The future of the pilgrim routes database

When I announced that the existing pilgrim routes part of my site would be disappearing, it was partly for information and partly to see what reaction there was. As quite a few people have offered to help keep it going, there’s no harm in seeing if we can get some sort of community established to maintain the thing. I can help to set the thing up, and then gradually withdraw as said community takes over.

The main reason I want to stop maintaining this is that it’s got too big for one person to maintain. It originates back in the 1990s, when there were only a couple of dozen routes and it was reasonably easy to have personal contact with all those responsible. It was also imaginable that I would get around to walking them all. Nobody ever anticipated that this pilgrim route thing would have grown as much as it has, and whatever is left of my life is too short for walking anything like all of them.

I have done nothing on it since June 2013, so there are quite a few broken links and other updates needed, and quite a few new routes that should be added as well. In addition, routes do change over time, and there is currently no mechanism for updating the route lines or even knowing which lines need updating.

Ideally, those responsible for the routes would maintain their part of the database, including the routelines, and last summer I did port my existing database to Github, meaning it’s now ‘open source’. I was planning on contacting the relevant orgs to try and get them to participate. However, there are so many of them nowadays that I abandoned the idea.

The home page is at https://pilgrimdb.github.io/ and I’ve set up some issues on the Github site where the source is. This is really experimental, and we’ll have to see how it goes. All contributions and suggestions for improvements are welcome. Although those with technical knowledge who can help improve the software are more than welcome, this isn’t primarily a technical issue. Someone who has just walked a route, for example, can report any issue with the existing description or route line, and someone else can contribute by confirming this. For those who aren’t familiar with the Github setup (probably most of you), I’d suggest starting with simple changes like correcting broken links or other textual changes. Adding/changing the routelines is currently quite complicated, and needs some good ideas on how to simplify.

Finally, see separate page for information on the replacement mapping program.

February 2016