Hidden Feature to Draw Straight Lines
Works in all versions of TOPO!
Ever tried to draw a straight line with the route tool? If you have I bet you thought to yourself that it is impossible - guess again. Drawing straight lines with the route tool is a breeze with this hidden feature.
1. Open the route tool (looks like a pencil) and activate it by left clicking. You should now be drawing a line on the map by moving the mouse.
2. Now hold down the "SHIFT" key. You'll notice that the route tool turns into the compass/bearing tool! Simply move the cursor, using your mouse, to where you want your straight line to end and release the "SHIFT" key... presto a straight line in the midst of a route.
With this little work around you may find yourself using the shift key to trace most routes with more accuracy then simply using the mouse and a steady hand.
As a bonus tip: Notice that when you press the "SHIFT" key that the bottom menu will display in realtime the heading and distance from the last point you stopped drawing. For someone interested in sailing, orienteering, or other activities that require you to follow a pattern of distance and degrees - this can come in real handy!
Enjoy - Woodford
Hidden Feature to Draw Straight Lines
Got KML Files? Open them in TOPO!
Works in any TOPO! Version including both Mac and PC versions.
This is an easy work around for those using either Google Maps or Google Earth that wish to view their KML files on the detailed topographic maps in TOPO!.
KML files are essentially XML documents, therefore they can be read and parsed by any spreadsheet document like Microsoft Excel. If you don't have a spreadsheet application you have a few options for this hack.
1. Sign up for Google Documents. (http://www.docs.google.com/)
2. Use notepad, wordpad, or any other text editing tool. This option will work, but is might be a tad more complicated.
1. Save your KML file to your desktop or some other easily accessible file location.
2. Open the KML file in your spreadsheet application.
3. Assuming you are using Excel. You will be prompted to open this file as an XML table, approve this and any messages pertaining to "schema." There is a photo below showing a USGS earthquake KML file after just being opened in Microsoft Excel.
Note: When you import your KML file into Excel that there will be a lot of columns. The image to the left is showing just a handful. Many of these columns we will delete in the next step.
4. Review your KML file in Excel and note which columns of data you'd like to keep when you import to TOPO!. In every case you will want to locate the columns that contain Latitude and Longitude information. You might wish to keep a time field, name, decription or other column as well. In our example I'm going to keep the description file which contains the date and time of the earthquake as well as it's magnitude.
5. Scroll through your Excel columns and delete any data you do not wish to import to TOPO! Be advised that the TOPO! import will only accept a few fields - so it is important to keep this to a minimum. Below is a screenshot of the trimmed and revised Excel table of the same USGS earthquake file.
6. With your Excel spreadsheet paired down - save it as a CSV (Comma Seperated Value). You may receive a few warnings that Excel can only save these files with one worksheet - this is aok.
7. Open TOPO! if it isn't already and start a new TPO file.
8. Open the "GPS Import Wizard" - this may be in couple different locations depending on the version of TOPO!. Start by looking for a GPS icon on the toolbar.
9. In the GPS Import Wizard you will be presented several options, choose to import "A text file that contains routes, waypoints, and tracks."
10. The wizard will prompt you to select your file - choose the CSV file you created above.
11. The wizard will have you map (identify) which fields pertain to certain necessary atributes, like coordinates. It's important to note that KML files are in the WGS84 Datum (the default in TOPO!) and typically export from Google Maps/Earth in decimal degrees. However be sure to note which datum and coordinate display your KML file is in before finishing the import to ensure accuracy of imported data.
12. TOPO! will process your KML data (now in CSV format) and import it into the application. Once completed, each line in your KML file will become a waypoint in TOPO!. The USGS Earthquake file contains 427 locations. Here's a screen shot of the successfully loaded data:
Note: I've zoomed into an area that I do not have detailed map data for to make it easier to see the waypoints.
13. Your KML file is now imported and can be viewed in any level of TOPO! In my earthquake example, the date and time of the waypoint is linked to the time of the earthquake, the depth of the quake is linked to the message field, and Lat Lon are displayed in decimal degrees WGS 84.
14. Using the merge TPO function I could overlay these earthquakes epicenters on to a trail map I've been working on and go visit the exact spot of a quake with my GPS as a guide.
Give this work around a shot. It's simple and opens up a lot of functionality between TOPO and Google Maps. After running through these steps once you'll quickly get the hang of it. There are tons of free KML files posted on the net ranging from files like this earthquake example to unique point of interest information.
Enjoy - Woodford