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Technology > A Weather Sticker's Story
A Weather Sticker's Story
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Displaying weather information has become a common feature for many web sites, from large scaled portals to small sized blogs. There are numerous services a user can choose in order to interact with a weather information provider, so that this information can be displayed on the web site. Services vary from local forecast feeds to world wide weather portals. Most famous are Weather Underground, Yahoo Weather, The Weather Bug, AccuWeather, The Weather Channel and others; portals which provide detailed forecast for most cities on global scale. Part of their promotional strategies is the offer of free software that end-users can install in order to retrieve weather information on their desktop, or the so called weather stickers (banners) that users can integrate into their web sites in order to display weather info about the locations of their choice.

All the above mentioned weather "stickers" have the same basis: Each city has its own "code name" which refers to an alphanumeric combination of digits; this is linked to an image which is offered for free, and can be copy-pasted into every single web page. Usually the markup language used is HTML or Javascript; mostly HTML which points to an image originating from the weather information provider, accompanied by a link, that the user is technically but not legally able to deactivate; otherwise there would be a violation of the terms of use of the sticker- great example is the so called "Weather Underground Sticker", available for every location included in the WU weather database.

The disadvantages of this way of "printing" weather info onto one's web site is the dynamic external linking, the graphical advertisements within the "sticker" and the inability of the user to control in an effective way the layout; users of these free services can only choose "different styles" of stickers, but not customize the sticker it self. Apart from this, loading images from an external server can always delay the loading time of a web page and create unwanted dependencies. It is true that most of the users that administer a web site prefer a non-image based weather utility, that would print the requested information in plain text, in the requested format and position, accompanied by weather-indicating images or not.

Browsing through the web, one would bump onto many web pages that have this feature: Weather is not displayed as a whole static image, but as plain text, accompanied by some nice weather conditions signs. This information is fully customizable and can be "printed" on a web site the way each user wants with no limitations. Of course this format is much more preferable than the large and mostly ugly "stickers" provided by the weather portals with dynamic links to their home page or local forecast page. The text-only way of presenting in a custom format weather information is based on scripts, on pieces of code that take advantage of free services provided by weather portals and locally (within one's server) render the information in the requested format. The most usual way to do this is to take advantage of the free RSS service provided by most large scaled weather portals; by using a light-weight script the user can take advantage of the information included into he RSS XML file and graphically display it on a web site, in the style of a fully customized "weather sticker". Plain text is generated about current conditions (temperature for example), as extracted from the RSS syndication and about other information such as forecast or local weather conditions that one wants to display.

We are referring to a kind of an "advanced RSS reader" that has the ability to transform the RSS weather feed into a fully customizable weather widget, ready to fit in every web page. The result is that we get rid of the annoying advertisements, the dynamic linking, the bad taste of most "ready-to-copy-paste stickers" and the static way of presenting information. Weather information is cashed and rendered locally, in our server; as a result of this the web page loads faster without errors or annoying dependencies.


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He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.
Aristotle
Chania, near Souda port (2015/10/20)
Chania, near Souda port
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