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Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

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Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Jelf on Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:29 pm

My name is Joseph and I am the Gmap4 guy.

Let’s kickoff the Gmap4 discussion with a real world example from this very forum. Last August lubovich86 posted about the Lasalle FWA in Newton County Indiana. The following link starts Gmap4 and displays a high resolution topographic map centered on that FWA:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=41.166088,-87.474689&t=t4&z=15&hillshade=18

Gmap4 is an enhanced Google map viewer that I developed and is part of my way to "pay it forward". Translation: Gmap4 is free for non-commercial use. Gmap4 is a browser app (not a native app) and runs in most browsers on most devices from smartphones to desktops. Note that the browser does have to be online. Gmap4 does not have any offline capability. When Gmap4 is running in the browser on a smartphone, it automatically displays phone-friendly buttons.

Anyone can quickly and easily create Gmap4 links like the one above that are zoomed in on any spot. Here are the steps I went through to make the above link:

1. Start Gmap4: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php
2. Menu ==> Search.
3. I entered: Lasalle FWA Newton County Indiana, and hit “Search and Mark”.
4. Nope - that did not get what I wanted. So I googled: Lasalle FWA Indiana
5. That search led to a state page where I copied a street address.
6. Copy and paste that address into the Gmap4 search box, hit “Search and Mark”.
7. Yes! Click Terrain (upper right corner) and select “T4 Topo High”.
8. Zoom (mouse wheel) and pan to my liking
9. Click Menu ==> Link to this map
10. Copy that link and delete everything after “&hillshade=18”

The link that is displayed in step 9 will reproduce the map you see on your screen. The parameters I deleted served no real purpose since they were set to their default values.

You can search on addresses, many place names and most reasonable ways to write a latitude longitude (WGS 84 datum). The next update to the production code will also let you search on UTM coordinates. Instead of using the search feature you can manually zoom and pan to your spot.

Now the next time you see a post here on publiclandbowhunters (or start one yourself) that is talking about a location, you know how to make a link that will display a hi-res topo map for that area. Of course once Gmap4 starts you can flip to the Google aerial or the medium resolution MyTopo maps or the lower resolution USGS topo maps. You can also look at vector topo maps for Canada (select “t5 Canada”). (The MyTopo company requires developers to show their ads but those are the only ads you will see on Gmap4.)

Have you played with the menu button yet? It provides access to various bells and whistles. Did you know that the magnetic declination changes and does so faster than you might think?

Now try a rightclick on the map. The popup displays the coordinates (WGS84 datum) for the spot you clicked in various formats and also provides access to driving directions. If you use the ‘directions’ feature, then the blue line that you will see on the map can be dragged and the turn-by-turn text updates automatically.

Another key feature of Gmap4 is its ability to display several file types. The files can be hosted almost anywhere online. This means that you are always in control of your own files, not me. The following file types can be displayed: GPX, KML, KMZ, TPO, Google My Places, and a delimited text format that I designed. To see examples, visit the Gmap4 homepage (link below).

All you have to do to display a file is:
1. Put your file online almost anywhere. The only requirement is that there must be a direct link that points to your file.
2. Paste the http link (https is also OK) that points to your file over the underline:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?q=________________
3. Copy the completed Gmap4 link and paste it into a browser bar

If you are building Gmap4 links to display GPX or TPO files then be certain to read about the “&refresh” parameter in the Gmap4 Help file.

Did you know that governmental agencies crank out KML and KMZ files by the truckload? Gmap4 can display most of those files unless they blow past size limitations imposed by Google. Since I grew up in Minnesota I like to look there for examples. This page - http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/walkin/index.html - talks about Minnesota’s Walk In Hunting program. Notice the link on that page that says “Google Earth file (KML) for WIAs”. That link points to a KML file that contains the boundaries for all the WIA areas in the state. The following Gmap4 link displays that file:

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?hillshade=0&q=http://maps1.dnr.state.mn.us/cgi-bin/mapserv60?map=WIA_MAPFILE&mode=nquery&qlayer=wia_polys&qformat=kml

And of course you already know how to make a Gmap4 link that is zoomed in on one of these Minnesota WIAs and shows the topo map. Click right on the boundary line for a popup that leads to more info:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=45.327757,-94.819887&t=t4&z=16&hillshade=0&q=http://maps1.dnr.state.mn.us/cgi-bin/mapserv60?map=WIA_MAPFILE&mode=nquery&qlayer=wia_polys&qformat=kml

Government agencies have this kind of boundary info (plus other info) in “shape” files (.shp). Alas, Gmap4 cannot read shape files. But it is a simple enough matter for GIS staff to use their software to read shape files and export a KML file. So if you are looking over a government website for a certain type of KML/KMZ file and do not see it, then don’t be shy. Shoot ’em an email and ask if they either have that file somewhere or could they produce and post it. If you don’t ask, you will never get.

BTW, a KMZ file is just a KML file that has been compressed.

Remember about the “delimited text file” I mentioned? Here is an example map showing some mountain summits in Washington State. (I have scrambled most of these.) First click on a symbol, and then click on a label. Also switch between the topo and aerial and watch the label background:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?q=https://sites.google.com/site/gmap4files/p/delimited/teanaway_peaks_delimited.txt&ll=47.421616,-120.876101&t=t4&z=13&label=on

I designed this delimited text file format to have the most commonly used features of GPX and KML files but with a simpler syntax. If you are curious to know more, the Gmap4 Help file will teach you how to use the delimited text file format step-by-step with plenty of map examples.

But wait - there’s more...

Open up the following map which shows trails in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest of Washington State:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?q=http://capitolriders.org/KMZ/OkanoganWenatcheeNFtrails.kml&ll=47.750567,-120.177941&t=t1&z=8

Click Terrain and select Earth.
Read the popup.
Either click ‘Continue’ or allow the Google Earth browser plugin to be installed.
(This plugin does not work on mobile devices.)

You can now ‘fly’ over the map in 3D just like you can with the regular Google Earth program. Wattahoot! If you do not know how to do this, the Gmap4 Help file will show you.

One thing you cannot do with Gmap4 is use it to make big prints. But if that is what you need, publiclandbowhunters already has you covered. Just zip over to Jason’s Apex Mapping site. To the best of my knowledge, Jason has the best prices for hardcopy maps.

Current bugs:
1. I am going to redo the “My location” feature. But I need to do some research and controlled testing first.

The Gmap4 homepage has a FAQ, lots of examples, quick start info (in the Help file), testimonials and more to quickly get you up to speed.

Don’t be freaked out by the fact that the Help file has a lot of pages. A good way to use the Help file is to open it up and then do a keyword search for what you want to read about.

Gmap4 default map: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php

Gmap4 homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html

I have subscribed to this thread and am happy to answer questions. If your question is not answered in the Gmap4 FAQ (http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_new_user.html), then please ask it here in this thread (and not in a pm) so everyone can share in the discussion.

By now your brain is full of lots of stuff. Thanks for taking the time to read this long post and happy mapping!

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Jelf on Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:45 pm

Recently Gmap4 was updated to version 4.1 and now includes a unique map-in-a-link feature that is worth mentioning. Anyone can now make a custom map and save their data right in a Gmap4 link. You do not need to save your data in a separate file such as a GPX or KML file. This may be the easiest and faster way for you to make a custom online topographic map.

To try out this feature:
1. Click Menu ==> Draw and Save
2. Click the map a few times to set draggable symbols and draw a line
3. Rightclick any symbol and select “Gmap4 display long link”

You can copy the link that is displayed, paste it into a new browser address bar, hit enter and your custom map will be displayed.

This feature also works on your iPhone, iPad, android and other mobile device. Remember, Gmap4 is a browser app and your browser has to be online. After you tap the screen to set some draggable symbols then tap a symbol and select “Action Menu”. The list of actions include two different ways to save a Gmap4 link that includes your data.

More information on this map-in-a-link feature can be found in the following three places.

1. What’s new page
Note the tip about deleting the ll and z parameters from your Gmap4 link.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_whats_new.html

2. Example page
Scroll down to the section titled “Your map data saved in the Gmap4 link”. The examples range from basic to advanced and give you a quick way to see some of the kinds of maps you can make with this feature.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_examples.html

3. Help file
You can download the PDF file and search it (control-f) for the section titled “Make a custom map with Gmap4 and save it”.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_help.pdf

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
Redmond, WA

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Jelf on Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:35 pm

In order to help plan a hunting trip on public land have you ever wanted to see an online map that showed a very detailed view of the boundaries of land that is actually owned by the federal government?  It is common for land that is managed by the BLM or managed as part of a national forest to be intermingled with privately owned land where your presence may not be welcome.

The following link starts a beta version of Gmap4 and shows a large area centered near Denver and a transparent overlay that shows the very detailed boundary of the land that the federal government actually owns.  This federal ownership data covers the USA.  Zoom in for a lot more detail.

Link to federal ownership map:
http://tinyurl.com/mj29cck

Green is land the government owns inside of national forest boundaries.  Yellow is land owned by BLM.

A quick way to switch the map to your favorite spot is Menu ==> Search.

To toggle the ownership data on/off, open the ‘map type’ menu (button in upper right corner of the map), go to the bottom of that list and click ‘Public_land’.

To see this ownership data on high resolution topo maps first zoom in so the scale in the lower left corner says 1 mile and then open the ‘map type’ menu and select ‘t4 Topo High’.

Note - this federal ownership map has a link that displays a map ‘key’ but the image file holding the ‘key’ does not look right.  The official in charge says that should be fixed in a few days.



Data like this federal ownership information is typically only seen by using complicated GIS software.  Even if the GIS software is free you still have to download it, install it, learn how to use it, etc.  With this beta version of Gmap4 you can now make a link to display data that previously was usually only seen with GIS software.  Yes, you do have to learn how to make the Gmap4 link.  But that learning curve is much shorter than learning how to use GIS software.

There is an astonishing amount of data that governmental agencies and private organizations have placed online that you can display simply by learning how to put the right information into a Gmap4 link.  The Gmap4 beta page has more example maps and documentation showing how you can make Gmap4 links to display all kinds of information on the map.

Beta page:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_beta.html

The example maps on the beta page include:
* USA map with current weather radar
* NOAA coastal navigation charts including the most detailed charts
* Current forest fire boundaries
* Index to 1:24,000 scale topos for USA
* Index to 1:50,000 scale topos for Canada
* and more

If you play with this feature and make a cool map, I hope you share it.

Also, while I am happy to answer questions please help me help you by first reading the information on the beta page.  That information will answer a great many questions.

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
Redmond, WA

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Waiting4Fall on Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:24 pm

Good post, glad to see you here. Smile

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by heydeerman on Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:30 pm

WOW!

Just checked out Tar Hollow State Forest in Ohio with your maps. Excellent detail.
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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by tpcowfish on Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:47 pm

awesome maps , ty

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Jelf on Fri Sep 26, 2014 12:49 pm

Up until this summer I believed that Gmap4 would not work if your mobile browser was offline.

I was wrong.

If you follow a few simple instructions, many (but not all) of the Gmap4 features will work just fine on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device when you are offline.  Among other things, when you are offline you can:
* Look at high resolution topo maps (t4 Topo High)
* Look at Google aerials
* Look at other basemaps
* Look at GIS overlays
* Turn on the geolocation feature (Menu ==> My location) and see the map become centered where you are standing
* Move and watch the location symbol follow you and the map automatically move as needed
* Touch the location symbol and see your coordinates in the current coordinate format
* Change the coordinate format
* Turn on/off a UTM grid
* Turn on/off a USNG grid

Yes, you can do all of the above while the browser in your smartphone or tablet is offline.  Now let’s pop the hood and see how this works.

Any map you see with Gmap4 consists of a bunch of small image files called “tiles” that are stitched together to cover your screen.  When you look at a map while you are online, a copy of each image file is saved in the browser’s cache.  If you keep the browser tab open that has the Gmap4 map, then you can then go offline and still pan the map over the area for which there are map tiles in the browser’s cache.  If you pan too far, the screen will be white.

To read plain English instructions that I guarantee you will understand (I don’t know how to write computer babble-speak) please visit the Gmap4 Help page and download the pdf file “How To Use Gmap4 Offline”.
Help page: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_help.html

From the Help page you can also find the FAQ, examples, a Quick Start guide (also on the Help page) and more.

Gmap4 default map: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Waiting4Fall on Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:37 pm

Glad your still with us man. Thanks for the update.

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Jelf on Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:15 pm

Here is a report on a project I have started to produce online maps that show public land and let you do geolocation on your mobile device.

Most states, including California, have detailed information showing the boundaries of various kinds of public land at the federal, state and local level.  Government agencies also have all kinds of map information that is useful for all kinds of outdoor activities from hunting to 4-wheeling to horse riding to hiking to boating to fishing and everything in between.  

I have started a project to locate that data where it is hosted on [b]Geographical Information System (GIS)[/b] servers and produce [b]online maps[/b] so everyone has a super easy way to see and use that data.  The types of GIS data that these online maps will display include:

1.  Boundaries of public land
2.  Recreation features such as picnic areas, campgrounds, boat launches, trailheads, etc
3.  Fishing and hunting information
4.  Habitats
5.  Public safety including wildland fires and earthquakes

So far I have completed online maps for several states, including California.  The type of data that is available varies by state.  I have also completed several national level online maps.

Below is the homepage link for this project.  Please take a moment to read through the text before you start playing with the map links.  Also, if you want to get the most out of these maps, be sure to read the “Tips”.

[b]Public land map homepage:[/b]
http://www.propertylinemaps.com/p/public_land_map.html

[i]Edit: Opps! I forgot to include an important point in my post. The [b]map legends[/b] are really important to help you understand the story the map is telling you. To see the map legends, click the button in the upper left corner that says [b]"About this map"[/b].[/i]

All of these online maps are displayed by [b]Gmap4[/b] which is an enhanced Google map viewer that I developed.  Using the same software to display all of this GIS data from coast-to-coast means you see a consistent interface based on the familiar Google maps and you also get the same broad feature set for every map.

For those that are GIS savvy (or would like to be) you can peek under the hood and see how the magic works by visiting my GIS page (written at a newbie level):
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_gis-viewer.html

Wait... there’s more... or soon will be.

Each GIS feature you see on these maps have more information (called “attributes”) stored on the GIS server.  Currently Gmap4 does not let you click a GIS symbol and see the attribute data.  I plan to add that feature this winter.

Think of this as my Christmas present to you.  Enjoy!

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

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Re: Gmap4 - Online high resolution topo maps and a lot more

Post by Jelf on Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:42 pm

Here is an update on my ongoing project to produce online maps that show public land and other recreation information.  

All of the maps in this project display data that is hosted on GIS servers.  Think of GIS servers as having two kinds of data.  One kind of data can display symbols and boundary lines on the map.  My first post in this thread talked about that kind of data.

The other kind of information a GIS server has is attribute data.  This consists of fields of information about the symbols and boundary lines that can be displayed on the map.

Gmap4 now has the ability to display all the attribute data the GIS server has when you click on a GIS feature you see on the map.  You can try it out on the following map which shows different kinds of public land in California.  The data you see on this map comes from a GIS server operated by the state.  If you click on any of this land then you will see a popup with the attribute data.  To see the map legends, click the “About this map” link in the upper left corner.

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=38.223078,-121.459350&z=8&t=h,Ownership_public_land&q=http://www.propertylinemaps.com/p/public_land_map/state/CA/CA_public_land_boundary.txt

Here is another example using a new map I added to this project.  This map shows all the current USA weather watches and warnings.  If you click on any of the colored areas then a popup appears that displays the attribute data.  The attribute data includes links to weather service pages that have all the details for the spot you clicked.

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.282795,-97.250977&z=5&t=h,Weather_watch_warning&q=http://www.propertylinemaps.com/p/public_land_map/USA/USA_weather.txt

The homepage for this mapping project is:
http://www.propertylinemaps.com/p/public_land_map.html
As time allows, I will be posting map links for additional states.  So if I have not got to your state yet, eventually it will get added.

Here is another example.  The following map displays symbols for recreation opportunities (campgrounds, trailheads, etc) on most of the national forests.  For this demo the map is zoomed in on an area of the Sierra National Forest.  The data that puts the symbols on the map comes from a GIS server operated by the Forest Service.  Sometimes this GIS server is slow so it may take a few seconds for the red symbols to appear.  Click any red symbol to see all the attribute data.

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.310723,-119.555621&z=14&t=t4,Recreation_site&q=http://www.propertylinemaps.com/p/public_land_map/USA/USFS_recreation.txt

The attribute data you see on the above map includes a link (RECAREAURL) that will take you to a web page the Forest Service maintains with more details about the thing you clicked.  Of course you can zoom and pan this map to any other national forest.

Click the “About this map” link in the upper left corner of the map to learn how to turn other GIS overlay layers on and see their attribute data.  Among other things, you can display a GIS layer for Forest Service roads that allow motorized use and a different GIS layer for roads that are closed to motorized use.  If a road is hard to see then change the basemap to “All white basemap”.  Note that some forests have not yet loaded their road data onto the GIS server.

Finally, every attribute popup always has a link titled “GIS server directory”.  This link takes you straight to the GIS server that includes the data layer that is presently displaying attribute values on the map.  A new Help page (http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/help_files/gmap4_gis_help.html) walks you through (1) understanding the key information the GIS server directory provides and (2) how to use that information to build your own custom Gmap4 links to display the GIS data that *you* want to see.

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

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