2021 (if it is able to go ahead) be able to use the site. All maps still have GPX, KML and raw data file download options (the latter can be used to recreate your map if you have some technical skills). I would not recommend using the self hosted map option as that will break when the OS change occurs. Please let me know if you have any other archive requirements and I will see what I can do.

2020 has been a shit year – if you have subscribed, are suffering financial hardship and have not been able to use the site, then please get in touch and we can arrange a refund.

Take care, stay safe and I hope to see you on a hill, mountain or Tor sometime.

Phil

Should we stay or should we go?

Earlier this year I announced Social Hiking was going to close after 2018’s TGO Challenge in late May.  As you have probably noticed, the site is still up and running!

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Exporting your data from Social Hiking

Here are a few ways you can export your data out of Social Hiking before the site closes on 27th May (including a few new features)

[UPDATED 21/05: Supporters (past and present) are able to self host their old maps after Social Hiking closes – see below]

GPX / KML

As long as you have selected the option to allow exporting of GPX / KML files for a map (and it is not live) then you can download a gpx or kml file.

Next to the title on each map page will be a ‘GPX’ and ‘KML’ download icon.

TIP: GPX files are always ‘routes’ if you are not logged in – logged in users will download the GPX files as ‘tracks’ (with timestamps)

Raw Data File

The GPX / KML download option only exports the location data on the map. Unfortunately Social Hiking cannot provide a mechanism to export the media linked to maps directly, however logged in users can now download the underlying raw data file that Social Hiking uses to generate a map. This file contains details of both the points making up the track(s) / route(s) but also the text that is outputted for each marker that appears on the map.

TIP: before exporting the raw data file for a map, edit the map, save without making any changes and then wait for the ‘scheduled to be updated’ icon disappears from the map list. This ensures the markers are updated to use the latest code which fixes the file to work better after Social Hiking.

As you look at a map, there will be a big ‘DOWNLOAD RAW DATA FILE’ button under the title and description:

The format for this file is not standard, however it would be possible for a third party developer to either support the file for an existing service, or develop something that would enable Social Hiking maps to live on (any interested developers please get in touch). Supporters can use these files to host standalone Social Hiking maps (see below).

Bagged Peaks

There is now the ability to download your entire history of bagged peaks – just log in, click on the ‘peaks’ tab, and then click on the ‘DOWNLOAD YOUR PEAK BAGGING DATA’ button.

The data is outputted as a csv file with the following fields:

Date Bagged, Name, Height, Latitude, Longitude, Feature, Classification, Country, Geoname ID, DBH (Database of British Hills) Classification

Whilst I am thinking about peaks, you can view the handful of peak lists that were setup, including the ‘leaderboard’ and a GPX export at:

  1. Dartmoor Rocks and Tors – http://www.shareyouradventure.com/features/baglist/1/tors-rocks-of-dartmoor (congratulation to Paul for getting 100%)
  2. The Wainwrights – http://www.shareyouradventure.com/features/baglist/2/the-wainwrights (congratulations to Eddie, Martin and Gary for getting 100%)
  3. The Munros – http://www.shareyouradventure.com/features/baglist/3/munros (so close Dave with 99%)
  4. Hills of Dartmoor – http://www.shareyouradventure.com/features/baglist/4/hills-of-dartmoor

Raw Data Export

For supporters (past and current) only, if you want more data extracted from the database ‘raw’ then just get in touch and I will see what I can do.


No automated exports?

No – I thought long and hard about whether to put together the ability to automatically export gpx or raw data files but in the end decided not to. As I looked through my maps, whilst some are very important to me (Offa’s Dyke for example), there are a lot of maps that could easily disappear without my noticing, and I am sure it is the same for you. Ultimately, now is probably a good time to do a bit of curation, work through your maps, match them with gpx files stored elsewhere and decide what to keep and what to lose.

Supporter Standalone Maps

If you are (or have been) a supporter, then you can self-host standalone Social Hiking maps (the full size / iframe versions) after the site closes on 27th May. This involves several stages:

  1. For each of your maps, download the raw data file (see above) and the self hosted map file. The self hosted map file can be downloaded by clicking on the new ‘Download Self Hosted Map’ button next to the ‘Download Raw Data File’. It is really import that you do this before 27th May obviously!!
  2. Get in touch with me at phil@shareyouradventure.com to ask for the additional files required to self host maps (the styles, scripts and images). I will also be able to give you more detailed instructions.
  3. Get a square profile image you want to use for yourself.
  4. So far fairly easy… but now it gets bit more complicated. You will need a Google Maps key, which you can get at https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/javascript/get-api-key. Google have just introduced a new pricing mechanism which, although you should not hit the limits that require payment, is a hassle to setup.
  5. I have not completely tested it, but the standalone maps should also support OS maps if you get a key from: https://openspaceregister.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/osmapapi/register.do
  6. Finally,the hard bit – you need to update the standalone map files to include the key, and then upload all the files to your server.

Please note I can only give minimal support to resolve any issues.

Social Hiking to close on 27th May 2018

After 8 years of helping you share your outdoor adventures, both big and small, Social Hiking will be closing permanently on 27th May 2018.

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Setting up Social Hiking for TGO Challenge [updated for 2018]

Last year, for the seventh year, Social Hiking had a group map running for Social Hiking users on the TGO Challenge (view the TGO Challenge 2017 group map). The map displayed the progress of several hikers live as they made their way from the west to east coast of Scotland.

This year we have been asked to provide the same service again for anyone who wishes to share their progress on the TGO Challenge. If you are new to Social Hiking but what to share your challenge, this post covers how to register, setup your location sources, link media accounts and create your map ready for your challenge. Although specifically for TGO Challengers, other users may find some of the sections useful.

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Last chance to get your place at the Social Hiking community weekend

‘Right in the very heart of Devon, Dartmoor is a landscape of stunning views, awe inspiring granite tors, deep wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers, and rugged, wide open spaces.’

Visit Dartmoor’s description of the moor is perfect. Once you have visited, Dartmoor finds its place in a corner of your heart and never lets you go. From one day to the next she can change from being rugged, wild and a challenge to overcome, to suddenly being gentle and welcoming. Whatever the day brings, Dartmoor is always beautiful and unique.

Over the years we have encouraged many people to discover Dartmoor, and we think it is the perfect place for the first Social Hiking Community Weekend.  We are excited to have the sole use of a cozy self-catering bunkhouse with a log fire right on the moor on Saturday 22nd October.

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Virgin Money Giving Integration is back!

When I was first asked to integrate Virgin Money Giving with Social Hiking to match the existing JustGiving integration (quite a few years ago now) I hit a fairly major stumbling block. Virgin Money Giving, a fairly new site at the time, did not have an official API (Application Programming Interface – the magic that allows sites to integrate with each other). Instead I had to use an unofficial setup someone had knocked together which created the data I needed from the actual web pages on Virgin Money Giving. Roll forward a few years and this ‘bodge’ broke horribly with subsequent updates to Virgin’s website. The good news however is that they have also released an official API… so…. after a surprising amount of development time…. Virgin Money Giving integration is back!

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Updates to peak bagging feature: notifications, more peaks, manually add missed peaks or remove bagged peaks

Screenshot of manage bagged peaks page

Automatic peak bagging is one of the most popular features of Social Hiking. Originally based on a concept from Steven Horner (@stevenhorner), the basic idea is simple – as you share your position (either live or from a gpx file upload), Social Hiking compares each location to a database of peaks (mountains and hills) to see if you were on the top, and rewards you accordingly with a special icon and the kudos of having bagged the peak.

Over the years, especially the last year, there have been quite a few improvements to automatic peak bagging –

  • support for other geographical  features, especially passes (often more relevant than mountains to hikers in places like The Alps for example) was added
  • a peaks page was added to let you browse all the peaks in the database on a map and view league tables of the most popular peaks and the top peak baggers (by country and type of peak)
  • each peak has it’s own page, so you can browse routes to a specific peak and get in touch with the people who have bagged it the most
  • you can browse a list of peaks bagged by a specific user in chronological order [if the user is a supporter]
  • if you are logged in, peaks you have bagged are marked in red throughout the site

Over the last month, a further set of updates have been rolled out……

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