IITC: an indispensable helper for the Ingress player

Planning operations in Ingress, saving the list of unique captured portals, visualization of player movements and even carrying out unofficial anomalies are just a few of the features of the unofficial map for Ingress, which has become a must-have for hundreds of thousands of players around the world.

Hello, friends! I am modos189 and I’d like to tell you about the project IITC-CE, being one of its developers.

What is IITC?

Ingress Intel Total Conversion (IITC) is an add-on that works as an overlay for the official Intel Ingress map. IITC completely changes the way you work with the map, significantly increases efficiency by applying hardware acceleration and expands the capabilities via the use of various plugins.

IITC has long become the basis of numerous tools for both factions, as it serves as a platform for different applications and plugins. Besides several confidential plugins, which help coordinate operations for a team of agents, there are also public ones, available to both factions.

Screenshot of IITC window with several installed plugins

For example, IITC together with Draw Tools are widely used for operation planning, as they help draw future links and fields, while Cross Links plugin highlights possible blockers.

Screenshot of IITC window with many plugins

If an agent wants to control the situation fully, they can switch on several useful plugins at once.

The screenshot shows: the Mini map plugin, a scaled down version of the visible area of the map in the bottom left corner; the Scoring cycle plugin, which informs on the start and end of a septicycle and checkpoints; the Portal names plugin, which gives portal names above their icons on the map; the Player activity tracker which allows to track down player activity via COMM logs (destruction of resonators, portal capture) and build their approximate route; the Google Roads + Traffic, which allows to build the optimum route without the need to leave the application.

It is no secret that since the launch of IITC it has been used by official anomaly operators of both factions in order to control team play, but for me personally the real discovery was that I could use it in St. Petersburg and Moscow in order to facilitate my own unofficial anomaly games. Clusters, shards, playbox and high spirits — all like a real official Niantic anomaly.

The map of the area after a checkpoint

While IITC is a modification of the official Ingress tools and probably goes against the Terms of Service, it is very popular among agents, especially if you plan large scale operations. There appears to be a silent acceptance by Niantic.

History of IITC

Screenshot of one of the first versions of IITC

At the beginning of 2013 Stefan (breunigs) Breunig launched his project Ingress Intel Total Conversion.

IITC was a breakthrough compared to the then-active official map. The images above show the tool in its infancy. It was quicker than the stock Intel map and had some interesting features. It could “track” players by watching their COMM movement (resonators destroyed, portals claimed, etc) to build a virtual path of an agent. It wasn’t much of an “Agent Tracker” as it was an “Agent Locator”, it helped spot farms or agents in discrete parts of an area. This led to its popularity.

Screenshot of one of the first versions of IITC. The result of the Player tracker plugin

This didn’t happen without growing pains. The first being that the original developer breunigs closed the project. Heres what he had to say about it.

There is not really much of a story to tell. The summary is roughly like:
– “are you cool with IITC?”
– “no” (seemed like a canned response, too).
I decided I didn’t want to test if they would follow up with any additional steps and removed all content from the repository. I don’t recall the exact wording of their response and I don’t retain emails that long. However, there were no explicit or implicit threats in the mail, it was more of a “it’s infringing our whatever, please remove it”.
I don’t remember why I asked in the first place but in hindsight it was a pretty stupid move on my part.

— breunigs / Stefan Breunig

The project was shut down (as explained above) and the GitHub repository was deleted and then immediately restarted by jonatkins via the power of forked repositories. He and contributors updated it to work with the constant changing stock Ingress map along with the plethora of changes and additions that mods/links/artifacts/beacons had.

One of earlier versions of mobile IITC

IITC became the ground tool for many faction-only applications. Tons of applications, plugins and more were built off of IITC. With almost 44,000 +1’s on Google+, it’s fair to say a lot of people use the application.

There was an incident which resulted in some bans from using IITC in early December 2013. Intel was updated and some poorly-written part of IITC intended to work with previous version started generating excessive amount of network requests to Intel backend and resulted in serious strain on their servers. Niantic banned some people for that.

This was the only incident and IITC took some measures to avoid this in the future. Reportedly, following a user campaign in 2014 #IntelIsNotACrime, no agents are known to have been banned due to the use of IITC.

Laptop with IITC on, Niantic authorized photo

On March 29, 2017, IITC was spotted in a photo from Niantic with the location of the Navarro camp in California where the Magnus Reawakens event took place.

Unfortunately, in February 2016 we learned that Jon Atkins decided to minimize his participation in the project and update it only in the cases of failure. Third-party developers still continued to offer ready-made improvements and plugins, but these changes were accepted less and less often. IITC began to die slowly.

Ingress Prime was launched on November 5, 2018. On October 30, 2018, Niantic Labs changed URL of Intel map, so agents had to either edit user scripts themselves or use someone else's builds.

Niantic Labs promised to update Intel map after the old scanner would be turned off at the end of September 2019, which means that old IITC will no longer work.

Giuseppe Lucido’s work

Having taken all this into consideration, at the end of November 2018 I decided to support the project independently, and launched the IITC Community Edition.

Quite quickly the first reviews began to come, and some people even joined the development personally. As a result, I accepted some of the internal changes proposed by various developers, not counting my own improvements. I would like to highlight the contributions of MikeLambert, johnd0e and McBen: they all made significant changes in the project.

At the moment, the changes mainly relate to the internal parts of IITC ( third-party libraries updated, performance improved, some bugs fixed), but there are also more noticeable differences in the user interface and plugins. For example, the mobile application has received a material design, Draw Tools plugin has been adapted for mobile use; the data synchronization plugin between the user's devices is working again, new maps have been added; now it is possible to move to the portal on the map by clicking on the button next to the portal’s name in the information window.

IITC-Button browser extension

A special browser extension IITC-Button for Firefox and Chrome has been created to make it easier to install IITC and manage plugins. Now, to install a new plugin simply select it from the list; most of the plugins are launched without reloading the page with the map.

As for the third-party plugins, at the moment they are still supported, but if you are using outdated, now removed features of the third-party libraries Leaflet or jQuery, you will need to update these third-party plugins to new versions of libraries. You can find information on the Internet how to perform it. But, of course, sooner or later the compatibility will be broken (for example, as a result of a global design update), and in this case the repository will include the description of the plugin update process.

Roadmap

Plans for the near future — to consider and accept the remaining changes in the plugins, that have accumulated during the lack of support for the project. For example, certain plugins were offered that allow the user to highlight portals that can be easily destroyed while in a car or public transport (convenient for farm planning), or copy at once the name and the link to a portal for sharing in chat rooms.

I also plan to gradually migrate IITC to Vue.js framework. This will simplify development and support as well as add the ability to translate into other languages, which will help to lower the entry threshold for users. By the way, IITC-CE has already been localized for Japanese and Chinese users, but that requires the installation of a separate modified version.

InexCode's redesigned concept

As for the more distant future — I would like to update the visual appearance of IITC. In our local community this was very well received and the agents even presented some possible layouts for the future IITC. You can see the work of InexCode in the screenshot below.

Security Issues

Like the old one, new IITC-CE does not report about the plugins used by the user, so you don't have to be afraid to run secret faction plugins. Progress of the development is fully open at GitHub, as many people from both factions are involved in the development.

Some new players look at the authorization method of entering a login-password on Google (which is common for web version) with suspicion, but it is already less and less common for mobile devices. Unfortunately, we can't do anything about it because IITC is working as an overlay of an official Intel map that uses this authentication method, and IITC sends requests to Niantic servers just like an official Intel map.

How to install IITC-CE

IITC-CE is available for Android on Google Play and iOS on App Store, Firefox and Chrome.

There are also alternative installation options: apk for Android and traditional UserScripts for desktop browsers, which require a custom script manager to install, such as GreaseMonkey or TamperMonkey.

IITC news can be read on the website or IITC News channel. Also, subreddit /r/IITC and telegram group for discussion have been launched.

Install IITC-CE on all your devices to get the best map for Ingress. Join the channel and the group, and if you can, help us develop it to make the map for our favorite game even better.

P.S. Thank you, @SigynFocshea, for your help translating this article.