Why this website

This case-study is to show how and why the Back to Normandy website was built. This website has existed for 10 years. The site originally started to publish my music about D-Day. I shared the small videos I made during the commemorations (with the veterans) in Normandy, France. During those years the music spread out all over the world and it was downloaded hundreds of thousands times. All the videos and music is still downloadable in "demos". My music is available in one package with more than 3 hours of music. But there was more to tell about D-Day and beyond.

The website

A little more about the history of Back to Normandy: The first versions were made with the tools available from that time: mostly HTML and hardcoded tagging. I worked with CGI scripting (as far as I could understand the technique without any technical education or background), storing data in files and maps in CGI-BIN.

I learned the hard way. Many crashes later, I started all over again. I learned about the logical and sometimes illogical way websites are built. Finally PHP and SQL came into my life....still not easy for a composer like me. Please share hints.:-) However, PHP and SQL made it possible to store data and after a while I also started to understand how to organize the data in a way to make it understandable and presentable for other people.


Maps have been an interest of mine for a long time. I don't know why, but at home I am always looking at maps. Even very big maps for my HAM-radio (callsign PA3EHE) and extended maps. It helped me to understand how a city/region was situated and because of all my traveling as a musician it helped me to reach my destinations. It also helped me to understand history....what happened, where, why and how.

With the arrival of Google maps on internet and products like TomTom and Garmin I understood the power of GPS. Not only to know were you are at a certain moment, but in the same way as I did with the maps, it allowed me to investigate the environment for that moment.

Combination of GPS and history

When I saw Myjoom and Geocode Factory- in a combination with a directory/sql system - the first time on internet, I knew immediately that this component was the solution to present all the data I had about D-Day and anything else I wanted to display! A solution for the chaos in my head for all the information about the biggest event ever on earth. But there was still a long way to go. With the help and knowledge of Geocode Factory I could organize all the data: by place, by date, by unit, by operation, by....... On a map!

Organizing and presenting data

Organizing and presenting data are two complete different things. Using Geocode Factory gave me the possibility to put the data on the right place in a visual way. One click on a marker on a map with a specific sql-query is more illustrative than a whole page with dry, written information. It is a great way to show the places were our liberators had been during the period of June 6th 1944 till May 8th 1945. And even better, to see the connection between all the events! On a macro level and micro level. You can zoom in every way you want.

The secret of Myjoom

The secret of Geocode Factory is organizing and presenting data at the same time. On Back to Normandy I made many hundreds of little scripts with queries, combined with markers like this (the dates of the event) or like this (the emblem of the units). I also could make a connection with the mobile app 'Layar' to present all the data on a mobile cellphone, iPhone or iPad. Read about this fantastic possibility here.

How to work with Myjoom

For practical reasons I made some YouTube help videos. Here you can see Myjoom in action: the link. You can see how it handles AND organizes many records in nearly way I want. Geocode Factory can organize the data in many ways and present it on a map.

Working with Rick

Personal attention and a great sense of responsibility for the product and the customers are the key words while working with the owner of Myjoom, Rick. Great service and he was receptive to requests for enhancing Back to Normandy functionality. We had fun all the way while discussing all the stupid technical things to him.

More credits

Other applications I use on Back to Normandy: Mosets Tree (directory system), Sobi2 (for the connection with Layar), Moxiemaps (search results within Mosets Tree), Art data (to extract data from a SQL database), Layar for the mobile an pad, Content Statistics for statistics about the use of the information.

Fred Vogels, composer, webmaster Back to Normandy

Original article


January 2014 update

From the BackToNormandy forum.

"With thanks to myJoom for adjusting the technology behind maps for large amounts of data. 

The amount of data on Back to Normandy has grown 350% which still can be shown on maps and on the special App. In the last update you can see all the RAF stations in the period 1 September 1939 - 8 May 1945."