The first phase of change to allow easier porting to other languages took place with the change in the API from using inheritance of the Java Calendar classes, to one that uses composition. This will make porting it to other languages easier. Included in the update are a number of new zmanim, mostly the addition of a number of new calculations for plag that are useful when trying to avoid a tartai desasri with early erev shabbos minyanim.
I just upgraded the site to WordPress 2.0.2, upgraded a few plugins and upgraded the Zmanim Calendar Generator to use v2 of the Google Maps API. I hope to have an update available for the Zmanim API that will allow easier porting to different languages. This will necessitate changing the API from using inheritance of the Java Calendar classes, to one that uses composition. I will try to keep you posted on this progress.
The Zmanim Calendar Generator now has a simple way to look up longitude and latitude information using the Google Maps API. To use this feature, click on the Google Maps icon to display the map (location centered on Bais Medrash Gevoha in Lakewood), find the location that you want to generate zmanim for, and click that point in the map. This will update the longitude and latitude fields in the form. The Google API was pretty straight forward and simple. At the same time I tried to integrate an elevation lookup. Google does not provide elevation information, but I attempted to look it up using a webservice. This seemingly simple task was not very straight forward. The approach was to grab the SOAP response from the REST style elevation webservice made available by Jonathan Stott. My plan was to do this all via the client sided XML parsing. The first issue encountered was browser security that does not allow cross-domain loading of XML documents (By the way this was not using XMLHttpRequest, but the same security restrictions apply). This was solved by a simple PHP page that was just a proxy for the call. That done, I managed to get it to work in IE, but it crashed the browser every second call or so. The crashing was solved by adding a small delay. I never managed to get it working in Mozilla. I later tried to use the existing Google Maps API to load it, but never got it working. I commented out all elevation code, and will get to that part at some future date. I also removed the non decimal longitude and latitude option. I hope this will be useful.
The Zmanim API currently has 2 sample classes in the
output package (no longer available). One the ZmanimXLSGenerator outputs zmanim as an Excel spreadsheet and is currently used in the Zmanim Calendar Generator, the other that is not fully maintained outputs zmanim in a PDF format (no longer available). I just started work on the third output class. This will generate an RSS feed of zmanim for a given location. I plan on outputting zmanim for the current day and the following week. The API that will be used is ROME. It seems pretty stable and relatively easy to use.
As pointed out in a comment on the WordPress Hebrew Date Plugin page, there was a PHP function isJewishLeapYear missing from the plugin that caused issues when the month was Adar. I added this to the file and relesed it as version 0.9. I do not have any posts in Adar, so I can’t really test this fix, so please let me know if you run into any problems.