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 DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders

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craftycoder




PostSubject: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:02 am

Hey, y'all. I've been working on a mapping website called www.dualsportmaps.com and I'm ready to share it with you guys . The goal was to create a site for storing, sharing, searching, creating, and editing GPS files. I've met those basic goals.

I don't want this to be another GPX file warehouse. I would prefer, high quality, annotated tracks, that share important information like danger areas, gas stations, and has actual photos and videos from the road.

The user interface is like MapSource, only it works from anywhere because it's in your web browser and everyone can see your collection of tracks and you can see everyone else's as well. You can draw a track dot to dot. You can snap a portion of a track to roads in Google's database (make a track "follow the road"). You can split, join, and reverse tracks as well. You can add, delete, or move waypoints. And best of all, it's free to all comers.

Features not in MapSource but available on my site are the addition of photos which can be uploaded (either singly or in mass in a zip file) and then geocoded (either singly or in mass using a wizard that links the timestamp on the photo with time stamps on the tracks). On my site you can turn a track into route just by checking a box. This is very handy for those of us with Zumos and Nuvis that don't play nice with tracks. It displays current weather radar which is handy also.

Searching is done in a more obvious way, by drawing a box around the area you want to search. Any tracks in the box will show up. You can share your tracks in most forums by embedding them into a thread. I'll post an example below. I used to use Googlemaps to draw maps, download that as a Google Earth file in one website, convert that to gpx in another website, and then edit it in MapSource on my laptop which is the only PC I have with MapSource on it. It was very tedious. Now, I can draw a track at dualsportmaps.com with the benefit of aerial photos and topographic maps at my finger tips and download it straight into MapSource and onto my Zumo as a route . I can also search for tracks where I'm going to be riding and get an immediate feel for the terrain with the aerial photos and topo maps. Especially true if there are rider photos attached.

I am opening up the floor for comments and suggestions. What kind of mapping tools do you wish you had? If I can, I'll try to include them in this site.

The site is short on documentation at the moment so post your questions here and I'll answer them and create documentation based on what people can't figure out easily.

You need to Log In to the site to do anything but look at tracks. The Log In button is near the top right corner. The site works well in Google Chrome (best choice), IE8, and updated versions of Firefox. It's doesn't work well in IE7 or earlier.

You can only edit your own tracks at the moment, so upload a GPX file to see what the site can do for you. In the future, I will remove the need to upload a GPX to create a new map, but I think Active Logs are a great place to start when sharing a map because it means you've been there so you know a thing or two.

Everything on the map is clickable. If you zoom in far enough the waypoints will tell you their story just mousing over them. If you zoom in farther still the photos will show up as thumbnails on the map but you can click on the camera icon to see the photo. This map is courtesy of a rider who posted it to the site.



Some tutorial videos:

Playlist can be displayed by clicking the 4 icon from the right below.




The Track Wizard allows you to upload an active log and then process it so that it is get broken into pieces based on difficulty. I used some calculus and recursion to attempt to figure out the difficulty of portions of tracks based on the info contained in the Active Log track file. Namely, location in 3D space and time. I ran it through some real world tracks that I rode and think it is a good first try. I'm sure as people complain about this or that I'll be able to improve upon it, but for now I'm pretty happy.

The procedure takes the first track and turns it into the second set below.





As you can see the first track was one continuous magenta line. After the Wizard ran, it broke the track down into many smaller pieces and color coded them.
Green means easy.
Blue means moderate.
Black means tough.
Red means really tough.

You have two options for running the Wizard. Either run it on all Active Logs when you upload a track as shown in the first photo below, or selectively run it on individual tracks at your discretion.

Using the first option will be a little confusing to the uninitiated because I process the raw track first and return it to you in the program and continue to process the wizard in the background. Within a minute or so, you can reload your map and see the processed tracks. The second option blocks your continued use of the program until the track is processed and then show it to you and allows you to continue. I won't say that one way is better than the other. They are just different.





Take a look, upload some tracks, run the Wizard and tell me what you think. One thing I've noticed is that it is not super precise in finding the transition. I don't think that is really important but, if it is to you, you can easily fix it by using the split and join tools available to you.

To change the color of a track or to make it a route, click in the circled area.



The Track Wizard also cuts unnecessary points out of tracks getting the overall number down without any meaningful loss of precision. This is done to all tracks, not just those that are Active Logs.

You can "Tag" tracks with features about them, such as "Deep Sand" or "Muddy", or "Steep". Also, you can explicitly describe the track difficulty so in the future I can implement a Map Legend to clarify color codes for new users.



I'm here and taking questions and suggestions. Thank you for your continued interest and support for this website.


Last edited by craftycoder on Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jäger
Admin



PostSubject: Color coding & line symbolization   Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:57 pm

Crafty, can you assign one color to indicate a track is hiking, not bike travel? Or maybe better yet, can it also be represented by a broken line (or is the additional symbolization of a broken line over complicating things... hmmmm).

I am probably not the only one who does ride 'n walks i.e. the trip up to Lakit Lookout. It would be nice to be able to indicate where the riding ends and where hoofing it begins. I imagine it is obvious enough once you get to the end of the motorcycle portion, but it would be nice if people could look at the DSM track and see how much foot travel we're talking about, and what kind of terrain it is over. Some walks are short 'n easy and riding boots are fine. Others obviously require much more appropriate footware.

Thoughts?
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Jäger
Admin



PostSubject: Comments on a track?   Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:01 pm

Have you come to a resolution regarding comments on saved tracks?

I'd kind of like to have those for feedback. I appreciate this may mean possibly having to also include a way to deal with the occasionally ignorant.

It's kind of the gnarly issue of how any given track is kept up to date, other corporate knowledge is added to a track, etc, without removing control of the info on that track from the owner.

I don't have the perfect solution, just a desire for a means to add additional knowledge to any given track. For example, a few tracks I posted early on I hadn't travelled in a couple of years. I happened to go back this year and discovered several of those tracks have completely disappeared. Oops...
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craftycoder




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:55 am

I'm still hoping to forego the whole social networking aspect and slough that off to other sites. I'd prefer people put a link to a forum post for comments. I certainly don't want another site to have to check for information regularly. Does that make sense? Since embedding of maps works you can post them to this forum or ADVrider and discuss them there. That's my vision for it anyway...

As for walking vs riding track colors, that is a fine idea and has been implemented. Hiking Only is now an option in the track editor and displays in the legend.

Jäger wrote:
Have you come to a resolution regarding comments on saved tracks?

I'd kind of like to have those for feedback. I appreciate this may mean possibly having to also include a way to deal with the occasionally ignorant.

It's kind of the gnarly issue of how any given track is kept up to date, other corporate knowledge is added to a track, etc, without removing control of the info on that track from the owner.

I don't have the perfect solution, just a desire for a means to add additional knowledge to any given track. For example, a few tracks I posted early on I hadn't travelled in a couple of years. I happened to go back this year and discovered several of those tracks have completely disappeared. Oops...
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Jäger
Admin



PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:31 am

craftycoder wrote:
I'm still hoping to forego the whole social networking aspect and slough that off to other sites. I'd prefer people put a link to a forum post for comments. I certainly don't want another site to have to check for information regularly. Does that make sense? Since embedding of maps works you can post them to this forum or ADVrider and discuss them there. That's my vision for it anyway...

As for walking vs riding track colors, that is a fine idea and has been implemented. Hiking Only is now an option in the track editor and displays in the legend.
Thanks for the foot traffic thing. Of course, that means I now have to go back and edit a few trips I've uploaded. Ride 'n walks are big with me.

I get your comments on social networking (is that the proper, all encompassing description for commenting on an item or something? I'm falling behind the curve there).

There still seems to be a hole there for improving the quality of trips saved in DSM. As Google infuses the dual sport consciousness with it's existence, how many are going to be strictly users with no affiliation to any forum? What happens with people who belong to just one riding forum of the many dual sport/ADV type out there?

At the core, where will we find a central repository of advice on new gas stations on a route, bridges that are out, a section that has been fenced off, a point of interest along the way that the original uploader missed, etc? I've edited one of my tracks after being told - in person - that my uploaded trip didn't mention a really cool point of interest well worth stopping to investigate. I'd been in that area for years and didn't even know it was there.

I understand what you're saying here and agree in most respects, but I still have this desire for a comments area directly in DSM to provide the opportunity to improve tracks and keep them as current and as fully developed as possible. GPSies.com allows members of that site to post comments on trips posted by others. There's accountability, because you have to be a registered member, and I think the German guy who set up and sponsors that site pretty much lets it run. I haven't seen any abusive comments there in all the trips I've looked at. One can always give the person who uploaded the track admin priviledges over comments on his trip if abuse becomes a problem, yes? A tab to a comments window that is otherwise hidden, maybe?

Ultimately, not a big issue to me. The core functionality and usefulness is there and I use it a lot.
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craftycoder




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:01 am

How would you feel if I let Facebook manage the comment engine? They have a plugin to deal with it so I could skip all the management of it.
https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/comments/#
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Jäger
Admin



PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:23 am

craftycoder wrote:
How would you feel if I let Facebook manage the comment engine? They have a plugin to deal with it so I could skip all the management of it.
https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/comments/#
Well, as an individual, if it requires being a Facebook dude as it seems, then I don't like it because I don't do the Facebook thing and am unlikely to change anytime soon. One more site to have to visit, private life on display, blah, blah... the usual. I spend too much damned time having to visit various sites on the 'net, following up on email alerts, etc as it is. And when I want to communicate with a friend, I tend to knock on their door or pick up the phone. But that's just me, and I realize that.

The real question is whether the Facebook thing would be the best comments support for DSM's library of tracks, irrespective of what I individually think. I suspect lots of riders aren't Facehookers so it wouldn't fly with them either, but I might be right out to lunch and totally wrong on that. I have no feel for Facebook and Twitter and Bark or whatever, so my opinion on how ingrained it is with those who ride dual sport bikes probably isn't worth much.

Assuming that a comments feature fits in with your vision of where DSM goes in the future, is there a problem with just a plain old comments feature being part of every track's page/view/featureset?
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craftycoder




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:31 am

It appears to allow Yahoo!, AOL or Hotmail account authentication as well. I do not believe that the comments will actually appear anywhere on facebook EXCEPT if the writer chooses to post it to their wall.

Here are the pluses as I see them:
  • their won't be any anonymous trolling
  • I don't have to manage more data
  • I don't have to email people
  • very little code to write
  • familiar interface for most people
  • possibly more facebook related traffic

minuses:
  • second authentication required
  • might not look exactly right
  • conceivable that it may open users up to unexpected contact from facebook
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Jäger
Admin



PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:36 am

Well, there again, I don't do the Yahoo!, AOL or Hotmail thing. Don't plan to either. But again that is just me the individual and the other venues perhaps do open it up to a majority of those who would use DSM. I don't know.

I can't ignore that appearing on the Facehooker site may radically raise public awareness that the site is there, resulting in more trips being uploaded, etc.

I still wouldn't use it under those conditions, I like a plain old ordinary comment section - and I say that while recognizing that it is you who would have to do the work. But as always, that is just me and I am not necessarily representative of the target population of users. I could be the last man standing outside of the Yahoo/Hotmail/gmail/facebook/tweet/twitter/bark social networking envelope. It goes without saying it shouldn't be structured to please just one user, whether that is me or somebody else.

I'm not sure that there would be a lot of comments to begin with. But I do think most of the comments would be from people feeling the need to take the time to add a valuable correction, suggestion, update, etc. Most people would either download or upload one time and then leave it.


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craftycoder




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:46 am

I'm going to work on the Facebook comment thing and see how it looks and goes. If I hate it I'll pass. The thing you may realize is that a "plain old comment section" implies a pile of effort. I really don't think I can do a better comment section than facebook can anyway. Facebook will be doing all the work to filter out porn spam and all that crap. Trust me, that is a full time job!
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Jäger
Admin



PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:19 pm

Okey dokey.

Haven't seen any spam/porn on the GPSies website. BUT... I don't know what that guy does administratively concerning comments. And... now that you've given us DSM, I just don't go there much anymore!

Facebook probably does have the potential to spread the word and ultimately bring in a lot more uploaders.
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ramz




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:12 pm

+ 1 on Facebook

Minimal effort for maximum benefit.
Privacy can be managed by each person to suit that person's needs.

goforit
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craftycoder




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:32 pm

Well, it's done. I'll post it up in the morning when it's least likely to annoy users. Commenting begins in 12 hours.
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craftycoder




PostSubject: POI database   Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:27 pm

I'm planning to add a POI database that will be available as an overlay on all maps like photos are.

What kinds of things seem important?
Fuel, Lodging, Camp grounds seem obvious. Anything else jump out at you guys?
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Arkmage




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:06 pm

craftycoder wrote:
I'm planning to add a POI database that will be available as an overlay on all maps like photos are.

What kinds of things seem important?
Fuel, Lodging, Camp grounds seem obvious. Anything else jump out at you guys?

grocery stores and liquor stores?

I like to buy fresh meat and cold beer at the end of the day on my way to the camp site.

Now that I finally have a GPS equipped phone I may need to give this app a go.
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Jäger
Admin



PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:38 pm

I don't have much interest in grocery stores, liquor stores, nightclubs, or whatever. Nothing whatsoever wrong with that, but just not my kind of ride nor what I would find to be a point of interest.

I'm more interested in the adventuresome part of riding, which for me usually means I'm traveling dirt/gravel roads. Which usually means there aren't many places where you can spend money on anything.

So for me, nearby historical points of interest, cool waterfalls, abandoned steam shovels and mines, ghost towns, fire towers, etc. are where it's at. Be a pity to ride through local history on a ride and not even realize it existed, much less actually divert to see it.

Maybe the answer is to have the POI layer built by those who contribute the rides. Some probably won't put much interest in doing that. But... it will probably end up that the nature of the ride will default to reflecting the nature of the nearby points of interest
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Chrispy1200




PostSubject: Re: DualSportMaps.com - New Mapping Site For Riders   Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:09 am

Arkmage wrote:
craftycoder wrote:
I'm planning to add a POI database that will be available as an overlay on all maps like photos are.

What kinds of things seem important?
Fuel, Lodging, Camp grounds seem obvious. Anything else jump out at you guys?

grocery stores and liquor stores?

I like to buy fresh meat and cold beer at the end of the day on my way to the camp site.

Now that I finally have a GPS equipped phone I may need to give this app a go.


Liquor stores on the maps can be important when in some of those dry counties up in northern Georgia.............. Very happy
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craftycoder




PostSubject: website update   Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:36 am

I've updated the website this morning. I added some minor features and did some little repairs as well as updating the underlying technology to the latest and greatest.

Big updates are slated for later in the week assuming I can find time with the holiday on it's way.
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craftycoder




PostSubject: Clipboard coming soon.   Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:37 pm

I'm working on a clipboard to help with ride planning. You will be able to copy tracks and waypoints from one map to another map (or even a new map).


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craftycoder




PostSubject: Clipboard is ready for use.   Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:17 pm

Big news today for dualsportmaps.com. I just updated the website to allow users to create blank maps. Even better, is that you can now copy tracks from other peoples maps to a clipboard and then save that clipboard to a new map or one of your current maps. Combining these features with the great track creating/editing features this website is really a fantastic trip planning tool!

As this is very new, there may be some issues that appear. Do not be afraid to post here if you find any problems.
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