Images displaying zoomed in (Microsoft browsers) 29 Jun 2017
We have been working on the display of images when you are logged in. Some users have commented on issues with the display.
Having applied a number of small changes in the last week it is now only affecting users with Microsoft browsers (Edge and Internet Explorer).
Firefox, Chrome and non-Microsoft browsers are displaying images as we originally intended.
The problem is down to the way specific browsers use the canvas which is the container within which the images are displayed. Microsoft translates web standards meaning that when an image is smaller than the canvas it will abort the display - so will not display anything. For these browsers we are displaying the image at a zoom level larger than the canvas.
We are looking at other options so that the images can be displayed for all users. We may have to reduce the canvas size for all browsers and are looking at alternatives to OpenLayers which we use to zoom into the images.
What has changed and why? 14 Jun 2017


Britain from Above has been rebuilt and went live on Wednesday 30th May 2017. We do hope you like the new website but we wanted to tell you about some of the things that have changed;

The main reasons for re-building the website were;

  • The technology it was built on was an old, unsupported version which we couldn’t continue to use
  • To respond to users’ needs, the site needed to be responsive (usable on mobile devices) and more accessible to a range of users
  • The Britain from Above project ended in 2014 and therefore we wanted a new site which focused on enhancing the records – adding pins and comments
  • We want to ensure we can continue to support the site in the future with the resource we have

Based on the above, we’ve made some changes to the website. The one area that we have not changed is the data – images, metadata and user content. This should all remain the same as on the previous version of the site.

The functionality of the site has been focused on enhancing the records – adding pins and comments to image records.

The project was originally funded by the Heritage Lottery and as this funding ended in 2014 we have had to remove some features that required staff time to support, such as moderation. All the partner organisations have faced significant challenges and need to ensure that  staff time is focused in the right areas. We have a commitment to continue to maintain the website and so we have made some changes which will make it easier and less time consuming to do this in the future.


What has changed and why?


Page layout (responsive layout): The layout and design has changed noticeably. The screen width has changed. This lets different devices view the content. It means there is a single version of the page layout which enables different devices and screen sizes to handle the content in a similar way. From a development perspective this reduces the need to have different versions of the site for different browsers and as new phones and tablets come out we do not have to keep supporting different versions of code.

On some features the controls have been changed slightly, for example, to zoom on the map, you need to use the mouse rather than clicking a zoom button. This is part of the control that lets users on mobile devices use finger controls to zoom. We have kept the zoom in/out buttons so that new users can see that a zoom feature is available.

Zoom level: the viewer for the images is much wider than previously. We regenerated all the zoom tiles so that you can zoom right into pixel levels of the images. The only restraint is the quality of the original image. The images on the site are all different sizes and shapes so we made a decision to show the whole image (512 px) when not logged in. When logged in,  the images are displayed to fill the window which does cut off bits of the image and hide some pins. The “Fullscreen” button lets you view the image in the full browser window.

Hide pins/layers: the pins/flags are displayed on the map using OpenLayers which stores the display of the pins over the image. To hide pins/flags there is a tickbox in the “Layers” control if you want to see the image without any distractions.

Map: The previous version of the map only showed Scotland, Wales and England. In the new version of the map we can now display the images from outside of mainland UK and Europe. There are also a small number of images in Iran and Iraq which are also displayed. The map display was chosen for the best presentation of European images (which cover most of the data set). The mapping application mirrors the technology that is used elsewhere on Historic Environment Scotland sites (who manage the development of the site).

The mapping application also allows gazetteer searching of the map using the ‘Find a…’ button.

Tooltips: There are a range of tooltips displaying on the site. These are the black pop up boxes. These are important for accessibility. They display on hover on the desktop view but pop up on click on mobile devices (search results for example). Display of the tooltips is controlled by the content management system with little flexibility.


Features which have been removed;


Unlocated items/Find a location: Unlocated items can be seen in the unlocated gallery (and just off the coast of Cornwall on the map). Locations suggested by users were checked and verified by staff at Historic England and sent back to the web team to be uploaded into the site. This process has been removed from the new site as we cannot continue to support it. However, if you have any suggestions for changes to locations, these can be made using the enquiry form on the website.

Keywords page: A page of user generated keywords was displayed underneath the search box. This page of links had become unwieldy and there was extensive duplication and misspellings. We are looking to see if it will be possible to display the links on the new site but the ability to add keywords has been removed.

Groups: A large number of groups were created during the project. Of these 259 groups many were inactive with only 1-3 members. All the groups were reviewed to understand activity levels and assessed based on how recently they had been updated. After much discussion it was agreed that the best way forward would be to create a page to access all the groups, highlighting the most active but to remove the functionality to create groups and add content.

In addition a Legacy page was created to showcase the activities and outputs from a variety of community groups. Previously, these were not easy to find on the website.

Flights: The concept of flights was a grouping of images within a similar location taken on the same day. This were extrapolated from the data and were not accurate (on NCAP<link to ncap> for example flights and sorties are directly related to images that were taken on the same flight).  We felt that the nearby images were much more useful so these have been given greater prominence in order to offset the removal of the flights page.

Love this: The option to love items did not really carry out any purpose on the site and only served to update the carousel on the home page. The current carousel displays a selection of images which can be changed by the by staff and the like feature has therefore been removed.

Wiki/chat: These features were very rarely used, probably as they did not really serve the needs of the user community.


Some bugs have been flagged since the site went live. We are working on these:


Image not displaying: There is an issue with the images not displaying correctly. This affects the logged in view and currently displays a zoomed in version which users have to scrolla round. This has been caused by Windows Edge and OpenLayers (which we use for displayign the different zoom versions of images and maps). A fix will be applied so that only Windows Edge has a fixed zoom display but then we need to review the issue which may lead to needing to display smaller images.

Tooltip text: See the comment above about tooltips. This cannot be changed without affecting accessibility and the approach used to make the site work responsively.

Reply to pin comments: This is being worked on and will go live shortly. Currently users cannot "Reply to Pin" comments under a record.

If you have any feedback or comments please use the Enquiries form.

The Britain from Above website has changed! 16 May 2017

 The good news is you are still able to search for and view the fantastic Aerofilms images. You can continue to add your comments, photographs and pins– enabling you to carry on sharing your memories and knowledge about places and buildings with other users of the website. The new site has been designed for use on mobile phones and tablets so you’ll be able to do all of this on the move! 

During the life of the Britain from Above project, over 250 Groups were set up by users with interests in specific places or themes. Since the project ended, these have been less active and it now makes sense to freeze the Groups. While this means you won’t be able to start any new groups or add any more content you’ll still be able to view what has been added in the past. We have also highlighted some of the amazing resources that were created by these groups, which are a legacy of the project. 

The Welsh translations will be added to the site in the next few days. Apologies for these not being ready for the site going live but we wanted to make the rest of the site available.