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    plotaroute admin   Thursday 16 Aug 2018 04:29:06

    Google MapsDue to a sudden very large increase in the costs of using Google maps on our website, we have been forced to make a number of changes to plotaroute.com, to ensure that it continues to remain viable. This has included a large investment to bring the hosting of our main maps in-house and to redevelop core functionality.

    The changes will not affect the way the site operates but we've replaced most of our Google maps features with open source alternatives to keep costs under control and avoid the need for passing on Google's huge price increases. The exception is our main desktop route planner, which will continue to use Google Maps technology for Premium members. 

    These are the main changes, which have been implemented with immediate effect:

    • There are now two versions of our desktop route planner: Standard and Premium. The Premium version will continue to use Google maps and the Standard version will be based mainly on open source maps.
        
    • Our mobile route planner will now use open source maps in place of Google maps.  Non-Google maps, including our popular Paths map, will continue to be available.
       
    • Our Route Viewer (used for viewing routes on plotaroute.com and when embedded on other websites) will now use open source maps in place of Google maps. Non-Google maps will continue to be available.

    • Google Map Layers (Bike Paths, Traffic, Transport Networks and Street View Coverage) are no longer available when viewing a route or editing a route on a mobile device.  They will continue to be available for Premium members on the desktop route planner.

    • new "Cycle Map" option has been added to the Map Types on the Route Viewer and mobile Route Planner.  This cycle map is available to Premium members on the desktop route planner by selecting the Bike Paths layer on the Paths map.

    • Google Street View is now only available to Premium members on the desktop route planner.

    • Our "Locate Map" tool has switched from Google to an alternative provider.

    • The Auto-Plot feature will be 'throttled' for Standard members to limit auto-plots to a maximum of 60 per minute.

    • You will now need to sign in first before editing existing routes.

    • The maximum number of points you can plot per route under Standard membership has been reduced to 2,500. The limit for Premium members remains unchanged at 50,000.

    • We have made a small increase to the GBP and EUR prices for annual Premium membership (by £1 and €1) to bring them in line with the current price in USD.

    While we're sad to have to reduce our use of Google Maps, we believe that in the longer term the investment and changes we've made will provide opportunities to offer additional features that weren't feasible under Google's technology, so we're also excited about the road ahead.  

    On a practical note, due to the scale of the changes and the short timeframe we have had to do this, it is possible that some bugs have slipped through testing. Please bear with us while we iron these out.  You can check the status of any bugs and report new ones on the Bug Reports section of the Forums.

    Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for their continued support; it's only with your support that we can continue to exist!

    I wish you all continued health and fitness.

    John
    Founder, plotaroute.com

     

    Additional Background

    Over the last 13 years Google has made its maps technology available to websites like plotaroute.com, largely for free; until now, only the largest 2% of websites have had to pay to use Google Maps. This changed on 2 May 2018 after Google announced a major revision to its pricing model, with effect from 11 June 2018 (subsequently delayed until 16 July 2018).  The new pricing model virtually eliminated free use of Google Maps and increased unit prices by a minimum of 1400%; our own costs were set to rise from virtually $0 to around $180,000 a year! As you'll appreciate, we would have been bankrupt and forced to shut down the site if we had not made changes to mitigate this cost increase.

    We are fortunate that Google has given us some extra time to prepare for the new pricing, but Google was not able to offer prices that were viable for plotaroute.com to continue in it's current form. However, we believe that the changes we've made will enable us to continue to offer both a free and competitively priced Premium service using a combinaton of Google Maps, other mapping providers and open source technologies.

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    Roger Leary   Saturday 18 Aug 2018 17:51:24

    This is bad news and I hope that your solutions make the site viable in the longer term.  I suppose its quite possible that open source mapping software  is  going to be forced on all members eventually and may be a necessity.  I would prefer to keep the  very good user interface of Plot a route with only Open Source Maps than lose the site.  The  ability to use street view at the same time as an open map is really useful and aids route plotting decisions.  However if the worst happens as long as I can get a gpx file I could then review the terrain on personal google map access.  Google.....grrrrr.

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    Roger Leary   Saturday 18 Aug 2018 17:52:03

    Oh and the Premium Member cost is still exceptional value.

     

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    plotaroute admin   Sunday 19 Aug 2018 07:05:06

    Thanks for your support. Google's price rises are dissapointing and have been a huge diverison for us for the last few months, but now that we've completed the migration we're very optimistic about the future and are looking forward to getting back to making further enhancements to the site.

    John

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    Colin Hoppe   Sunday 19 Aug 2018 14:37:57

    That sounds like a huge amount of work and plenty of potential for bugs to creep in - but I haven't noticed any, so very well done. 

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    plotaroute admin   Thursday 23 Aug 2018 09:14:58

    Thanks Colin.  Yes, it was indeed a lot of work! We've had to completely focus on that issue for the last few months, so that's why we haven't been able introduce any enhancements to the site for a while. However, we're now in a position to resume work on some of the new feature requests that people have put forward, so we're looking forward to getting on with that.

    John

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    mikhail kamentsev   Tuesday 28 Aug 2018 21:55:36

    Hi John!

    What is the relationship between the price change and the number of points stored? This change makes it almost impossible to use a free account for brevet (and other long bike routes). I advertised a lot to use your service despite many problems with it, but now it seems we will have to look for another one.

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    plotaroute admin   Wednesday 29 Aug 2018 09:37:07

    Hi Mikhail,

    Our operating costs have risen substantially as a result of Google's price rises, not just because it is now more expensive to use Google's own services, but also because we've had to invest in replacing many of Google's services with alternatives. As a result we've had to reduce what we can make available for free, which included reducing the limit on the size of routes (larger routes cost more). I'm sorry if this is impacting you but the changes were essential to ensure that the site can continue.  

    John

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    mikhail kamentsev   Wednesday 29 Aug 2018 22:30:28

    This very strange for me. It seemed to me that now you can not save much on this. In any case, you could do it differently,one way, to limit not the size, but the frequency of the track. For example, 1 point per 100 meters, it is invisible for the vast majority of tracks, but would allow to continue to use your service to fans of long routes.

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    plotaroute admin   Thursday 30 Aug 2018 09:04:19

    Hi Mikhail, as a Premium member you won't be affected by the reduction in the points limit for Standard members - you can still save routes with up to 50,000 points. Standard members are able to se the Reduce Points feature to reduce the number of points on a route, with minimal loss of accuracy (this option is offered when the route is being saved), so long routes can still be saved under free Standard membership. 

    John

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