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Thread: Map Software

  1. #1
    Rohloff
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    Map Software

    I just became a trail steward. I'd like to produce a nice map that I can make available on a website and on paper at the trailhead. I'd like to find software that will make this easy. I'm hoping to find something that will allow me to upload gps tracks, color code the trail, put names on the trails, edit a few details, add in a few landmarks, etc. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    I would try trails.com or mapmyride possibly. I've used both and definitely meet my needs. Or are you looking for something more?

  3. #3
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    there's a little more to it than that.

    there are a handful of programs that let you load a GPS file, but usually the raw GPS file is not exactly what you want. if you look at them, they usually deviate from the actual trail at times and places when the signal is bad.

    what you'd probably want the most would be a program that will let you load multiple raw files and then hand draw the file that you will use on the official map. Then, if this is something you want to distribute, it's worth finding a program that prints a nice, attractive (and useful) map, too. And that's functionality that can be difficult to find.

    For example, I like Topofusion for a lot of things, but its print interface has MUCH to be desired.

    For printing purposes, the National Geographic Topo! program simply makes a very nice-looking map you can distribute. But with that said, is prints a pretty detailed map (and you can have it put out an elevation profile) that really needs to be in color. If you're printing a lot of these and keeping the cost down, this isn't the best way to go.

    For maximum flexibility, though, GIS software is the way to go. I wouldn't call it easy, though, as there's somewhat of a learning curve. But with that said, you can overlay multiple files, you can hand-draw the trails you will use on a final map, and you can specify EXACTLY how you want something to appear on the map, and exactly which features you want to display on the map. So if you want an affordable map to print in large quantities, you can put minimal features on it, make it look best in b&w, and get it to a printer in the format they want. If you want a detailed version for the web, you can do that, too.

    you can get into the GIS game without spending a dime if you want. Take a look at Quantum GIS and MapWindow GIS, two programs that are open source. There are paid options that give you additional functionality or a simpler interface (or both), but you can easily break the bank on them. They don't come with data, but the great thing about GIS is that there is a TON of free data on the web.

  4. #4
    Rohloff
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    Thanks for the info, Nate. That's what I was looking for. I've got a few questions.

    What do you like about Topofusion?

    Will National Geographics Topo allow me to load multiple gps files on the same map?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsdc View Post
    Thanks for the info, Nate. That's what I was looking for. I've got a few questions.

    What do you like about Topofusion?

    Will National Geographics Topo allow me to load multiple gps files on the same map?
    What I like about Topofusion -

    - Straightforward interface
    - A mix of consumer-level features/simplicity and higher end GIS functionality (shapefile compatibility, ability to connect to WMS layers online for adding additional maps to the software)
    - multiple map sources, from streets to topos to different sources of satellite imagery to boundaries, etc
    - "Garmin Custom Maps" compatible, meaning it can package and send raster maps to my Oregon 450 in a pretty simple process
    - several useful tools and utilities that other programs lack. The "Make Network" tool is completely unique and useful, albeit not always perfect. The climbing analysis tool offers the most complete picture of elevation data of any utility I've seen (it compares many different calculations for elevation with each other and shows them all to you). it has fun playback tools.

    I haven't used NG Topo for tracks for many years, to be honest. but I opened it up to look. I have version 4.5.0 and it does not support loading multiple GPS files at once. Topofusion does. My experience is that since NG Topo! was developed so long ago, it was developed with a particular usage model in mind that is far less common anymore. GPS receivers have additional capabilities and NG Topo! has not been updated to support those capabilities. So while it may not work with a GPS as well as it could, it still has some of the best maps out there.

  6. #6
    dblblack
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    Not sure if you're still looking at options, but I use Map Source, which is a Garmin product. I think there latest version may be named a bit different. Anyway, I use their tool for all of the editing functions and then I use Google maps/Google Earth for publishing and printing. These are low-cost, (free actually) options and unlike some of the online solutions they don't have any membership charges. As long as you don't try to remove any of Google's copyright messages on the images that you publish/print it is a free service.

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