Yeah, really, Swamp. I used to make maps for a living before I retired (OK I was retired, lol). And I can say, those are nice.
Steve Z - Those are some nice maps! Perhaps the map making tools one might use will depend in large part on how you want to deliver the maps. Some times the goal might be to produce a static map that can be delivered via a piece of paper or jpg/PDF file. Other times the goal might be to produce an online interactive map that let's the user switch the basemap from topographic to aerial to other types of base maps.
Nate - I recommend you use t=t4 in your Gmap4 links. Doing so will display the hi-res topo and get rid of the MyTopo watermarks and ads. Note - There are a couple small bugs in Gmap4 that I will fix later this week.
Now here is a new idea.
One main reason I developed Gmap4 was so people could display maps of trail systems:
* In most browsers on most devices, including smartphones
* Switch between various base maps including topo and aerial
* Use the familiar google map interface
* Map opens by clicking a link. Nothing to download or install.
But what about making a data file for Gmap4 to display? Yes, it can display GPX, KML, KMZ. But there is something better. Gmap4 can also display a delimited text file format I designed.This format has:
* The most commonly used concepts from KLM
* A much! simpler syntax
* Useful features not found in KML
The best examples are on Bivouac.com
Get a free login and then drill down to the detail page for a peak.
Click the "Gmap" link near the top of the page.
You are now seeing Gmap4 displaying a delimited text file.
Note the peak labels - They are clickable
Watch the labels and switch to an aerial view
The guy that runs Bivouac asked me to expand the syntax for delimited files so he can have dashed lines on his maps. That features will be the next enhancement I add.
If you have the coordinates for your trail system, you can make a delimited file. You might have to use something like GPSBabel to convert the coordinates into the right format.
If you would like to learn more please visit the homepage, download the Help file and search it on "delimited".
Gmap4 homepage: Gmap4 = Free Online Topo Maps + Google Maps + More
Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
Here's a map that I made. Here's what I used for software
Quantum GIS to assembly the final map
Inskscape for minor vector graphics work
Topofusion to import many GPS tracks for trails and hand sketch an 'average' path through them. I would often draw some corners and switchbacks larger than the truth to make the map more readable. I count on people counting switchbacks, but not scaling from the map for orienteering. Save out put as ERSI shape file.
gmap-pedometer.com to sketch existing doubletracks, power lines, houses, roads, streams, etc from a combo of available data there (google airial photos, street maps, USGS topos, etc).
Grass tools in QGIS to further smooth and reduce points of trails drawn in topofusion.
I downloaded vector contours and raster DEMs from Univ of NH GIS database. The vector contours came right into Quantum GIS. The rester DEMs required some substantial fiddling to make nice contour shade layers. I used some open source software to generate the hill shade (maybe 3DEM, don't remember). This image was a low res geotiff. I brought it into GIMP to smooth it and adjust the colors (save the output as a NEW file name). The output of GIMP was no longer a geotiff. I used a GDAL command line tool to take turn the new TIFF from GIMP into a geoTIFF.
Very nice map! Easy to read and looks to be usable when on the trail.
Originally Posted by JDM
I copy/pasted an old bit of code I'm using on my website. It would be a huge PITA to go through all of the pages on my site and change the map links.
Originally Posted by Jelf
Also, FWIW, I am not a fan of custom file formats or syntax or any of that. If I can't do a simple file conversion, I won't use the format. Even if there are advantages of said format. I'm not going to manually convert my files. What would be nice is if you spoke with a programmer of an existing program (say, Scott with Topofusion) to get him to support your format, allow WYSIWYG offline editing of your format, and file conversion capabilities (say, between .gpx, .kml, and .shp). That would make it easy to use your delimited text format on my site because I could create the files in a simple visual environment rather than in a text editor.
Very nice map, contours, shading and very clean. Job well done.
I did look at the Quantum GIS manual and it looks a like time consuming learning process.
any good mapping program takes time to learn to use. the rewards are well worth the investment. a professional-looking product can really set your volunteer group apart. say you're proposing a new project within a local trail system that has no volunteer stewards. it's been a tough nut to crack this particular land manager. you have to be absolutely on top of your game with a highly professional proposal for the project. such a map would be a huge component of that proposal.
Originally Posted by ABud
as such, I think it's absolutely worth putting together the best product you can, even spending a little bit of money (your own money, if need be) to get the best you can. throwing something together in Google Earth might cut it for an easy situation, but then again, it might not be good enough.
I've been reading and following along on this thread with great interest - mostly because mapping is the bain of my existence. I can use a GPS and get a track and put it on google maps or whatever, but good maps are something else entirely. Especially map proposals - which is to say, drawing in proposed trail routes.
There seems to be a lot of solutions, mostly GIS software, which I admit I don't really understand, but I'm certain I could learn. My question is, what's available to run on Mac, that's good, preferably free (hey, a guy can dream, right?) and will allow me to produce a good map both in proposal form AND from a GPS track. Anyone?
All of my previous usable maps have been trail maintenance stuff - walk the trails with a GPS, locate problem spots, make a flag, make a note, publish it. The stuff I've been using works well for that, but there's no way I can see to draw stuff in with it. Thanks for any help, and for some enlightening conversation so far.
Making maps is an art, even with computer software. It takes time, an attention to detail, and enough knowledge of the software to make it do what you want.
Macs are terrible for GIS work. Always have been and probably always will be. QGIS is your only option really. As you can see, you can make beautiful maps with it, but you will also need a solid drawing program and possibly some other utilities. Be patient with it as you learn. It will probably take years to develop skill. I have been working with And learning ArcGIS since 1999 and I still have much to learn about making good trail maps. I learn a lot from the examples and descriptions folks post here.
That's what I'm afraid of. My hobby is laying out good quality trail and it consumes all of my spare time improving that aspect of trail design. As much as I love and appreciate nice quality maps I can't justify investing the effort to learn to do it myself. I have played around with QGIS and although I find it intriguing, all the little nuances (like where the heck to find the layers I want, or running utilities to smooth shading, etc.) wore me out. I'm afraid that in the few times that I truly need a quality product I will have to find somebody like you to take care of it for me. Otherwise, I am content with the adequate, free, and easy to use Google utilities.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Fortunately, I have yet to encounter a situation where I have had to produce spiffy maps to sway someone. In the situations where spiffy maps were desired the agency I was working with had the talent to generate the maps and I didn't have to do anything but provide a refined GPS track.
Thanks for the compliments. I worked pretty hard on my map. It took my probably 80 hrs to find the software, figure out how to use it, find the data, figure out how to massage it and put it all together. When I thought I was done I posted up here and on a cartography forum for feedback then made some revisions to polish it up further.
Now that all that hard work is done it is VERY easy to make professional looking proposals, compile info from scouting missions, and update the map for new trails.
I did a poor job of making notes the first time around. I promised to do do a write up for my process on this forum a while back, but haven't gotten around to it yet. The good news is that our club is taking on a project for a new trail network and another club member has asked for some help to make a similar map for that area. I have started adding a few more notes to my early notes and we will collaborate to write up a decent how-to document as we go. If I ever do get it written up I'll be sure to share it here.
Ortelius is a great Cartographic software for Mac.
Originally Posted by Cotharyus
Free Trail... $99 purchase.
Tons of map symbols and styles. Intuitive tools for drawing.
I usually use GPS Visualizer to get a map of GPX files, then use that as a drawing template in Ortelius.
Ortelius, that's a new one to me. Looks like a pretty intuitive vector editing program. I like what they say about curves in paths. They are in my neck of the woods, even.
Originally Posted by chukt
You may still need tools from QGIS for a complete map, however. It is rare that I make a map without using raster data in some way or another. I have four GIS programs on my computer now and know a little bit about and have used a fifth quite a bit in the last 4 years. They all have their place.
FWIW, finding layers is a fairly simple process once you get the hang of it. Thers are usually GIS data repositories for each state that will satisfy most of your needs. There may also be county and municipal government sources that are easy enough to find. Some of the special agency sources can be tricky, however. But for the most part it just takes learning your local government agency structure to figure out who is in charge of what. If you are lucky, all of the agencies supply their data to the statewide clearinghouse, or the clearinghouse maintains links to agency sources.
It is more of a challenge, IMO, to deal with the different formats that some data is distributed in. A lot of these agencies just assume folks are using ESRI software and supply data in ESRI formats which can be a royal pain for volunteers or other people in the general public using open source software from other publishers
For editing GPX there is Garmin's BaseCamp. Pretty good for cataloging/track storage and management.
TrailRunner is a free software for Mac. Good for "snapping" tracks together to create trail system segments. This is alot faster then editing track by track for lots of tracks. It can be a little unstable though.
I use both of these to create drawing layer templates for Ortelius. As stated here previously, there is a learning curve but the time spent gives great results. I love Ortelius for cartography.
I am fairly proficient w/ ArcGIS...but for MtB purposes on the ground and in "reallife" I stick to the GPX based world. Even if the day comes that ArcGIS is available for OSX...and I happen to have the spare cash...that spare cash will go in to the bike.
Haha, I wouldn't count on that. I would use gpx more widely if I could set more attributes to have differing symbology. The file standard is too rigid for that. I "can" do it but other programs that adhere strictly to the standard freak out. Kml is very much the same way in many respects. So for making printable trail maps, I stick with shapefiles. I wish there was a good GIS format (flexible) in a single file like kml or gpx that could easily be displayed online, also
Originally Posted by chukt
I found that shape files work well in QGIS.
JDM are you available for hire? And can you use a .kmz as the data source for your style map.
.kmz includes compressed raster data and that raster data would be useless in QGIS. kml files, you can use. you may or may not be able to get the symbology how you like it. that will depend on how the file was created and how you want to adjust the line styles/colors. It is not the most flexible format for GIS work, but it's very good for web display.
Originally Posted by ABud
I would need to think about that. Feel free to PM me with your email address so we can toss details around.
Thanks for the tips guys. I've been messing with Ortelius for a few weeks now and still don't really have a handle on that. I'll take a look at QGIS as well. Unfortunately, pretty much every computer I have access to at the moment is Mac due to my background in audio production, so I'll just have to make due as best I can.
Disclaimer, I'm not a GIS expert and have never used any of the programs referenced above.
Below are two maps we (SMBA) produce. The layout was orginally designed by a graphic designer (same guy that created the NYCMTB maps). It is created in Adobe Illustrator. The base geographic data (topo, roads, streams, etc) are imported from pdf maps downloaded from USGS.gov. The trails are gps'd using a garmin gps, exported from mapsource as a dxf, which is then imported into Illustrator. This requires a bit of rescaling of the trail tracks in illustrator, but hasn't been a big issue.
I'm sure the maps are not 100% accurate reagarding exact location of trails in relation to surrounding topography but it serves the purpose of navigation around our trails systems very well.
This isn't exactly what GIS experts are used to, but I think it makes for an aestically pleasing map and gives you ultimate control over the appearance, border, etc.
I really like the map of Pittstown SF.
I am not sure that a scale bar is really worth including on maps made with illustrator. I certainly appreciate the graphic artistry that goes into such products, but without spatial reference information, you simply can't be sure that things like scale bars, north arrows with declination scales, and coordinate systems can be accurate enough to actually use them for navigation purposes.
I think an ideal product is one generated in GIS for accuracy and then modified using graphics tools for aesthetic purposes. Most GIS programs have pretty poor graphics manipulation tools. ArcGIS does a pretty good job with those. I am working on a map right now that I'll post when I'm finished done exclusively with ArcGIS and I think it looks pretty good. I'm waiting on some information from the manager to set symbology how I want, and then I have some graphics work to do in order to make it look nice for printing. I am going to make a version for a poster sized wall print, as well as a version that can go onto the backside of a 3 fold 8x10 brochure. I'll let the student workers deal with the front side with information about their rentals, rules, or whatever else they want to put on it.