Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Apologies

And the roller coaster continues.

I just checked my mail at lunch and found a reply from groundspeak.

Not only did they deny my request for obtaining information in ways other than loading a standard web page, they also have asked me to not distribute Geopher Lite in it's current form.

Let me make it clear that I've been very careful in my initial offering to NOT infringe on their terms of use. For example, the reason that you have to manually enter in coordinates from the web view is that I have to "scrape" the coordinates off the web page. Geopher Lite is somewhat annoying to use precisely because of the limitations I had in groundspeak's terms of use agreements. It's not that I am a bad coder (javascript being the exception there due to inexperience =) ), it's that there's not a lot of other options on how to get this accomplished within the current limitations of their terms of use.

I won't post the email here as I'm not sure it was intended for public view, but I don't feel bad about posting a couple of snippets. It said among other things "the fact that your application is commercial (read: for sale) is not acceptable" and "we are not currently willing to provide permission for the commercial use of our data on an iPhone".

So.

I've sent an email to apple legal to take down Geopher Lite from their site. I am uncertain if Geopher Lite will continue to exist after this. I may pursue this again in the future, but for the moment it is on hold until things change.

That said, I am still planning on making a geocaching application with some of the aforementioned features still to come. It will not, however, involve groundspeak's website directly unless I hear otherwise from them. It will be just another PDA style geocaching helper. Which is disappointing to me because I know it could be so much more. Ah well. This other application will be coming, though I'm a bit discouraged at the moment.

I would urge you to make your voice heard over at the geocaching.com forums about getting something going on the iPhone. I'm not going to put up a link here, I don't want to encourage spam. I would encourage anyone who wants something like this to post and let the geocaching.com people know that there is demand for this on the iPhone.

As always, I'll keep you updated. I'm not done yet.

8 comments:

David Cintron said...

While I'm entirely interested in a GeoCaching application for iPhone, I feel going against the wishes of Grounspeak would be a bad idea, since they are pretty much the King of the GeoCachers, but it would be great of them to provide an API to developers like yourself, who want to provide access to their large database of caches that are available with a simple login to their website. Furthermore, taking advantage of iPhone's core-location features could make for a super cool app, and open a wide range of new people into geocaching who might not have a regular GPS device.

Gilbert said...

Sad to hear that :-(

They probably don't want anyone to be able to do paperless caching without signing up for their premium services.

My recommendation: Check if they allow you to download their GPX files (premium feature) with a dedicated tool from the iPhone.

Bzzliteyr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bzzliteyr said...

Or you could NOT charge for it.

Would that help matters as it's not "commercial" once you do that(though you won't initially make money off of it)? You could ask for donations seperately and hope for the best.

I personally like to see "get app" as opposed to "buy app" when I am in iTunes.

Brandon said...

That's pretty disappointing to hear, especially after I paid the initial $4 price for the app. From what I've seen, it's not uncommon for Groundspeak to go after these so-called "unauthorized" geocaching apps. On the one hand, I know that legally, they own the content on Geocaching.com, but on the other hand, none of it would exist without the community that supports it.

As it is, I'd much rather see Geopher available with the full features you had planned, like automatically fetching coordinates rather than manual entry, but if it comes down to scaling things back, I think I'd keep the version I already have rather than updating to a future version that's crippled.

I'm curious how much monetizing the app is part of your plan for this. While I certainly think you're entitled to make some money from the work you put into this (I already paid $4 and think the price was more than fair for what I got), I would hope that you would still work on this, even if it had to be free with a donation button on your site.

The other solution I could think of is to rework the app in some way that you don't violate the TOS. I don't know the APIs well enough to know if this is entirely feasable, but I could imagine it working something like this: You launch the app and enter your Geocaching.com username and password, which it stores for future use. It then sends that in a string, along with your current coordinates to Safari in a URL that opens Geocaching.com. When you click the button to open the .loc or .gpx file, Geopher handles that format, so it switches back to Geopher with the target location set. Because all of the interactions with Geocaching.com are handled by Safari and the iPhone firmware, your app shouldn't infringe and it would remove some of the extra interface cruft that can already be handled by Safari.

Well, I hope that gives you something to think about. I'll still be trying to petition Groundspeak to change their minds. Good luck.

PercyKittenz

Matt said...

This is a real bummer but maybe it is a good thing....now you can put your effort toward a full blown app that will be able to parse GPX or LOC files and you will already have all the info without even needing to interact with the website.

Marlin said...

This isn't surprising. I would imagine that the folks at groundspeak have something up their sleeve. I have always wondered about Trimble.

I say forget the full blown app.

Convert geopher lite to a simple app that does the following:

Open the app, it only has one button. You press that button and it opens geocaching.com with the search results from your current location.

I can use the iPhone's map app to find the cache, or enter the coords into my handheld gpsr.

The above mentioned functionality is all I really need. I can't possibly see how that would infringe on geocaching.com.

Dmace said...

Strange behaviour on Groundspeaks part. I know at least 5 more GC apps that are to be paid for.
Apparently GS already is working on an iPhone deal, which is not surprising at all.

It's too bad that apple want approval for all it's applications, but that will be their downfall in the end.

To bad you already have to stop your program already.

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DadGuy has been working with apple computers since the mac classic. I love games and puzzles and like to solve problems. I'm having a blast developing for the iPhone and iPad.