Frequently Asked Questions

This article provides Q&A about meta-topics for the Running Reality web and app versions.

Application Questions

How do I download and install the app (especially if I am having trouble?

We answer questions about this over in the app section of the website.

How do I use the app?

The documentation section of the website talks about all the major concepts of Running Reality.

App Security Questions

What are the layers of security for launching an app?

Layer 1: Web Browser Your web browser has security settings for controlling both plug-ins and downloads. Running Reality relies on downloading the files for its app from your browser and different browsers will give slightly different warnings about JNLP files. Some will also allow you to launch a JNLP file after approving a warning and others will simply download the JNLP file for you to click on later in your downloads folder.

Layer 2: Operating System Your operating system has protections against installing malicious applications from the Internet. Running Reality is an application from the Internet and we are working to comply with the latest operating system protections so you know you can trust our code. The strictest right now is the Gatekeeper feature of Mac OS from Apple. We are working to gain full compliance with Gatekeeper but are still not there quite yet.

Map Questions

Why doesn't the map get more detailed as I zoom way in?

Reason #1: We use the NASA Blue Marble as the base map of the Earth. This is a great map that has cloud-free pixels of the entire Earth and we've chosen to use the June map to have the northern hemisphere not be too covered in snow. The Blue Marble pixels are 500m x 500m. Compressed, the map is about a 25Mb file download that streams down from the website after Running Reality itself has downloaded and started. It uses about 200Mb of your computer's graphics memory when the application is running. That's already quite a few resources and you already have to wait long enough to download it.

Reason #2: Going for pixels of much less than 1km x 1km, and you start seeing the details of modern cities. That's great for trying to find your house or the best route across town in a map website. But it makes it a little odd to be seeing New York City in full detail in the base map when we're trying to show the year 1200AD. There was no New York City in 1200AD, but there's that big grey spot in the satellite imagery! You also see this in lots of genealogy software that tries to show you where your German relatives came from, but you just see modern borders and not those of 1880 when they sailed. Finally, this also lets us model more explicitly the changing shorelines and river courses -- a modern satellite view of Troy puts it far from the water but that's because of thousands of years of the bay silting in. So, hopefully you'll think of the 500m x 500m pixels and think "game board tiles" and appreciate how we're trying to do what we can to visually take you back in time.

Data Questions

How far along are you?

For nations, we aren't sure exactly how far along we are, because we have no good estimate of how many border changes have occurred in history. However, we have some countries on each continent in each year since 3000BC. We are also working on cities and armies and battles and ships. The goal is eventually to get down to street-level views of all history.

Can I export all the nation borders?

No. We do not have a GeoJSON export feature. Given the complexity of our history engine, we are not sure how exactly to do this. It is not a static map like a normal web map with all the data synchronized at the same time where you can, say, get all the polygons for 1700AD.

Further, we are continuously editing the world data right now and are concentrating all our resources and time on getting that right. All the individual steps in the history of a country's border changes must be hand entered by our team. There is no other digital dataset of these changes.


If you can not find an answer here, please feel free to ask us for help. Send us an email if you would like us to get back to you with a response:

Email the team