mapRoute

Overview

The purpose of this web application is to allow users to plan walking routes using the latest 1:25K and 1:50K Ordnance Survey maps and export the routes to a mobile device. Geocaches can also be displayed allowing routes to be planned around geocaches. The routes may be saved on the server and can be downloaded along with related geocaches to be imported into a device supporting gpx files and a GPS receiver. Extensive functionality exists to share routes between users. The basic service is free.

Log on to geocaching.com before you start.

What is Geocaching / Geocaching Live?

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. There's an FAQ here. Whilst free Basic membership to Geocaching.com will certainly get you going, some mapRoute functionality benefits from Premium membership. mapRoute can be used with or without geocaching functionality. Geocaching Live is the name of the API (application programming interface) which allows this app to integrate with Geocaching.com's data.

Why use mapRoute?

You may currently use Memory Map, GSAK and other tools for planning your hike and/or geocaching, but there are several advantages with mapRoute:

  1. mapRoute is FREE (and legal).
  2. Most Memory Map users have 2004 maps, which are out of date, whereas Bing Ordnance Survey maps are bang up to date.
  3. mapRoute has maps for any location in the world. If you are using OSM (Open Street Maps) the you'll find that OS maps are infinitely better.
  4. Zoom in to street name level or use satellite imagery.
  5. Create and share routes with other users.
  6. Runs from a browser, so use it from any PC. I plan to make mapRoute tablet friendly in the future.
  7. No requirement to retain your own geocache database and all the administration/cost that entails.
  8. Ease of use. No exporting caches from a PQ or application to your map.
  9. You always have the very latest geocache data.
  10. Geocaching icons provide additional information.
  11. Download your route and all relevant geocaches in just two clicks.
  12. Search for place names.
  13. Create waypoints.
  14. More to come in future releases.

Creating and editing routes

Click Create route to start adding points to a route. Exit the create mode by either clicking the button again or by pressing Esc. Re-entering create mode allows you to extend the end of your route*.

To edit a route (move points, insert points or delete points) click the Edit route button and drag handles should appear (yellow boxes) at each waypoint. When the mouse is over a drag handle it will turn green. The drag handle can then be dragged to a new location whilst holding down the left mouse button.

Insert a waypoint by right clicking a drag handle. The waypoint is inserted in the route before the drag handle you right clicked on. This also allows insertion of a point before the start of the route.

Delete a waypoint is by double clicking on a drag handle. There is also an unwanted zoom effect when you do this, but I hope to resolve this.

You may leave Edit mode by clicking Edit route again or pressing Esc.

Clear route discards the current route.

Zoom to route centres your route on the screen, zooming to the highest possible level whilst keeping the entire route visible on your screen.

Load route will append the route to the end of any currently open route. In most situations you will want to Clear route before loading a route.

Save route can save a new route or update a loaded route. A name suggestion will be made based on the starting location, though this can be amended.*

On saving a route a GeoNames lookup suggests the name of the nearest populated location to the trail head.

While creating waypoints in a new route a GeoNames lookup assigns the elevation to each location on a route. Any that are missed (caused my adding waypoints faster than GeoNames can return values) will be retrieved when the route is saved. This may mean the route save time could be increased.

Note: You may only ever deal with one route at a time.

Tip: When creating a route and need to scroll the map, before you run out of space, hold down the left mouse button whilst setting a waypoint in the route and drag the map. Otherwise you will need to leave edit mode, drag the map and then re-enter edit mode.

Shared Routes allows you to use other people's routes, providing they have marked them as shared. The route locations are shown on the map with pushpins. Routes within +/- 1 degree longitude and latitude of the centre of the screen are shown*. The pushpin displays the number of unique users that have loaded the route previously, while moving the mouse pointer over the pushpin shows the route details. Clicking the pushpin loads and zooms to the route. Please ensure you only share routes of some merit. Pins are removed by either clicking on one of the pins or by clicking Shared Routes again. This last method will return you to your view as it was before you selected Shared Routes.

NewClick Find Menu to enter Find Mode. You leave this mode by either clicking the Find Menu button again or by completing an action.

Ensure you Waypoints are ON from the user menu if you want to see your saved waypoints on the map. Saved waypoints can be managed via the Route and Waypoint Management screen.

Status bar

The green bar at the bottom of the map shows:

Menu

Click on your user name (top left) to show the menu. You can :

The user name needs to be clicked again to hide it. I’ll sort this at some stage hopefully.

A link to this page has been placed on the title banner.

Route and Waypoint management

From the menu select Routes. The first tab will show you active routes that you own. As well as viewing the route properties you can:

Total ascent is calculated from the elevation at each waypoint (not the points between). As Bing does not provide this data I have used GeoNames. This figure should be used as an indication of ascent rather than an exact figure.

In the archived routes screen you can unarchive routes. Remember that they will be deleted automatically after a period (no shorter than 2 weeks).

NewShared Routes will display the routes which you have previously loaded. You will be able to Thank the route owner for routes of merit. The number of Thanks are shown on the orange pushpin when shared routes are shown on the map.

Click the total ascent value to display an elevation graph below the current row. Click the same field to hide the graph. Multiple graphs may been shown at the same time. Graph displays the units select in profile.

NewWaypoints can be deleted and edited from this tab. You can also go straight to a wypoint on the map view by clicking the Load icon. The ability to download waypoints via a gpx file will be added very shortly.

NewHills and Trigpoints. This area is currently reserved for non-basic members.

NewShared route referral

You can now create a link to a shared route in another web page or send it via email. Link to http://map-route.co.uk/shared.php?routeid=xx. If the recipient is not logged in (or not registered) to mapRoute, they can still download the gpx file. If the recipient is logged in they will be able open the route directly in mapRoute. The routeid can be found by hovering the mouse over the route download button on the Active Routes tab.

A second parameter of &direct=1 can be added when sending to registered users. This will allow direct opening of the route, with no intermediary page.

Profile

Drag the pin on the map, so that when you start a new session (when you log in) the map will centre on that location.

Select the transparency, colour, style and width of your route lines.

Units may be metric (m and km) or imperial (feet and miles).

Route Export allows you to export an additional reversed route within the exported gpx file. This is primarily for some Magellan units that don't have the functionality to reverse routes on the device.

NewMap Controls allows you to show or hide the Bing map controls. If they are shown you have the ability to switch to other maps and aerial imagery or navigate the map in an alterative way.

NewFind Place allows the choice between just place names or with additional places, such as castles, hotels, rivers etc. This mode can give a lot of unwanted POIs.

NewPosition Format defines the lat/lon format used to display your current cursor position on the status bar.

GPSr make/model is currently only required for gpx export for Magellan (a reversed route is added automatically), but if there are differences with other devices they will be added. Otherwise you do not need to set this value.

Save Route Path changes default gpx route download from your default download folder to the folder specified.

Save Geocaches Path changes default gpx geocache download from your default download folder to the folder specified.

Geocaching Live options are only available if you signed on with Geocaching Live ticked. You must be logged on to geocaching.com.

Geocaching Live on Startup means that the Live API is active when you log in. The Geocaching button will appear in the bottom right of the map screen. Toggling geocaching from the menu will not change this value.

Autoload geocaches will automatically load geocache icons when you are zoomed in to the map at level 14 or higher and you move the map more than a pre-determined amount. I would suggest you turn this OFF and use the geocaching button to load caches when you require them.

Geocache load radius. Hover the mouse over the geocache button to see the area for which you will download geocache icons for if you click the button.

Favourite Threshold. Highlight the best caches by setting this value as you prefer. Only caches with at least this number of favourites will be highlighted.

Premium members can manage the types of peaks and trigpoints that they wish to view here. Also define if you wish to see found, not found, all or none.

Map

Zoom in/out with mouse wheel. +/- keys can alternatively be used, or Bing map control.

Move map by dragging with mouse while holding down left mouse button. Alternatively arrow keys or Bing map control.

Tip: Use the F11 key to maximize your browser to full screen mode.

Each time you leave the page (go to a menu page, refresh the browser, go to another site completely and come back without closing the browser) the session data will be remembered. This means stuff like your user, your location on the map, the current route etc. It will not remember the geocaches though. Tip: refreshing the page clears all geocache icons.

Click the big geocache button to load geocaches in the highlighted area.

UI change: Hover over a geocache icon to show the basic details. The pushpin is a link to the geocache listing.

Geocache types are explained here. These icons may be merged with any of the following mapRoute icons:

Owned You are the owner of this geocache.

FoundYou have found this geocache.

DisabledThe geocache is unavailable or archived. This icon will not be shown if you have found the geocache.

MicroThe geocache container is a micro or "other". This icon is only used on physical cache types, so "other" nearly always means nano.

TB There is at least one trackable (travel bug or geocoin) recorded as being in the geocache.

FavouriteThe geocache has at least the number of favourite points that you specified in the profile threshold.

Screen fragment example of plotting a route
Screen fragment example of plotting a route between geocaches

Requirements

This web application has been tested in Firefox 22.0 and IE10 browsers (and Chrome to a lesser extent). You must have Javascript and cookies enabled and be running on a reasonably recent version of your browser. Old browsers won't be supported under any circumstances.

Feedback

All constructive feedback, suggestions and comments will be gratefully received at the mapRoute Forum

* Restrictions may apply to basic members

Thanks go to:

Groundspeak for allowing all things Geocaching here.

Bing maps and Ordnance Survey for the excellent maps.

Database of British and Irish Hills v13.2 for hill data.

Trigpointing:UK of trigpoint data.

Geonames for providing place name lookups.

osola for SRTM elevation data code.

Chris Veness for OS grid reference scripts.

You can find out more about my walks here.