Transferring data from Anquet Maps to Google Maps
How to use Anquet's mapping software to manually trace a route, and how to export it to My Places for sharing and display.
By Mike Lewis
In his tutorials on Google Maps, Donald Ritchie explained how to use My Places to plot a route on a map, and then embed the map in a website or blog. This time, I'm going to show an alternative approach. I'm going to plot the route using Anquet's desktop mapping software, and then transfer the route to a My Places map, ready for embedding or sharing.
Why would you want to do that? Put simply, Anquet Maps is a much better all-round mapping tool than Google Maps (or any other web-based tool I know). In particular, it has two key advantages:
- Manually tracing a route is much easier. You can easily adjust the route as you go along, add and remove waypoints, join and split routes, annotate waypoints, and do quite a lot of other things that would be difficult or impossible with other tools.
- The maps themselves are superior. Google maps are, at base, just road maps. They show very little in the way of topographical features, add they're of only limited use in plotting cross-country routes (in many parts of the world, they don't show hiking trails or bike paths, for instance). Anquet, on the other hand, works with a range of high-quality digital maps, including the UK Ordnance Survey's 1:25,000 Explorer and 1:50,000 Landranger series, which are among the finest topographical maps in the world (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Anquet Maps supports high-quality topographical maps.
At present, only UK and French maps are available for use for Anquet, but the company says that maps for other countries will be available soon.
Although the software is free, the maps are not. In fact, most of them cost more than their paper equivalents, making this an expensive option for casual or occasional users. (For more information about the software and maps, please visit the Anquet website.)
Plotting a route in Anquet Maps
Figure 2: Right-click to start a route.
For this tutorial, I'll assume you have Anquet Maps installed on your computer, and you have loaded the required map.
To start a new route, right-click at the appropriate point, then select Start Route from the context menu (Figure 2). After that, the process is fairly intuitive. You either move the mouse along the route, clicking in turn at each point at which you want to change direction; or you hold the left mouse button down, and drag the mouse along the route, changing direction as necessary.
When you've finished the route, right-click again and choose End Route.
You can draw as many routes as you like in this way. Once you've done so, there are many ways of adjusting and editing them. These are fairly obvious; if in doubt, check the program's Help file.
Saving the route
When you're happy with the route, go ahead and save it. To do so, select the route by clicking on it (it will change color), then choose Database / Save As from the File menu. You will see the standard Windows Save dialog, from where you can choose the type of file that you wish to save to.
If you are likely to want to re-load the route within Anquet, you should save it as an ADF file. This is Anquet's internal format.
For this exercise, however, we want to transfer the route to a My Places map, so we need to save it as a GPX file. As you probably know, this is a standard format for storing GPS data and transferring it between devices and applications.
Converting the file
In theory, you can load a GPX file created in Anquet directly into a map in My Places. In practice, when you do that, you only see the waypoints (the points at which the route changes direction); you don't see the route itself.
To get round that, you need to first convert the GPX file to Google's KML format. There are several utilities available that will do that conversion. My preference is the free web-based service from GPS Visualizer.
Figure 3: Setting parameters for GPS Visualizer.
The GPS Visualizer interface (Figure 3) looks quite intimidating at first sight. Fortunately, you only need to worry about three settings:
- The output file type. Choose either KML or KMZ (KMZ is a compressed version of KML). My Places can handle both formats.
- The Show Waypoints setting (under Waypoint Options). If you leave this at the default setting ("In bounds of track plus padding"), My Places will show a placemark at each waypoint (each change of direction). This can make the map look very cluttered. Assuming this is not what you want, change the setting to None.
- The name of your GPX file (the one you saved in Anquet). This appears under "Upload your GPS data files here". Click the Browse button against "File #1", then navigate to the file in question.
When you're ready, click "Create KML File". After a moment, you'll see a new page, showing a link to the converted file (it will have a cryptic name, such as 1328633499-00947-188.8.131.52.KML). Click the link to download and save the file. If you wish, you can change its name to something more meaningful.
Loading the route into My Places
Figure 4: Importing the route into My Places.
The final step is to load the KML file into My Places. To do so, log into Google Maps, and create a new My Places map in the usual way. (If you're not sure how to do that, see Getting started with My Places in Google Maps.)
In the left-hand panel, enter a title and description for your map, and specify its privacy setting (Figure 4). Then click the Import link (above the title box). You will be prompted for the path and filename of the KLM or KMZ file. You can either type the required information, or click the Browse button to locate the file on your computer.
My Places will now load the file. You need to be patient here. This step can take a little while: possibly as long as a minute in the case of a long or complex route. If nothing appears to happen for several minutes, try closing the browser window, then open a new window and go back to My Places. All being well, you should now see the completed map.
The map behaves just like any other My Places map. You can add placemarks to it, make adjustments to the route, switch to terrain view, embed the map in your website or blog, and use any of the other My Places features.
Manually tracing a route in Anquet Maps is much easier than in My Places. On the other hand, Google Maps makes it easy to share your routes and to embed your custom maps in your own web pages. By creating the route in Anquet and transferring it to My Places, you get the best of both worlds.
First Published: February 2012. Revised: October 2012
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