Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Cartography, maps, navigation, GPS and more.
User avatar
arundodonax
Posts: 1043
Joined: August 12th, 2010, 8:02 pm

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by arundodonax » May 7th, 2011, 9:10 pm

Looks like we're awaiting a portlandhikers mapping software developers throwdown...

Joseph Elfelt
Posts: 156
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 10:24 am
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Joseph Elfelt » September 16th, 2011, 5:06 am

Gmap4 has been updated to version 2.1.5 dated September 14, 2011. For a full list of the changes in this version please see http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_whats_new.html

Remember, Gmap4 lives in the cloud and does not require you to download or install anything. Anytime you view a map with Gmap4, you automatically will be using the most recent version.

The big news is that you can now strap on a personal jet pack and fly around in 3D anywhere in the world. (The Gmap4 ‘Search’ feature is a useful way to zip you to the spot where you wish to begin flying.) This feature runs Google Earth in your browser.

You can zoom in and fly over any map that has a GPS track (or other data) and see the world in 3D. No sweat, no bug bites, no blisters.

All you have to do is download the Gmap4 ‘Help’ pdf file dated September 14, 2011 (or more recent) and search for ‘Tips for flying’. Anyone can quicky and easily learn to fly with just a mouse by taking a quick trip through flight school by reading those tips. Those tips give you step-by-step instructions that will show you how to fly over the John Muir Trail in California starting from the summit of Mt. Whitney. This is ability to fly with a 3D view is easily the coolest feature in Gmap4.

Gmap4 ‘Help’ file: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_help.pdf

For most people this updated version of Gmap4 works fine. However, a few people have reported that all they see when they try to use Gmap4 is a blank screen. If you are having trouble viewing maps with Gmap4, then I have a favor to ask. In addition to updating the code I also put together a short list of easy things that you can do to try and get the latest version of Gmap4 working on your system. Here’s the favor: Please download the ‘Help’ file and search that file for ‘tips on flying’. Near the end of that section you will see a heading that starts “Background...”. That section gives you a peek under the hood and suggests several easy/quick things you can do to try and get the current version of Gmap4 working on your system.

Some of those suggestions have worked for others, so I hope if you are having problems that you take a few minutes and give them a try. And if nothing else works, then the last suggestion gives you a link to the prior version of Gmap4 that does not include the new ‘Earth’ feature which seems to be the source of most of the problems.

In addition, the ‘directions’ feature has been re-written. Right-click the map and then click either ‘Direction from here’ or ‘Direction to here’. After the route appears, you can drag it to make changes. You can build a Gmap4 URL that will open with the directions panel displayed and the destination filled in. This will be useful for helping people obtain directions to a meeting spot. Search the Gmap4 Help file for ‘Tips for using directions’.

Also, information on how to donate has been added to the ‘Action’ menu and the Gmap4 website.

Enjoy!

Joseph Elfelt
Posts: 156
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 10:24 am
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Joseph Elfelt » September 18th, 2011, 8:10 am

Gmap4 has been updated to version 2.1.6 dated September 17, 2011.
Homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html

Reminder: Since Gmap4 lives in the cloud (1) you never have to download or install Gmap4 and (2) you are always automatically using the latest version of the code. But if Gmap4 does not seem to work then please clear your browser’s cache and try again. To see the Gmap4 version number you can click Menu ==> About on any map.

This update fixes the ‘blank screen’ problem that some users experienced after the September 12th update. If you experienced that problem, then please try Gmap4 again.

In order to use the new 3D ‘Earth’ view, your computer system needs to have the Google Earth browser plug-in installed. The Gmap4 code now checks to see if your system already has this plug-in installed. If your computer system does not have this plug-in installed, then you will see a message telling you that and a link to Google where you can download the plug-in if you decide to install it. If you decide to install the plug-in, please follow the instructions in that message. You need a broadband connection and a reasonably modern computer to use the 3D ‘Earth’ view.

Also, your security software might ask you to give permission before this plug-in will work.

If you decide to not install the plug-in, simply close the message window. You can continue using all the other features of Gmap4 except the ‘Earth’ view.

Joseph Elfelt
Posts: 156
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 10:24 am
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Joseph Elfelt » December 4th, 2011, 9:30 pm

Gmap4 has been updated to version 2.2. The full list of changes is posted on the Gmap4 “what's new” page (see hompage link below). Here are some highlights.

First, Gmap4 can add labels to Google maps. The labels are built from the waypoint names in your file. Your existing maps will work with this feature, except KMZ files are not yet supported. Labels can be styled with your own HTML and CSS. The following link displays a GPX file that is hosted at Topofusion and displays with labels turned on. http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... 2&label=on

To open Gmap4 with labels turned on, include this parameter in your Gmap4 URL: &label=on
To toggle the labels after a map is displayed click Menu ==> Label On/Off

You can style the labels with your own HTML and CSS. This label feature works with all the file formats that Gmap4 can read except KMZ files. Label support for KMZ files will be added in a future update.

Below is an example of a map I made with fancy labels. Note that (1) each label is clickable and (2) when you shift to an aerial map view then the labels acquire a solid background so the text does not disappear in shadows on the aerials. This map uses a delimited text file that is hosted at Google Sites.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... 3&label=on

Second, a number of features have been added to the delimited text file format that Gmap4 can display. The section of the Gmap4 Help file titled “Delimited text files - Some details” has been completely re-written and now starts with a series of example maps that will let you rapidly learn the basics. If you want the most control over your map, this is the file format to use.

Third, the internet security features of Gmap4 have been enhanced. If you look at a file that causes Gmap4 to display a security-related message on your screen and you think that message is a ‘false positive’, then please go to the Gmap4 contact page and send an email. Include the URL to the map (Menu ==> Show map URL) in your email.

Fourth, Gmap4 can now display files that include a '?' character in the URL for the file.

For more information please see the Gmap4 homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html

Enjoy!

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

Joseph Elfelt
Posts: 156
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 10:24 am
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Joseph Elfelt » December 22nd, 2011, 10:25 am

The Gmap4 production code is now version 2.3. This is the first version that includes special features for smartphones and other mobile devices.

1. Gmap4 can now find your location on the map. This service will use some or all of:
* Your IP address
* Cell towers
* Wi-fi hotspots
* Any GPS chip in your phone or other mobile device

Simply open any map in your phone’s browser and then select Menu ==> Findme. You can try this right now on your desktop/laptop just to see how it works. However, your desktop/laptop location will likely not be very accurate since in many cases only your IP address will be used.

You can also build Gmap4 URLs that will automatically run the Findme feature when the map opens. Simply include the parameter ‘findme=on’ in the Gmap4 URL.
Example: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?findme=on

Since Gmap4 uses the Google maps Application Programming Interface (API), this feature only works if your phone’s browser is online to the internet.

Also, because Gmap4 is a web application, you do not need to download or install anything in order to use Gmap4 on your phone. To open Gmap4 on your phone:
A. Open your phone’s browser. (Remember, that browser has to be online.)
B. Do a web search for Gmap4 - the first hit should be the Gmap4 homepage
C. Select the link just under the homepage title. That link opens Gmap4 and displays a map of the world.
D. Select Menu ==> Findme

Of course you can save the Gmap4 URL as a bookmark in your phone’s browser.

Gmap4 does not save your location or report it to anyone. For more details, please search the Gmap4 Help file on ‘mobile’.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_help.pdf

Here are two links with more information if you are curious how this works:
http://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/geolocation/
http://support.google.com/gmm/bin/answe ... 894&src=cb

2. You can turn off the coordinates in the lower right corner

Turning off the coordinate display in the lower right will let you see more of the map. You can toggle that display by selecting Menu ==> UTM - LatLng - Off

To open Gmap4 with that display already off, include the parameter ‘&coord=off’ in the Gmap4 URL
Example: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... &coord=off

3. Tweaking the mobile interface
Gmap4 is not a ‘native’ app for your phone. Instead, the exact same code that runs in the browser on your desktop/laptop also runs in the browser on your phone. Amazing! But this means my options for improving the interface when running on a phone are somewhat limited. What I can do fairly easily is add buttons. However, each button would cover part of the map.

Question: Are there any features of Gmap4 important enough that they should have their own buttons? One obvious candidate is the ‘Findme’ feature. Any others?

4. The MyTopo maps now display ads in one corner. That was not my idea!
For example, this map shows part of Yellowstone National Park:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... &z=14&t=t2

The Trimble Company now owns the MyTopo maps. As the 'price' for being allowed to continue displaying the MyTopo maps at no cost, Gmap4 must display Trimble's ad images when the MyTopo maps are on the screen.

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
Redmond, WA

User avatar
Koda
Posts: 3437
Joined: June 5th, 2009, 7:54 am

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Koda » December 22nd, 2011, 10:58 pm

Also, because Gmap4 is a web application, you do not need to download or install anything in order to use Gmap4 on your phone. To open Gmap4 on your phone:
A. Open your phone’s browser. (Remember, that browser has to be online.)
can you make a way to easily save a screenshot of the map after once zooms in on their location? Would Google Tracks app be able to interface with any of this... display the track on top of the map?
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

Joseph Elfelt
Posts: 156
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 10:24 am
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Joseph Elfelt » December 23rd, 2011, 6:17 am

Koda wrote:can you make a way to easily save a screenshot of the map after once zooms in on their location? Would Google Tracks app be able to interface with any of this... display the track on top of the map?
A. Screenshot
I do not have a smartphone so I do not know the answer. You could try a google search with the name of your phone + screenshot.

B. Interface
Here is one way. There might be others.
1. Save your track as a gpx or kml file.
2. Place that file online. You could try uploading it to Google Sites via the phone's browser.
3. Build a basic gmap4 URL that includes the http URL to your file. http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... oyour_file
4. Paste that Gmap4 URL into the browser bar on your phone.

Is it possible for any web-based software (such as Gmap4) running in your phone's browser to read a gpx/kml file directly from your phone's sd card? I do not know.

Joseph Elfelt
Posts: 156
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 10:24 am
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Joseph Elfelt » January 29th, 2012, 2:35 pm

Koda wrote:can you make a way to easily save a screenshot of the map after once zooms in on their location? Would Google Tracks app be able to interface with any of this... display the track on top of the map?
1. You can save a screenshot of anything.
To copy the screen to the clipboard: Hold down Alt and press 'Print screen'
Paste the clipboard contents into any program that can hold an image

You can also print through your browser. File ==> Print preview

2. I'm clueless about the Google Tracks app

3. If your track file is online, then Gmap4 can display it.
If you do not have your own web site to host your file, then I recommend Google Sites.

Gmap4 can display your track on just about any device that has a browser including desktops, laptops, notebooks, iPads, iPods, phones.....
But, (1) the browser has to be online to internet and (2) your track file has to be online somewhere.

Joseph Elfelt
Posts: 156
Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 10:24 am
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by Joseph Elfelt » January 29th, 2012, 2:37 pm

The Gmap4 code has been updated to version 3.0. There are two new ‘big’ features that many people will find useful.

First, Gmap4 can now display a new set of very high resolution USA topographic maps that (1) are a better quality image than the MyTopo maps, (2) do not have heavy watermarks obscuring part of the map and (3) do not have any ads. The link below displays a basic map of the USA. Zoom in to your favorite area (or use the ‘Search’ feature) then open the menu in the upper right corner and select “t4 Topo High”.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... 75&t=m&z=4

You can also set the amount of hill shading you prefer to see on these new maps. Click Menu ==> Hill shading. And there is a new URL parameter (&hillshade=) you can use to set the hill shading in any Gmap4 URLs that you make.

A developer in California named Matt (http://CalTopo.com) produced these new topo map tiles from data he obtained from the USGS. Matt is paying out of his pocket to host these new map tiles on Amazon’s cloud service. It is my great hope that the Gmap4 user community taken as a whole will be willing to make sufficient donations to pay its share of Matt’s Amazon bill. The Menu button on the map has a ‘donate’ link.

Matt’s high resolution topographic map tiles should cover the states show in green on the following index map. I think the states that are not done yet are FL, LA, MA, MS, NH, RI, SD, VT and WY.
http://nationalmap.gov/historical/index.html
As the USGS finishes high resolution scans (660 pixels per inch) for the remaining states, Matt will be processing that data into tiles.

The Gmap4 ‘Help’ file has more information on these new maps and also instructions for how you can report any problems you discover.

Second, Gmap4 now includes a trip planning feature called “Make a map”. You can now click the map to make waypoints, routes and tracks. You can download your work in a GPX file and then upload that information into many handheld GPS units. Of course you can also put your GPX file online and then make a Gmap4 URL to display your file. This feature works worldwide.

Gmap4’s implementation of this feature lets you:
* Click once and create both a waypoint and routepoint
* Edit any data field (including GPS symbol name) that causes information to appear on your GPS screen

“Make a map” quick start:
1. Zoom in where you want to do trip planning
2. Set the map view you want
3. Click Menu ==> Make a map
4. Click a few spots on the map. Distance in miles and kilometers is reported in the lower right corner.
5. Right click any point
6. Click “Download GPX file”
7. Right click the URL to the GPX file and save it on your harddrive
8. Load the GPX information into your GPS

Each click you just made on the map sets a draggable (click-hold-drag) waypoint and routepoint. This is the Gmap4 default for trip planning.

For more information on these features, please visit the Gmap4 homepage and download the current Help file. The sections that describe these new features are marked “(New)” in the table of contents.
Gamp4 Homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html

I welcome your suggestions for improvements and any bug reports.

Enjoy!

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

User avatar
jdemott
Posts: 613
Joined: July 23rd, 2010, 1:43 pm
Contact:

Re: Gmap4 - Enhanced Google Map viewer with topographic maps

Post by jdemott » January 29th, 2012, 6:02 pm

Very cool!! The hi res maps are beautiful--what an increase in readability! The Make a Map feature is very slick. I haven't yet loaded one on to my GPS, but just playing around with making a map online seems very easy. I particularly like the ability to drag a point to reposition it. Nice work.

Post Reply