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Show HN: Piste.io (piste.io)
164 points by pheelicks on Dec 4, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments

I want to love this but I am really struggling with the UX:

- Takes a long time to load

- Runs fine on my newish MBP but runs like a dog on my Linux desktop

- I am having a hard time controlling the camera position using the trackpad. Maybe with a mouse it would be better. If the arrow keys worked that might help.

- Some instructions on how to use it would be great.

- As they are, the camera and style squares appear to be clickable buttons instead of just headings.

Thanks for the feedback. Lots of good points.

The loading time is due to it having to load the elevation data, although it will be cached on subsequent visits, and it is further slowed down by client side processing, which is currently done in JS, but in the future will be hardware accelerated

As for the controls, do you find it more difficult than something like Google Earth? I was hoping that people used to that would be at home with the controls. What exactly would you expect the arrow keys to do? Simulate a mouse movement in that direction by a constant?

As for instructions, were there any parts in particular that were tough to figure out. I think one needs to strike a balance between having no hints and pointing out the blatantly obvious.

I have no idea what the controls are for "click to ride", and pressing mouse buttons, arrow buttons, WASD, and spacebar don't clearly do anything. I did the Piste:Rochette run, if that helps. It seems like the camera was just slowly moving downhill on it's own.

Agreed with the OP, without even knowing what this site is for and just having a loading spinner, I ended up closing the tab after it was taking a long time to do anything and was slowing down my browser. If you could load in something incrementally it would go a long way.

(1) Site takes too long to load on Chromium built for XP--so long that I gave up & exited the tab.

(2) Is the site name a homophone of 'pissed'?

piste = slope in french

Also in German.

Hard work and good job. enjoyed the experience.

PS: After 20 seconds of looking at panorama view, I started hearing a wind like sound, and was just thinking "oh nice, let me hear that", and then realised that it was my macbook air's fan cooling the cpu.

Glad you like it.

The code itself is optimized, I just have a background worker thread finding primes to get the fans spinning.

I... can't... quite tell... you're joking, right? Right???

I just want to say congratulations on causing my laptop to overheat and crash (seriosly!)

Wow! Seriously

If I don't have webGL, it just shows a blank page. Would be useful to detect that and tell me to enable/upgrade - now it's just really confusing.

This is awesome. Thank you. You might want to add more indications, i only discovered ski mode by you mentionning it here. It would be awesome to have a direct URL for a track to easily share with friends.

Moreover, can you techically increase the skier speed ?

This is extremely cool. Very well done. An incredible technical feat! It's a shame that so many people are having browser problems (I was too, Safari) but that is to be expected given the nature of what you're doing, and should not detract from what is a fantastic technical demo/prototype.

Great job!

Apart from some performance and usability issues this is one of the better piste visualisations I have seen.

To be truly awesome it could use some context. For example: villages, roads (only those open in winter), restaurants and piste facilities, but most of all: accommodations. I can easily see myself using something like this to compare the location of various chalets, apartments, hotels etc. Partner opportunity?

Also it would be great if you can browse neighbouring ski areas. This is something most traditional maps lack – but I can see it becoming a great way to browse for nice runs in a certain area.

Edit: Oh and it would also help to at least include the actual ski area names. I was looking for "Portes du Soleil", but you have listed it as "Avoriaz", even though you seem to have included the entire area.

Page loaded really slowly for me (and I'm not on a slow connection!). Got bored after a few seconds and left.

same here, although I have a few extensions on chromium that might tamper with the loading process.

The controls became unresponsive a few times while I was viewing the panorama mode. I'm not complaining, as this is probably more a result of my browser than of the site.

I do have a minor constructive criticism however. When in panorama mode, there's a lot of up-down-up-down action, at least on parts of the Zugspitze. I'm guessing the camera is just tracing the contours of the mountains, but on rough terrain, it's a bit motion-sickness-inducing. A bit of smoothing of the camera's path would go a long way. I think a steadicam shot from a helicopter is everyone's real-world point of reference for something like this. Mimicing that might go a long way.

Anyway, amazing work. I hope to see some North American mountains in future releases.

Which browser were you using? Was it Safari by any chance?

Thanks for the feedback on the camera movement, there is some smoothing, but it is on a much smaller scale. I originally did have a helicopter steady-cam style camera for the panorama, but switched to following the terrain to make for more dramatic camera movements. But if it makes people sick, I guess this is a bit of an own goal...

US resorts are coming, just need to process the data.

As a matter of fact, it was Safari!

I do like following the terrain; it's just a bit much at a few points during the panorama. It's 90% perfect. Maybe you could split the difference between terrain and helicopter.

Any plans to add non-resort mountains?

While I'm throwing out feature requests, it would be really cool to see the surrounding terrain from certain points on the mountain. I'd love to see what a skier sees from the top of the mountain.

Yes in Safari I've sometime found that even though I'm using requestAnimationFrame, if the WebGL stuff gets too heavy, mouse events stop working on the page itself.

Definitely not against adding non-resort locations, if there's a good reason. Ping any suggestions to @pisteio. Crater Lake is one I'd like to add once I've got the US working.

Entering ski-mode let's you kind of achieve what you describe, although you are not stationary - I like the idea of lookout points

FeedBack: I loaded it up, it was slow. Had problems with noscript but that's what I get for running with JS disabled.

Forwarded it to my co-worker who is really big into snowboarding. He's was very impressed. Only complaint is he wants to see it done for more local hills.

Great work! It might be cool if you could use voronoi diagrams to select the closest path to the mouse's position like the NYT did [0] because without really zooming in, the lines on some terrains appear to be very thin which makes hovering over a specific one a little harder.

There's also a great talk that discusses this from JSconf2014 [1]

[0] http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/11/02/us/politics/pa... [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90NsjKvz9Ns

This is great - I've wanted something like this in a while. Piste Maps are a massive distortion of reality to the extent that you sometimes aren't sure which direction you're meant to go down the run. Or at least I'm not, I find them very confusing. A proper 3D representation is much easier.

What would be great is this data available in a mobile app, with no internet connection required (because even though 3G coverage is good, for a lot of Europeans when you're skiing you're usually on holiday and so roaming). Then I might actually be able to find my way around.

Where does the data come from? Is it manually entered from the Piste Map?

Technically it should work on mobile, as long as they support WebGL, which for example iOS8 devices mostly do. That said, the current version, was built with desktop in mind. As such, the experience will likely not be great on mobile, and the UX will definitely need tweaking to work better there.

The data comes from the EU-DEM project, with the pistes extracted from OSM.

OsmAnd should work for you. It's just a regular 2d map (though it can do topo lines & hill shading). As long as you have a GPS signal you should be able to find where you are relative to where the run is on OpenStreetMap.

How is this supposed to work? The camera seems to follow a randomly generated swinging motion down the hill. Is this to see the mountainside for skiing purposes? Looks well built, and I really like the 3D models of these mountains.

When going down a piste, the side to side motion is to simulate the skiing motion. I agree it could be improved, as it isn't mathematically correct, although not having felt like you were riding on rails.

What do you think of http://www.fatmap.com? Similar thing. I have seen a demo of this on mobile and it's pretty impressive. Also http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/01/fatmap-raises-seed-funding-...

Impressive work.

Runs fine on my Windows laptop, that is a bit of a beast, but my Linux machine can't handle it (probably the graphics card).

As it takes a while to load the default resort, Avoriaz, might be better to show a screen shot and some explanation of what it is, with 'click on a resort' (initial load may take some time).

If you map Les Arcs, I'll be able to give some feedback on how realistic the runs are.

Isn't loading for me, unfortunately. I'm seeing the gray "loading..." screen. Chrome 39.0.2171.71 m on Windows.

Same issue here, same browser, Windows 7.

Sorry to hear it isn't working. You can help out by sending the output of the browser console and the stats from http://webglreport.com/ to hello@piste.io

Very cool!

I didn't get much sense of scale. It's hard to tell how big a skiier would be in comparison to the mountain. Could there be an option for third-person view with an average-height skiier model?

I see you want to add trees, i guess that would also help alleviate this.

Is it possible to pan the view when viewing the whole resort? I kept trying to get "just the right view".

I think this could be improved by biasing the camera's target more towards the fall line of the slope, rather than keeping it on the path that the camera entity itself is following.

It also appears that many of the longer runs end early instead of going the full length of the piste. Still, a very impressive proof-of-concept.

Chrome 39.0.2171.71 on OSX 10.10.1.

This seems really useful, although it probably could be improved by more labels (restaurants, names of mountains etc.) That data is probably available from open street map, so it shouldn't be too hard to implement. It would also may be a better idea to not load a map by default, as it takes several seconds.

Love it. Be great to see this expanded to include walks (machu pichu etc) - only because that has more relevance for me though.

One question, why does the camera 'rock and roll' when previewing a route? Personally I'd prefer a smooth panning motion... (the rocking made me feel a little queezy...)

This is beautiful, but so slow for me. Based on other comments though it must be a Linux thing. I am running Chrome on Linux with 12 cores and 32GB of RAM and the site is very, very slow.

this is really cool. The "click to ride" took me a while to find, some introduction video maybe would be cool?

EDIT: and yes, the grey pane with no indication it's loading is annoying

I also couldn't get it to load on my fast MBP, slowish connection. I ran my timeline profiler in Safari and it looked like a Twitter plugin was causing insane slowness.

This is super-fun to play with.

It might be a good idea to reflect actual snow conditions, at least approximately. Of course that will get depressing, but accuracy seems in order.

Neat idea, but the application is very resource hungry!

Non-retina MBP on OSX 10.10 here, some strange artifacts in the 3D canvas. It's almost like a film grain effect. Makes things really ugly.

Where does the name come from? My brain linked it with pastebin and I assumed it was going to be a site to show off code samples.

Piste is a word meaning "ski run" or "ski slope"

In French, piste (de ski) means skiing slope / skiing trail

Piste is French for ski track.

Great idea, but it's not reflecting the actual "pista"... And it's not fast enough at the moment.

Worked fine for me, there were moments of stutter though but otherwise an impressive project.


Cool! But seems to work only on Firefox, you should fix it for Chrome too.

worked fine for me in Chrome

This is so cool. I wish it showed resorts from the Pyrenees too.

If there is a specific resort you'd like, tweet us on @pisteio, see http://www.piste.io/request.html

* lastest chrome + air 2011 -> hangs.

* i have no idea what this website does.

this is really beautiful. makes me realize how much I miss skiing and traveling. the setting changes really make this stand out. well done!

Great idea but needs more refinement!

big black box with gray band on left...

on ipad

Hey hey hey

I got a "schumacher" bug when clicking on a track: the view went directly into a rock :(

It was on Avoriaz, la pointe de l'au

Sorry to report a bug.

Thanks for crashing my browser! Maybe try testing out with slower machines too and not make this kind of crap javascript. Took 30 seconds out of my life. Running Firefox 34 on a Mac Mini 2 GHz.

broke my mobile firefox too.


Interesting to see you created this account just to reply to my comment.

so what ?

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