How to do this?

Update: I’ve moved this discussion to the Wiki where Douglas Robertson started a conversation on a few other approaches.

One of the things I’d really like to do in this project is provide the capability for people to leverage the previous editors, but not allow them to accidentally or on purpose ruin the data. Thus I don’t want some random stranger to delete a DAFIF waypoint, or move KJFK to Timbuktu. So I was thinking that each editor would have a “dataset” of their own, but it’s based on previous datasets. There would be a heirarchy of datasets, with of course FAA and DAFIF data as the base, then an editor or end user could decide to include or exclude the other datasets based on whether that dataset intersects their area of interest, their perception of the dataset owner’s credentials, the recency of updates, or other criteria. Not sure exactly how to accomplish that. Maybe a rating system or a public comment area where another editor or an end user can say “Hey, this guy’s points are really inaccurate” or the editor himself could say “I didn’t type in the lat/longs from a publication, I just took my GPS to the airport fence”?

I don’t want an editor to be able to delete another person’s waypoint, but I also recognize that waypoints disappear or change names. So I think there needs to be a way in dataset “a” to indicate that waypoint “FOO” no longer exists. That way if you’re using dataset “a”, you won’t get waypoint “FOO”, but if you don’t trust “a” and so exclude it, you’ll still get “FOO”.

Free aeronautical data

Because of the imminent death of DAFIF data, it is my intention to create a web site where people can create and edit aeronautical data, and use the data that they and others have created in their personal computers, PDAs and web sites for flight planning, navigation, flight simulation, or other uses. This data would be free in both senses of the word, both free from cost, and covered by a Creative Commons or similar license allowing them to use it and distribute it free from legal encumbrances.

My first thoughts on the design would be that it would import and export data in an XML format, probably an extension of GPX or possibly another custom format. I’d like to make the editing as interactive as possible, so I’m currently learning AJAX (Asyncronous Javascript And Xml) programming, and possibly I’d like to leverage the Google Maps API.

I haven’t decided on the back-end language, only that it must run on a Free operating system like Linux or one of the BSDs, and use an Open Source web server like Apache or Tomcat because that’s what my stuff is currently hosted on. But if a bunch of you say you’ll do programming work on the site only if it runs on .NET, I’d still want to be involved in the project, but you’ll have to find a different web host.

I’d like to get an idea of how many people out there would be interested in

  1. Participating in the design and construction of such a site
  2. Using such a site to enter or edit waypoints
  3. Use such data in programs or sites that they have

If you’re interested in participating in such a role, please comment on this post describing which you’d like to do. If the first, describe what sort of programming you’re interested in doing. If the second, describe what sort of data you would expect to enter – just one or two local airports, a whole state/province/country, or what?

If I get any interest, I’ll probably create a mailing list or wiki for this. In the meantime, I’m putting posts on this topic in a separate category which you can read here or you can RSS subscribe to here.