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16 December 2011 Map Updates

Hiking Layout

Well for this time the changes  are more visually than on other map changes.

First of all I decided to add besides the easy layout, a special hiking layout. I introduced it because I felt that the easy layout is still showing too much information related to cycling or mtbiking than what one needs as a hiker. The new layout therefore omits all bicycle/mtb related information. So instead of mtbiking, cycling and hiking routes, only hiking routes are shown. Also POI like bikeshops disappear earlier when zooming out. On the other hand hiking routes are shown longer than in the other layouts. There is also no separation on oneway arrows depending on whether you are allowed to cycle against the direction of traffic flow or not and many other little important bits.

Going with this change I show all streets/ways/paths that are part of a hiking route also in zoom resolution 21 – just like before for cycling/mtbiking routes. Effectively this is quite a good step forward also for mtbiking/cycling as the rather important ways are shown when zooming out longer, while footways/paths in cities usually are not affected and disappear much earlier. This also gives a more consistent network of important ways for mtbiking/cycling.

 

Oneway Arrows

When I introduced oneway arrows difference based on the information whether you are allowed to cycle against the traffic flow or not I invented a different arrow design to show the change. However I think the arrow design I used was more prominent than the arrow design for roads that you are not allowed to cycle against traffic flow. On one hand this was nice -as those roads are often the ones that you really want to omit and never cycle along. On the other hand it wasn't so logical why roads with less stringent oneway behaviour would be more prominent. Therefore I took up the task and changed them all around.

 

Other changes

An important change is that I found a bug that blocked tracktype being considered for "unpaved" road avoidance. I fixed it after I thought that the new Basecamp v 3.3 beta didn't work as expected (more on that later).

Besides I got a bit annoyed that the fixme=continue arrow showed up sometimes too prominent – and it is more and more used on ways that no tourist/cyclinst/mtbiker ever takes anyhow. Therefore I moved it to resolution 24. As especially Europe gets more and more complete on ways, I think the importance is less urgent than it once was (with the aim to encourage people to record new ways for OSM).

There were quite a lot of other small changes/optimizations that I not mention here..

Oh and last week I went over the website and tried to update most pages cause some of them had gotten a bit outdated.

 

Basecamp v 3.3.0.2 beta and Garmin introducing new routing algorythms

Well after me being the first map producer worldwide to really push mtbike and cycling autorouting since about 3 years, Garmin seems to have noticed that if they want to continue to sell maps, they have to improve their maps and functions. Basecamp 3.3 beta (look for it in the garmin forum). They now introduced many many activity profiles like mountainbiking, mountaineering, ATV, dirtbike, walking, hiking and so on. This change could be noticed pretty strongly since as of Basecamp 3.2 Garmin decided not to take restrictions like cycling forbidden, or foot forbidden, or taxi forbidden in their maps into consideration. One has to say that even though they had this functionality in their software and firmware since I can remember or trace back, never an official map sold by Garmin included this information. Either they coudn't get it, or they cheaped out on buying this information…. This lead to many people wondering why they were lead onto motorways while cycling or walking activated as means of transport in Mapsource/Basecamp or on the GPS.

Of course as we knew how to implement these switches, and OSM has this information to a rather good standard, I used it and it made up for more possibilities on restricting which way quality you could take or not. Now with Basecamp 3.3 the selection of means of transport changed to activity profiles, and they are not similar to the means of transport that existed in the maps all along. Instead the profiles now exclude the use of certain (however not yet known) road types or maybe additional information that we don't know how to encode. As of now the new modes don't work any better than before also for official Garmin maps, but the announcement lead to believe that Garmin will in future on new maps make extensive use of the activity profiles. Not only by different autorouting, but also by telling that in future based on the activity mode the map layout will change.

As soon as I find out more on how this affects autorouting, and more GPS (currently only the new etrex x0 series is already affected) switch to the new way of working, I will adapt (if possible) the openmtbmap autorouting modes to suit it. Currently however http://openmtbmap.org/about-2/autorouting/ has to be taken as a bit outdated when it comes to Basecamp 3.3 beta…

 

I don't really know what implications this will have to Openmtbmap/Velomap and also OSM. The point is, that the information that Garmin would need to actually really implement the ideas of their developpers on the software side, is not really available on the map data market – with the exception of Openstreetmap. I predict that shortly (2-3 month) after the license change in OSM, that will allow much more restrictive (like DRM and other) maps based on OSM map data, Garmin will bring out themselves not free but payable and not copyable maps based on OSM, maybe enriched with other data like higher quality DEM from laserscans (even though recently Garmin maps showed worse and worse DEM and contourlines – probably to save money) and maybe other data goodies in order to have a more competitive standpoint for people buying their maps. Also they will probably make sure that their maps show exclusive features that we will not be able to implement with mkgmap cause we don't know the newest map format specifications.

 

I see this process as part of a natural way things behave. I (and others who followed by making maps with autorouting for outdoor purposes) shaped the way to force the industry to react cause their offerings are of lower quality (IMHO in Austria/Germany/Switzerland OSM is on ways/highways in general now far ahead of the official map data providers, but of course still way behind on topographic features) and they have to follow. Giove was the first GPS PNA producer to have autorouting for outdoor purposes officially supported but in my eyes failed completely because their map data was neither consistent nor of good enough quality (except in some parts of Italy). Falk, Brydon and others tried to jump on the train, but so far don't offer competitive products. All of them suffer mainly from the fact that there isn't good enough map data available. If they want to achieve what I started with Openmtbmap 3 years ago, namely maps that are really suited and made for outdoor sports like cycling and mountainbiking, they have to make use of Openstreetmap data (google currently doesn't seem to have got it and goes mainly inline with traditional automotive focused design – also with their otherwise excellent map maker which in reality is by now the biggest competitor to OSM). So what once started as an idea to have maps for mountainbiking the first time, now is going more and more commercial.

 

I do know that this process will go along and that focusing on Garmin devices as best mean for getting good maps for mountainbiking will be over in 2-3 years time. I am and will however try to stay on top of the game and work hard that good maps for mountainbiking stay free as in free beer to everyone (and not only you are free to give your data to OSM or google database and let big uninnovate companies that just react instead of act dominate the scene. I have many more ideas on what can be done, and will give my best to do so.
Just note that in order to continue pushing forward and developing I need your support too. Tell people about Openmtbmap, blog about it, and please also donate to openmtbmap to give me the possibilities to continue this work.

So I would really appreciate if you donate some money for my Christmas presents here: http://openmtbmap.org/support/membership/

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