History of iRail
iRail started around September 2008 when Yeri Tiete ("Tuinslak") noticed there was no alternative to the NMBS/SNCB website for iPhones. The idea of iRail was to provide a simple ( KISS) interface to quickly look up departure times between two stations. iRail quickly gained popularity as it was reviewed by several big iPhone websites. Over the years iRail popularity slowly declined due to having now native iPhone applications, as well as an official NMBS/SNCB website for mobile devices and continuous updates on the NMBS/SNCB planner site, breaking iRail's data scraping.
In June 2010 however, iRail received an unexpected cease and desist letter from the NMBS/SNCB, asking to close down iRail immediately. Yeri Tiete, being a student at that time, decided to comply and shut down iRail. However, when Nick De Mey featured this story on MouseOver, this stirred up the public, and spawned a few question as to why the NMBS/SNCB was trying to stop a free, innovative application, as well as whether a public organisation shouldn't provide all their data in an open and free form.
Due to the huge support Tiete received, he decided to put iRail back online after carefully discussing it with Lawyer Ywein Van den Brande as well as open sourcing the whole project.
Once open sourced, iRail quickly gained additional help from others, including Pieter Colpaert, Christophe Versieux, as well as developers in France and Germany and others.
Additional information can be read on the mailing list:
But we've moved on since, and are now focussing on several other things:
- we are specifying an API for anyone to implement/use
- extend the service to other countries using a federated software model
- extend the service to other means of transportation
- still provide a mobile website, but optimise for other devices as well (such as Android)
- make an attempt for other organisations or companies to implement our API, so we can use them in our applications
We would like to thank everyone that helped iRail, one way or another.