January 06, 2009

timezone spatial locator

one of the challenges of trying to use timezones (tz) in an application is that there are so darned many of them--most of which aren't relevant to a given user. for example, have a look at the timezone CFC testbed. the list of tz just goes on and on (and on). you can narrow down the list somewhat if you know the user's location (maybe via geoLocation or, oh yeah, simply asking them), but big countries like the US will still have many tz and often tz IDs won't have much meaning to users. one idea to help with this issue that i've been kicking around for a while is to use a map to help a user pick a tz relevant to them. easing back into work this week i decided now would be as good time as any to put this idea into code. i've put up an alpha version here. it's a flex 3.x "mashup" using google maps as the UI plus geonames to supply the tz info once a user clicks on the map. some things to note:
  • it really is alpha quality, error handling, etc. isn't very pretty
  • the normal double click to zoom in google maps behavior doesn't work as my single mouse click listener seems to be swallowing all the double clicks, so use the zoom control instead
  • it's really too big to be of much practical use, ie a much smaller widget would be better for use on a page (i am as they say "design challenged")
once i iron out all the kinks i'll post the source in the usual places.


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