Bath:Hacked 2.1 and HistoryMap


I recently took part in Bath:Hacked 2.1, a hackathon where 50 ish people were locked* in a room for 36 hours with a bunch of open data and asked to produce something useful or interesting to the people of Bath.

This was actually my second Bath:Hacked event, the first resulted in this: – an interactive map displaying rates of recycling in Bath and North East Somerset.

At the 2.1 event my team created BathAlerts – an email alert service which keeps you informed of any planning applications, crimes or house sales in your local area. It will even send you an instant email alert should the Environment Agency issue a flood alert in your local area. You can try out the service here: and read more about it here.

It was a great 2 days, I learnt a lot particularly the backend side of things and using GitHub to work on a coding project as part of a team.
One of the more difficult parts of the event was actually deciding on an idea. I think we spent the first 3 hours brainstorming and came up with about 4-5 ideas before settling on BathAlerts.

Feeling inspired after Bath:Hacked I decided to follow up on one of these shortlisted ideas – using the historical mapping datasets recently added to the datastore to explore Bath’s past.

I wanted to produce something from scratch and finally get to grips with CSS to produce a nice responsive design.
The result is HistoryMap – a web app that allows you to easily explore and compare 8 historical maps ranging from the 1500’s to the 1940’s.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.36.35

I’m pretty happy with the results, it works well on mobiles, tablets and laptops – each with a slightly different design and functionality.
For best performance though I would recommend Chrome on a desktop/laptop.

I hope to add more relevant datasets and maps as and when I find them, as well as extend coverage to other areas.

And finally, a big thanks to everyone at Bath:Hacked for sourcing the data, especially Leigh Dodds for doing the hard work of georeferencing all the maps!

* not really


MapInfo MapHero winner!

Last month I entered my GPS running route map of Bath into the MapInfo MapHero competition.

I entered the map into the “Map for Fun” category and was surprised to hear I won first prize, a Microsoft Surface tablet! Pretty chuffed with that since the last competition I won was a colouring in competition at primary school -which is kinda what I did here too.

The map consists of around 1,000 crowd sourced running routes which I scraped from The routes, originally in KML format, were converted into MapInfo TAB format and laid on top of the city of Bath boundary which was sourced from Ordnance Survey’s Boundary-Line OpenData.

That’s all there was to it really – not bad for a few hours work 😀

An interactive version can be found here

Tile server basemaps for MapInfo

Ever needed a stylish basemap to display under some map data but have no idea where to look or how to even get it into MapInfo?

Well worry no more, try this:


With the click of a button you can quickly add one of many stylish and freely available basemaps to your map.

The basemaps come from various providers in tile format which with a bit of MapBasic can be converted into TAB files. I have selected a few of my favourites from this rather large list of basemaps and added them to a handy toolbar menu.
The menu is based on the excellent dynamic XML menu example by James Moloney. This means you, the user, can easily add or remove basemaps from the menu by editing a simple XML file.


Download, extract the zip file and run the MBX in MapInfo 10.5 or above.
You’ll now have a ‘Basemaps’ option on the toolbar, so get clicking!

The only thing you need to be aware of is there must be a folder called ‘TABs’ in the same directory as the MBX. This is where the TAB files are created so will fail if it doesn’t exist. You can take copies of or move these TABs and they will still work without this basemaps tool.

To add or remove basemaps from the menu, edit Basemaps.xml and then re-run the tool. Hopefully the structure is self explanatory.
You can find all the values you need as well as seeing a preview of each basemap here.

Any issues, leave a comment below.


The tool is released under the GNU GPL license so is free to copy, modify or distribute however you please.
All basemaps are free to use and should already include all the correct attribution for use in MapInfo. Please check with the individual providers if you plan to print or distribute the maps to ensure you’re not in breach of their licensing agreements.
HERE and Esri maps require registration to use, please see here for more info.


Due to changes in MapInfo 12.5, there are now 2 versions of the tool:
[wpdm_package id=’190′]Includes sourcecode, compiled MBX (v9.5) and config XML file.

[wpdm_package id=’191′]Includes sourcecode, compiled MBX (v12.5) and config XML file.

Known issues / limitations:

– Tile Server support was added in v10.5 of MapInfo. Therefore, while the tool may run in older versions, you will not be able to open any of the basemaps/TAB files.

– Some basemaps at certain zoom levels are pixelated. This is related to the tile height setting, the size of the MapInfo map window and the particular basemap you are using. You can modify the tile height setting in the sourcecode and recompile but I found ‘230’ seemed to give ok results for most maps. I also noticed resizing the map window seemed to improve the quality too.

– Some basemaps seem to be missing tiles at certain zoom levels. Not much can be done about this besides try a different zoom level or a different basemap.

– Some basemaps give an error at certain zoom levels. This means there are no tiles at this level. Why MapInfo returns an error while for other basemaps it simply displays no basemap, I don’t know.

– The OpenWeatherMap layers appear black. This is because MapInfo doesn’t deal with transparency unless you tell it to: Layer Properties > Style override > Transparent.

– Messy code, haha. Could do with a tidy up and more comments, but that’s what v1.1 is for.