geomapping

Resolving an IP address to a hostname, or reverse DNS, has been around for a while. However, resolving an IP address to a physical location, or geomapping, has just recently come into its own.

If you’re interested in the raw data, many of the regional RIRs (notably RIPE, ARIN, and APNIC) publish dumps, or “splits,” of their databases. This forum thread has more detailed information.

However, most people want something that they can simply plug into their web site that will tell visitors where they’re located. Companies such as Quova, Akamai, and MaxMind provide IP-to-location services of varying resolution and accuracy. Except for a few flukes (e.g. all AOL users are in Virginia!), these services are fairly good.

Not surprisingly, they charge money for access to their databases. If you’re a business, I’ll let you decide on that value proposition yourself. However, if you’re a small, independent web site, GeoBytes has a free (as in beer) mapping service you can use. I’m using it on my voyeurism page right now. Just plug this javascript into your web site wherever you’d like to show the user their location:

<script type="text/javascript"
 src="http://map.geoup.com/geoup?template=CityName">

This results in a tiny script that prints the user’s city, inline:

document.write('Brooklyn')

I’m using it on my voyeurism page right now. If you’d prefer the user’s region, country, or one of many pre-bulit messages, you can take your pick from GeoByte’s templates.

One caveat: to support this service, GeoBytes occasionally shows an advertisement instead of your own page, about once every 50 page views. This is unfortunate, so I’m looking for an ad-free replacement along the lines of InternetFrog.

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