For some reason I’m writing these posts in reverse order of when I actually bought the devices, but a few months ago I bought a Wii. Of course one of the first things I did when I got it was to get hold of some Wii Shop points (by converting the Nintendo star things I got when I bought it) and then to try my simple, functional map page on it. This actually worked pretty well, though on my old fashioned standard definition CRT TV the maps look a little fuzzy, basically everything about the map works. It drags, you can click on the map type buttons to switch types. The pan/zoom widget acts a bit funny but generally it’s ok. After a short while playing about with it though I decided it wasn’t quite intuitive enough, not wii-like enough. I started looking into what you could do with the browser with JavaScript and was happy to find that you can actually get a complete set of information about the wii remote’s status. Unfortunately though you can only get this information while the remote is pointed at the screen. Initially I had ideas of tilting the remote in the direction you wanted to pan the map, but as you’d always have to be pointing at the screen there didn’t seem too much point, currently the following interactions are available:

  • Hold down the “1” button and point the cursor in the direction that you would like to go, map will pan in that direction.
  • Aim the cursor at a point on the map and press “2”, map recenters on that point.
  • Aim the cursor at a point and press “+” or “-“, the map will zoom in or out on that point.
  • Drag the cursor on the map to draw a rectangular box, when you let go the map will zoom in to fit that box in the map (note that this means dragging the map no longer works).

I opted for removing the default dragging action because I tended to find that waving the remote from side to side to drag the map around just wasn’t fun, pointing in a direction and holding a button was a lot easier. I would also have liked to make the zooming in and out more interactive. As mentioned in the previous post, the Multimap API doesn’t expose the functionality for doing smooth zooming, if that were exposed it might be possible to make this a little more interesting. I may look into this in the future when I’m contracting for Multimap if I’m working on the API again. I think the most fun thing would be to access the information from the Wii Fit and navigate the map by tilting your whole body, but unfortunately the Wii Fit doesn’t seem to be compatible with the web browser.

The following video shows it in action. It’s pretty basic, it starts with moving the map around, zooming out one level and then demonstrates the map type widget before zooming out once more:

Now onto the Nintendo DS. I’ve had a DS for a few years now but only got around to buying the web browser earlier this year. The DS browser, like the Wii browser, is made by Opera and is based on the same code as their desktop browser (I think). I was amazed to find that there was actually a good level of JavaScript support in the DS version. Although the Multimap API wouldn’t work on it at first I did manage to get a build working without too much difficulty. The main problem was that the DS browser will not start loading an image until it is visible on the page. The Multimap API however will not make a map tile visible until it has loaded, a slight catch-22 situation. I made a special build that did not have this feature and did get slippy maps to work on the DS but the performance was pretty bad. I’m afraid I have to say now that this was about as far as I took the DS maps. Eventually I knocked up a very simple page that you can see here: maps on the cheap.

A little more hopeful on the DS is native maps applications. Someone has begun working on a home brew maps application. Currently it’s very basic and will just show you some basic Google maps but I’ve talked to the guy working on it and hopefully before long he’ll be adding support for OSM maps in there too.

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