TransportHacker and DATEX II

I’ve spent a couple of weeks wrestling with Nokogiri to parse a tonne of DATEX II data in to some usable format. Previously I had a mash of libxml and REXML, and the code was either ‘fast’ or ‘pretty’, but not both.

Nokogiri is good – it’s very good, in my opinion. The only trouble is, documentation and examples are a little thin on the ground, which slows everybody down. Here’s the dilemma – do I spend time writing poor documentation based on my limited understanding of part of Nokogiri, or leave it to somebody else?


I’ve been hacking away at a project called TransportHacker for the last month or two.  I’ve only shown it to a few people I know, and the reactions have been largely positive – thanks to Laura, Su, John and Ellis for your feedback.

I am not usually one for giving ‘sneak previews’, but in the spirit of getting feedback and ideas, I present – for your viewing pleasure – a sneak preview of TransportHacker.

TransportHacker sneak preview

TransportHacker takes its data from a variety of sources – currently some of those on the TfL Developers’ Area, although adding new data is straightforward. I’m putting TfL’s live traffic cameras up in the next few days, and experimenting with the Highways Agency’s DATEX II feed to see if I can include other parts of the country.

TubeHorus will be integrated, but also be available standalone – both this and TransportHacker will use geolocation to display only the parts of the world you’re near.

I have plans to make the data richer and more exciting – at present it’s just a mash-up of some data with no value-added logic, and that kinda thing can only go so far before it’s dull. When TfL get around to releasing real-time iBus data, things are really going to start hotting up – imagine being able to compare taking the tube from Highgate to Warren Street versus taking the bus. Colour in the 134’s route in red where it’s congested, and lighter colours where it’s free-flowing. If I included the Journey Planner API – when that’s ready for public consumption – I could augment the information it returns with real-time performance data for different modes of transport.

Now that all my Christmas shopping is sorted, it’s going to be a fun few weeks while I get TransportHacker in to a robust and workable product. Christmas is perfect for that sort of thing, although I better go easy on the mulled wine…