Motorway Services Online

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Service stations are staying open.

Known Issues

This page records known technical problems or long-term ideas for Motorway Services Online.

Upload Form

Despite it being complicated to code and not too pretty to look at, the upload form actually functions pretty well. There are, however, two noted issues with it:

  • If uploading a duplicate of an existing image, the error page sometimes returns a 404.
  • The Javascript file holding the list of gallery suggestions appears to be unreliable. This may be related to the user's browser settings.
  • It would be good if page extensions could be automated.


Maps are another part of the site which is complicated to write. Relying on several third parties, it is prone to unexpected faults. The site now supports aerial views again! At the moment it is taking several refreshes to get each map to display - this needs to be looked at.

When it was set up, the only satellite imagery available to us was Bing Maps. Support for this ended unexpectedly, but this was able to be swapped for Google Maps. Google Maps does not work on the Irish domain, and can cause a 404 when accessed on a mobile. In 2018 support for Google Maps was unexpectedly withdrawn.

What I would love to have is a map which shows motorways in blue, because while Google's fancy orange looks really pretty it's not very distinctive. OpenCycleMap was one of the better options available to us, but is currently watermarked.

It is now possible for us to use different icons for different services. The best way to take advantage of this (which would inevitably require a lot of new code) hasn't yet been considered.

Excitingly Map:Services now reports the user's location, and appears to be doing a good job of it. Some people want this feature to be available on all maps, but the software doesn't support it as locations have to be pre-loaded.

Templates and Search Engine

All service areas are now not displayed in alphabetical order in their category. For example, if you go to Category:1960s, you will see that the list of services is a mess. This is because the search engine now takes each page by its "markerpost" so it can state its exact position on the motorway. Unfortunately it looks like it has to be one or the other. To get round this we have turned many categories into redirects, but there are still a few which look messy.

The brand templates used on each service area page were based on an old extension, which required directions to be given in the format (W). Even at the time, few people seemed to understand how this worked, and now it would be possible to write this in a better way - but the re-writing would be considerable. Fixed February 2018 - it's not perfect but it's clearer.

There is no right way to list facilities which are only available on one side of the road, because some people don't mind having to cross a bridge, many do mind, and most will say it depends on what the facility is. A tidier way of doing this that suits users on all devices is required.

A-road services which are only on one side of the road appear to be generating 100 "southbound only" warnings. The code is very precise: don't display the warning if it's the main page, do if it's a search page, but not if it's an A-road on one side of the road. It'll need a delicate bit of code.

Page Quality

All pages were reviewed for their quality in August 2017. This did not necessarily check the clarity or accuracy of all the text, and some inconsistencies, such as the use of Template:Sundry, were deliberately ignored.

The A-road Services pages seem to be particularly untidy, but may be able to be fixed with CSS changes. We are now reviewing and extending the coverage of A-road services. There is some contention about poorly-signed services.

  • Unsigned services should not be included in the list of brands. Admittedly this is confusing for editors, but if we include one 'Greggs not at a services' we would then have to include them all.
  • There seems to be some confusion over whether unsigned services should appear in the succession boxes. They may do, in italics.


Although the site menu requires Javascript and some IT departments may frown upon this, it hasn't caused any issues and there is no urgent need for change.

The ratings system uses an outdated format (iframes), but it still performs well.

When the website was written, search auto-suggestions were enabled for desktop users only. This was mostly a matter of convenience in the coding. Now that more users are using mobiles, it may be worth adding it to the mobile site to help people who may be making spelling errors. It doesn't and won't work from the forums.

The ratings system is built around the URL structure of an old version of the website. It wouldn't be that much work to move them over, but there wouldn't be many benefits either.

The homepage is a problem. Because we don't use the MediaWiki standard "Main Page", we have to find another way to load it. iFrames are outdated and don't work in Chrome; PHP seems to always execute the page before checking if you're logged in, causing the user to always appear logged out. URL rewrite would be the answer, but it's difficult to find a working example.

Facebook comments produce the error message 'object invalid value'. This appears to be because the URLs the script saves the comments to is an old version of the URLs which we now use. In May 2019 we bit the bullet and started saving comments to the correct URLs, the inevitable consequence being that we have lost all our comments. To tackle this, I have added a link to the old comments, which looks untidy. Once a page has sufficient new comments, we should add "|version = new" to the {{bottomnav}} code, so that the old ones can be completely forgotten about. This is going to be a problem every time an MSA changes its name.

The edit page sometimes fails to load the Javascript, causing the orange edit box to stay open. Reason unknown, but it is fixed by refreshing.

We've hijacked Special:RecentChanges and turned it into a news feature. This only works if you pre-load it with filters applied. It would be nice to have those filters appear by default.