Annotating a picture in Fieldtrip GB

The Fieldtrip GB team have been out and about talking to users of the app and we have had some useful feedback on what users would like to see in the app. One of the comments that appeared more than once was that it would be good to be able to annotate photos.  We agree, but there are several other things that we have scheduled as higher priorities.

This got me thinking. There are apps out there that allow users to annotate photos and screen captures, so which one is best and how could FtGB users integrate it into their workflow? I was lucky enough to see a presentation by Derek France from the University of Chester and one of the apps that he demo’d was Skitch.  Skitch is an app made by the same people that do Evernote. Skitch allows users to sketch something new, mark-up maps, screen captures, or even a photo. So you would be able to:

  • make a new sketch
  • screen capture a map then add notes/annotations to it
  • annotate or add notes to a photograph.


So how would you integrate this into the FtGB workflow?  Well, because Skitch is not “part” of FtGB you would have to launch it and run FtGB as a background programme. Lets walk through it in steps as if we were in the field.

  1. We are at a site we want to survey.
  2. start Skitch
  3. take a photo
  4. add sketch/notes
  5. save
  6. back to FtGB
  7. create point
  8. attach photo from Gallery
  9. navigate to the skitch folder (in android you should ensure that Skitch is in your My Gallery)
  10. Save

Photo Annotated in Skitch

Pretty simple, as long as you have the Skitch folder checked so that it appears in your My Gallery.  

What if you wanted to annotate a map from Fieldtrip GB.  This is possible, it just requires you to screen capture  the map.  There is usually a way to do this by pressing a couple of buttons at the same time, much like a special move on a Nintendo (editors note – my phone wont do screen capture in FtGB).
  1. Take a screengrab with FtGB running (process varies between handsets)
  2. Open saved screengrab in Skitch
  3. Annotate the screen grab
  4. Save annotation
  5. Back to FtGB
  6. Attach annotated screen capture to a point

Screen Map Capture annotated in Skitch

Hopefully the steps described above will allow you to add annotated pictures, maps and sketches to Fieldtrip GB. There are undoubtedly other annotation apps out there that would integrate in a similar way, we just chose Skitch as it was free, easy to use and seemed to to exactly what we wanted.

The true size of Africa

The true Size of Africa

Maps have long been the preserve of the “Old World” and we like nothing more than putting ourselves at the centre of the map and making ourselves look big and important.  Representing a 3D object in 2 dimensions is not a simple task. Projections usually distort some areas of the globe in order to represent the World in a rough rectangle.

The Gall-Peters projection aims to represent land mass area reliably and results in an odd view of the World.  Odd, in that we are just so used to seeing land area distorted in-favor of the Northern Hemisphere.  Gall came up with this projection in 1855, but it was popularised by Peters in the 1980′s to highlight the misrepresentation and self importance of developed nations.   Most maps will show Greenland as being about the same size as Africa but it is actually 14 times smaller.

Today there is an article doing the rounds that reports the “true size of Africa”.  I picked this up from the Economist, and it shows the continent of Africa compared with a number of countries.  It is an eye-opener.  You can easily squeeze China, the USA, India and most of Europe into Africa and still have room to slide Japan in for good measure.  Africa is huge. Maps lie, or rather, we make maps for a purpose and this often emphasises a feature at the detriment of others we are less interested in.

The image has been released under a creative commons licence which is great.  You are free to download it and re-use it.

Economist article

Creative Commons Image