Maintain map zoom level when creating observations

Continuing the discussion from "Sync obs. w/ photo metadata" not working on old uploader:

@sanguinaria33 mentioned he uses the old/deprecated uploader rather than the newer one mostly because of the superior way it handles the zoom level on the map:

Place and map zoom when uploading an observation in the newer uploader:

But then it looks like this when you save the observation:

If you are zoomed in on the map when you create an observation in the old uploader, the observation retains the close zoom:

This feature request is related, but appears to be requesting an account-wide setting rather than by observation.

Thanks @bouteloua for finding this topic and merging my request into it. I had searched but somehow missed this thread.

I am a bit distressed that this has been requested months ago, yet is still not addressed, especially as it seems like it would be something trivially easy to implement. Perhaps this is just a case of the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” and we can make this a bit more “squeaky”?

I know this is a pet-peeve issue to me because I have found it extremely time-consuming to manually zoom in again and again, when editing the location on new observations, which I always want to do for every record because I can always make it more accurate than the GPS on my phone.

Given that we users are already doing a lot of unpaid work in the interest of science, it seems like it would be worthwhile to facilitate us doing it a bit more efficiently? Save us some time, perhaps free up time that we can spend either doing more constructive things on the site, or being outdoors in nature. The time to click zoom in over and over again is completely wasted time, and completely unnecessary.

And it’s a lot of time. Like it adds at least 5 seconds per observation, in practice, a lot more because I’m clumsy. Recently I uploaded 80 observations. That’s well over 6 minutes…in practice, a lot more, that is just completely lost.

Also, consider the implication on data accuracy. Because it’s annoying, many users may just opt to stop updating the location, and then the location data becomes less accurate.

I can’t even count how many times I see location data that is obviously wrong, like a tree photographed in the middle of a field, but pinned in the middle of a building, or a lake, or something like that.

We have a team of 8 staff members, only two of whom do the majority of development on the website. So even seemingly easy things are sometimes not addressed or are not prioritized, if we even decide to implement them.

Can you please walk us through your workflow?


When I wanted to (spend the time to) show the closer location on some of my obs recently:

-Create the observation on the new explore page
-Open each individual observation separately. The map displays the entire region, often multiple states
-Click the edit observation button
-Click zoom in button many, many times and save

I am using the web (in Chromium), and I start on the homepage. I then hit the observations tab:

I then open an individual observation. Usually I open a bunch of these at once in a bunch of browser tabs. For instance here is one:

I then hit the blue “Edit” button in the top right.

This takes me to a page where the map is fully zoomed out; the page has this URL:

Here’s a screenshot of what happens:

I haven’t found a better way to zoom in this map than just clicking zoom in many many times, or using the scroll wheel, both of which are very inefficient. Ideally I would want this to immediately display at a level of zoom appropriate to the reported accuracy of the observations.

There are also numerous other glitches on the page. For example, sometimes when I drag the point to adjust it, it resets the accuracy to 0. Other times I’ll drag the little circle and the pointer won’t come with me. Overall it seems like it just needs to be tested more thoroughly. It is markedly worse than the app interface, which seems to work more smoothly. However, if the interface worked smoothly I think it would be much faster for me to update these on the web because it’s just generally easier to use a full-size screen and mouse than a touchscreen interface on a small device.

For what it’s worth, this page is ancient and dates back to the early days of iNat. Hence the bugginess and design issues. Revamping other parts of the site have priority because needs in other areas are more urgent (eg lists and subscriptions and the issues they present as iNat scales). I’d be OK with setting it at a much closer zoom level as @cazort suggests.

What kind of location accuracy are you getting for your obserations made in the mobile app? Are you taking photos in the iNat app, or are you taking photos with the phone’s camera app?

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I’m taking photos within the iNat app. The location accuracies that it specifies tend to vary, usually between 3 and 14 meters, often around 6. I’m not sure where it gets these. I usually update the accuracy myself manually.

However, whatever the accuracy is, the app interface seems to set the zoom appropriately (although it seems to default to map view without aerial photos, something I prefer about the web interface which defaults to aerial photos, but it’s less of an issue because it’s just one click to set.)