In About Odyssea I told a short tale about how I decided to build an app for tracking and sharing seafaring adventures. This post is a continuation of that story and shows how easy it is to import any route saved with Odyssea in other mapping applications, Google Earth and Google Maps being two of the most popular ones.
As a prerequisite, you first need to install Odyssea on an iOS device with GPS. Once you installed the app and launched it, you are ready to start tracking a route. So don’t waste any time, go out and have some fun on the water 🙂
Ok, now you’re back. After finishing your sailing or boating trip, you need to save the route. When you save it, a special .csv file containing a short summary of the trip (date, duration, distance covered, average and top speed, start point and end point, etc.) and the GPS coordinates of all the saved positions is automatically created on your device.
To export this file you must enable the “Save routes to Dropbox” option from the Settings menu:
However this option is not free. It merely costs 1$ and what it does, once the in-app purchase is made, is allowing you to synch these special .csv files with route coordinates to a dedicated folder (Odyssea Routes) in your Dropbox account. It does not matter if you decided to purchase this option later on after using Odyssea several times because all your coordinate files have already been saved on the device and are just waiting to be synched to your Dropbox account. So when you enable the option, you will find the corresponding .csv files of all your saved routes residing in your Dropbox account.
Let’s say that you also want to see your routes not only on your iOS device, but on other mapping applications that offer more features, among which the possibility to share them publicly via Google Maps.
In order to do this you need to tweak a little the template file exported by Odyssea. But this is very easy to do with an excellent free app that allows you to convert/translate between different GPS coordinate formats. The app is called GPSBabel and can be downloaded from here.
I chose the Mac version and the installation is straightforward. Now that you have all the pre-requisites in place and a saved route that you want to import and share, let’s see how we can achieve this.
1. First of all, open the Dropbox folder “Odyssea Routes” and once there, open the .csv file of the route that you want to import:
Then delete the first 12 lines, until you have only GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude separated by a comma) on the first column. After deleting these 12 lines, save the new temporary file somewhere on your computer (on your desktop, for instance):
2. Now open GPSBabel. On a Mac, the program looks like this:
4. Then click on File Names and select the temporary file that you saved at point;
5. Now take a look at Translation Options – make sure that Waypoints are checked;
6. Then look at Filters; it is important to check the “Miscellaneous” section. Here you should select “Transform Waypoints –> Routes”. Now if you also check “Delete” to the right, the exported file will contain only a route without waypoints. If you do not check the “Delete” the “kml” file will contain both a route and all the waypoints that you can further edit in Google Earth, for instance:
7. Before going to the Output section, take a quick look at the “More Options” section. Here enable the “Preview in Google Maps” option so that you can easily test how your route will look like in Earth or Maps:
8. Next, the Output section. Choose “File” and the “Format” – “Google Earth (Keyhole) Markup Language”;
9. Then click on “File Name” to choose a file name and local destination for the new “kml” file that will be created;
10. If you click on “Options”, then you have some extra nice features that will help you customise your exported route, nut are not essential in this tutorial.
This is it! 🙂 Now you can press the “OK” button and see the results:
Excellent, now you have the “.kml” file that you can import in both Google Earth and Google Maps. Let’s take a look first at Google Earth.
After launching the application on your computer, drag the newly saved “.kml” file to Google Earth. The imported route will look like this:
Now there are some tricks that you can do to make it look nicer and more discernible. First of all, expand the GPS device menu under Temporary Places on the left column and uncheck the Waypoints:
The result will look like this:
Still, it’s not too great. Click on Routes, uncheck the Points, and then right-click on Path to further edit the way the Route is displayed on the map. At this point the Route looks like this:
After you click on Get Info, you can:
a. change the name of the route and add a description:
b. change the altitude – this option allows you to clamp the route to the ground or to project in in space above the sea-level (not that you would necessarily want to do that, but it’s good to know that you can :)):
c. further you can change the style & colour:
d. and choose the desired measure units for distance – for instance Nautical Miles:
If you like your route, now you can go back and enable the waypoints. They also can be edited in the same way, one at that the time:
Finally, you can save your route. Right-click on GPS device and choose “Save to my Places”. Once saved, you can change its name by right-clicking on it and choosing “Get Info”. Or you can save only the route Path without the Waypoints, it’s totally up to you:
Now you have a copy of your sailing trip on Google Earth. Lastly, let’s add it also to Google Maps.
Go to maps.google.com, make sure that you are logged-in with your Google+ / Gmail account, and click on Settings and choose My Places:
Here, choose the link “Or create with classic My Maps”, underneath the big red Create Map button:
After filling in some details about the new map that you want to create and selecting the desired privacy setting, click on “Import” and choose the .kml file that you created previously with GPSBabel:
And TA-DA, here you have your map!! 🙂 Now you can edit each Waypoint, Route Point and the Route Path in similar ways to Google Earth. You can find all these elements in the left column:
In the future if you do not want to deal with Waypoints, when you generate the “kml” file with GPSBabel you can choose to delete the Waypoints after the route is created (check point 6 above).
Although apparently long, this tutorial shows a very simple way of extracting the routes saved with Odyssea and presenting them in Google Earth and Google Maps. In order to accomplish this, you need to:
- Enable the “Save Routes to Dropbox” option in Odyssea, either before or after saving a route. This option creates a special folder on your Dropbox account where it automatically synchs the GPS coordinates of all your saved routes.
- Install GPSBabel to transform the .csv file created by Odyssea in a .kml file, which then can be imported in both Google Earth and Google Maps.