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New Release – Avenza Maps 3.6

Avenza Maps v3.6 is now available for iOS and Android devices! This latest update includes new features and improvements based on user feedback.

A major theme for this release is navigation, as it introduces a suite of features in the new navigation tool set accessible in the new Map View toolbar. We have enhanced the app’s usability by adding the GPS and Tracking features to the new toolbar. The toolbar is easily accessible by swiping up in the Map View to reveal three options; GPS, Tracking and Navigation.

GPS

We’ve added some basic GPS location data to the toolbar including altitude information (frequently requested by users!) as well as bearing and accuracy information. Heading in a specific direction? Your course will change based on your average bearing to help keep you orientated!  

Avenza Maps GPS

Tracking

What was previously the Record GPS Tracks feature has found a new home as the Tracking feature on the Map View toolbar (but it can still be accessed through the Map Tools in the bottom right). This tab includes some of the features from the GPS tab, and also allows you to track distance travelled, average speed and the duration of your tracks. Once you start tracking, swipe the toolbar down to reveal more of your map but keep those valuable tracking statistics viewable at the bottom of the screen.

Avenza Maps tracking

Navigation within the app is intended to be a direct route to the destination (point-to-point). Navigation can be accessed in the new Map View toolbar but is also quickly available in the Map Tools (three dots)  at the bottom-right of the screen.

Project Destination 

Do you know the direction and distance to a particular location? Set the bearing and distance to your destination, and the app will place a placemark on the map as a guide. You can choose the bearing by either pointing your device in a direction (the heading will automatically be entered) or lock the compass and type in your own bearing. Select from different units of measurement for your distance like meters, yards, or even minutes by walking!

Avenza Maps Project destination

Navigate to Placemark 

There are a few ways to navigate to an existing placemark on the map.  Of course, you can select Navigate to a placemark in the navigation tab or you can elect to edit one of your previously placed placemarks on the map by tapping the Navigation button.

Avenza Maps Navigation to placemark

Enter Destination Coordinates 

Know the specific coordinates of a destination you want to navigate to? We’ve got you covered! If you receive a set of coordinates you want to navigate to, use the Enter destination coordinates option which will place a placemark on the map, create a path between your location and the placemark as a guide, and bring up the navigation features to help lead you to your coordinates.

Once a navigation option is chosen, details such as speed, distance, and estimated time of arrival are shown in the navigation panel and can be accessed for the duration of your course by swiping the toolbar down. This will hide the compass, thereby allowing you to have a full view of the map and the course to your destination while still showing key statistics like speed, distance and the estimated time of arrival to your destination.

 

Cloud Import and Export Options 

We’ve added more opitons for importing and exporting map features with support for cloud storage apps.  When importing map features, and choose From Storage Locations to pull up every possible file storage option on your device. New options include Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and other third-party cloud storage applications.

Importing from storage locations to Avenza Maps

Magnetic North

You can now choose the declination for the app’s built-in compass as it now supports magnetic declination and magnetic north. Users can opt to switch to magnetic north in the Map View settings in the app.

Avenza Maps Magnetic North

About the Author

Andrea Becker is a member of the Support team at Avenza Systems and is excited to help navigate users through all of the wonderful new features in version 3.6!

Avenza Maps 3.5 Released

We’re excited to announce that we’ve completed the release of Avenza Maps 3.5 for iOS and Android.  This update contains new features and performance improvements as well as fixes for reported issues. Some highlights are mentioned below, for the full release notes see below.

Plus subscription. We’ve renamed the Unlock Map Imports subscription tier to Plus. The simply named Plus subscription tier will better align with more features that we’ll be introducing in the near future. This subscription still allows you to import as many of your own maps as you want—ideal for map and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoying sourcing and loading their own or third-party maps.

Active and inactive maps. In this release we’re introducing the ability to make imported maps (not including those downloaded from the Map Store) inactive. In previous releases, the standard version (without a paid subscription) allowed you to only import up to three of your own maps into the app and were limited from importing any more. However, now you’ll be able to import as many of your own maps as you’d like. The first three imported maps will be considered ‘active’ and available to use with all of the app’s functionality. Subsequent imported maps will be considered ‘inactive’. Inactive maps can still be opened and viewed, but without GPS location and map tools enabled. You will have the ability to delete active maps that you no longer use and then activate new ones to stay within the three active map limit. Maps downloaded from the Map Store (versus imported from an external source) are always location-enabled and are never limited. To import an unlimited number of your own maps with full location-enabled features and functionality, Plus and Pro subscriptions are available.

Sort and filter your maps. This release provides some handy sort and filter options on the My Maps screen. You’ll have the ability to sort by distance (how far away a map is from your current location), by name, by date, and by how much storage the map takes (measured in MB). In addition, you’ll now be able to filter maps to show only those from the Map Store, maps that you imported, folders and collections, active or inactive maps, just maps (no folders), or all items.

 

Map Store Login and My Account improvements. The user interface around logging and viewing your Avenza Maps account details has been vastly improved. You now have the ability to change your password, change your email, and view your download history. The Download History screen has new functionality as well. Previously you were only able to download one map at a time. Now you’ll be able to select multiple maps at a time and download in bulk. In addition, you’ll also be able to access map descriptions without having to go to the Map Store to look it up.

 

Layers now available on Avenza Maps for Android. Rejoice Android users, layers are finally here! Having the same functionality as the iOS version, map features (placemarks, lines, tracks, areas, photos, and schema) are now contained on layers. Map features can be managed here, including adding, deleting, and editing map feature information. In addition, the layers can be linked (and unlinked) to maps, so that map data can continue to be used even if a map is no longer on the device. Similarly, if that map is installed again, you’ll be able to link that layer to the map again. You’ll also be able to export layers data directly from the Layers screen without having to go into each map.

 

Better quality Map Store previews. All of the map listing previews in the Map Store have been updated and now have higher resolution of busy sections of the map to provide better detail of features, lines, labels, and colours.

Release Notes

  • User experience improvements, including sorting and filter options on the My Maps screen
  • Newly designed Map Store Login and My Account screens
  • Re-discover, select and re-download previously purchased Map Store maps using new options available on the Downloads History screen
  • Export Layers data directly from the Layers screen
  • Link a layer to any available maps or unlink from all maps from the Edit Layer screen
  • Better quality map previews in Map Store
  • More granular control of map features’ visibility
  • Manage, import or export your data independently of maps using the new Layers tab on Android
  • Brand new bottom navigation bar on Android

 

You can get Avenza Maps now from the App Store and Google Play.

Paper Maps and Digital Maps, Friends Forever

As a company that makes software to create digital maps, that has a mission to create the largest repository of digital maps in the world, and has built a mobile app to consume them, we believe firmly that digital maps are the way of the future. Like it or not, digital maps will eventually (if not already) reduce the need for traditional paper maps. It’s a debate that many people are as passionate about as they are about the digitization of books and music.

Take Dave McIlhagga, Founder and CEO of MapSherpa, a company which has spent years at the forefront of developing new ways for map publishers to deliver maps and for people to consume them. MapSherpa offers on-demand printing of maps so you’d think he would be on the side of the paper maps. “In fact, I see digital maps as more of a way to promote maps and map use rather than a replacement for paper,” says Dave.  

A pioneer in the digital mapping space (read an interview with Dave on our Facebook page), Dave sees paper versus digital not as a competition for supremacy but as viable options that complement each other. “Digital maps offer new ways of interaction and help us visualize the world differently by viewing data in ways that may not have been feasible in the past. However, paper maps are simple, informative, and accessible by everyone. They aren’t being replaced. Offering both are important and will ultimately drive demand for map publishers.”

When we look at recent history, streaming services like Spotify and iTunes all but replaced physical forms of music, and Netflix and similar video streaming services are doing the same to DVD sales, not to mention delivering the knockout punch to companies like Blockbuster. However, while streaming is the heavy favourite of Netflix users, they still have subscribers hanging onto its DVD service. Isn’t the same scenario playing out here for maps? Let’s look at some pros and cons.

 

Distinct Advantages of Digital Maps

  • More accessible (download from anywhere, instantly)
  • Easily edited, augmented, personalized, and updated
  • More useful – more map data in one package, multiple layers
  • Flexibility to zoom in and out change perspectives with a digital map (replacing the need for multiple paper maps)
  • Navigation and routing capabilities

 

Paper Maps Will Never Die

  • Digital maps are the future, but paper will be around forever
  • Publisher and retailers still have a strong demand for paper map sales
  • Maps for recreation
  • Maps for visualization on a large scale
  • Maps as paper art

 

Neither Format is Perfect

  • Paper maps can become outdated quickly, are more costly to update
  • Paper maps can wear out, tear, and become unusable
  • Digital maps have a learning curve on how to properly use them
  • Digital maps have screen size limitations
  • Mobile devices run out of power, break, and become unusable

 

Best of Both Worlds

We recently partnered with MapSherpa on a project that will allow map consumers to easily get maps in both digital and printed formats. Now, when you view a MapSherpa map in the Avenza Map Store you’ll have the option to also purchase a paper copy in a variety of sizes, and printed on a variety of different materials from MapSherpa’s map store, MapTrove. Find a map on the MapSherpa site, in paper format, and get the digital version for use on your mobile device in the Avenza Maps app. “It’s the best of both worlds for consumers and for publishers,” says Dave.

Honestly, corporate vision aside, we have to agree.

See MapSherpa’s collection of Winter Games themed maps of South Korea, featuring Pyeongchang Seoul and Gangneung regions.

The Best of Both Worlds – Map-making and GIS Functionalities in Adobe Illustrator

Original article from Directions Magazine on October 4, 2017.


Modern cartography—the art, science, and technology of making maps—consists of manipulating and displaying geographic elements in a graphic environment. Traditionally, GIS software has offered users limited ability to manipulate the graphic attributes (hue, brightness, saturation, transparency, line thickness, text, etc.) of geographic elements, while graphic design software has treated geographic features as it would any other graphic elements, without regard for how they are connected in predictable ways to other geographic elements and to Earth itself. Additionally, in the real world, natural or artificial boundaries and features are constantly changing and cartographers need to update maps at different scales and in different styles to reflect these changes. Therefore, cartographers need an efficient and reliable way to bridge the divide between GIS and graphic design software.

First launched 30 years ago, Adobe Illustrator has long been the professional standard for graphic design, especially for creating vector graphics. For more than 20 years, Avenza’s MAPublisher has provided extensive GIS functionality inside Adobe Illustrator. I discussed the synergy between these two programs with two experts:

  • David Lambert, Director of Cartographic Production for National Geographic’s commercial retail mapping products, which includes its well known Trails Illustrated outdoor recreation map series, and
  • Tom Patterson, Senior Cartographer at the National Park Service’s Harpers Ferry Center, in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, which designs most of the interpretive media that is found in national parks—including maps, brochures, outdoor signs, visitor center exhibits, films, and digital kiosks.

 

“Map Illiterate” vs. “Map Aware”

Image

In the past, many map makers have also used Macromedia FreeHand (acquired by Adobe in 2005 and since discontinued), CorelDRAW, Canvas, or even more recent entrants with a map-specific slant such as Ortelius, proving that a graphics environment has long been regarded as a good and viable one for their trade. As well, for many years, Esri has offered an Illustrator export option from its GIS products, proving that Illustrator, in particular, has long been the preferred work environment for making maps. However, Lambert points out that those files exported from Esri’s GIS products are devoid of geographic properties once imported into Illustrator. He has been with National Geographic for 21 years. His team used to work with Illustrator, which was already the graphic design standard, but used Esri software to design maps, which they then exported as Illustrator files from Esri and imported to Illustrator. “Once we brought that into the Illustrator format, it lost all geospatial awareness,” Lambert recalls. In essence, the file became “map illiterate.” In 2011, he switched to using MAPublisher after learning how easy it made it to incorporate GIS data into Illustrator workflows.

To explain the advantages of using MAPublisher to keep graphic elements “map aware”, Lambert cites three examples:

  1.  The Great Salt Lake has shrunk in size over the years. “Prior to 2010, somebody would export a lake boundary and then bring it into Adobe Illustrator, where it might be re-scaled and transformed with an Illustrator function to fit the area of another map,” Lambert recalls. Now, with MAPublisher, National Geographic can use the same lake boundary in its maps of Utah, of the United States, and of the world, in each case simply reprojecting it on the fly without having to first export it to GIS software.
  2. Many of National Geographic’s nearly 300 outdoor recreation maps overlap one another at different scales. When, for example, Great Smoky Mountain National Park produces a new trail dataset reflecting changes in trails, National Geographic can now incorporate those changes much more quickly than ever before by simply transforming them through different map projections in the geospatially-aware files.
  3. The boundary between Pakistan and India is constantly changing. National Geographic can now make each change just once, then move it from its world map to its map of Asia and other products.

 

Starting in a Common Projection

Image

National Geographic starts working on any new map products in MAPublisher. “We want to get off on the right foot, so we make sure that they are all in the common projection from the very beginning,” Lambert explains. His team uses MAPublisher right from the start to georeference files and then to incorporate additional GIS data from federal, state, and county agencies into them. “For example,” Lambert says, “if we get a data set from the National Park Service, we are able to quickly import it and split it into the different layers and styles throughout our entire map series. We can see which trails might be hiking trails, horse trails, or mountain biking trails and quickly apply our styles. We also receive information from the U.S. Geological Survey, such as national hydrological data sets.”

MAPublisher allows users to work in a GIS environment from inside Adobe Illustrator. For example, they can bring in a transportation data set from a county, then click on a road in Adobe Illustrator and bring up a MAPublisher viewing panel to display its attributes, such as its name, whether it is paved, and, if it is not, its clearance. “We can see all the information that these agencies are assigning to these different lines,” Lambert says. “Adobe Illustrator and MAPublisher work together seamlessly.” By contrast, he points out, with other programs you have to exit one and go into the other.

Reconciling Conflicting Data

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Most of Patterson’s work revolves around making those very familiar black-banded brochures that visitors receive when they enter a national park. He began using MAPublisher in the mid-1990s, when Avenza introduced version 1.0. “We had just started converting our maps from manual production to digital production using Adobe Illustrator as our primary drawing software,” he recalls. “Soon afterward, geospatial data started becoming more available and the quality greatly improved. Of course, we wanted some means to bring these data into the graphic environment of Adobe Illustrator. MAPublisher provided us with the ideal tool for doing just that.”

Early on, Patterson’s team only used MAPublisher to import geospatial vector data into Adobe Illustrator to produce non-georeferenced maps. As the years went by, however, it saw the value of creating entirely geo-referenced maps.

To create a new map of a national park, Patterson’s team begins with an Adobe Illustrator template that contains all of the map layers that it would use for a typical NPS map—including lines, area colors, symbols, and labels. For even greater efficiency, it employs targeted layers with graphical styles applied to them. “A big part of our process at the beginning,” he explains, “is going on an online digital scavenger hunt, essentially finding whatever data we can that is in the public domain, from which we can compile our maps. We then import these various geospatial data sets into the Adobe Illustrator environment with MAPublisher.”

“The most time consuming aspect of map production is reconciling conflicting data,” says Patterson. “For example, analyzing and fixing different road data sources that don’t match with one another is an arduous process. However, thanks to the data manipulation tools in MAPublisher—which allows us to select, sort, and manipulate data by attribute—this task is now much easier.”

Patterson’s team updates NPS maps every year or two or three, depending on each park’s popularity. Working with a geographically-aware MAPublisher document allows it to take the previous printing of its map and import new data into it, which then drops into place where it should. For example, if a park builds a new trail, the park GIS specialist will send Patterson’s team a shapefile for that trail that it can quickly and easily import using MAPublisher. “It just works seamlessly,” says Patterson. Additionally, almost all NPS maps have shade relief art in the background. “We generate the shaded relief and then manipulate it using Avenza’s Geographic Imager tool in Adobe Photoshop. The result is a geographically aware Photoshop file of the shaded relief, which MAPublisher will automatically register to map line work in Adobe Illustrator.”

Geospatial PDFs

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Another very important feature of Avenza’s software, Patterson says, is that it enables his team to save all of its printed maps as electronic files in geospatial PDF format for dissemination via the Avenza Maps app and accompanying digital map store direct to digital devices such as smart phones and tablets. Park visitors can then download and use these maps on their location-enabled mobile devices and, because the maps are geospatially aware, a little blue dot will show their location at all times as they explore a park, even in the absence of a cellular data connection.

Before publishing a new map of a national park, Patterson’s team typically field checks it, saved as a geospatial PDF, using the Avenza Maps app on an iPhone. “We refer to this draft map as we canvas the park,” Patterson says. “We can take notes right in the Avenza Maps app, drop locator pins, and record tracks. When finished field checking, we e-mail the data to ourselves and import it into the working map file through MAPublisher. The notes and tracks that we recorded in the field are used to update the final map, improving accuracy.”

One goal of Patterson’s team is to increase online access to NPS maps. “We are pretty excited about some of the new capabilities in MAPublisher,” says Patterson, “particularly, saving our park maps as Web tiles. We are going through a multi-year transformation right now, converting our maps from the UTM coordinate system to the Web Mercator coordinate system for compatibility with Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Apple Maps. We do all of this through the ‘Export Document to Web Tiles’ feature in MAPublisher, which is really pretty cool.”

Patterson’s team also recently began experimenting with MAPublisher’s Map Web Author tool, which allows quick and easy creation of data-rich and interactive HTML5 web maps from GIS data. It produced a prototype for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park that contains layered information and the ability to explore the map interactively. For example, it allows park visitors to compare contemporary photographs to those taken during the Civil War era at various viewpoints throughout the park.

Other Specialized Illustrator Plugins

There are dozens of plugins that extend Illustrator’s capabilities, for example to edit vector data, concatenate multiple paths, or precisely position nearby objects. Here is one list of Illustrator plugins. CADtools and VectorScribe are particularly noteworthy in this context, because they show that a professional base of CAD users like Illustrator as their working environment, just as GIS and mapping professionals do.

HotDoor’s CADtools 10 plugin provides an extensive set of CAD capabilities—including drawing, editing, labeling, dimensioning, transformation, creation, and utility tools—inside Illustrator. For example, users can insert dimensions or labels on objects, paths, or points in space, which update in real time in response to changes in the artwork. The can also move, transform, and measure objects with precision.

VectorScribe enables users to reduce file sizes by eliminating excess points while maintaining the shape of paths; slide points along paths, extends paths, or trim them; accomplish complex vector editing, such as adding points to tangencies, reverse paths, or smoothly connect curves to straight lines; edit corners on dynamic shapes; or dynamically measure distances and areas along paths.

Conclusions

The sources of geospatial data now include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS), the Internet of Things (IOT), and myriad consumer devices and, consequently, the amount of available geospatial data is growing exponentially. At the same time, professionals and consumers now expect location to be routinely embedded in everything they do on their digital devices. MAPublisher helps cartographers keep up with this accelerating cycle of supply and demand by making it easier and faster for them to make beautiful maps. Recent attempts by other GIS software vendors to address the increasing demand for cartography and map creation within the Adobe environment is evidence that making maps in Adobe Illustrator is the preferred way to go. With MAPublisher leading the way, it is a workflow that is here to stay.

Avenza Maps 3.3 released

We’re excited to announce that we’ve completed the release of Avenza Maps 3.3 for iOS and Android. We addressed some early user feedback and made a few point releases to resolve those issues (3.3.1 for Android and 3.3.2 for iOS). We’re also working on another minor update that addresses some additional user feedback.

Avenza Maps 3.3

This update contains new features and performance improvements as well as fixes for reported bugs. Some highlights are mentioned below, for the full release notes see below.

Redesigned Measure Tool. This tool has been completely redesigned and renamed — now known as the Draw and Measure tool. It features an improved interface which lets you draw shapes and measure more easily. While in a draw or measure mode, you can now quickly tap anywhere to enter a segment for a line or area. In addition, there are two precise input modes to enter segments: Point By Point and Course and Distance. Long press anywhere on the map to enter precise input mode. For Point By Point, simply enter the coordinates (lat/long, easting/northing or MGRS/USNG) to add a segment at an exact location. The Course and Distance mode allows you to enter the heading (angle) and distance from an initial location.

You can also now draw circles. Using only two points — an initial center point and a second point at any distance away — which means you can now draw circles that can act like buffers. It even works with the Point By Point and Course and Distance modes to enter specific distances or coordinates. Best of all, shapes and areas can now be saved as a map feature to your map. They can be exported as KML, CSV or GPX or even SHP (if you have Avenza Maps Pro). New style settings are available to adjust line thickness, stroke and fill colors, and opacity.

Release Notes

  • Redesigned Measure Tool (now known as “Draw and Measure”)
  • New advanced drawing capabilities, including tap anywhere to draw a segment and tap and hold to access “point by point” and “course and distance” modes
  • Draw, edit, save, export and import areas. Draw areas including circles using only two points.
  • Reorganized Settings including new settings to change location dot color and line and area colors including opacity
  • Record GPS Tracks will continue to run even when the map is closed
  • Map Store improvements including ability to preview map extent
  • Improved Map Store user registration workflow

 

You can get Avenza Maps now from the App Store and Google Play.

Best Practices for Processing and Importing Maps into the Avenza Maps App

Avenza Maps is capable of importing and displaying georeferenced maps in several different formats. The app processes a map by rasterizing and tiling it on import. The speed and result of processing will vary depending on the type of file used and the size and dimensions. We’ll discuss the types of files allowed and the advantages of each.

Usually larger files take longer to process than smaller ones with some exceptions. An image may have a very high resolution but a small disk size due to image compression. It is recommended that images be less than 100 megapixels for upload to the app. A geospatial PDF file with many vector features may also take a long time to process. In this case, you should convert the file to an image to avoid having to rasterize vector data in the app.

Maps can be loaded into the app faster by processing them before import. Maps can also be preprocessed by uploading them to the Avenza Maps Store or using the Export to Avenza Maps tool in Geographic Imager or MAPublisher.

Comparison of Allowed File Types

GeoTIFF

A GeoTIFF is a TIFF file (Tagged Image File Format) with spatial information embedded in the file. This format is typically the preferred format for uploading directly to Avenza Maps without preprocessing. Since this is an image format, the app does need to rasterize the file on import meaning processing times will generally be faster compared to PDF’s, and it will maintain the native resolution.

It is also possible to import a normal TIFF file by zipping it with a TIFF World File (TFW) and either a WKT or PRJ file which contains projection information. It is best not to do this for the sake of simplicity. Usually, any GIS software that can produce a world file will also be able to save to GeoTIFF.

Geospatial PDF

A Geospatial PDF stores spatial data in either raster or vector format as well as associated attributes and layer information. Files should comply with the Adobe Acrobat PDF 1.7 specification which has been standard since 2006.

Avenza Maps rasterizes geospatial PDF files on import which discards layer and attribute information. PDF files typically take longer to process than image files. There is also a chance that the file may process incorrectly (e.g. discarding labels).

Despite this, there are some instances when it may be preferable to use a geospatial PDF file. For example, the map may already be in this format and isn’t worthwhile to convert to another format. Geospatial PDF files tend to be smaller than image files so they would be a good solution if device storage space or download speed is an issue. Also, occasionally converting from PDF to TIFF degrades the image quality and may make maps illegible.

To ensure a geospatial PDF file has a good balance between size and quality, open the file in Adobe Acrobat and go to Advanced > PDF Optimizer. This is especially helpful if the map contains large raster images.

JPEG

JPEG is an image format like TIFF but it does not have the ability to store spatial information. To load a JPEG into Avenza Maps, it must be zipped with a JPEG World File (JGW) and either WKT or PRJ file. JPEG files are compressed so this may be an option to consider if file size is a consideration, however, a better alternative would be to compress a GeoTIFF file.

Processing Maps with MAPublisher, Geographic Imager, and the Map Store

It is best to process maps before loading them into the app because desktop computers are more powerful than mobile devices. It also avoids having to process the file each time the map is loaded onto a device. Geographic Imager and MAPublisher each have a utility to export to an Avenza Maps package with the capability to upload directly to the Avenza Map Store if you have a vendor account.

Running these utilities produces a folder that contains a ZIP file with a thumbnail to show a preview of the map, a reference file, and a folder called tiles that contains a tiled version of the map in PNG format. This ZIP file can be imported into the app in the same way as other files.

Uploading a map to the Avenza Map Store processes the map the same way. To use the store, register a vendor account on the Avenza Maps website.

Difference Between Lines and Tracks When Exporting from Avenza Maps

There are two methods of exporting GPS tracks from Avenza Maps in KML format: as a line and as a track. Which option to select depends on the intended purpose. Lines are much simpler than tracks and store only the position of each vertex in the line as latitude longitude and elevation. Tracks contain a complete description of how the path moves through space including the position at one-second intervals, the time at which each position was recorded, the compass angle of the heading, and the velocity. Lines take up much less storage space than tracks. To switch between exporting to Lines or Tracks, select Track Export in the Export Settings screen.

Export Settings screen

Tracks are useful in applications where the GPS position at a given time and space is important. For example, in Google Earth there is an option to record a tour that moves to predetermined places on the globe. This would be useful if you wanted to follow along on a hiking path or do a virtual walkthrough of a proposed building development. To make a tour from a track, open the KML file in Google Earth, select the track in the places panel, and click the Play Tour icon. The animation below shows a walk through Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, Canada. Lines contain only the location information: latitude longitude and elevation. Export to line when the time data is not important such as if you are making a map of a hiking trail.

Play tour in Google Earth
A tour of Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, Canada using Google Earth

KML Code for Lines and Tracks

KML (short for Keyhole Markup Language) is an XML notation for displaying spatial data in web applications. It was developed for use with Google Earth and can be read by many programs. Avenza Maps uses KML to import and export placemarks, lines, and tracks. You can view and modify KML files in any text editor. The KML element used for lines is called a Linestring which is defined as “a connected set of line segments”. A Linestring element contains a coordinates tag which is a list of longitude and latitude positions in decimal degrees and elevations in meters.

KML Linestring code sample

Tracks use the KML element “gx:Track” which contains several tags.

  1. when – the date and time a point was recorded in UTC
  2. gx:coord – the location of the point in decimal degrees and the elevation in meters
  3. gx:angle – the current heading in compass degrees (i.e. 0 degrees is north, 90 is degrees east and so on)
  4. gx:value tag defined as “speed” – the current speed in meters per second

There are equal numbers of each of these tags. A full description of the vertex includes all the tags in the same sequence. For instance, the first when tag, coord tag, angle tag, and speed tag, describe the first vertex in the track.

Track KML code sample

 

Exporting Photos From Avenza Maps For Use In ArcGIS

Avenza Maps Pro users can export layers to shapefile with associated photos. ArcGIS can display these photos using either hyperlinks or HTML popups. This post explains how to export your photos from Avenza Maps and display them in ArcGIS.

First, download and unzip these utilities. The general process for exporting and displaying photos is as follows:

  1. Export a shapefile with photos from Avenza Maps
  2. Unzip the exported files to your computer
  3. Open ArcGIS
  4. Add the shapefile to the map
  5. Save the map in the same folder as the shapefile
  6. Run the “Photo Shapefile Converter” tool
  7. Set the layer to display a hyperlinked photo and/or
  8. Set the layer to show an HTML popup

 

Exporting from Avenza Maps

First, export a layer that contains photos from Avenza Maps. Choose Shapefile (SHP) as the Export Format and ensure that Media Size is set to either Small, Medium or Large — don’t set it to No Photos. It is also possible with shapefile to set the Output Coordinate System to either WGS 84 (lat, long) or the native coordinate system of the map. The shapefile will export as a ZIP file with each of the component files of the shapefile and a folder called images.

Avenza Maps export settings

 

Display the photos in ArcGIS

Unzip the file on your computer and start a new session of ArcGIS. Load the shapefile into the map. Save the map document as an MXD in the same directory as your shapefile. The images folder should also be in this directory. The “Photo Shapefile Converter Script” creates fields with the path to the photos on your computer. It assumes the photos are in the same directory as the map. The script will not run if the map has not been saved.

Export folder

The shapefile has four attributes which are described below. The fields ‘name’, desc’, and ‘Photos’ have a maximum length of 254 characters. Because of this, ‘Photos’ can have a maximum of 13 photos.

  • name: From the placemark’s Title
  • desc: From the placemark’s Description
  • TimeStamp: The date the placemark was created
  • Photos: Relative paths to each associated photo separated by commas

Locate the Avenza Tools toolbox in the Catalog pane. Optionally, drag this toolbox to My Toolboxes for convenient access. Run the script Photo Shapefile Converter located in the Photos for Avenza Maps folder. Select the photo shapefile from the drop-down menu and click OK to run it. The script formats the shapefile to display photos using either a hyperlink or an HTML popup. Using the field ‘Photo’ as an input, it creates a field for each hyperlink (‘Photo1’, ‘Photo2’, etc.) and a field with the HTML code to display each photo in the HTML popup (‘HTML1’, ‘HTML2’, etc.)

Note: Photos exported from Android contain geotags and can be plotted in ArcGIS using the Geotagged Photos to Points tool. Photos exported from iOS do not have geotags.

 

Viewing Photos using a Hyperlink

Hyperlinked photos display in the default system viewer when the user clicks on the field in the info window or using the Hyperlink tool when a default field is set up.

  • Select the info tool and click a feature. Click on the lightning bolt icon and a photo will open in the default picture viewer
  • Open the layer’s properties and select the Display tab. Check “Support hyperlinks using field” and choose a field with a ‘Photo’ prefix (Photo1, Photo2, etc.). Click OK.
  • Select the Hyperlink tool from the ArcGIS toolbar. Click a feature and the associated image will open

 

Viewing Photos in an HTML Popup

To view as an HTML popup, open the layer properties and click “Show content for this layer using the HTML popup tool”, select “As formatted based on an XSL template”, and load the predefined XSL template ‘Avenza.xsl’. The XSL file determines how the HTML popup is formatted. Select the HTML popup tool (word bubble icon) from the toolbar and click a feature. The placemark’s title, description, and all associated photos are displayed in a callout.

Top Reasons to Create a Free PDF Maps Account

#1 – It’s free!

PDF Maps accounts are free for personal use.

#2 – It’s easy to do

Creating a PDF Maps account is quick and easy. It can be done in the app and takes less time than reading this blog post.

#3 – Have access to maps anytime

If you lose, break, change or upgrade your device you don’t lose the maps you have purchased. They are linked to your account, so you can always re-download them at any time. It doesn’t matter if you change brands or operating systems, your maps are always available.

#4 – Share maps on multiple devices

You can download any map you have purchased unlimited times onto five different devices.

See this Avenza blog article for advice on this process.

#5 – Better access to help

Having a PDF Maps account enables Avenza to provide you a higher level of support.

 

If you are interested in using PDF Maps in a commercial, governmental or educational environment please see PDF Maps licensing and contact Avenza Sales or see

Also, learn more about about PDF Maps on its dedicated site www.pdf-maps.com.

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