Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nevada's BLM Land

Nevada BLM Lands
When Nevada became a state, very little federal land was turned over to the state government. It was all kept as federal BLM land.Much of the remaining land was allocated as US Forestry Service land and military ranges including the famous area 51. Precious little else was left for private property. In the map above, the salmon pink areas are BLM land. Red is military and green is USFS land, national and state parks. Control over the BLM land of Nevada is in the news currently but there are few good maps available online. I used Scenic Map Western USA to create this map by stitching together several screen shots.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Scenic Map 1.6

Scenic Map 1.6 is currently being uploaded, reviewed and released to the iOS App Store. This is the big update for the year. I expect a minor bug fix update will follow in the near future.



Here are some of the new features: Searching has been greatly enhanced. The three screen shots above show what happens if you type in (or say) "pizza" to the online Local Search feature. A list of nearby pizza locations appears sorted and colored by distance. Tapping on Chicago Fire brings up a list of options. Tap Route to Location to automatically create a route from the center of the map to that location. If you have GPS centering enabled, it will route from your current location. The view then switches to the map where you can see the new route as a green line as well as the other pizza locations that were found.

You can also perform online searches for any address. If you leave the search field blank, the address at the center of the map will be displayed. You can also search for map features even when you are offline. You can find named roads, streams, points of interest, way points, polygons or pretty much anything that appears on the map. The zoom level of the map is used to control the search area. You can even search for generic feature types such as "road". If more than 100 are found, only the matches closest to the center of the map are displayed.

Of course the City Search feature is still there but now greatly enhanced with many more populated places. You can create routes to any of these features when you are online. The automatic routing uses Apple's mapping services. You can also open the destination point in Maps and get turn by turn directions to that location. This way you can listen to for the turn notifications while you are driving while Scenic Map shows you the way even if you are offline for much of the trip. Routes you create in Scenic Map are stored in the Tracks screen just like your GPS tracks. You can even choose to play a route and get a preview of your journey. You can create as many routes as you like while online and then use them when you are offline. You can even export them to other apps as GPX files.


One of the biggest requested features was a BLM Lands overlay. Scenic Map Western, Central and Alaska have a BLM Lands option that you can turn on in the Settings menu. Please keep in mind that this is a static snap shot of the BLM lands database maintained by the US Department of the Interior shortly before Scenic Map 1.6 was released. I will update the map for major app updates. It is possibly that ownership of land can change between updates so please check with the DOI before making use of the BLM Lands map overlay.

Version 1.6 also includes many other new features, enhancements and bug fixes. The iOS 7 user interface is now supported but backwards compatibility has been maintained back to iOS 5.1.1. You can now display the county outlines and get information about which county is at the center of the map. Track times are now displayed in local time thanks to the new time zone database. You can see these on the Tracks screen or when you play back your past trips. Tracks can be sorted by date, name or distance. Polygons are now sorted by size before they are rendered. This makes smaller features stand out in front of larger ones. Smaller buildings are now more visible. Overall the maps should draw faster and use less memory. All known 1.5 bugs have been fixed.

The Open Street Map data set is constantly being improved and increasing in detail. There are now a vast number of buildings in the map. Due to the increase in data size and in order to keep the app size under the Apple 2 GB limit, the western edge of Central USA and Eastern USA had to be reduced by one degree. There is still 5 or 6 degrees of overlay between maps so you should be able to switch between maps before the edge becomes a problem on long drives.

The Canadian data has also gained a very large number of streams and lakes in the northern regions. For this reason Eastern Canada had to have its western edge reduced by one degree and Central Canada had both its western and eastern edges reduced by one degree. There are still at least 9 degrees of overlap between the Canadian maps.

I hope you like the new version of Scenic Map and use it on your summer trips. There will be an update to You Need A Map as well. I need a bit more time to prepare it. It should be ready by the time the minor update for Scenic Map is released.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Scenic Map Western USA: A short video

This is a short video I put together using Scenic Map Western USA. The music is Reverie (small theme) by _ghost. The video was all recorded live from my iPad and edited with iMovie. I used the advanced touch gestures to create the cinematic camera moves.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Scenic Map 1.5.1

Scenic Map and You Need A Map version 1.5.1 is now available for download on the App Store and iTunes. This is a minor bug fix version. In addition to fixing all known bugs, it includes an update of the Open Street Map data.

There are two small new features. The names of waypoints are now displayed on the map and other text will no longer cover up the waypoint icons. When you scroll or track off the edge of the map you will be ask if you want to switch to another version of Scenic Map that covers your location if it has been loaded
Waypoint names are now displayed on the map.
There is also a hidden feature you may like. If you tap with three fingers at once on the map, a short string of text is created in the clipboard which represents the map's center location, scale, course and tilt. You can paste this into another app such as Notes. This text is actually a smart app link. Tapping on it will relaunch the version of Scenic Map you were running and return the map to the way it was when you created the text link. You can even put this text onto a web page. For example here is a link to Scenic Map Western USA showing Mt. Saint Helens:

ScenicMapW://view?lat=46.191190&lon=-122.194410&tilt=59.311462&zoom=3.618397&course=24.809677

Copying the link can sometimes take a few tries. I use the three finger tap gesture several times in a row to make sure I have copied the link before I switch into Notes or some other app and paste it in. This is an experimental feature currently and just for fun. Please let me know if you find some good uses for this feature

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scenic Map 1.5 & Canada Coverage

Scenic Map 1.5 has been released on the App Store!

There are three new apps: Scenic Map Western Canada, Scenic Map Central Canada and Scenic Map Eastern Canada. Using data from Canada's GeoBase and CanVec, these maps have amazing amounts of detail. They include streams, rivers, lakes and glaciers. There are two versions of the roads, one from Open Street Map and the other from GeoBase. You can switch between them in the Settings menu. Great care was taken to merge the features of the various data sources to produce the best possible map.

The new ability to merge data sets was used to improve the quality of the parks and other polygons in all versions of Scenic Map and You Need A Map. In version 1.5 you will see many more parks and other smaller polygon features.

The biggest new feature of version 1.5 is the revised Waypoints screen. You can now tap on a waypoint and get a list of options. You can export the waypoint as GPX and send it to another app or e-mail it. You can send the waypoint directly to Apple's Maps app where you can get directions to that waypoint.  There is also a new button in the tool bar that will let you do the same thing with the entire lists of waypoints. You can also access the entire list of waypoints as a GPX file via iTunes on your computer. There is also an organize button in the tool bar of the Waypoints screen. Tap it and you will get the option to sort the waypoints newest to oldest, ascending names, north to south or west to east. You can also reverse the direction by tapping the organize button and selecting the same sort option again.

When the app is first launched, by default the joystick gestures have been disabled. This is because these gestures are unfamiliar and can confuse first time users. The Joystick Gestures can be enabled near the bottom of the Settings menu. The tilt and scale of each preset are now unified. When you modify the tilt or scale of the map in one preset, it now updates all of them. If you prefer a different map tilt and scale for each preset turn off Unified Tilt & Scale near the bottom of the Settings menu.

GPS tracking has been improved for version 1.5. You will notice that the velocity and heading updates more smoothly as you drive. If you have iOS 6 installed, the apps will take advantage of the automatic tracking feature. This turns off the GPS automatically when you have stopped moving for some time. This will save batteries if you forget to stop tracking. If you prefer to manually stop the tracking (by tapping the track being recorded at the top of the Tracks menu and selecting Stop Recording Track) turn off the Automatic Tracking near the bottom of the Settings menu.

Scenic Map and You Need A Map version 1.5 require iOS 5.1. This change was made because first two generations of iPhones and iPod Touches are no longer supported by Apple's XCode development software.

A walk through tutorial of Scenic Map 1.5 has been added to the online documentation. It covers the basic features of the app.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Scenic Map 1.4.3

Scenic Map and You Need A Map version 1.4.3 have been released. 1.4.3 has the ability to display an existing track while recording or playing back a new track. The existing track will be displayed as a bright green line while the track you are recording or playing back will be displayed as a white line. You can use this feature to retrace a previous trip or hike.

GPX file import has been improved. It should be compatible with more apps and has its name set to the one saved with the GPX file instead of the name of the GPX file. Multiple tracks in the same GPX file will generate multiple tracks in Scenic Map. Routes are also converted to tracks. It should be possible to create a route in a third party app and then display it in Scenic Map to represent the boundary of a polygon on the map.

The Open Street Map data has been updated. OSM has had a recent change in its license agreement that forced them to delete a small amount of data that was still licensed under the old agreement. You may find areas in the map that are missing roads and other features in this version. You can report these issues on the Open Street Map forums or, better yet, download the Java Open Street Map editor (JOSM) and fix the problems yourself. This is actually quite easy and fun to do and seeing your improvements show up in the map is very rewarding.

In Scenic Map Alaska and You Need A Map the US Census Tiger data has been updated for 2012. This is the best version of the Tiger street map data I have seen. Most of the major highways and freeways have been updated. I also did not notice any small roads set as primary roads in this version. The Tiger data already had more accurate local roads in many areas than Open Street Map but this version makes it usable for primary and secondary roads as well. Open Street Map still has more up to date primary and secondary roads than Tiger. For example Tiger is missing the new ring road around Las Vegas that was completed a few years ago.

A bug that prevented Scenic Map from running on an iPad 2 with iOS 4 has been fixed. As part of this bug fix and to prevent future issues, the Large Map option is now available for all of the more recent iOS devices. This will allow you to opt for a smaller map which renders faster and uses less memory in cases there are any compatibility problems in the future. Some users may also prefer the faster map updates. Large Map defaults to On in the Settings menu. It is near the bottom so you will need to slide the menu upwards to see it.

As always, your reviews of my apps are greatly appreciated. Whenever a new version is posted, the App Store hides the existing reviews by default so a few good reviews would really help after an update.

Special note for owners of the first two generations of iOS Devices (the original iPhone, the iPhone 3g, the first and second generation iPod Touch):
The next version of Scenic Map and You Need A Map will require iOS 5 and will not be compatible with these earliest iOS devices that cannot run it. Apple's development tools no longer support those early devices. In order to support the new iPhone 5, I must use the latest development tools and so must also drop support for those devices. Please back up Scenic Map and You Need A Map version 1.4.3 using iTunes because this is the last version that is compatible with all iOS devices.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Converting Garmin and other track files to GPX

A user asked me how to import track data from Garmin Basecamp software into Scenic Map and You Need A Map. It turns out that Garmin's software does not export standard GPX track files so they must be converted first. I located a free app on the web that should do the job. It is called "TCX Converter". It is free and runs on both Mac and Windows. It is able to convert between a large number of track file formats and export them to GPX and other formats. By default it runs in German but you can switch it to English using the language pop-up menu in the top right corner of the main window.

TCX Converter web page