Read and process GPS data

Roadbook

The first step is to import tours using the corresponding tab. Users have a choice between connected sports computers, individual files, and entire directories. MyTourbook supports 16 file formats, including GPX, FIT, TCX, and CSV. The manual on the website describes the available formats and devices. Next, you save the tours and assign them to a user profile. Clicking on an entry in the tour list opens the track in the map view. Various colors show the altitude, pulse rate, speed, tempo, and slope. Clicking on the triangles above the map lets users select their preferred view.

As a map provider, MyTourbook uses OpenStreetMap by default; alternatively, it can contact the SRTM server. The program settings let you add other maps. Here users also can enable offline use and set up a directory for storing the map tiles. Alternatively, the program supports a 3D view, relying on Microsoft Bing Maps and the NASA Java SDK [12] to do so.

The functions for editing the tracks are fairly spartan. Users can only set marks that appear on the map as small signs. These are not waypoints but MyTourbook-only features – just like the keywords. The Tour Editor tab above the map lets you change the name and description and enter information about weather conditions and other data.

If a track contains waypoints, you can divide the tour precisely. A function for editing or adding waypoints is missing. To merge multiple tracks, users switch to the tour list, select two or more items and select Merge tours in the context menu.

MyTourbook imports photos with GPS data. To do this, go to the Photo Directory tab and navigate to the folder containing the images. Now, select either individual photos or all of them. The photos then appear in the map view (Figure 5), and the diagram shows markings for the location in the Tour Chart section.

Figure 5: MyTourbook imports photos with coordinates and displays them in the map view. Users can add single images or an entire directory with snapshots.

To link an image with a tour, click on the Photos+Tours section, right-click an entry, and select Save photos in the tour. The Tour Photos view contains thumbnails of your snapshots and displays the images on the map at their original locations.

To export a tour, right-click it, choose Export Tour, and then choose between GPX and TCX. There is no option for sending data to a connected GPS device. Instead, the Print Tour menu entry creates a PDF with the most important data  – but without a map.

RouteConverter

The final candidate is also released under the GPLv2. You can download the Java archive file from the project website. RouteConverter [10] is available for Linux, Windows, and OS X in a 32-bit and a 64-bit version. Base this decision on which Java version you are running  – it does not matter whether the OS is 32- or 64-bit.

I investigated version 2.12. To run the tool, type:

java -jar RouteConverterLinux64.jar

or

java -jar RouteConverterLinux.jar

Again, the program evaluates your local language settings; alternatively, you can set your preferred language in Tools | Options.

Because RouteConverter relies on GPSBabel in the background for converting data, it will detect just as many formats [11], including the commonly used GPX and KML file formats. To this end, it does not look just at the file extension, but also at the file contents. It displays its findings in the Convert tab in the right half of the window. There, it tells you more about the format and content, the number of positions, as well as the length, duration, total ascent, and total descent.

The GPS editor computes the last two entries and the length of the route as the crow flies from point to point. In the Type drop-down menu, the GPS editor shows a location list (i.e., all points it finds) optionally as a track, a route, or a waypoint list. The difference is readily apparent in the map in the left panel.

The program, however, does not import from a connected GPS device. Users transfer the data to the hard disk via the file manager or with a tool like GPSBabel. The same is true for sending tracks, routes, and waypoints to the device. RouteConverter also lacks such an export option; users first save the files and then transfer them. These are unnecessary steps; the other candidates solve the problem better.

At the bottom, RouteConverter either shows you the altitude or speed profile  – the View menu toggles back and forth. By default, the map takes its data from OpenStreetMap, but it optionally also works with Google Maps and the different aspects it supports, such as Map and Satellite (Figure 6). Right-clicking on the map will open a context menu with which you can select or delete the nearest position, add a new one, center the map, and scale in or out. You can also add new points by pressing Ctrl and left-clicking on the map.

Figure 6: On request, RouteConverter will also take its map material from the Google servers; it also shows the tracks and routes in the satellite image.

From A to B

RouteConverter is the only test candidate that helps you plan your own routes; it relies on Google Maps to do this. In the program settings, you select whether you are traveling by bike, car, or on foot. You can optionally exclude highways and toll roads.

To plan a new tour, you first define several positions on the map. Position | Find Location lets you look for place names, addresses, or coordinates. Then, drag the mouse to correct any inaccurate positions. Next, select the Route entry from the Type drop-down menu in the right pane, and RouteConverter traces the route on the map (Figure 7). Just like Google Maps, you can modify the route by dragging the mouse.

Figure 7: The RouteConverter route planner function makes use of Google Maps, so you can drag the mouse to correct the route.

RouteConverter converts tracks into routes and reduces the number of points in doing so. After using the Type drop-down menu to change the view to Route, you can thin out the number of waypoints by selecting Position list | Convert Track to Route. The program uses the Ramer-Douglas-Peucker algorithm [13] for curve smoothing; the limit is 100 meters. For a little more control, you can use the Position | Delete Duplicate Positions menu entry. The dialog box that follows offers three options for deleting points: It either selects all positions within a specified distance, all except every nth position, or all redundant positions given a certain threshold value.

The developers came up with an interesting feature in the Browse tab. When users open the Internet folder, they can access numerous routes and tracks that other users have uploaded. The submenus try to add a little order to the collection and divide the data into activities, countries, states, regions, and so on. To some degree, however, this feature is quite messy because there is no option for sorting or cleaning up.

If you want to share something with the community, first go to the right category, click Add file, and select a track from your own disk. File | Save takes you to a dialog that stores your data in a specific format. To convert, RouteConverter again uses GPSBabel, and the Filter pop-up menu gives you various file types to choose from.

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