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Author Topic: Towards a more photographic look  (Read 10576 times)

Boyd

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Towards a more photographic look
« on: January 20, 2009, 11:12:03 AM »
I mentioned my project in another thread (http://forums.gpsfiledepot.com/index.php/topic,123.15.html) but thought it would be better to start a new one instead of hijacking it any further  :)

To recap, I am going for a look which is more like a satellite photo although it is completely based on vector shapefiles which classify land cover/land usage. The challenge is creating custom polygon textures to accomplish this, and after struggling with "ASCII art" and a couple of icon editors, I was led to the Mapwel program (http://www.mapwel.biz/).

I just can't say enough good things about this piece of software - have had no problems whatsoever (yet!). It has a very slick UI and it's own built in compiler (cgpsmapper not needed). I am working with a relatively small test map so far, and it takes about 5 minutes to compile with cgpsmapper. Mapwel rips through it in 10 seconds! Wow. Does anybody have some background on this software or the author? I really don't know a thing, but from the look and feel I almost get the impression that he had some inside track at Garmin... former employee maybe? Just a wild guess.

All my source files are combined in a large Global Mapper project, and I will continue using that for assembling the map and exporting into Polish .mp format, which Mapwel can read. I then create an MP_TYPE attribute for all of the polygons and lines which I want to customize on the map. The custom types editor in Mapwel is the big attraction - it works great and give you access to over 70 user defined polygons IN ADDITION TO all the standard Garmin types.

You can also display the map on your screen in Mapwel with the actual polygon fills - something which I don't think any other software can do. This saves a lot of time since you don't have to compile and export to the GPS to see what it will look like.

So that's how I'm proceeding with the project, which is a map of Southern New Jersey - the Pine Barrens. After I get this farther along I will have a toolbox which I think can be used to create similar maps of other states/regions. But for now, I'm happy to be a "piney" because that's where I live and what I love. I have a strong background in art and design as well as computers. So this is a fun project for me.

My earlier version of the map can be downloaded here, and you can use the forums to discuss if you like too: http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/showthread.php?t=5929. But my new work is departing from the style of this older map.

Here are some screenshots of my preliminary work on the new map. First, this is what it looks like in Mapwel (showing the area where I live... in the middle o' nowhere :))




And here's the same map as seen on an Oregon, Nuvi 205 and GPSMap 60csx:



As you can see, each unit treats things like text, contour lines and roads a little differently, but the textures are really close to what Mapwel shows in the workspace. I was also really pleasantly surprised that it works so well on the 60csx which (IMO) is starting to show its age. The colors are not quite right, but that's as good as an 8-bit screen can do. But zooming and scrolling the map are very snappy. With my older map (at the link above), I have to do a separate version for the 60csx because performance was not acceptable and the display didn't look good in 256 colors. Also, for some reason, cgpsmapper files have lowercase road names and they don't properly display on the 60csx. Mapwell produces lowercase names on the Oregon and Nuvi, but uppercase on the 60csx (with the same file), just like Garmin's own maps.

So I'm learning - to my delight - that Garmin's hardware is really capable of much more that I thought possible based on their own (IMO) ugly looking topo's. Like I said, this is just the beginning of a long project but I'm happy with the direction it's going. If you haven't tried Mapwel yourself, it's definitely worth a look. If nothing else, you can use the free demo to generate a custom type file and export it out as text to compile in cgpsmapper.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 11:16:01 AM by Boyd »

-Oz-

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2009, 08:47:52 PM »
i am really impressed.

I am actually emailing them now because i want to try it out to generate .img files before I buy it.  That will make my decision for me.

If it works how I'm hoping I would add it as a third program in my tutorial.

Definitely post your map when complete if for no other reason than to be in awe :)

So mapwel improved performance for the 60csx?
Dan Blomberg
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Boyd

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2009, 10:15:46 AM »
Thanks - glad you like the map. I broke down and bought the advanced version of Mapwel because I want to use it on more than one unit, and considering the power I think the cost isn't unreasonable.

Actually, I don't think that using mapwel improved performance on the 60csx... I should have explained a little better. The new version of my map appears to have more detail because of all the different textures, but in fact the older version of the map had more separate polygons, and that's what was choking the older gps'es. I was concerned that using such a large number of custom types might be a problem, but it doesn't seem to be.

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2009, 09:01:37 PM »
Boyd, I also just got Mapwel and will be trying it for my standard topo because if it works great it is cheaper than Global Mapper.

Still just in awe of the map.  And that does make sense for the 60csx speed up.
Dan Blomberg
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Boyd

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2009, 10:41:33 AM »
Have built my first complete map of South Jersey with Mapwel now, and am learning as I go. Here are a few new screenshots:













I really have no idea how Mapwel works, but it seems to take a very different approach to compilation than cgpsmapper. It feels like it spends a lot of time putting the data into a structure similar to an .img file the first time you import an .mp file. So it can take quite awhile to open .mp files (as opposed to GPSMapEdit which opens them quickly). At first this put me off, but in the end it pays off big. With a 150MB .mp file, it might take something like 10 to 20 minutes to initially import. So I got in the habit of opening the file, then going away and doing something else for awhile (which is why I'm not sure exactly how long it takes to open a big file). But when you go to compile the .img file... WOW. It only takes a couple minutes - maybe even less to compile that file.

For example... my old cgpsmapper project was much smaller than my new map - complete gmapsupp.img file is about 35MB. That took somewhere between 4 to 6 hours total to compile, depending on how many tiles I broke it into. My new map is MUCH bigger because of all the textured landcover polygons - gmapsupp.img file is 195MB, and total compile time was about 30 minutes with Mapwel. Really - 30 minutes. But you have to add in the amount of time it takes to import each of the .mp files as described above. Even when you do this, it's still probably 3x to 5x faster than cgpsmapper.

The custom types are great, but I can't figure out a way to apply a single .typ file to an entire mapset. Even when you don't use any custom types, Mapwel .img files contain a .typ in the mapset, and I was not able to separate it from the map using sendmap20. I have a question about this posted to the Mapwel Yahoo group, so hopefully there's a solution.

I'm really liking this software and think it was a good investment. If I can just resolve this one issue, it will be perfect for me. But note that I am not doing any "editing" in Mapwel at all. I do all of that in Global Mapper and export as separate tiles using gridding. My preliminary tests show that Mapwel is happier with smaller .mp files, so I am trying to keep them under 100MB. But with all the landcover data in my map, that results in 26 tiles so I really need to find a way to apply a single style to all of them. For the first try I had to individually apply the same style to each of the 26 tiles, which was a pain.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 01:49:37 PM by Boyd »

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2009, 04:57:32 PM »
Yea, the loading of files is sooooo slow in Mapwel.  I've just started playing though.  It also seems like its gonna be hard to get them into mapsource.

Keep letting us know of any solutions.
Dan Blomberg
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Boyd

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2009, 06:17:39 PM »
Well there's clearly not any one solution which meets everyone's needs. But I'm very happy with Mapwel. Always room for improvement though! I don't mind waiting 10 minutes for a file to open when I can compile it in 45 seconds versus a 45 minute compile in cgpsmapper. I may be doing something wrong with cgpsmapper, but when I use mixed case road names, they don't display properly on the 60csx. Have read about others having this problem but haven't seen a fix. Mapwel handles this properly (like Garmin's own maps). You get mixed case names on the Nuvi and Oregon, and all uppercase on the 60csx.

And I really don't care about Mapsource which is far from my favorite program. It can't properly display my maps anyway.

Boyd

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2009, 07:16:40 PM »
Definitely post your map when complete if for no other reason than to be in awe :)

I have placed the first release of this map version online now if you'd like to download. For more info and download link, see the following: http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/showpost.php?p=60512&postcount=66

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2009, 09:14:43 PM »
Downloading...
Dan Blomberg
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Boyd

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Re: Towards a more photographic look
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2011, 08:00:56 PM »
Two years years have passed since I first posted this, and I've learned a lot in the meantime. You can see the results here: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/view/441/



This version was created with cgpsmapper instead of Mapwel, and the custom types were created with http://ati.land.cz/gps/typdecomp/editor.cgi. The map now covers a rectangle encompassing the entire state of New Jersey plus parts of its neighbors.

I wrote about my technique for converting the NJDEP shapefiles to Garmin custom types using FileMaker Pro here: http://forums.gpsfiledepot.com/index.php/topic,1594.0.html. Since New York and Pennsylvania don't have LU/LC data of this quality, I had to come up with a technique to create my own from Landsat raster imagery. I used Mapwel for that and discussed it here: http://forums.gpsfiledepot.com/index.php/topic,1693.0.html

I'm not sure whether others will find this map useful or not. It's more like an art project of mine, and something I wanted to have on my Nuvi 3790 as I drive around.  :)



It's been a fun project anyway though. This map definitely pushes the limits of Garmin's format. It performs pretty well on the 3790 and also works well in Mapsource/Basecamp/nRoute. RoadTrip on the Mac becomes pretty unusable, but Mac Basecamp works well. For some reason, the Oregon is especially sluggish and that surprises me. It also brings out the worst in the Oregon's screen.  ;)

Here's something curious.... I can view this map in 3d using the Mac Version of BaseCamp but the Windows version of BaseCamp will only show 2d views.

I have created a single color scheme for both day and night, and prefer to set the GPS for night mode. Have been playing with an alternate daytime color scheme, but not sure that I like it. For some reason, I like the darker colors for the textures.

Next, I will use a similar technique with FileMaker to strip everything but the tree canopy from the LU/LC data and turn it into green forest shading that I'll use to update my New Jersey topo.

While some of you have chosen to continually expand your coverage areas, I've concentrated on creating ever more complex maps of my own state. So many maps... so little time. :)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 08:14:58 PM by Boyd »