Hungarian-born developer, entrepreneur and author of two books and over 100 articles across the web
With version 3.3 of TagSpaces, the offline-first, privacy respecting file organiser, I have recently reviwed, has introduced the uniquely named Mapique perspective, which allows users to display all geo-tagged files and folders in a given location as pins on a zoomable and pannable map. Just how cool is that? Hint: very.
As mentioned in my previous writeup, this is worthy of its own article, so here we go. Brace yourselves, Tags and Spaces are coming. With maps.
Although it might seem like a novelty feature with no real use besides the obvious “coolness-factor”, the Mapique perspective (different view modes are called that in TagSpaces) can, in fact, be quite useful in a number of scenarios, so much so that some users might even feel that the app itself should now be renamed GeoTagSpaces (although it might be necessary to be able to add spaces in geo-tags first) that might. OK, not really, but let’s have a look what those are, anyway.
Before we dive deeper into use cases, a word about geo-tagging: TagSpaces, as the name suggests, relies heavily on tagging files and folders in a system agnostic, cross-platform, portable fashion. geo-tags have been around since people first discovered that they can tag geo (geo-locations, that is), and while there are a number of implementations, TagSpaces uses the plus code format which, besides being short, is also and broadly recognisable, since it’s Google’s own format. This approach of not reinventing the wheel, but using the most immediately accessible technologies does, of course, further enhance the app’s portability, but that’s beside the point now.
What’s more interesting is, that in TagSpaces any geo-tagged file can now be displayed on an interactive map, displayed as an OpenStreetMap, or optionally an OpenTopoMap overlay (more about that in a bit bit.)
There are two ways to have files geo-tagged: You can either tag them manually or, in case of JPEG files, you can extract geo-tag data from the EXIF information, if present.
In bulk: Extracting tags from images
The latter approach currently only works in bulk. To access the functionality, open a location that contains JPEG images, ideally taken with a smartphone, or a GPS enabled camera, that would save geo-location as part of the EXIF information, then switch to the Mapique perspective either by using the button-bar at the bottom right of the window, or via the three-dot menu in the top right corner.
If geo-tags are not yet present or at least not in a form that is recognisable to the app, TagSpaces will offer the option to extract the information from the files.
Pressing that button will extract any geo-tags, applying them to the files, and if at least one file was tagged, the Mapique perspective will be presented
Alternatively, if e.g. some images have geo-tags, and the above button is not presented, you can use the “Extract geo coordinates from files as tags” button form the toolbar which, apart from having the longest name since buttons have names, does the exact same for any file that might have them.
Tagging files or folders directly
Not only JEPG images can be geo-tagged, however, in fact the real power of geo-tags and the Mapique perspective is the ability to tag any kind of file, be it a PDF a word document, an excel sheet or even an audio recording. Regardless of file-type, TagSpaces can apply get-tags, and show your files based on location. Additionally, you can geo-tag folders as well, which can bring file organisation to a whole new level.
To do this, just drag the geo-tag smart-tag from the sidebar onto the file or folder you wanted tagged.
A popup window will present you with a zoomable and pannable map, and an input field to directly enter the plus code, if you know it. The easier option is, of course, to find the location on the map and drag the little pin to it. If you move the pin, the map will get automatically zoomed at its current spot. the two buttons “OpenStreetMap and “Google maps” will open these websites in your browser, if you prefer to find location info outside of the app.
When you’ve found or entered the location, just press enter. A little geo-tag-tag will appear on the file or folder, to show it’s been tagged with a geo-tag. You can edit or remove the tag any time, by clicking the three dots on it, and selecting the appropriate menu item.
An interesting feature is the option to automatically geo-tag a folder that has geo-tagged files in it. When you press the little crosshair button in the toolbar, it will tag the folder at the centre on the current map, calculated from the currently visible tags in it.
To apply tags to multiple files/folders, you must first create the tag on a single file, like above. Then, you would need to select the files and folders you wanted to tag, by e.g.
, then drag the existing tag from the previously tagged file to the selection, and it should appear on all of them immediately.
When switching to the Mapique perspective, you’ll notice that none of the usual file listing methods apply. You’ll only see a map with different colour pins on it.
The map can be dragged (to pan), or zoomed (
or by pressing the
There are two type of maps you can use. The default one comes from OpenStreetMap, but an alternative topological map is also available from OpenTopoMap. To change between map modes, use the little palette icon in the button toolbar.
The pins themselves represent the geo-tagged files and folders. The dark pins are folders, while the light blue pones are individual files. Clicking one of the pins will show a preview of the file as, or the cover image for the folder (if applicable) as a popup. To open a file or navigate into a folder, double click the popup.
To navigate back up, you can use the back button in the top bar:
Everything else works just like in the other perspectives, only the representation of the files is more visual, and geographically relevant.
The Mapique perspective can be quite useful in a number of scenarios. The most immediate to come to mind is having your pictures or image collections organised not only by name, or date, but by location. Whether you only tag the containing folder for all images from a certain location, or extract the data from all images, this can be useful for photographers, travel bloggers, instagrammers on anyone who takes a lot of images while traveling.
But since geo-tagging is not restricted to images, all kinds of professional applications are also possible. Imagine you’re a door-to-door salesman selling vacuum cleaners. or more realistically an area representative for a brand or company who travels a lot. or an area manager, who has to keep files ordered geographically. You could just tag a folder containing the paperwork for a certain area, and then find them all on a convenient map.
You could also organise a trip, any kind of tour, or even a themed pub-crawl with ease. There is a very interesting usage scenario (for any kind of purpose, but trip planning seems to be the most obvious) is to use the Mapique perspective along with the TagSpaces Web Clipper app, that is available as a browser extension or Firefox and Google Chrome.
The web clipper extension itself can save webpages in a number of ways, including full or editable HTML, as an image, but more importantly for us, also as a direct URL.
The real trick is to go on e.g. Google Maps, find a location and save it with the web clipper, while also adding the geo-tags within the clipper itself, then save it to any TagSpaces connected location as a URL by selecting the “create bookmark” option.
You will then have a URL file, pointing to an online map, that itself can be shown on an offline map in TagSpaces.
You can open it up on the go, although you’ll still need a network connection to display the map and see exactly what is where. The main benefit of this is well in line with what TagSpaces is all about: Privacy. Using this method, you will not need to give up your location to Google, Facebook and all the rest of those “nice” corporations who just want to show you some “nice” personalised ads all the time, anywhere and everywhere you go. Of course, whenever you need e.g. directions, or some other Google only functionality, you can always just double-click on it and open it in the browser.
Saving locations like this could make it really easy to plan ahead, and find any previously saved location faster than you can say “Cool! feature!” Which you will say, once you’ve tried it, I promise.
Of course, the Mapique perspective can be used for just about anything maps can be used for. Do you have a favourite use-case, or something else in mind? I’d be glad to read about them, and probably even update the article if something I have not thought of would pop up in the comments, so go ahead, comment away.
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