Perl interface to Google Directions API

February 1st, 2012 robin Posted in google, Ironman, Perl, Travel No Comments »

Google has a pretty neat service for getting driving/cycling/walking directions between places, and now there’s a perl interface to it: Google::Directions (and on GitHub)

It’s Moosey and it’s juicy… I hope it helps you get from A to B with Perl a bit faster! :)

If anybody is top-fit with Moose::Util::TypeConstraints, I have some issues in this module which I don’t understand and would really appreciate some tips with. :)

And here’s some sample code:

#!/usr/bin/env perl
use strict;
use warnings;
use Google::Directions::Client;
use Getopt::Long;
my %params;
GetOptions( \%params,
my $goog = Google::Directions::Client->new();
my $response = $goog->directions( %params );
my $first_leg = $response->routes->[0]->legs->[0];
printf( "That journey will take you %0.1f minutes and %0.1fkm\n",
 ( $first_leg->duration / 60 ),
 ( $first_leg->distance / 1000 ),
# $> ./ --origin "Munich, Germany" --destination "Hamburg, Germany"
# That journey will take you 443.8 minutes and 778.5km

Displaying transit times on a map (Munich/MVV)

November 30th, 2011 robin Posted in google, Internet, Ironman, Perl 3 Comments »

A personal (but techy) project I’ve been doing on the side recently has just reached a milestone.
Some time in the next year we are going to move out of the city centre.  I want to live as far away from the concrete jungle, rumbling juggernauts and grumpy people as I can, but… it would be nice not to be too far away from friends, activities and shopping….

There are many parameters involved (and in time I will put them all on a map!), but probably the most important one is that our new home must be within a reasonable transit time by public transport of the city centre.  But reasonable is relative… if the new place is great it could be 40 minutes, for “ok” it would have to be less than 30, and “fantastic” might get us to stretch to 50 minutes.  The trips shouldn’t have a frequency (during the day) of more than 20 minutes either, otherwise we’d always be missing/waiting for a train…

So how can I visualise these regions on a map?

  1. Write an interface to the MVV (the public transport provider in Munich) web interface.  Unfortunately they don’t have a documented API, but they do have a RESTful interface, and a Java interface already exists (thanks Andreas!).  Between that and some further reverse engineering it wasn’t too difficult.  I’ll be publishing that module soon too. :)
  2. Localise all the stops in the region, and determine the transit times, and frequencies from the central station (Munich Hauptbahnhof) to each of the stops.  Throw all that data into a database for easy access. (SQLite is your friend).
  3. Write a Perl interface to Google Fusion Tables (there are interfaces in Python and PHP already, but I prefer Perl…).
  4. Analyse the data, generate polygons around each stop indicating the distance you could walk (assuming 4kmh average walking speed) from that stop after having travelled from the central station, within a time limit (10 minutes, 20 minutes, …)
  5. Convert the polygons to KML (that’s an XML variant which google uses for representing geographic data).
  6. Upload the polygons to Fusion tables
  7. Do some tweaking with the colouring so that the data is visually appealing and understandable.
The result is pretty, colourful, zoomable, responsive, and more importantly: shows me exactly what I want to see in a way which numbers in a table never could have: (click here to pop-out)

For my next party trick I’ll be putting proximity to shopping centres, parks on the map, and possibly doing the same representation for transit time with a car.  Any other ideas what would be relevant, and pretty on the map?

Perl for Fusion Tables

September 17th, 2011 robin Posted in google, Internet, Ironman, Perl 9 Comments »

The last couple of weeks I’ve been getting accustomed to Google Fusion Tables.

For those who haven’t yet noticed it – Fusion Tables is a new (still in Beta) Google product for data storage: a kind of database.

Some major cool things about Fusion Tables:

  1. it’s really accessible (use the usual OAuth2 authentication as for all other Google services to script interaction), or use the web interface to manually edit your tables.
  2. If you include geo data in your tables, you can easily (and I mean really easily!) display your data on a map.
  3. They’re really clever about geo data… a text address, longitude/latitude, polygons, shapes, … dump it into a “Location” type field, and it will probably be understood.
The one annoying thing: being in Beta, there aren’t many tools available to work with it yet…  But as usual: if someone else hasn’t done it, you’d better do it yourself:
  • Google::Fusion – an object oriented (perl) interface to Google::Fusion tables
  • Net::OAuth2 – the authentication module

Net::OAuth2 isn’t actually a new Perl module, but in its previous state it wasn’t really usable for command line applications, so I reworked it a bit.  Both of these modules are very raw/alpha – they are lacking in documentation, error handling, unit tests…. all the things one would expect in productive code… but I want to get them out there now so other people can start using and abusing them.

Here’s a wee screencast of pfusion in action:

And a short instruction to install (I hope it’s complete…):

git clone git://
git clone git://
vi ~/.fusion

Edit to look like this, with the id/secret of your application.  If you haven’t got an id/secret yet, you’ll have to register an application for this purpose on the Google API Console and be sure to make it an “installed application” (not “web application”)

client_secret: XDy8Y8xTuwN90F3h7ljCuw4i

# And now run fusion:

perl -I ./Google-Fusion/lib -I ./Net-OAuth2/lib ./Google-Fusion/bin/pfusion

If authentication is successful, you should be able to interact with Fusion Tables to your hearts content, and should find a .fusion.auth file in your home directory with your current tokens (you only have to enter the authentication code the first time).

I hope you have fun with it, and give me some nice pull requests on those repositories!