28.07.2021 – New Wide_Easy Layout for VeloMap

Yesterdays post was about the general improvements to the layout of the OpenMTBMaps and VeloMaps. Todays post is about the new easy layout for the VeloMap (based on wide layout - as most users now have GPS devices where the wide looks better than the classic layout due to higher DPI). The OpenMTBMap had since many years an easy layout - with less detail (though based on classic not wide before the updates). For the VeloMaps - which do not need to show strong differentiation for offroad trails - this was not so much needed. Especially as there existed already the "race" layout - for racing bicycle which is heavily reduced and only shows important information for people using racing bicycles.

However quite a few people never took time or are not interested to know if there is a cycletrack/cycleway running alongside a road. Nor do they want the best contrast or are they interested in knowing if there is a footway or a pedestrian street. Or if some street is considered a service street or a residential street. The easy layout does not show those differences and keeps it simple. The colours of the steets is similar to google maps - while trying to still maximise contrast on your screen but without changing the colours too much.

It still differentiates long distance cycleroutes from regional/local cycleroutes. Why do I consider this essential? Well if you follow along for example the "EV6" - commonly known as Danube Cycle Path / Rivers Route you don't want to be confused at intersections with many regional cycle routes which route is the EV6 and which is the regional one. Yes I already render the long distance ones thicker - but I still consider that the colour should be different. So International and National cycle routes are shown in blue, while regional ones are shown in black (this is not only applying to the easy layout, but to all VeloMap layouts).


The principle to understanding the map colours is still very easy - streets also for cars are shown in bright colour. Pathes that are either not allowed for cycling - or more suited for mountain bikes only due to bad surface - are shown thinly or in brown colour. Black/dotted black is used for pathes/streets with good surface and usually no / not much cars. Very thin dotted black are used for unknown way quality (often private pathes or access to houses)


So let me show you some Screenhots of old vs new, or just the new easy layout:


First an old screenshot of the VeloMap Austria - Park Schönbrunn in the wide layout.

vs the improved new wide layout - the big differentiation here is that I show national parks and similar now only transparent in green - not overlaying anymore. Plus toned down the buildings and sports places:

and finally the much simpler easy layout. Note that in the top right - the wide layout shows the cyclepath on the Mariahilfer Straße (light blue dots) - which are left out in the easy layout - also of course the different colour scheme for roads:


Some more examples:

A good overview of the street colours in the easy layout for the VeloMap. Motorways and trunk roads are in orange. Primary/Secondary/Tertiary roads are shown in yellow - Primary roads in the most flashy yellow - while tertiary are thinner and in a less bright yellow. The EV6 and EV9 in blue, regional cycle routes in black.


The Danube in Vienna - and the blue EV6 danube cycle path. Sadly I cannot easily influence which lines are shown on top of each other. The garmin map format is not supporting a layering/ordering of lines. So the blue marking for the cyclepath sometimes disappears behind other roads. This is especially happening if in OSM parallel ways are mapped as separate ways - instead of using the cyclelane/cycletrack keys. Zoom in further to avoid confusion.


70m easy - at 70m for most cases it becomes very easy to follow the cycle routes. Also good to see here - the difference in oneway arrows. The ones made up of two triangles besides the road - are only for cars. While the ones consisting of a thinner single arrow are valid for all vehicles including bicycles. Tell me in a comment here if you would prefer I do not show oneway arrows that only apply to cars in the easy layout. I am a bit unsure about it. Do you still want to know this (usually you have to ride much more careful if only cyclists are allowed to go in the opposite direction - and the danger of being in an accident is a lot higher) Or should I leave those arrows out in the easy layout and only show oneway arrows that apply for both cyclists and cars?



28.07.2021 OpenMTBMap – New Map Layouts finally online – Big Improvement for easy and hiking Layout

After many weeks of trial and error - and trying out a lot of changes both on desktop and in real life hiking and mtbiking - finally the rework of the map layout is finished. I have made sure to make the map layouts much easier to comprehend, more harmonic to look at - and more congruent in consistency of the colors.

So e.g. before while mtb trails were green, mtb routes were brown. At 500m zoom scale (Basecamp, normal detail) the map had become too cluttered in Europe's densely populated areas. For some polygons there were some problems that they overlapped other areas (e.g. parks) and in general some areas just stuck out way too much even though their importance to hiking or mtbiking was not given (sport fields). I had differentiated building colors too much - and had different shades of grey for government buildings, museums and so on vs normal buildings. While this gave a lot of information - it is not actually needed and make the map a bit harder to read.

I have now reworked all layouts to focus on the essential things - while still providing the awesome level of detail only given by openmtbmaps for planning your trip. Meaning highly differentiated difficulty for mtbiking or hiking, and much more important information quickly visible. Yes some other maps may on first view still be more pleasing to the eye, but transport way way less information. I worked especially a lot on creating a new easy layout - leaving out information that some people though is too much - like symbols for street parallel cycleways, or mtb:scale:uphill. The easy layout however still features mtb:scale difficulty coloring for mtb trails. If you want to skip that too - use the otherwise very identical hiking layout. I now also included mtb routes into the hiking layout. a) for hikers not liking to be among mtbikers to avoid those ways, b) for mtbikers wanting a more standard topographical map but still see mtb routes (though less prominent than hiking routes).


I will write another post in a few days about the new easy layout for the VeloMap. The VeloMap so far did not have an easy layout - so I created an easy layout (besides the race bicycle layout) for the VeloMap too.


Oh - and as feedburner is shutting down - I have changed the newsletter from feedburner to follow.it service. Sorry for the mass newsletter some weeks ago packing many old newsletters - that was a bug that happened in transition.


Finally in a couple of weeks, I will also publish a layout that is Fenix 5/6  64 colour proof. I still have to do quite some tests on the Fenix layout however - before I can publish that one. It will come for both VeloMap and OpenMTBMap.


And last but not least - I again rendered newly all contourlines - why? Well after the last update I noticed that ALOS world 3d updated their altitude data to a newer version, now with nearly worldwide coverage (instead of stopping at 60° North) and viewfinderpanoramas has uploaded a new Greenland dataset (also largely based on ALOS world 3d plus Arctic DEM). As it's too much of a hassle to look at which countries were affected by this (mainly outside Europe) - I recreated all contourlines. The next map update will feature the new contourlines. New Asia continent 20m contourlines will also be included.


Enough of the talk - here are some before and after screenshots:

Old Wide layout at 500m - vs new wide layout 500m - Notice that there are much less trails and roads shown. They now appear one zoom step closer in at 300m (instead of 700m before). Also notice now the green MTB routes (and red hiking routes). Trails with MTB difficulty information - or part of a hiking or mtb route are now shown up to 700m (instead of 1.5km before). While before most road trails started to be shown at 700m - which is now reduced to 300m)

I've also changed the forest colours a bit (a bit more dominant now).




Old easy layout 500m - the old easy layout had no mtb:scale trail difficulty information.:


new easy layout 500m:


vs the new hiking layout - Hiking routes are now shown dominantly in black, while mtb routes are quite thin in brown. MTB trail difficulty can be looked at by clicking on the trail itself - it's still part of the name.




Bern - old 1500m zoomscale - easy layout


vs new 1500m zoomscale easy layout. Note that for the easy and hiking layout I also made the street colors of important streets/highways more similar to google maps / english style - but trying to still keep them high contrast.  Using google maps colors directly would be to low contrast for Garmin GPS devices. The mtb routes in green are much easier to see now than before - and because the street colours are more homogenous - it's easier to see the cities (well also because I reduced the detail level of what is shown quite a bit here). When I had used that detail level in 2009 it was appropriate - but now with higher DPI monitors and garmin GPS devices displays - it makes sense to reduce the details a bit.