I made a website for keeping tabs on Santa Claus

23rd December 2021

Just like Where's Wally, we're going to spend a long time searching for some chap dressed in red and white.
I can’t decide if this is a cute and whimsical thing for kids to look at, or if I’ve basically just glamourised doxxing a nice old man, but anyway.

I made a thing:

SantaWatch screenshot
Festive as heck, no?

This is santawatch.co.uk. It’s a website that tells you where in the world Santa Claus is located at any given moment, and how far away from you he currently is (wink 😉). Updated in real time!

He might be in Australia, or India, or Germany, or anywhere in a time zone that's ahead of UK time on Christmas Eve - you’ll just have to watch!

Yeah, I know this is kind of already a thing - I think Google has done a Santa tracker before (although I haven't really looked at it), and I’m sure there are others.

But I started thinking about the concept the other day, and how you would go about doing it - how you’d code it, I mean, and how you’d approach putting it together. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a fun mini-project to assemble.

So here we are, and now I’ve made a website that you can use on December 24th to see where Santa’s at (wink, wink 😉).

It was actually a bit complicated to set up, because although it’s specifically Britain-centric (it doesn’t currently work for users outside of the UK timezone), I still wanted it to have a vaguely accurate approach to the distance reporting, because… uh, because it’s interesting, I suppose.

And if you were to load it up from a computer located in John O’Groats, the distance measurement between there and, say, Paris, would be rather different than it would be if you did the same thing from Land’s End.

Why would I want to tell people Santa was 300 miles away, if it really ought to be more like 500? Or whatever? That’d be lying, and that’s not Christmassy. I’d go right onto Santa’s naughty list, doing things like that.

So what the site does is it connects to a geolocation API to get latitude and longitude coordinates for the user's location based on their I.P. address, and then runs a calculation to get an as-the-crow-flies distance estimate based on the coordinates of Santa’s current world location to tell you how far away he is in miles. (This is legit, by the way. The site actually does do this).

The location data I get from the visitor in order to do this is really not very accurate, and that’s kind of by design. It doesn’t need to be very precise for my purposes here, and getting 'actually good' location data from a browsing device is a bit more tricky as there are extra user permission requirements for reading their GPS data and suchlike - as indeed there should be.

An I.P. address grab doesn’t require any extra permissions for data security, because it’s often wildly inaccurate. But it’s probably good enough for what we want to do here. And in any case I thought it would be a bit un-Christmassy to pop one of these on the screen:

Location request popup
Everyone hates those, right?

So, anyway, I thought this might be a nice thing for people to use to amuse their kids on Christmas Eve. Who doesn’t want to know what Santa Claus is up to?

Of course, he keeps to a very particular schedule to make sure he gets to visit every house in the world, and he's not likely to make it to the UK before midnight, so… the kids might just find it’s time for bed before the old man gets too close to their location! (Wink, wink, wink... no, I've just got something in my eye! 😉)

Hope you like it, anyway. If you end up getting any fun out of the site at Christmas, let me know!

↠ santawatch.co.uk



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