You can find the previous part of this guide here: Part 3: The Icon Ribbon and Terminology
Part 4 of this parallel user’s guide covers working with routes and tracks and the rather odd way of working with files that MM has adopted. This is a long post and apologies for that, but it covers some very important topics and if we don’t get these right we’re scuppered.
Working with Routes
You will find that Routes are more flexible to change than tracks, but tracks are quicker to load into memory, especially if you’re creating lots and lots of routes – but we discuss file handling later.
Once you get used to the system you will find that:
- Routes cannot be joined or separated – which is a damn nuisance
- Routes calculate the height gain, but tracks don’t
- Routes can be converted to tracks and the track will be an almost perfect replica of the route, but with that inevitable loss of control (you can’t amend a track)
Right click options for a route:
On the primary right-click menu:
Follow route: is only appropriate if you have a GPS attached and will then show you how far there is left to walk and in which direction to go to reach the next waypoint.
Profile: produces a side on view through the route, showing ascents and descents
3D Fly-through: switches into 3D mode and then literally flies through the route – very cool, but mostly completely useless.
Insert Waypoint: does what it says – adds a waypoint into the route at the point you clicked and allows you to select where to drop it.
Lock, Hide and Delete: are all obvious. You can’t delete a route if it’s locked. Hidden routes stay in memory, just don’t appear on the map.
Digital Map Shop: is obvious
Send by Email: allows you to send a copy of the route in an email message – it opens your default mail program and attaches the route to the mail
Save As: allows you to save just that route to a file, all on its own. Useful if you want to save that route and not all the others that are currently in memory – see also working with Overlays later.
Off the Operations menu
Print Route: is obvious and I cover printing in a later installment.
Route Card: allows you to export the route to a webpage, along with a map of the route and some or all of the waypoints that comprise it. You can also set estimated time, height gain etc. in the route card. I don’t use this much, but experiment with it and see how it works for you.
Convert to Track: is obvious
Reverse Route: is also obvious, but although it switches the direction of the walk route, it doesn’t re-number the waypoints, so the last waypoint will now be number one and so on.
Re-number Waypoints: does exactly what it says – it reviews the route and re-numbers from 1 onwards. If you’ve reversed a route or added waypoints into the route then this is a good way of resetting the numbering.
Enclosed Area: is only highlighted if you’ve closed a route. You close a route by making your last click of the route on top of the first waypoint for that route.
Off the Enclosed Area menu
Send to Mobile Device: allows you to send the map inside the route to a PDA. This is particularly useful for cutting up map sections and saving them on your PDA. Not much use if you use a GPS though.
Save Enclosed Marks: allows you to save all the marks inside the route into a separate file. This is one way of capturing a number of marks on the screen – perhaps cutting half a dozen hills out of a much larger selection
Creating and Amending Routes
Creating a route is easy, you simply select the route icon from the menu bar and left click in the place on the map you want the route to start. Once the route tool is active you can’t click on anything else without first deselecting the route tool. To do this you need to hit the ESC key on your keyboard or double left click somewhere on the map – this will place the final waypoint in that place and deselect the tool.
Two things quickly become apparent.
- Firstly you run out of map very quickly and you need to become adept at scrolling the map while the route tool is still selected. I have two main ways of doing this.
- The first and least used is to use my left hand on the directional arrows on the keyboard and keep the screen moving in the direction of the route in that manner. This is logistically awkward.
- The second and almost exclusive way is to use the mouse wheel to zoom out and then back in again. This can be done while the route tool is active and with some practice can be really quick and simple. You just need to make sure you zoom out in the direction further along the planned route and then zoom back in so that you have the path you’re using for the route, ahead of you. Difficult to describe in words, but easier to do in practice.
- Secondly, once you’ve closed a route it’s very difficult to manipulate – so my rule of thumb is never close a route – never make that last waypoint click on top of the first. Always make the last waypoint just beside the first one if you’re making a circular route. See below. The outer route is open (nine o’clock position) and easier to manipulate or amend.
Once you’ve hit ESC or double clicked the final waypoint and the route is on the screen – what happens if you decide you want to change it?
Adding waypoints into the middle of a route is a bit of a fag, as each one has to be added individually using the right click menu for a waypoint.
Adding waypoints to the end of a route is a bit easier, it simply re-activates the route tool and allows you to continue dropping waypoints in succession, one new waypoint per click. If you find you need to add a bunch of waypoints to the start of a route, the best option is to first reverse the route, add the waypoints to what is now the end of the route and then reverse again when you’re finished. You can complete by re-numbering to sort out the waypoint numbers.
MM automatically names routes in incrementing numbers, so “route” is first then “route1” then “route2” and so on. Each new route is given a new set of waypoint numbers based on the last digit of the route name. See the two examples below.
Above left is the first route created in a new Overlay file – all waypoints begin at WP0001. Above right is the second route created and is called route1, all its waypoints begin at WP0101. This is very helpful if you want to delete a bunch of waypoints from within a route.
This can be a bit hit and miss. Ideally start at the earliest waypoint you want to delete and work your way forwards along the route. As you select and delete the first waypoint, the next numerical waypoint number is selected by default, so you can just hit delete again. If however, you have lots of routes in memory, there is a good chance that the next waypoint that is selected after you hit delete on the first one will be in another route and not even on the screen – in this case, you’ll need to select each waypoint individually to delete it. Otherwise you may inadvertently be deleting waypoints in another route. Tricky
Working with Tracks
Once you get used to the system you will find that:
- Tracks cannot be amended in the same way a route can
- Tracks can be joined (if the ends of the two tracks you want to join are close enough) and separated or split using the right mouse menu.
- Tracks can be converted to routes, but in the conversion process it will lose some waypoints and where you had a curve around a bend you may now have an almost straight line – annoying to say the least
So if you want to join two routes the only way at the moment is to convert them both to tracks and then use the join track option, from there you can convert back to a route – but it will have many fewer waypoints and may no longer be close to the route you had before.
Right click options for a track:
Many of these options are the same as the routes menus already discussed. Some of the differences are as follows:
Profiles: this is now a lower level menu and off this we have options that relate to a track that has been recorded by a GPS and imported into MM. So things like elevation as recorded by the GPS, Speed as recorded by the GPS and so on appear in here. No use at all if it’s a track you created manually.
Off the Operations menu
Print Track: is obvious and is covered in more detail in the next installment
Split Track: splits the track into two separate tracks at the point you right clicked, or possibly at the nearest change in direction to that point.
Join Track: will allow you to join two tracks – as long as the end of one is close enough to the start of another – make sure you use the most detailed map levels to do this as tracks may be hundreds of yards apart in a road atlas view and therefore too far apart to be joined.
Convert to Route: is obvious – with the limitations discussed previously
Remove Trackpoint: is a function of a recorded track from a GPS. A trackpoint is a point in time recorded by the GPS, there will be many trackpoints recorded every minute and this allows you to remove the one closest to the mouse pointer. Useful if the GPS lost signal for a few seconds and has bounced around looking for it. You will end up with a very spiky tracklog and removing some of these trackpoints will remove the spikes.
Reduce Points: removes a percentage of the trackpoints and reduces the granularity of the recording – never found a use for this so far.
Remove Velocity Spike: does a similar thing – its more accurate to use Remove Trackpoint
GPS Demo: recreates what a tracking GPS looks like on a PDA version of the product. Not very useful!
Working with Files (Overlays)
This is maybe the hardest concept to come to grips with when using MM.
MM doesn’t use files the way every other Windows App does. You don’t open and close files in the traditional manner.
For one thing, MM will not delete what’s in memory when you close the app, it stores it in a temp file for you. So when you open the app again the same routes, tracks etc are still there.
MM uses Overlays. An Overlay is a collection of routes, tracks, marks and so on. You must “import an overlay” when you want to “open a file” and you must “export all” when you want to “save a file”.
The first thing you will try to do, is to have one overlay file with all your routes in, which is always open – problem solved right? Not really. Overlays with more than a few routes and tracks become very unwieldy. They load instantly into the app, but when you click “Props” to view the routes and tracks you just imported, the PC grinds to a halt while it loads all the relevant information into memory. Even with a very fast PC and loads of RAM this process can be very, very time consuming when you have lots of routes.
For example, I have an overlay for all my Lake District Routes – that file can take 5 minutes or more to load – so I had to split it up into several overlays – one for each Wainwright region (Far Eastern, Eastern, etc)
When you have a group of routes created and want to save them, you use the menu option Overlay > Export All and MM prompts you for a location to save the file to. If the file already exists you get the usual prompt to overwrite the file.
If you want to save a single route you can right click the route and select Save As.
As you can see from the screen shot below, you can create Categories within the Overlay to group together different sets of routes or marks or tracks. You can then right click that category title and Save As… into a new Overlay file.
With dozens of routes on the screen, things can start to get messy very quickly with routes crossing all over the place. You can hide data so it doesn’t appear on the screen. Using the Props button and the check box beside a route, track or mark you can make that item visible or invisible.
The data stays in the overlay, even when you save it, but just doesn’t appear on the screen. Unless that is you use the menu option Overlay > Export Visible, in which case you will only be saving what you see on the screen. Often useful for just saving a couple of routes in one overlay file.
<Part 5 to follow: Printing>