Firefox extension handles “geo:” URI

February 26th, 2007 by alex Leave a reply »

The first version of a firefox extension to handle geo-URIs is now available. The plugin uses a proxy to forward ‘geo:’ requests to a mapping service (currently Google Maps, we’re planning to make this configurable RSN).


(click screenshot to install)

The extension should be compatible with Firefox 1.5 and above – You might need to allow software installations from “p.geouri.org”, and firefox will need to be restarted.

After installation, clicking on the following link should bring up a map of Vienna’s city centre:

geo:48.208333,16.372778

As usual, feedback is appreciated – please note that this extension is currently at a “proof of concept” level, subsequent versions will provide more choice of mapping services via a configuration option. The extension should detect new versions automatically as we release them.

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24 comments

  1. Sean Gillies says:

    My first impression about the extension was positive, but now I think that it might undermine your proposal a bit by reminding people of http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#URI-registration. From section 2.4.1:

    One misguided motivation for registering a new URI scheme is to allow a software agent to launch a particular application when retrieving a representation. The same thing can be accomplished at lower expense by dispatching instead on the type of the representation, thereby allowing use of existing transfer protocols and implementations.

  2. Here is a much easier way:

    go to
    http://maps.google.com/
    Right click on the search box and select
    “Add a Keyword for this search”

    Fill in the fields:
    Name: Google Maps
    Keyword: geo:
    And hit “Add”

    Then go to your location bar and enter:

    geo: 48.208333,16.372778
    (with a space after “geo:”)
    or
    geo: vienna

    Don’t even need to install an extension.

  3. Christian says:

    Otto,

    Smart Keywords are certainly a very useful Firefox feature, but don’t you think it’s easier to click on a “geo:”-link instead of typing a “geo:”-string into the address-bar?

  4. Extension installed :-) Two comments:
    – Would be great if you could add it to the Firefox extension website: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/extensions/
    – Were you aware of this extension to ‘geolocate websites’? http://geolocatefox.mozdev.org/
    Have fun and good luck! :-)

  5. alex says:

    I actually have added it to the Firefox extensions site. We’re number 358 in the queue :-/

    Thanks for the pointer to the geolocate extension – i will check that one out.

  6. An additional comment. I guess a Wikipedia article on geoURI would be useful to spread the word about your efforts!

  7. Christian,

    There’s nothing stopping you from adding a link to a geographic location, for example like this:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=48.208333,16.372778

    See San Gillies comment (the first comment). Although this idea looks nice and sweet at first sight, it is not the kind of stuff a URI scheme should be used for. HTTP and FTP for example are all protocols, “geo” is not, it’s http by another name.

  8. alex says:

    Otto, a URI scheme is not neccessarily related to a protocal – it’s about identifying resources (a geographic location, in our case). For example, the ‘pres:’ scheme for presence, the ‘tel:’ for phone numbers, the ‘im:’ for instant messaging, ‘tag:’ URI scheme, etc. etc.

    A full list of all currently registered URI schemes can be found at IANA

    [edit:] This firefox plugin is only one example of potential protocol mappings of a geo: URI. Other applications could feed the URI into your GPS, or fire up Google Earth, or start navigating your car towards that point… Whatever application requires a geographic location could be driven by a geo: URI.

    (I am lazy, the firefox plugin just took me about a day :-)

  9. Well Alex you make me hesitate ;-)

    The way this add-on is described it seemed like a complicated way to do something that is very easy without add-on (ie. type “geo: ” in the location bar and be redirected to Google Maps).

    Now if you made an add-on that launched Google Earth, you’d at least have something that is not easily done without an add-on. It would also be a better example of what you propose the GeoURI to be.

  10. I’ve just produced an Applescript helper that opens geo URIs in Safari. You can find it here:

    http://www.hexten.net/2007/02/27/geo-uri-safari-helper

    Have fun :)

  11. Sorry no Safari/Mac here. Firefox/Linux.

  12. Presumably you can use the Firefox plugin then…

    The plugin at the top of the page works fine for me on FF/Linux and FF/Mac OS.

  13. Hamish says:

    what about more dimensions instead of just lon/lat?

    x,y,z,time,planet

    etc.

    Hamish

  14. axelm-geouri says:

    Hamish, we spun a few thoughts about this:

    “time” seems to be problematic, because a the URI should be a stable identifier of a location, not that location at a certain point in time time. It also introduces comparison issues (Is a geo: URI of the same location, just a fraction of a second later, still the same URI?)

    Regarding “planet”: The term “geographical” refers by itself already to our planet earth, and i suppose that mainstream use cases for identifying locations on other astronomical objects are way out of scope (at least in the next few years).

  15. Andy,

    You should read the comments above (I thought you reacted to this comment by providing a plugin that launched Google Earth):

    “Now if you made an add-on that launched Google Earth, you’d at least have something that is not easily done without an add-on. It would also be a better example of what you propose the GeoURI to be.”

    That isn’t available for Firefox/Linux.

    The original add-on has very little practical value as I explained in my first reaction the same (or at least very similar) thing can be done without any add-on.

    BTW, I do understand that it is supposed to be a proof of concept. I am just saying it would be a better proof of concept if it launched Google Earth instead of redirecting to Google Maps. Like yours but then for my setup.

  16. Yeah, sorry Otto. As you guessed I didn’t read the comments :)

    I haven’t had much luck getting GE to run on Ubuntu. I’m just downloading it to try it again. If I get it working and I get some time I’ll have a play with making the FF extension able to launch it.

  17. Sol Lancashire says:

    Neat idea. The first comment cut my enthusiasm though.

    I do have a suggestion though. I have become very accustomed to selecting text then right clicking and using the ‘Search Google for “???”‘ feature.

    It would be great if there was a ‘geoLocate “???” in Google Maps” You could have a configuration menu to select either Google Maps, Google Earth or others.

  18. David says:

    The MiniMap FF extension has more power to it’s elbow and for Mac fans iCab has geo detection built-in – providing the information is coded via either of the meta formats:
    meta name=”ICBM” or
    meta name=”geo.position”

  19. Andy Mabbett says:

    Better late than never: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geo_URI

    Please feel free to improve it!

  20. Algot Runebjörk says:

    Would you please update the plugin so it is possible to install it in firefox 3.6.10 (and later)?

  21. alex says:

    Hello Algot,

    i’m already working on an update – this should show up in the next few days. Thanks for your interest in the plugin!

    Alex

  22. Algot Runebjörk says:

    Firefox says it won’t install the plug in since it doesn’t have secure updates… :-(

  23. David says:

    Plugin still doesn’t work with Firefox 3.6.16

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