Rob pointed to Andrew Morrison's favourite things to eat & drink in Vancouver. After a few hours of programming and manual data manipulation, I was able to provide a Google Map of Andrew Morrison's 50 favourite things to eat in Vancouver that Rob requested.
Sitting around all week looking for a programming task to sink my teeth into, Rob Vanmega posted a link to Andrew Morrison's favourite things to eat & drink in Vancouver. Not knowing much about the food scene in Vancouver, and not identifying as anything resembling a foodie (is there a word for us?), I nevertheless took up Rob's challenge to make it into a Google Map. Seeing this as an opportunity to scrape off some of my programming skills' rust, I set about to parse the list into a format that Google My Maps could import. It was way harder than it needed to be.
View Andrew Morrison's 50 Favourite Things to Eat & Drink in Vancouver in a larger map
Thankfully, Andrew Morrison crafted his list in a consistent, structured format. Not semantic by any means, but he wrapped each restaurant name and food item in <strong> elements, and the address, phone and website were all inside parentheses. Using TextMate to inspect the HTML list (surrounded by paragraph tags), and futzing around with a couple of regular expressions, I removed the surrounding text and get to the heart of the data. A couple of passes later, the data went into a CSV file and, after some manual manipulation by both Rob and myself, I came out with a decent set of information. Unfortunately, Google Maps wouldn't work with just the address, but had to use longitude and latitude.
That's where Geocoder.ca came in. With a useful, not free (but very cheap) API, I could feed in all 50 requests and, after a couple of test runs, got the points on the map. After reformatting the CSV (yet again), I piped it through a CSV to KML converter (a cross-platform application that violates quite a few Mac OS X interface tenets) and imported the resulting file into a custom Google Map.
The result of all that work, about 3 hours worth of manual manipulation, programming and converting, we have a Google Map of Andrew Morrison's 50 favourite things to eat in Vancouver. I can't emphasize how much that this is a beta version of the map, since I haven't verified that every location is correctly situated. Feedback is welcome: send me a note if you notice something amiss, and I'll either correct it or add you as a collaborator.
Rob said in his link that “if someone lays this over a Google map, I’ll happily hit all 50 things by year’s end.” He has just over two and a half months.