DIY Guidebook – Brainstorming and Project Introduction

Rob and I get many guests in our place in Berlin. We have a pile of guidebooks, museum pamphlets, and other stuff for people to look through while they’re here, but I like to give them a personalized guidebook with stuff I really like in it.

I’ve had the Moleskine City Notebooks before, but they have the persistent habit of walking off. This is a paaaain, especially after I’ve entered all kinds of information into the book by hand. Also, I always make mistakes when writing in the books – apartment on the wrong side of the street, wrong labels on the pages, tram lines going the wrong place – and there’s no eraser for my felt tipped pens.

Modern technology means I shouldn’t have to do this! I will make a little booklet out of A4 folded once to give to guests. This way they can write in it and take it home and I can generate custom maps if I want.

Project plan:

  • make maps including index overlay in QGIS
  • generate text pages in LaTeX
  • use LaTeX or some other plugin to generate a pdf for printing and binding (proper page ordering)

What I’d eventually like to do is:

  • write a script so I can have a booklet be generated automatically (query QGIS, export to image, concatenate to pdf)
  • have map layers be selectable in the script (some people don’t like coffee, some people are really into transit history, etc)

Some problems I’ve already encountered:

  • QGIS isn’t the most stable program. I have some paths and nodes imported from OSM, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable amount? Anyway, being patient and saving often seems to be enough to keep me from losing too much data.
  • The OpenLayers plugin acts a little strange when exporting maps. The resolution of the exported maps is usually pretty crap, and sometimes the maps are offset from where they should be. I’d like to solve this one by using a georeferenced image / images at useful resolutions.
  • I don’t seem to understand how the scale bars in the exported images work. They seem to be wrong most of the time, which suggests I’m doing something wrong.