Creating Tracks & Waypoints in Bing or Google maps

1-06-2015 Update: It’s now possible to create tracks and waypoints directly in map-builder with Google maps as the background imagery. It’s also possible to view tracks and waypoints on top of Bing map satellite imagery in map-builder. You should try to create all your tracks and waypoints directly in map-builder, as this will save you tons of time. The instructions below are left here just in case you have a need to use Bing or Google maps to create tracks or waypoints.

If the satellite imagery in Bing Maps is good enough you may be able to create your entire trail map without collecting GPS data in the field. Creating trail maps at a computer is possible in areas where there is less foliage obscuring the trail system. If you create your entire trail map in this manner,  it’s still necessary to validate your trail map by using the “Test Routes” feature in map-builder.  However, creating a trail map using a tool like Bing Maps saves a lot of time versus running around with a GPS. It is also possible to use Google Maps Engine to create tracks and waypoints, but Google uses a proprietary file format which requires third party software to convert into the standard GPX format. So if the satellite imagery in Bing is as good or better than what can be found in Google Maps, Bing is the best tracks and waypoint creation tool for saving the most time.  However, if the satellite imagery is better in Google Maps then use the steps at the bottom of this page to create tracks and waypoints in Google’s map engine.

We have noticed some issues where when using certain browsers some of these Bing Maps tools described below aren’t visible.  For this reason, we recommend using FireFox when using Bing Maps. We have found that FireFox almost always displays all features described here.  Remember though that you must use Chrome when using the rakkup.com authoring tools.

Bing Maps Steps:

  1. To create tracks or waypoints in Bing Maps click on the “My Places” link in the upper left hand corner.  This will bring up your “My Places Editor.”  You can create a new list or view existing ones by signing in with a Microsoft account.  Using lists is a good way to keep tracks and waypoints organized.
  2. When you create a new list you can optionally “Turn on sharing” & “Let others copy items from this list of places”  Checking these boxes will enable you to easily share your lists with us, so it’s a good idea.
  3. Now that you have a list you can add tracks or waypoints to the list, using the tools along the bottom of the My Places Editor, or by importing a GPX file.  To create waypoints use the “Add a pushpin” tool.  To create tracks use the “Draw a path or trail on the map” tool.  Your waypoints and tracks must have unique titles.  If they do not have unique titles you won’t see tracks and waypoints with duplicate titles in the map-builder preview step.  It’s a good idea to give them a name that means something to you, in order to more easily identify them.  Do not leave them with the default “untitled item”
  4. Once you’ve added all the tracks or waypoints you want to a list, you can export it as GPX, using Actions->Export->GPX.  This will download a GPX file called “List of places.gpx” to your browsers download folder.  Once you’ve downloaded the GPX you can rename it to a more friendly name and then place it in our shared dropbox folder where we can both access it.  It helps us debug issues for you if we have access to these files in dropbox.
  5. Now you’re ready to import your GPX file into map-builder.  For documentation on how to create a trail map in map-builder see:  http://rakkup.com/creating-your-guidebooks-trail-map/

Google Maps Steps:

  1. Go to the google maps engine lite: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/0/
  2. Use the “Add Marker” and “Draw a Line” tools to create the waypoints and tracks you need.
    google map tools
  3. When you’re ready to export waypoints and tracks click on the folder icon in your map callout box.  Select Export to KML.
  4. Now use GPS file format conversion software to convert KML files to GPX so that rakkup.com/map-builder can read and import them.  There are many free GPS file format conversion programs out there, however, we have personally used GPS Babel.  www.gpsbabel.org  This program is free and pretty straightforward to use.  Download and install it. (If you have Garmin BaseCamp installed, it also reads KML and exports to GPX quite nicely.)
  5. Within GPS Babel your input file format is going to be Google Earth (Keyhole) Markup Language.  Your output format should be GPX XML.  Now run the file conversion by clicking OK.
  6. Now you’re ready to import the GPX file into map-builder.  For documentation on how to create a trail map in map-builder see:  http://rakkup.com/creating-your-guidebooks-trail-map/