Route Planner – New Features

The feedback for the Route Planner has been very, very positive.  I’ve also had a few suggestions for additional functionality.  Here’s what will be on the cards once I get the time for the next release:

  • User selectable miles/kilometers main display (although did you know if you hover over the miles figure with your mouse, you get a metric “tool tip”?)
  • Configurable waypoint name length
  • Ability to save the route to the web server’s database – this would give you the ability to save a route and share it with other people via a simple URL

Does anybody have any other ideas?  Please let me know here if you do.

24 Replies to “Route Planner – New Features”

  1. Something else I just added to the development version of the route planner I have here… I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the default cursor for the map is a hand (it used to be a pointer, but this changed when Google updated their API). This, to my mind, is a pain as it doesn’t feel as accurate to place a waypoint with a lumpy fist compared to a nice sharp pointer :)

    I’ve put some code in to make the pointer default to a proper pointer again. Not as easy to implement as one might think… Google obviously want a draggable map to have that hand pointer!

    So this change will be in the next release, which will be soon, once I’ve given it a good testing on Firefox, Safari and that other browser.

  2. One question that came up: How do I restore my “home view”? Okay, I know: refresh the page. But perhaps a “Go Home” button on the Tools page??

    I am looking forward to getting my GPS device (a real boon for someone who has trouble reading maps while on the bike).

    Now if only you had a “hide the trees” feature for the satellite images…

    -K

  3. One small item — the Reverse button in the gps text view only works once; you then have to close the window and re-open to “re-reverse”. As it is now then, this button could be greyed out after one use (that way one knows that the route data is in reversed form and that one can no longer make a change).

    -K

  4. I don’t know whether anyone is using the Route Planner on a Mac, with Firefox? I was testing it the other day and I notice that, when you paste in a GPX file into the pop-up Load box, and the file is big enough to cause a scroll bar to appear, then when you close the pop-up, the scroll bar stays, annoyingly, on its own, in the middle of the map!

    Apparently this is a known bug in the Mac implementation of Chrome, part of Firefox.

    My learned friend Mr Dean Edwards has suggested a good way of getting round this issue (essentially clear out the innerHTML of the div which contains the pop-up box when closing it, which will necessitate it being re-created when opened again). Seems to work fine from the basic testing I did last night, so that’s another item on the “To Do” list…!

  5. Another item on the to do list is the addition of a small, unobtrusive “donate” button somewhere… :)

    Those of you with a couple of quid burning a hole in their pockets who want to show gratitude for the Route Planner immediately can follow the “Donate” link off the front page of this blog.

  6. Here’s a link to a “competitor”. :-)

    Might offer some ideas for future development (though your navigation with the side window is better).

    -K

    P.S. – What about those of us who do not have Paypal or a credit card? Can you take direct bank transfers (Überweisungen in Germany)?

  7. Very kind of you to suggest a direct bank transfer – but if you can’t do PayPal then just do a good deed, smile at a stranger, help an old lady across the road, and I’ll be happy :)

  8. I’ve decided to have a “beta beta”, i.e. a kind of bleeding edge version of the Route Planner.

    You can find it at http://www.marengo-ltd.com/map/development.html

    I’ll basically be putting any new stuff here first, and, when it appears to be OK, I’ll move it over to the “official” version.

    Currently the dev version doesn’t look much different. The new features are (a) a fix for the Mac scrollbar issue mentioned above and (b) the fix to make the cursor a pointer again as opposed to the fist.

    Please feel free to play with it and let me know if you spot any problems.

  9. OK – first bug report – from me ! The dev version is now borked under Safari. Nothing seems to work right – I guess it’s to do with my messing around with the innerHTML stuff on the pop-up divs. I shall investigate…

  10. Works like a charm with Firefox WIN.

    But one note, I tried loading a GPX file from MotionBased.com and it failed. The beginning looks like this:

    116747847.22006-07-02T09:52:23+02:00156.919798595864421.5699564955328569

  11. (Large pieces of prev. GPX code are not displaying… I can mail the entire file if desired.)

  12. Do please send me the GPX which fails, I’ll give it a try. You’ve got my email address, havent you?

    Does it just fail on the new version or on both?

    Incidentally, forgot to mention: new features on the dev version – your “disable reverse” button is now implemented too. Thanks for the suggestion.

  13. Thanks for sending the GPX file through Kevin. The issue is that GPX can contain various types of GPS-related data. This is track data, which I think is more a record of a route you HAVE ridden, as opposed to one you’d like to ride. So it’s in a format the Route Planner isn’t expecting. There is a lot of extra stuff in the file you sent, such as course, speed and elevation. However, in amongst that lot there are also lat. and long. values, held in an XML tag called “trkpt”.

    To make use of this file you’d need to filter out the other stuff, and rename the “trkpt” names to “rtept”, which is what the Route Planner expects.

    I might give some thought to experimenting with a change so that the Route Planner does this for you (i.e. would import this data), but currently you’d have to modify it manually.

  14. Actually, having looked a bit closer at that Track file you sent, it’s got 2624 individual locations within it – which would simply not work in the Route Planner – it would overload it trying to get them in. And I’d imagine they are all placed REALLY close to each other.

    There is a facility within gpsbabel, I believe, which allows one to take a file such as this, but then filter out (say) one in forty of the trackpoints, for usage as waypoints.

    Obviously though, this is straying away from what the route planner is designed for: to mark just the few points on a ride where you want your GPS to tell you which way to turn.

  15. Okay, I see what you mean. I’m also seeing a “hi/low-tech turf war” arising among my friends who think that one would be crazy to buy a GPS device without full map support. “You’ll be riding blind with just straight-line reference points and no map,” they tell me. My answer is that the map is in my pocket (no batteries required) and that all I want to do is to pre-select a route (using the excellent Google data, including images) and then be able to ride it, with someone or something telling me when to turn left or right.* And that is what your Planner does. :-)

    Guess it’s time I get one of these in my hands, download GPSBabel and do some hands-on experimenting for myself.

    *The other thing I would like to do is to occasionaly ride with someone else and “record” his route.

  16. A Feature suggestion: How about a keyboard shortcut to draw the connecting line? Or better, yet, make it just a toggle function that toggles the line off and on (I would prefer to always have the line there when tweaking waypoints).

    All the best,

    Kevin

  17. Another idea:

    What about a keyboard shortcut Delete key, that deletes the last placed point (one after the other). This would be easier when one discovers an alternate route than having to move multiple points or starting over.

  18. And, of course, I think that it would be nice if sometime one could save to the Course format (like Brad’s) as this seems to be more useful in the Edge (more storage space, courses can be raced; unlike waypoint-based routes, you only see one course on the map at a time).

    -K

  19. Martyn, your Marengo GPS Route tool is excellent. I have used it now for a little over a month to build at least 10 routes. My routes have been for dualsport motorcycle day trips of around 150 miles each. The routes consist mostly of dirt roads with lots of turns. I have also used your tool for some simple weekend highway trips. I LOVE IT! Before your tool, I used Garmin’s Mapsource Trip & Waypoint Manager to build my routes. Your tool is easier, faster, includes the satellite imagery, and I can use it from any Internet connected computer. I still use Mapsource Trip & Waypoint Mgr to load the GPX routes into my unit. (To my knowledge, it is still the ONLY way to
    load maps into the unit.)

    Now onto feature ideas…

    I had a need to convert some track files to routes. The tracks had around 2500 points or so. I used gpsbabel to “simplify” the track files down to 200 points. (It is VERY smart about this–it maintains the shape by only removing points that do not matter–i.e. do not alter the route shape.) Then I opened the track GPX file in my favorite text editor (www.PSpad.com) and wrote a macro to convert the track XML into route XML. Then I copied & pasted that XML into the Marengo tool to view and tweak. It worked well. With 200 point routes, the javascript took longer to process the route of course, but it worked just fine. (What I can’t believe is that Garmin’s software does not have built-in methods to convert tracks to simplified routes.)

    So I say all that to say, since gpsbabel can be scripted as a linux command line utility, it would not be too difficult to build a slick web interface to the tool (perhaps someone already has?). You could provide features to convert track data to simplified routes, and to convert from other formats to GPX.

    Of course another major next step is to add the ability to store and retrieve routes within the system–which you have already mentioned. A natural byproduct of this would be the ability to give your riding club and friends a link that automatically hits the Route tool and loads a specific route with lines. This could become the new way to build, archive, and share routes. No need to upload a route file to your riding forum or email it around—just build it in Marengo, then share the “route link” with your buddies.

    I like very much Kevin’s idea for a “delete last waypoint” button and/or hotkey. I sometimes have difficulty trying to click a point to delete it and instead end up creating more points on top of points….which makes matters worse.

    Now this next idea may be obscure…but, I’m also a geocacher (www.geocaching.com). Their website allows me to download a .loc file of caches I want to find. It would be really cool if I could paste a .loc file into Marengo and have those points shown on the map…then I could use the tool to build my hunting route. (I can provide a .loc file when and if you are ready to play with this idea.)

    Now everybody go donate a little to this effort. The future is bright.

  20. Troy wrote: ‘I had a need to convert some track files to routes. The tracks had around 2500 points or so. I used gpsbabel to “simplify” the track files down to 200 points.’

    Hi Troy,

    Can you tell me how you did this (the settings you used)?

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