New experimental map from Mapio Cymru – improving mapping in Welsh one place name at a time

As part of my work on the Mapio Cymru project I’ve provisioned a new experimental map server.

Like the main map it shows a map with place names in Welsh. The difference now is that it provides a symbol next to every place name to show which data source was used. This should help anybody who wants to contribute place names in Welsh, participate in the project, and ultimately improve mapping in the Welsh language.

Read my blog post on Mapio Cymru for more details.

Improving Welsh-language digital mapping and navigation

As a freelance web developer I always enjoy working on Mapio Cymru, and it’s an opportunity to bring together some of my interests: free software, open data, maps, and the Welsh language.

The project has grown from the experimental map with names in Welsh. We are now helping a couple of organisations to offer mapping services in Welsh.

One of those organisations is Trafnidiaeth Cymru / Transport for Wales.

Here’s Ben Proctor from the project with some details of our consultancy work for TfW:

Transport for Wales asked us to undertake a piece of research for them. They wanted to know how they could build online mapping applications that treated Welsh and English language equally.

We’ve been thinking about these issues for several years and we maintain a Welsh language map of Wales at This, however, was a real opportunity to think about these questions from an organisation providing public transport services across Wales. We’ve produced a report for Transport for Wales which has a lot of detail in it and is very focused on their specific circumstances. […]

Read the full blog post by Ben.

Clic Off – a Twitter bot sharing TV programmes on S4C Clic

I made a new Twitter bot called Clic Off which just started today.

It automatically tweets selections of TV programmes on the Welsh-language channel S4C. What the shared programmes have in common is that they’re about to disappear from the service because they’ve almost reached their full term. The bot gives you a last chance to watch.

Here’s an example:

I am a fan of S4C and the bot is entirely unofficial.

One of the most interesting elements was the algorithmic tweaking to try to get a representative balance of programmes. It turns out that a completely random pick of available ‘last chance’ programmes results in a surfeit of childrens’ programmes.

Bots and automation

Do you want to discuss having a bot for your project or use of data, code, and automation to solve problems and take opportunities? Feel free to contact me.

Reforming the news from London on devolved matters: towards a project

From a Welsh perspective there is a clear problem of inaccuracy when the media in London reports stories about devolved matters.

For example in a story about education or health in England the papers, television or radio incorrectly refer to the United Kingdom or fail to refer to any country whatsoever. Or there is a lack of attention to the vitally important differences in legislation and policy between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England.

This of course can lead to confusion, and lack of awareness of where powers are held and who is accountable. Despite the efforts of media who focus on Wales matters there’s a significant percentage of people in Wales who receive this misleading news, typically from London outlets.

The That’s Devolved project consistently highlights examples. There are some instances where the journalists and editors have corrected headlines and stories as a result. From a devolution perspective it works well. Many onlookers have learned more about the powers of the Welsh Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, and Stormont through the efforts of the project.

A while back I was thinking of the journalists’ own perspective. I had some enlightening conversations with experts and friends about this. Can a campaign or resource be created to be used in response to these journalists, and help change attitudes?

The result was a website I created called Say England.

The rationale was to convey the problem from a perspective that most English journalists understand – the English perspective.

It seemed more difficult to persuade them to care about Wales or that ‘devolution’ is worth trying to understand. (The few who do pay attention are very special.)

Currently the website is a single page listing some advice for journalists and others. It can be posted in replies on social media all day long.

It names other roles involved in the media narratives who get this wrong – for many different reasons.

Unfortunately the Say England website is a project that has not been completed or launched. For one thing I am a dad now and there are plenty of other ongoing projects and commitments – this one doesn’t easily fit with the others.

You may see its potential perhaps using the site as a rallying point for shareable content, campaigns, updates on progress, lists of good, bad and ugly, or something else.

I would consider giving the domain name to anyone principled and enthusiastic who wants to take it on, use it, and develop it.

Please let me know in the comments below or by email if you want to take over the project.

Bilingual WordPress website in Welsh and English for CULT Cymru

Here’s an example of a multilingual website (Welsh and English) I developed recently for the CULT Cymru training programme.

It’s all built on WordPress with a few custom things for this site, such as the design theme. Another example is that I developed a new plugin to show the testimonials widget (which is on the right in the screenshot above). This selects a testimonial randomly from the batch which are stored as a custom post type. This has to be done in the language that the visitor has chosen.

This is what the testimonials look like for editors on the back end:

The process was also an opportunity to move from an older domain name to the new name as well.