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Travel Bug Tracker

Ever wanted to see all of your travel bugs listed together on one page?
Even run a travel bug race and wanted to automagically update the distance travelled?
Ever been just a real geek with some webspace and a desire to show exactly how geeky you are?

If you answered yes to any of these questions (or wear red underwear on the outside of your pants) then do I have the software for you.

tbtracker will allow you to display a small graphic containing your travel bug name, how far it has travelled and the name of the last cache it was spotted in.

My Travel Bug

How does this work?
www.geocaching.com provides a .kml file so you can see the travels of your bug in Google Earth. This software grabs that .kml file, copies it across to your server, parses the .kml file (which is simply an xml file), extracts certain information, prepares it for display and generates a small graphic.

Why doesn't the tracker update as soon as someone makes a new log entry
To try and avoid www.geocaching.com from noticing you pillaging their .kml files, the 'date modified' on your local copy of the file is checked against the date that you server is set to. If they are different then a new copy of the file is obtained. If the date is the same, then it uses the local copy rather than getting a new copy of the file each and every time the graphic is displayed. So at worst case, you may be up to 24 hours out of date. If that's a problem for you, then this software is probably not for you. Of course you can change the software as you see fit, but don't whinge to me if www.geocaching.com block your wehbosts IP address for abusing their site.

How can I do this on my site?
Grab the zip file below. Extract it to your own webspace. Set the permissions (generally 0777) on the directory to allow the software to copy the .kml file from www.geocaching.com. Insert an image tag on the page you want, attach the GUID and point it to the tbtracker software. It's pretty much that simple.

What do I need on my site to allow this to work?
First of all you need a webhost that allows PHP code to run. You also need to have the GD library installed. That's pretty much it.

I don't have a webhost can I use your site to track my travel bugs?
Absolutely not. I don't want thousands of files on my site and I certainly don't want www.geocaching.com to think I'm providing this service. If you try and use my site to generate your own tbtracker graphic, you'll be disappointed. I specifically disallow this.

I can't get your software to run, will you help me?
Simple answer, no.
Better answer, possibly. I don't get paid for this so you will be buying services worth almost exactly as what you will pay. Try contacting me and I will probably help, but don't get all pissy on me if I can't work out what your server is doing.

Is there an .asp version?
God no. If someone else wants to break into that space, knock yourselves out.

Can I make changes to the software?
Knock yourself out.

Can I make money out of your software?
You'd better not. Or better, if you do, send some of it my way.

Will www.geocaching.com get shirty with me for grabbing files off their site?
Interesting question. They provide the .kml file specifically for downloading and using in an external program. I can't see why this would be seen as any different use. Unlike their standard web pages which they expressley forbid you to 'screen scrape' this file is generated for the purpose for which you will use it.

Will you back up your assertions in a court of law?
No. You use the software entirely at your own risk.

Your software has a bug in it.
Only one. I'm impressed. Look, I am not a certified paid PHP programmer. I code this stuff for fun. If it has a bug, please let me know and I'll upgrade the package. That way everyone will be better off.

Can I request enhancements?
Maybe. Again I do this for fun, not profit, so if it looks like a good enhancement, send it through and I'll see whether it can be incorporated.

Do I get money for enhancement suggestions?
Yes. Exactly the same amount as you paid me for using the software in the first place.

There's a spelling error on this page?
Oh for gawds sake, don't be so anal. I'm a bad speller. Go find a cache.

You know you write really crappy code?
Thanks for your impression. If you would like to do better, please knock yourself out. Sorry for creating such a drag in your life. Go find a cache.

I am so impressed, will you accept a donation for this wonderful piece of software?
Why thank you very much. Please leave a tip. That's very nice of you. Why does the 'Stop Number' change when the travel bug hasn't moved?
It's a bug (pardon the pun) at the www.geocaching.com site. The last stop is always the last stop and the cache id is always correct, but sometimes it seems to miss intermediate stops. This does not affect the distance travelled. Only the last Stop Number.

Why do I get a "Parse Error"?
The parser used by this program doesn't seem to like "smart quotes". A smart quote is one that 'ticks' a certain way, generally to the right before a word or to the left after a word. There's nothing I can do about it, if you try and use the same kml file in Google Earth, it will also have the same problem. All you can really do is replace any smart quotes in your description with single quotes or if the problem is in a log, request that the person who made the log replace the smart quote with a single quote.

A showcase of sites using this software.
alpha993 (ACT, Australia)
Cheesy pigs (Tasmania, Australia)
If you use this software, drop me a line and I'll add you to the growing list of satisfied customers.

Download the Zip file containing all you need to get started.

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