Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mapping project surfaces on new page

I think I posted about this on the THMMC web site, but figured I would add an entry here in case no one has noticed the new page link in the menu bar. You'll see there is now a link to a page called "Maps & Routes". This is part of an effort I've started to try to document and bring some order to all of the routes that I've put together the past few years. As of this morning, I completed the events I did during 2014 with the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club, so it seemed like a good time to highlight the new page.

Putting everything together for 2014 was not too terribly difficult as my workflow between Google Maps and Basecamp has stabilized, especially during the last half of the year. For those not familiar, which I'm going to guess is most folks reading this, Google has been undergoing some major changes with the mapping product (Google Maps) over the past couple years. This included changes to the part of the platform where one could setup a route and save it to share with others. That has been through a couple iterations and is now known as My Maps Pro.

With all of the changes to My Maps Pro, I did have to go back and regenerate maps for the first couple events of 2014. That is now a fairly easy process using Basecamp's export to kml function and My Maps Pro import kml function. You do need to think ahead in naming your waypoints though to make things go smoothly. Hopefully this will make things easier for me to go back and reproduce maps for prior years using the Basecamp files.

I will note that things are marginally easier going in the other direction - creating a route in My Maps and then reproducing the map in Basecamp to generate a gpx. The cleanup needed tends to be minimal compared to how it was a few years ago.

The biggest issue is with the limitations that Google imposes. Currently, you can only have 10 points in a "route" layer. So you may notice that some of the maps have part 1, part 2, etc., to get around that limitation. The other issue is a limit of 10 layers. I'm currently struggling with that on a project I'm working on now.

As far as my documentation project, I wanted to try to get all of the routes and files in a single place so they would be easier to find and access. I'm starting to think I may have to break things up over several pages (as I don't think I have the skills to create a searchable database that pulls up one map at a time). So if you are ever looking for some twisty roads to try out and want to just load up a route instead of trying to figure one out, I hope this helps.

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