Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Three of my photos from Flickr have been added to the Schmap guide for Galway. This morning I got a message from the Schmap people this morning telling me that they had included the photos. They hadn't asked in advance but all of my photographs on Flickr are licensed under Creative Commons and they include plenty of photo credits with the guide so I didn't mind.

Schmap is a freeware application that you download and install on your machine, you then download travel guides for cities around the world. I suppose it's a good idea but the fact that you have to download the application and files is possibly their biggest flaw. I can see their logic, if you are travelling with your laptop it's useful to have the guide offline, but it should be an option as more people are likely to travel without their laptop and an online version would be more useful. I wonder if people will take to the idea. It would also be handy to have a PDA version available but they say it's not possible. I must play around with it and see if I can put it onto a USB keyring, so at least it's somewhat mobile.

Each city guide contains information about the city that covers the things you see in most travel guide books. What to see, where to stay, where to eat, tours, maps of the city and useful links. Included in the information on different locations are thumbnail photographs of the location, which is where Flickr comes in. The thumbnails link to the original Flickr photograph and the photographer is clearly credited.

Downloading more city guides just requires the user to select the city from a list displayed at startup. The application and guides are free. I don't know how they make their money, maybe they plan on inserting adverts or maybe there is some form of sponsorship going on.

If you are travelling and want to read a city guide before you leave (or are bringing a laptop) then it's worth a look, after all it's free. I don't know if Schmap will be the future of travel guides, but this is certainly something companies like the Lonely Planet should consider buying or reproducing. The Lonely Planet guide to Australia is great but it's a hefty size to carry for anyone backpacking.

No comments: