Author Topic: Routing Software  (Read 3468 times)

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Offline Spokey

Routing Software
« on: June 22, 2011, 06:24:52 pm »
Ok, I'm frustrated.

Hopefully this doesn't turn in to a rant.  I'm looking for software to create routes.  Below is my take on using various products so you know where I'm coming from.

I find Google maps non-workable.  You can't change bike routes and there are other problems with it.  It clogs up my Droid with old crap that I can't get rid except by uninstalling updates and reinstalling them.

I've looked at some online alternatives and don't see a good solution.  The best idea is at bikeroutetoaster.com/.  Except I can't get it to work well.  It goes berserk (that's the only way I can explain it) when I try to change the route (like my relatively straight route turning in to a starfish).  or I move a point and nothing happens.

I have used DeLorme in the past but probably the most recent version is probably 2002 or so.  I found it hard to use, but that may be because I've been using (& writing software for) windows since around '85 (yeah I actually owned windows 1). 

I actually liked Microsoft Streets and Maps (2002 version) the best from a usability standpoint.  A couple problems with that is that it won't allow you to add a road like DeLorme so you're stuck where they think a car will go.    That version also doesn't do GPS.

I have the Garmin Mapsource software that I think came with my newest non-gps heart monitor but I have a couple Garmin devices so I'm not sure.  I think it is a toss up between Garmin and MS for actually drawing a route.  But Mapsource doesn't have much else in it I guess because you're supposed to upload it to a hardware device.

My ideal software would let me:

1 - identify a start and end.  click a button and have it auto route. 

2 - take 1 above and drag it around either having the software auto route based on my stops / way points or just let me manually do it.

3 - create a cue sheet.  The normal total miles, incremental miles, directions (TR, TL, STOP, etc).  Local notes would be nice (e.g. TR at the 7-Eleven).

4 - Talk to my Droid.  Maybe upload to Google maps too.

It would be nice if the current versions of DeLorme or Microsoft does all this for their 50-100 price.  But for the right software, I'll go a few hundred  now.   It seems like there are quite a few products that have pieces or some with all the pieces but don't work.  Are there any good bicycle routing products?

Any suggestions?   I saw that you can download the current MS for a trial.  I know that will probably nuke my current version, but I may try that if I don't find anything else.

What does AC use?  Is in anyway a consumer product?

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2011, 11:13:43 pm »
Google Maps does all those things cleanly on my PC, although I am not clear about "you can't change bike routes." You can drag the route to another road, but not add new roads. Is that the show-stopper?

MapSource does all those things, but it's Windows and OS X only, AFAIK.

Google Maps is a web site. It does not clog up a device. The browser on your Droid might do that, as might Google Earth. Perhaps you need a better-suited device. My Win XP netbook does fine.

ACA uses MapSource.

Fred

Offline Spokey

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2011, 12:42:00 am »
Quote
"you can't change bike routes." You can drag the route to another road, but not add new roads.

Yes, while I am creating a route, I can do all that.  Two problems. 

1.  The only time the 'save' link/button shows up for me is if I am in 'car' mode.  Biking or walking can't be saved as best I can tell.  Maybe the save button moves somewhere else that I haven't found yet, but. . .

2.  Sometimes when I switch to 'car' mode, it changes the route.  Now I can drag it back again, but that is a pain.  I don't know why you can't save in bike or walk mode.

Also, I can't figure out how to get Google to route an uploaded set of AC points.  All the points show fine.  I can choose the first point as a start and the last point as the destination.  As soon as I click "Get Directions", all the intermediate points disappear.

Quote
MapSource does all those things, but it's Windows and OS X only, AFAIK.

I'll have to check mine again.  That might be OK.  Mostly for what I'm trying to do here is local rides so doing a route and printing it is fine.  For trips I use ACA maps where appropriate but it would be nice to have an electronic standby.  So admittedly, I'm mixing a couple uses here.

Quote
Google Maps is a web site. It does not clog up a device. The browser on your Droid might do that, as might Google Earth. Perhaps you need a better-suited device. My Win XP netbook does fine.

Actually no.  Google maps is not a web site, it is what everyone loves to call a 'cloud' application.  I guess that is because client server is so passe.  A browser is just one way to access Google maps.   I don't use the browser on the Droid to look at maps.  Google provides an interface / application in the base android OS (at least the Droid, don't know about other android versions) to Google maps.  To start with it doesn't show any of your maps.  To show a map, you use what Google calls 'layers'.  Layers are lots of things that you can layer on a map.  Traffic, satellite, terrain, transit lines are all layers.  AND, your maps are layers.   You choose your map and everything is OK for now.

But let's say you have lots of routes.  Maybe you are club ride coordinator.  Eventually you'll bring all those maps in.  Plus you've done a one-off map to Aunt Millie's, to the grocery store, etc etc.  Every map that you have shown at least once stays in the Droid in that Google interface.  Even if you delete it from Google maps using your browser, it remains in the list unless as I said before, you uninstall and reinstall.  You can find a lot of complaints about this over in the Google forums.  Just one example from over a year ago.  You'll notice that one of the posters says exactly the same thing.  Uninstall updates then re-install to get rid of unwanted routes in your list.  Yes, should be simple, but . . .

Thanks for the mapsource note.  I will look at mine again to see if it does what I want.  I think I can save gpx so that might be start.


Offline cgarch

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2011, 01:37:33 am »
Did you take a look at ridewithgps.com? Our club has been using it for routes for some time. Lot of folks use it, just beware that the computed elevation gains aren't necessarily correct.

Craig

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2011, 06:56:15 am »
...
1.  The only time the 'save' link/button shows up for me is if I am in 'car' mode.  Biking or walking can't be saved as best I can tell.  Maybe the save button moves somewhere else that I haven't found yet, but. . .

2.  Sometimes when I switch to 'car' mode, it changes the route.  Now I can drag it back again, but that is a pain.  I don't know why you can't save in bike or walk mode.

Also, I can't figure out how to get Google to route an uploaded set of AC points.  All the points show fine.  I can choose the first point as a start and the last point as the destination.  As soon as I click "Get Directions", all the intermediate points disappear.

... Google maps is not a web site, ...  Every map that you have shown at least once stays in the Droid in that Google interface.  ... Uninstall updates then re-install to get rid of unwanted routes in your list.  Yes, should be simple, but . . .

Ah! Thank you for the education, Spokey. Google expanded the brand to a whole new application, which appears to be not yet fully baked.

Running the Google Maps web site in Firefox on my netbook, using its Bicycle option, works well. Within the limitations of their bike route mapping, of course. I never tried uploading GPX files, but it seems to be a common use. http://www.obviously.com/gis/gpx_loader.html, for example.

Please let us known how the Droid app works out. Others will want to try it, I am sure.

Fred

Offline Spokey

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2011, 11:14:30 am »
Did you take a look at ridewithgps.com? Our club has been using it for routes for some time. Lot of folks use it, just beware that the computed elevation gains aren't necessarily correct.

Craig

I took a quick look and it looks promising.  It's a little expensive for casual use although probably fine for a club.  I'll have to see if the paid version offers things I might want above what the 'free' version has.   

The one problem I did have with a simple route to my sister's (~26 miles) was changing it.  The original route went down a US highway.  I take a parallel route with less (although just as fast) traffic and few tractor trailers.  I could easily change to the parallel road and made a couple other adjustments.  Worked about the same as the MS and Garmin software.  The problem showed when I wanted to tweak the route near my house.  I kind of wanted to go around the block the long way.  Every time I moved the route to do that, the software changed the route back to the US highway.  And when I pulled it back to the county road, the 'around the block' change flipped back to the original.

Offline hem

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2011, 05:42:54 pm »
I appreciate your frustrations as I too have not found a solution that I really like all that much. bikeroutetoasters, ridewithgps, bikely etc all do good jobs but they are somewhat dated when it comes to using the latest versions of the Google Maps API. And they are more ride rather than tour oriented.

http://code.google.com/apis/maps/documentation/javascript/. Link here and see what can be done using this API and look at the code samples running as html browser views.
As a programmer you might want to see what you can do yourself. At least understanding what can be done may lead to understanding how to use some of the facilities like Google Maps on the Droid.


Offline pptouring

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2011, 07:36:02 am »
Did you take a look at ridewithgps.com?


I've been using ridewithgps.com now for a few months and really like it. Very easy to use, save right to and/or upload from your GPS (garmin). Great site. Google maps just sucks as far as I'm concerned, unless of course they've changed something during the last 6 months.

Offline Spokey

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, 01:11:08 pm »
I have a couple problems with it.

First, if I use my Droid's My Tracks, I can upload just fine.  I can view it just fine.  But if I try to edit it, nothing is there.  I think this is because it is tracks and not routes.  But given the xml spec, that would be trivial to handle.

Second.  Like many other similar pieces of software, it thinks it knows best.  If I upload an ACA route, it shows up fine.  But it might need some tweaking as the points don't exactly land on the map.  Sometimes I can tweak and I'm fine.  But often as soon as I move a chunk from near a road to the road, a large part of or the whole route gets recalculated.  Sometimes I can minimize that using Control Points (I think that's what they're called).  But sometimes, merely trying to add the Control Point causes a recalculation.

I can get better results by starting and drawing the entire route manually.  But then that defeats the point of using the ACA GPX file or uploading my Droid file.

Third.  Occasionally the recalculation just goes crazy.  I try to move the route a little say near the beginning of a 30 mile ride and RideWithGPS decides I am adding to the end and creates maybe a 55 mile route.  The original and back to my edit.  Sometimes the undo will fix that.  Sometimes the undo does nothing.  Sometimes the undo deletes a chunk of the existing route.

Fourth.  It doesn't include all the turns in the cue sheet.  Not sure why this happens but if the route makes a right hand turn from highway A to highway B, the cue sheet should reflect that.  Yes I can manually add to the cue sheet, but why should I have to do that?

For some of the above, I can minimize the problems by saving every or every second edit.  Of course that is a pain too.  Except the save also fails sometimes although I think I have always been able to save as a new route when that happens.

If RideWithGPS worked better, I'd pay for it.  But not in its current state.  The owners also need a better set of documentation, better release notes, and a better issues arrangement.  

All that said, RideWithGPS is probably the best of the breed out there.  BikeToaster (or something like that) has all the same problems above but is much worse.  Google might not even make the category given that I think they still don't even let you save a bike route.  Funny given that RideWithGPS (and others) use Google maps as a base.

I started this exercise with the idea that I would put the Atlantic Coast route in to my Droid as a supplement to the paper maps.  I finally gave up.  The only software that really worked without an enormous amount of trouble is the Garmin MapSource.  Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to get from that to my Droid.  My brother has a recent Garmin unit.  He finally got the route in to that although he says it wasn't as good as he hoped.  Apparently only some of the POI transfer.   I recently bought the new versions of I think maps 4 & 5 as mine were out of date.  The droid will be relegated to getting us back on route if we say go off route to an attraction or restaurant.  And I'm hoping we use it to get weather.com to provide us with early hurricane warning as we'll be pedaling down the outer banks.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 01:18:05 pm by Spokey »

Offline hem

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2011, 07:51:25 pm »
I am not a RideWithGPS expert but I see it is using the Google V3 API which I am somewhat familiar with. The "control points" I believe are the way points (up to 21) given in the request to the Google Direction Service call that will be incorporated in the directions that are rendered.

What I don't see is any way to edit those results after getting them back from Google. Every time you change something it looks like it is sent back to Google for a new rendering of the total route. This is not unlike what you can get with Google Maps itself. I do like the new interface RideWithGps has though.

I have just put up my map editor which was soley intended to handle the Adventure Cycling routes as a planning tool. I believe it allows more flexibility than any of the other mapping facilities in terms of editing existing routes. You can take a look at it here http://hmoore71.com/map/index Recommend taking a moment and reading the write up first though. http://hmoore71.com//journals/journal/1173

Offline JMilyko

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2011, 08:46:19 am »
I have just put up my map editor which was soley intended to handle the Adventure Cycling routes as a planning tool. I believe it allows more flexibility than any of the other mapping facilities in terms of editing existing routes. You can take a look at it here http://hmoore71.com/map/index Recommend taking a moment and reading the write up first though. http://hmoore71.com//journals/journal/1173

Thanks for posting this. Definitely appears to be a good option for some folks.

.Jennifer.
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer H. Milyko
Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline hem

Re: Routing Software
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2011, 04:44:44 pm »
Jennifer,

Thanks for looking. It has been a work in progress for sometime and Fred has provided some valuable feed back on earlier versions.

Again I developed it in mind for viewing and stitching together and customizing existing routes. In reading journals about touring the ACA routes I find almost everyone customizes to a certain extent. I know looking at the Northern Tier I have looked at using the Lake Erie, Northern Lakes, Lewis and Clark as well as Great Parks routes.

As a test I took the Rhine, Main, Tauber, Altmuhl, and Danube river bicycle paths and created a 800 mile loop out of Frankfurt am Main. With the editor I was able to cut and paste parts of six routes into a continuous loop. In some cases the travel direction and place marks had to be reversed from the originals.

Indian Bend Solutions is because I live not far from Indian Bend Road and these are my favorite public arts work.