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Gmap4 = Google Maps + topographic maps. Free.

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Want better maps?

Want 'em free - no strings attached - no scam?


Gmap4 is a 100% free enhanced Google Map viewer. Since it runs online there is nothing to download, nothing to install.


Main features include:


* View detailed topographic maps (USA and Canada). These maps come from servers at the MyTopo Company and (1) are better quality than the Terraserver maps (now called Microsoft Research Maps) and (2) in certain areas the MyTopo maps are more current than the Terraserver maps.


* Lets you create a permanent link that displays your GPS data. You can e-mail that link, post it on a website, include it in an iframe, etc.


* Powerful search feature. You can search on addresses, names of places or natural features, and any reasonable way to write a latitude/longitude.


The link below will display a world map. To search for something click Menu==>Search. To see the detailed topographic maps (USA & Canada) click Terrain==>MyTopo.



Here is the Gmap4 homepage where you will find examples, a change log, a detailed Help file and a bit about me.



Still thinking this might be some kind of scam?

You could always google Gmap4 and see what others are saying. :cool:


PS. I'm working on implementing a trip planning feature.



Joseph Elfelt - Gmap4 author

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Cool, I spot checked a favorite local and it looks like your coverage of old roads is better then USGS but coverage of trails lacks behind green trails.

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Thanks for all the kind words.


111 - If you are asking if the topo tiles can can be downloaded and used in a GIS app, you would have to contact the MyTopo Company (Beartooth Mapping, Billings, MT) They scan the paper maps, make the tiles, and host them on their server.

If you see a Gmap4 link that uses the 'q=' URL parameter to point to a file, then that file can be downloaded. Just enter that URL into your browser bar. However, that data belongs to someone. Let's all play fair. Depending on what you would like to do with that data, perhaps you should first ask for permission from its owner.


And now the rest of the news...


Gmap4 has been updated to version 1.8.3


The present-day magnetic declination for the map center is now always displayed in the lower right corner. This value is produced using software from http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/IAGA/vmod/igrf.html combined with data from http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/WMM/back.shtml.

Since the magnetic declination is always changing, the older value printed on maps can be wrong by several degrees.


I also updated my links page to show (1) reviews of Gmap4 and (2) sites that are already using Gmap4 to produce online interactive maps.



Finally, if you are interested in the search feature and/or print feature, please check the ‘Help’ file (and use the Table of Contents) to be sure you have seen the most info on those features.



The link below will display a world map. To test-drive the search feature click Menu==>Search.






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What kind of features does your product have that gmaps-pedometer doesn't? (not asking as a criticism, just curious about your product!)



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I'm glad you asked.


1. gmaps-pedometer uses Terraserver topos. In some cases they are ancient (1970s) and in all cases they are a lower image quality than the maps from the MyTopo Company that are displayed by Gmap4. Let's compare.


Search gmaps-pedometer for Twisp, WA.

Compare that map to this one:



2. Speed. gmaps-pedometer uses version 2 of the Google Maps API. Gmap4 uses v3. Google's #1, #2 and #3 design goals for v3 were: speed, speed and (yup-you guessed it) more speed.


3. Gmap4 runs full screen and has no ads.


4. Gmap4 displays kml, kmz, gpx, tpo, mymap files


I could go on....



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Go mushroom hunting at the base of St Helens. If you find the right mushrooms and eat them prior to climbing the map will make complete sense.

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Gmap4 has been updated to version 1.9.1 dated January 17, 2011. This version adds support for UTM coordinate grids. All UTM support in Gmap4 uses the WGS84 datum. This UTM support works worldwide. For more info on UTM coordinates see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Transverse_Mercator_coordinate_system


(Pay back time: When you visit other outdoor-related forums, please do a search and see if Gmap4 has been mentioned. If not, it would just take a moment for you to pass the word along. Also, are you doing the social network thing? Consider saying something nice about Gmap4.)

Here’s a map of Grand Canyon Village with a UTM grid.



To toggle UTM support on and off, click Menu ==> UTM On/Off. If UTM is ‘on’ then Gmap4 gives you UTM information in three ways:


1. A UTM grid is displayed. This UTM grid is displayed on both the MyTopo topographic maps (USA and Canada) and the standard views (aerial, etc) provided by Google Maps.


2. The lower right corner of the screen will always show the UTM zone and UTM coordinates for both the cursor and map center.


3. You can get the UTM zone and coordinates for any point on the map by right-clicking that point.


Things to keep in mind


You can build you own map links by using URL parameters. If you want your map to appear on the user’s screen and already have UTM turned on, then add this URL parameter: &coord=utm


Here is a comparison:

With UTM on



With UTM off (default)



If you zoom out far enough then you will not see a UTM grid. Instead you will only see vertical red lines which mark the edges of the UTM zones.


UTM grid lines that are near the edge of their zone often appear curved when displayed using the map projection used by Google Maps. The grid lines in the adjoining zone will curve in the opposite direction. For example, the next map is centered near Lake Tahoe. The red line marks the edge of adjoining UTM zones. Double click each side of the red line (this changes the map center) and watch the UTM grid lines change. The grid lines are calculated based on the UTM zone that contains the center of the map.



Some MyTopo topographic maps already have a UTM grid printed on them. Caution! Some of those printed grids are based on the older datum NAD27. Those older grids will have a uniform offset from the grid displayed by Gmap4 which is based on datum WGS84 . For example: Here is a map showing part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area in Washington State where the MyTopo maps have a UTM grid based on the WGS84 datum. Click Menu ==> UTM On/Off and you will see the faint UTM grid printed on the map:



By contrast, here is a map showing part of the Yosemite Valley area in California, where the MyTopo maps have a UTM grid based on NAD27. Note the uniform offset between the two sets of grid lines.



Usually (but not always) the different zoom levels use a different scale for the UTM grid. To learn the grid scale, compare the cursor coordinates (lower right corner) as you point to adjacent grid lines. If you want to know the zoom level, right click the map.


Maps with UTM grid lines can be printed. File ==> Print Preview


If you know of any other map viewing software that can display the MyTopo topographic maps along with a UTM grid, I would enjoy knowing about it.


Future UTM improvements


There are different methods for putting labels on the grid lines. I am pondering what will work best.

Another possible improvement is to let the user change the line width, color and/or spacing.

Other ideas?


Next Gmap4 update


Bad news: The ‘Search’ feature of Gmap4 no longer works very well for placenames. This feature uses Google’s ‘geocoding’ service on the backend. OK, I admit it. Gmap4 was pushing the envelope in its use of that service. Whoops - Google pushed back. Guess who won? I will add a second search tool that is designed to work well with placenames.


Good news: The existing ‘Search’ feature of Gmap4 still works fine for searching on (1) anything related to addresses including names of many settlements that no longer exist and (2) any reasonable way to write a latitude/longitude pair.


Finally, if you find Gmap4 to be useful I hope you can take a moment and do some ‘pay-back’ by letting other people know about it.



Joseph - Gmap4 author

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I just promoted Gmap4 from version 1 to version 2.

Little reason: I added support for viewing the set of topo maps that used to be known as Terraserver and now are known as Microsoft Research Maps. Click the map type button in the far upper right and select “US Topo”. You can really see the quality difference compared to the MyTopo maps.


The US Topo maps often load a bit slow. Part of the reason is that each map tile must be re-projected on-the-fly in order to match the map projection used by Google Maps. I added support for these maps in case they show old (abandoned?) trails that are not on the MyTopo maps.


Big reason: This update introduces a new text file format that makes it super easy to produce maps. For a quick look, scroll down a bit on the Examples page: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_examples.html


This new file format is so easy that middle school students can quickly learn how to produce maps.


Maps can include:

* Many different kinds of symbols (i.e. markers/icons)

* Lines of any color and any width

* Balloons that appear when symbols are clicked

* Links in the balloons

* Clickable photo thumbnails in the balloons

* And more


Did I mention that this is truly easy?


For the details, you can search the Help file on ‘delimited’. Or just go to page 32 in the 5-6-2011 version of the Help file. http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_help.pdf


Homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html





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I just promoted Gmap4 version 2.1.4 from testing into production. Some of the new features are described below. For a full list of the changes in this version please see http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_whats_new.html


Remember, Gmap4 lives in the cloud and does not require you to download or install anything. Anytime you view a map with Gmap4, you automatically will be using the most recent version.


The big news is that you can now strap on a personal jet pack and fly around in 3D anywhere in the world. (The Gmap4 ‘Search’ feature is a useful way to zip you to the spot where you wish to begin flying.)


You can fly at low altitude over any map that has a GPS track and see the world in 3D. No sweat, no bug bites, no blisters.


All you have to do is download the Gmap4 ‘Help’ pdf file dated September 12, 2011 or more recent and search for ‘Tips for flying’. Anyone can quicky and easily learn to fly with just a mouse by taking a quick trip through flight school by reading those tips. Those tips will show you how to fly over the John Muir Trail in California starting from the summit of Mt. Whitney.


Gmap4 ‘Help’ file: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_help.pdf


In addition, the ‘directions’ feature has been re-written. Right-click the map and then click either ‘Direction from here’ or ‘Direction to here’. After the route appears, you can drag it to make changes. You can build a Gmap4 URL that will open with the directions panel displayed and the destination filled in. This will be useful for helping people obtain directions to a meeting spot. Search the Gmap4 Help file for ‘Tips for using directions’.


Also, information on how to donate has been added to the ‘Action’ menu and the Gmap4 website.



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Thanks much for your work on this site, it is fantastic!!


One minor issue I have noticed is that sometimes the search feature causes Firefox to crash. Doesn't seem to be the case with IE though. Haven't tried it with Chrome....

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I'm using chrome on a brand new desktop and can not get any of this to work? suggestions?


I think it has to do with code Google supplied to make the 'Earth' feature work.

By end of tomorrow I plan to update Gmap4 with a patch.


Meanwhile, for anyone having probs please try to open this demo map. This map code was supplied by Google (not me) and uses the Earth feature. It takes a few seconds for the data to appear on the map. I'm in touch with a Google engineer working on this stuff and he would love to get quality feedback.



If the above demo map does not work for you then please email me a screen capture with any error message and include:

1. pc or mac

2. OS version

3. Browser version


For my email please see: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_contact.html

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After the September 12th update to Gmap4 I heard from a handful of people that this new version gave them a blank screen and nothing else. For most people the new version worked fine but for an unfortunate few it did not. I want to thank those that spoke up. After all, when things work fine for me, I have no way of knowing that they do not work fine for you unless you tell me. The best way to reach me is to e-mail through my contact page: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_contact.html


Late today I updated the Gmap4 code. If you click Menu ==> About then you will see the date September 14, 2011 (or later).


If you are still having trouble viewing maps with Gmap4, then I have a favor to ask. In addition to updating the code I also put together a short list of easy things that you can try to get the latest version of Gmap4 working on your system. Here’s the favor: Please download the latest copy (dated September 14, 2011) of the ‘Help’ file (http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4_help.pdf) and search that file for ‘tips on flying’. Near the end of that section you will see a heading that starts “Background...”. That section gives you a peek under the hood and suggests several easy/quick things you can do to try and get the current version of Gmap4 working on your system.


Some of those suggestions have worked for others, so I hope if you are having problems that you take a few minutes and give them a try. And if nothing else works, then the last suggestion gives you a link to the prior version of Gmap4 which does not include the new ‘Earth’ feature which seems to be the source of most of the problems.


But since being able to fly over your GPS track (or any other data file) in 3D is easily the coolest feature in Gmap4, I most certainly hope you are able to convince your system to run the current version of Gmap4 so you can waste as much time as I have flying here and there. It’s addictive but - hey - you’ve been warned.

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Can you make this a phone app available for offline use, like the program backcountry navigator?


that would make it uber usefull

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Can you make this a phone app available for offline use, like the program backcountry navigator?


that would make it uber usefull


Yes...but...all it takes is time.

And most of my coding time is spent developing a commercial app related to property legal descriptions. There is a teaser at http://www.mappingsupport.com/

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