We were really excited yesterday to launch Akvo RSR 1.0.4.

Continuing pace with our work on maps, we have added a new map widget for Plus Account users. This new widget, available now, allows partners to embed a Google map showing all of their projects in Akvo RSR. So not only can partners easily add Akvo project information to their own websites, they can now drop in a widget showing where all of their projects are. All with a quick copy and paste. This was a much-requested feature and we hope you’re all happy with it! We expect to do a lot more cool stuff with maps and geospatial visualisation in the future so watch this space.

Aside from maps, a few “under the hood” changes have been made in this new release. Akvo RSR now runs on the latest 1.2.5 release of Django and the Admin section of the site has been beefed up with some extra search presets to make locating projects even easier.

What happened to 1.0.3?

You may have noticed that we’ve gone from releasing version 1.0.2 to version 1.0.4. What happened to 1.0.3? Well, we discovered some bugs in the 1.0.3 release when it came to deploying it, bugs which were too serious to unleash! As a result of these, the 1.0.3 became what we call an “internal release” only. Chief amongst these was a regression in our maps code which resulted in projects and organisation maps not showing a location marker icon and a bug which meant that a few pages ended up rendering badly in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7, a web browser we know many of you still use.

Decisions, decisions

When we’re developing Akvo RSR, we are constantly juggling a long list of potential feature additions – some we’ve brainstormed within Akvo, others requested by partners. How do we decide what to do and when?

We try to make incremental improvements to the system – in other words, small pieces of functionality are added bit by bit. Our work on maps is a good example of this process. It might seem to be a fairly easy thing to do, but rendering maps requires you to have accurate geospatial data (latitude and longitude coordinates) for every point on a map you want to create. Historically, Akvo RSR only allowed for the input of un-validated latitude and longitude strings. In addition to this, the latitude and longitude data fields were optional.

So when it came to adding maps into our system, writing the code that produces the map was only half the story. The other part, just as important, was licking our existing data into shape and geocoding all the legacy project and organisation location information into unambiguous latitude and longitude data.

The string “Central London” is open to interpretation, but the coordinates 51.500152,-0.126236 are absolutely specific. Removing the legacy data happened over a series of incremental releases – a good example of our approach to development. Now when you add a location to an object in Akvo RSR, it is a generic Location object which requires accurate latitude and longitude coordinates which the system validates for sanity – meaning that we can be much more confident in the accuracy of our maps.

Going forward, Akvo RSR will be a first-class geospatial application. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.

We hope you agree that our 1.0.4 release has been worth the wait.

You can read more about these and the rest in the Akvo RSR release notes.

To learn more about how Akvo RSR fits into the Akvo Platform read this blog post and check out these pages about the Akvo Platform.

Paul Burt is a software developer at Akvo.