Let’s meet in the middle

I give to you my most recent side-project: Let’s meet in the middle.

It’s a simple web app to quickly and easily find a place to meet half-way between two locations. If you’re meeting a friend after work for a beer, or a client for a coffee, you can enter your location, their location and the method of transport and see places you could meet!

Screenshot

A screen shot from Let's meed in the middle showing the form to enter your locations and mode of transport

Implementation

There are other services which can calculate this for you but they look pretty dated, are clunky to use and don’t always work if your location is ambiguous. I use HTML5’s Geolocation API to get your country of origin so that any searches can be restricted there first.

I’m using the Google Maps Javascript API v3 (directionsService) to plot a route between the two locations, then calculate and plot the midpoint. Using that midpoint, the PlacesService and some hard-coded keywords (coffee, restaurant and bar) I then plot possible places to meet.

The places are viewable in a list and the URL can be used to share the results.

When calculating the midpoint between very large distances, e.g. New York to Las Vegas having a standard radius to search for places doesn’t work because it would be too small. I use 5% of the total distance between the points as the radius which seems to work ok.

Screen shot showing route between Paddington Station and Old Street Station and some places around the midpoint to meet

Improvements

I used Peek for some user testing and have already made a few adjustments where they didn’t quite understand what it was for. I can’t recommend Peek enough for sanity checking that your site is communicating what you meant it to.

Watch a video of someone using Let’s meet in the middle.

These are some other suggestions that came out of these videos:

  • Not everyone wants to meet in a bar, cafe or restaurant, they might want to go shopping or just visit the area.
  • It could be useful to manually adjust the midpoint in cases where a large town is close by and transport links might make it easier to meet there.
  • Bit more complex would be to allow for more than two starting points if there are a group that wants to meet centrally.
  • Show more places to start with – the PlacesService returns 20 items with the ability to page to additional results.

I really wanted a dot com domain

After trying MANY combinations of ‘meet’, ‘middle’, ‘halfway’ I found a good enough domain name that uses the slightly old-fashioned ‘shall’.

http://shallwemeetinthemiddle.com – Let’s meet in the middle

I hope people will find it useful.

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