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TPE and Photo Transit App Bundle

This week we’ve made The Photographer’s Ephemeris and The Photographer’s Transit available as an app bundle on the App Store.

Buy them together and you can save over 25% on the individual apps bought separately. What’s more, if you already own one of the apps in the bundle, you can use the “Complete My Bundle” feature to obtain the other at a discounted price.

Complete My Bundle credits customers for any apps they’ve already purchased within a bundle, so that they only pay the balance for the remaining apps.

If you’re not familiar with The Photographer’s Transit, it is a complementary shot planning tool to TPE. You can define your camera and lenses within the app and then explore both horizontal and vertical field of view using the familiar map and elevation profile techniques you’ve seen in TPE. You can move back and forth between TPE and Photo Transit using the sharing features of each app.

The Photographer’s Transit also includes a project and shot planning feature that allows you to create multiple projects and save your planned shots together with reference notes, links and images.

The Photographer’s Transit is currently available on iPad. (We’ll be working on an iPhone version for release later in the year.)

TPT screenshot

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Apple took us by surprise last night, by featuring TPE on the App Store. If you’re in the US, you’ll see it featured at the top of the Photo Video category. Which is nice! :)

We had a request from Apple for promotional artwork late last week. The deadline on the request was 15 Feb, so we guessed the possibility to be featured would be for next week (the App Store is refreshed every Thursday). Being diligent (and somewhat excited at the prospect), we submitted the artwork early, and – lo and behold – there we were featured as of last night.

As a result, we decided to pull forward the planned release date of a major update to TPE on iOS – version 3.

You can watch the preview video to get a sense of what’s included, but I’m sure you’ll quickly see that the UI has been completely overhauled:

TPE 3.0 Product Image

Usability

With this release, we’ve modernized the user interface to match that of our free desktop web app, providing a consistent cross-platform user experience that we hope will make it faster and easier than ever for photographers to get the most out of these planning tools.

Previously, the iPhone and iPad versions of the app each had different UI designs. We’re happy to have been able to implement a consistent design across all devices with the 3.0 release and one that provides a flexible and extensible platform on which to continue to add new functionality in the future.

We’ve improved access to commonly used functionality within the app. For example, tap the displayed date to change it or select from a list of key events, such as the phases of the moon.

Location search and saved locations are now unified so you can search your saved locations list and the web simultaneously to find places of interest quickly and easily.

The best map type for a shot varies by location and shot type. Photographers working in a city may well prefer standard maps or satellite imagery. Landscape photographers shooting in the mountains will probably prefer Terrain or topographic maps. With TPE 3.0, the ideal map type – including two offline map options – is only a tap away, directly accessible on the map itself, rather than buried in the app settings.

The new UI can be configured to display the information that matters most to the user: the events timeline can be set to display up to seven different sets of data, or it can be hidden altogether to maximise the visible map area.

Functionality

TPE 3.0 includes significant new features, including line of sight analysis, a much-expanded Visual Search capability, and numerous ways to share data with others.

Line of Sight Analysis

The geodetics function in 3.0 has been enhanced to include elevation and altitude profiles, and line of sight analysis. Line of sight analysis enables the photographer to determine visibility between any two points on the map, enabling the virtual scouting of shooting locations and subject positions.

Building heights can be specified, along with adjustments to the measured elevation, making it easy to determine an accurate angle of view to the top of a major landmark, or to see the effect of shooting from on top of a building.

The sun and moon are overlaid on the elevation and altitude profiles, making it simple to visualise when they will be visible above mountains, ridgelines or buildings.

Line of sight on iPhone 6+

Visual Search

Previously, Visual Search allowed the user to position the grey map pin and find the next or previous date when the sun or moon would rise in that direction.

With 3.0, Visual Search has been significantly expanded and now allows you to:

  • Find rise or set for sun or moon
  • Search by azimuth and altitude to find when the sun or moon will appear at a specific position in the sky
  • Specify required moon illumination, e.g. crescent, full, or an arbitrary illumination percentage range
  • Specify if moon should be waxing or waning
  • Find only results that occur during specific sun altitude conditions, e.g. a rising full moon during civil twilight
  • Set the search tolerance (in degrees)
  • Fine tune disc alignment: adjust search to bottom, centre or top of the sun or moon’s disc
  • Search priority: set whether azimuth or altitude alignment is most important for your shot

Coupled with line of sight analysis, visual search can display dates when the sun or moon will appear above a landmark with a single tap.

Sharing

TPE now includes numerous ways to share a shot plan, including:

  • Airdrop
  • Email and Messages
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, Flipboard and more
  • Evernote
  • Save image, Copy, Print
  • Email Detailed Shot Plan
  • Add to Calendar

When sharing a shot plan a custom URL is created that links to the free desktop web app, so that users who don’t own TPE for iOS can use it.

Sharing screen

Additional New Features

Additional Sun and Moon Information

TPE 3.0 now optionally displays sun and moon transit times and an indication of so-called ‘golden hour’ (defined in TPE as when the sun is between the horizon and +6°).

Additionally, an intuitive indication of relative or absolute shadow length is displayed on the map. The ’6° shadow circle’ shows when the sun are moon are below +6° above the horizon, corresponding to so called ‘golden hour’ or when the moon is hanging low in the sky and can be photographed against city skylines, for example.

Integration with The Photographer's Transit (iPad)

On iPad, TPE now integrates with its sister-app The Photographer's Transit allowing the user to move a shot plan from one app to the other with a single tap. A configurable setting is provided to manage how the map pins correlate between the two apps.

Feedback

We hope you like the new version and we’d love to hear your feedback. You can write to us at support@photoephemeris.com.

Having sprung the new release early, we’re a little behind on updating all the tutorials for the new version. It’s going to be a busy weekend.

TPE 3.0 on iPhone 6+ held in hand

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Location Sychronization

Today, we’re updating the TPE web app to version 1.1.

The most significant aspect of the new update is the release of Location Synchronization.

If you’re a regular user of TPE, you probably have built up a reasonable sized list of saved photography locations. While it’s long been possible to import/export your locations as KML in the desktop app, many of you have asked about the ability to synchronize the lists automatically across multiple machines.

Location Synchronization allows you to do exactly that, free of charge for up to 1,000 saved locations per account. To get started with Location Sync, go to the Locations page within TPE for Desktop and sign up for an account.

In addition to Location Sync, there are a few notable improvements and fixes in 1.1:

  • Infinite scrolling on the locations page: this improves load time and performance significantly for those of you with a large number of saved locations – just keep scrolling down to load more locations from your list.
  • The timezone database has been updated reflecting recent changes, in particular the new time zone rules affecting many parts of Russia
  • Incorrect time labeling on the chart affecting Daylight saving dates (i.e. today in the USA) are now fixed

We’ll be adding Location Sync into the mobile versions of TPE in the coming weeks (once we get our iOS 8 update complete).

In the meantime, we hope you like the 1.1 web app release!

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Location Sychronization

Today, we’re announcing a public beta of location synchronization for the TPE web app.

Location sync is something you’ve been asking about for a while, and so we’re pleased to have a solution that you can start testing today.

What it does

Location Synchronization allows you to push your locations to a central database and to pull them down on demand to a new machine. It works for the desktop web app today.

You can synchronize up to 1000 locations free of charge. You’ll need to create a free account to get started.

Any locations you synchronize are not shared publicly or with other users: they remain available only to your account.

The technology

We’ve spent quite a while pondering how to do location synchronization. Many of you asked if we could not just use iCloud. Apart from the various issues that iCloud sync suffered in its early days, the main barrier to using it is lack of cross-platform support: we need to be able to support desktop, iOS and Android.

We looked at other solutions that might support cross-platform sync, such as Wasabi Sync and Parse. However, it did not feel right to be dependent on a 3rd party service for something that would be so critical once users started putting data into it. (That decision seems to have been borne out: it looks like Wasabi Sync has shut its doors to new accounts.)

The other barrier to rolling out synchronization was our own Desktop app: the desktop app was always likely to the centre of the synchronization solar system. Planning at the desktop and synching locations out to laptops, tablets and mobiles is probably the key use case.

However, the old Adobe AIR desktop app was not a great place to be adding new capabilities: it was a technological dead-end.

With the arrival of the replacement web app, we were finally in a position to start tackling Location Synchronization properly in our own code.

What’s next?

It’s taken just over 2 months to get to public beta. I suspect we’ll be in beta for another 4-8 weeks to prove out the platform and build confidence that everything is going well.

Once beta is complete, we’ll promote the beta site to production, and any locations and accounts you create in the beta site will live on back in the main web app. We’ll then add location sync to the mobile apps. (As there’s a material cost to providing the service, so we expect to charge a small fee for this option on mobile platforms.)

Start syncing today!

Version 1.1 Beta of the web app is available at beta.photoephemeris.com today. But before you head over there, read more about how to get started:

Please let us know what you think!

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At the time of writing, nothing. But less than 48 hours from now, TPE for Desktop (the original Adobe AIR version) will stop working.

I imagine that’s why you’re now reading this page. Here’s the short version of the story and what to do next.

TPE for Desktop was built using Adobe AIR which is a variant of Flash. The maps functionality was provided by Google Maps for Flash API. Back in 2011, Google announced that it was deprecating the Flash API and that it would be turned off altogether after 3 years. That time has now come (2 Sep 2014).

The consequence of this is that the maps in TPE for Desktop will no longer work after 2 Sep 2014. Furthermore, for versions 1.1.1 and below, the user interface will be ‘frozen’ as the app waits for Google Maps to initialize (and, of course, it no longer will.)

Back in July, we announced that TPE would be changing, and made a brand new web app version available. We published two posts on prominent photography web-sites (on Digital Photography School and Light Stalking) announcing the change, and posted updates on our various social media page.

We also released an update for TPE for Desktop to v1.1.2 that included prominent announcements of the deprecation date and details on what to use instead.

That aside, there are still going to be quite a few users taken by surprise by the change. We’re sorry if you didn’t see any of the advance notices, but we hope that you’ll find moving to the new web a straightforward change.

What to do

Here’s what you need to do:

  • If you don’t care about your saved locations in the old TPE for Desktop, you can move straightaway to the web web app. Read about the pre-requisites here (basically, just a modern web browser), and jump right in: TPE for Desktop (Web App)
  • If you’ve already updated to v1.1.2 of the old TPE for Desktop, and you have saved locations you’d like to move to the new web app, you will need to export them first, then import into web app. Full instructions are here: Part 6: Moving from legacy TPE for Desktop to the Web App
  • If you’re still running 1.1.1 or earlier, and have saved locations you’d like to retain, then life is little more complicated after 2 Sep 2014. You will need to uninstall the old version, download and install 1.1.2, export locations, then import to the web app. Again, full details are here: Part 6: Moving from legacy TPE for Desktop to the Web App

Getting started with the new web app

The best way to get up to speed quickly with the new web app is to download the Quick Start Guide – a free, 2-page PDF that gives a concise overview of all the key functionality. You can download it here:


A 3-page PDF quick start guide to using the TPE for Desktop web app.
File size 355.45kB | Last modified Mon Sep 1, 2014 at 22:36 | Download count 36429

If you’d like to understand the application in more depth, we have a series of five step-by-step tutorials that will guide you through it available here:

photoephemeris.com/tutorials

Getting help

Everything you’ve learned about how to use TPE from the old desktop app is still relevant: the same principles apply, and you’ll see much that is familiar with the new web app user interface.

However, if you have any questions, or run into any problems with the new version, drop us a line by email: Support

New Features

Once you get started with the new web app, we hope you’ll enjoy exploring some of its new features. These include:

  • Google Street View available from within the app
  • 45° map imagery available at higher zoom levels in satellite map mode
  • 6° shadow circle and ‘golden hour’ indication: hold down the shift key and try dragging the time slider back and forth around sunrise or sunset times
  • ShotHotspot.com: a direct link from within the app to ShotHotspot.com, to allow you easily to explore locations in more depth
  • Share/save links to your favourite shots: just copy the URL from your browser’s address bar. For example, here’s a sunrise shot plan from Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming: http://ephemer.is/1wU2G58

We hope you enjoy the new web app: do let us know your feedback.

Why did you…?

Finally, here are answers to a few of the questions that have come up over the past couple of months:

  • …not just find a different mapping provider and keep the Adobe AIR app going? A: Adobe AIR is no longer a good choice for a modern desktop application. Most of the efforts in recent years have gone towards trying to support mobile app development rather than desktop applications; furthermore, Adobe stopped development of Flex (aka Flash Builder) that was the toolkit used to build TPE
  • …write a web app instead of a new desktop app? A: a browser-based web app is the best way to provide cross-platform support today. A new desktop app would likely have required development of separate versions for Windows and Mac, which we simply didn’t have the time or resources to do
  • …require a modern browser? Why is my older browser not supported? A: we have built the application using modern web development technologies which do not support older browsers. These provide significant productivity enhancements for developers which result in more features being delivered to end users. There are few barriers nowadays to running a current version of a web browser (most will auto-update themselves if permitted), and so we feel this is the right trade-off
  • …change the user interface? A: the old user interface had some distinct limitations which we have tried to overcome with the new version. For example, the multi-day view was not well-equipped to show additional information such as for celestial bodies other than the sun and moon (something we’d like to add in the future). Additionally, we are looking to adopt a similar UI style across both the web app and mobile apps over time. The “right-hand sidebar” style does not work at all in portrait mode on phones and tablets.

Kiribati 2 September 2014

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