Interactive Visitor Map Consulting for the United States Forest Service (USFS)

One of the many services offered by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to the public, is their Interactive Visitor Map (IVM). The IVM allows the public to view, through an online map interface, Forest Service roads, trails, recreation sites, wilderness areas, and wild & scenic rivers.  Previously, the map could only be seen on personal computers. The purpose of Xentity’s task was to develop a mobile application version of the current Interactive Visitor Map (IVM).

The technical approach applied by Xentity team member Critigen blended agile software development methodology with solid creative design and experience analysis. Their efforts had five important tasks – Coordination and Design; Development Initiation; Mobile Application Development; Testing and Application Store Submission.

Going Mobile

Critigen understood that the USFS wanted to leverage the existing design of the IVM in developing the mobile application. Typically, each new project requires several preparation steps prior to starting to code (Coordination and Design task). These include items such as setting up the development environment, gaining access to project data or other resources not publicly available, verifying, and installing proper versions of software, setting up map or data services, if needed, and similar items.

They developed native mobile applications of the IVM for both the iOS and Android operating systems (Development and Initiation task). The development process focused on moving IVM web capabilities to the native mobile platform (Mobile Application Development task). In addition to the unit testing performed by developers when coding application functionality, the Xentity Team tested the native mobile app to ensure that every component works individually and as a part of the entire integrated solution (Testing task).

The duo with the USFS staff to ensure the development environment matched the target production environment. Some of the proeject’s initiation items include use of proper versions of the mobile software and use of USFS data. They built the solution for the operating system and then downloaded. Then they tested on native devices using an approach that did not require publication in an app store. Once the native mobile applications were fully tested, the team worked to package the application for app store submission.

Both the Google Play and Apple App Store have a set of submission and test requirements that applications must meet before the store will distribute the apps. These requirements include functionality, metadata, and performance. To address these requirements, the team identified impacts. Then they proposed modifications to the design where native mobile restrictions existed (application store submission).

Version 2.0 Created And Released To The Public

The new native mobile application for both Android and iOS offers the same or very similar user interface, and functionality as the Forest Service’s current Visitor Map (Version 2.0) at www.fs.fed.us/ivm. No new user workflows, user interface design, or new functionality are required in the mobile application. The app shall provide all functionality per the IVM. This allows the public to view its features even in a mobile setting.