What to do you get if you put 13 students in a computer lab, give them some GML data and ask them to build you a graphical data Viewer for Ordnance Survey maps in 6 hours? Some really cool visualisations and a new Snowflake Software Summer intern!
This weekend we hit the computer labs at the University of Southampton ECS department and hosted Code-Off 2012 – a no interviews, no CVs opportunity for undergrad computing students to win, yes win, an internship with us this Summer.
Thirteen 1st and 2nd year students took on our challenge of visualising some OS MasterMap GML data from Ordnance Survey and we were blown away with what they came up with in just 6 hours. We saw a number of different approaches to the task that really caught our eye:
Elisa Stefaniack wrote her own XML Parser from scratch to display OS MasterMap GML. Given that Elisa hadn’t worked with XML we were impressed in how far she got given that she didn’t use an off the shelf parser.
Coding Hero of the day went to Tyler Ward who took on our Java coding challenge without having ever written Java before. Tyler wrote a Java parser to convert OS MasterMap into KML and then rendered it into Open Layers. Given that most people’s first Java code writes ‘Hello World’ to the screen this was a very impressive first stab.
But our internship winner and the project that most impressed us on the day was that of Hendrik (Henco) Appel, a first year studying for a Computer Science MEng degree.
“I quite enjoyed the Code Off” explained Henco. “At first the task seemed insurmountable, but working up slowly I managed to create my program.”
“First I started by trying to understand the structure of the GML data that I was given and to understand how the coordinate system worked. I then found the basis of a SAX parser which I modified to collect the coordinates and other information, such as the themes, to create a List of Objects from. Then using the coordinates in the List, I drew polygons using Java Graphics2D.”
“I also enjoyed the pizza and chocolate!”
Ian our MD was one of the judges… “OS MasterMap from Ordnance Survey is the most detailed map in the world – we’re talking 100’s of millions of map features. So firstly scalability in reading the data is very important, Henco’s selection of the SAX parser was a really good choice (especially given that he’d never used one before). Next up was displaying the data, to render OS MasterMap is no mean feat, so seeing some extensive use of Graphics2D was again a good choice. Finally, and what stood out the most for me, was Henco’s use of the attributes on OS MasterMap to enable the switching of the data themes. All in all Henco’s coding covered the three key areas: importing, displaying and interacting.”
So we’re looking forward to Henco joining the team in the Summer. He’s going to have the opportunity to get stuck in with our Agile development team working on our 3D AIXM Viewer project that we jointly developed with the University of Southampton using NASA WorldWind. Luckily Henco is also looking forward to spending his summer with us!
“I am looking forward to working with Snowflake Software very much. I believe it will be lots of fun and a good experience.”