In Tau Station, you can travel between star systems and stations by taking a public shuttle or flying your own ship. One of the ways you can explore and plot your route is through the Star Map.
Our first version of the star map was built using a canvas element and looked like this:
Depending on what information you want, you can zoom in and out, rotate the map, click on stars to see their details, and toggle the display to show wormholes, unreachable stars, and star names.
A canvas makes it possible to appreciate the three-dimensional nature of interconnected star systems, as well as get an idea of distances between them. Perhaps you have a price on your head and cannot travel through a Consortium-affiliated stations – this allows you to easily plot a route that suits your needs.
There are tradeoffs, though.
Text browsers can’t make heads or tails out of a canvas.
This is what a canvas looks like in the elinks text browser (Hint: there’s nothing. A black screen.):
Screen readers can’t work with a canvas either.
So how can we make a canvas star map like this accessible to a wider range of players? Or rather, how can we make sure players aren’t just looking at a blank screen?
This way, a text browser user sees a list of stars and can follow wormholes from star to star:
Screen readers can now also provide more information to the player:
While the three-dimensional canvas version might be by far the fanciest, we make sure we start with a useful representation that everyone can use, and progressively enhance from there.
In the next star map post, we’ll show a more technical view of the map’s inner workings. We’re also working on making the colors of the different stars scientifically accurate, and will post a final version for everyone to see when we’re done.