Inspiration

There are very little resources available about the First World War and many people know almost nothing about it. I was also inspired by the YouTube series "The Great War" which covers the First World War week by week as it happened 100 years ago. I also have a general interest in history and this seemed like a good way to bridge that gap.

What it does

My app is basically an overlay of 1914 borders & battles on Google Maps. The user can click on any country or colony (there were a lot of those) they see on the map, and they will be presented with that country's flag, affiliation, government type, and information about it. The user can also click on any battle I have on the map, represented by little red dots, and there will be more information presented about that battle.

How I built it

I built this application mostly by using Google Maps and mapping the old borders onto that old map. I used Polygons on based on those borders to show where those old countries were located; this also allowed me to accept user interaction on those Polygons. The app is coded in Objective-C as I was in the process of learning Swift while I was building it.

Challenges I ran into

I ran into come challenges with UI Scaling, as I made a custom interface when the user clicks on a country/battle I had to scale it properly and for a while it would not work. I also mapped some of the countries wrong (most notably the island of Corsica belong to Germany instead of France) and this took forever as I had to scroll through thousands of lines of GEOJSON to find where it was broken. Also just getting the user input and determining which country the user tapped on was fairly difficult at first as I had never used the Google Maps API before.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I was really proud that the entire thing came together as it was a fairly ambitious project where thousands of lines of my code are not really algorithms but rather just string of historical information. Getting information, and summarizing it, about every nation and most major battles was an extremely arduous task that I am really proud actually came to fruition.

What I learned

I learned a lot about the Google Maps API in general as this was the first time I had ever really used it. I also learned about parsing JSON and GEOJSON files as I had never had to do that before. Finally I feel that my overall ability with Objective-C and its respective libraries has improved immensely because of making this app.

What's next for Great War Map

I plan on adding more battles, which is fairly easy as the research about them is what will take the time, and more information about some of the countries as finding information about Ecuador during 1914 is a fairly hard thing to do on the internet. I also might make an app exactly like this one, but for 1939 (World War II), but again the real task with doing that is all the research that has to be done.

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