Creating, saving and loading a custom route onto a mobile device: Part 2

In my previous post, I related my experience with loading a custom defined route onto a mobile device (my Nokia Lumia 1020) for offline navigation. This is a task I easily carry out as part of my work, so I assumed it would be easy for me to come up with a solution from the end user side instead of the config side.

After trying 4 other technologies (here, Google Maps, Bing Maps, ArcGIS), I soldiered on, despite feeling dejected. I have come to embrace that feeling, because it often appears when I have been staring at a piece of code for hours. It always signals that a breakthrough is coming.

Everything up until this point then led me to Strava. Since I am not a cyclist (you need to be able to ride a bike in order to be one of those), I did not realise that this is a common task for them. I only discovered this when I performed a convoluted Google search for “best mobile app upload custom routes+navigation”.

I figured I would need to convert the route to GPX, create a Strava account, upload the gpx file manually, and use third party app Striver to connect to my Strava account so that I could view my custom routes.

I tried converting my feature class to gpx before I realised ArcGIS only has a GPX To Features tool, not the other way around. I downloaded a script from the always great Kevin Hibma to quickly do the conversion.

Once I figured out where Strava hides their manual activity upload button, I selected my gpx file, only to be told it won’t accept file names with “foreign characters”. As a GIS person, who has “always _, never ” tattooed somewhere on my brain, this was unacceptable.

Against my will, I changed the underscore to a space, only to be told that I could not upload a gpx file without time information. That is where my ride with Strava ended.

Now that my horizons had been broadened, I uploaded the gpx file to my OneDrive, and downloaded the GPX viewer app on my phone. I connected my OneDrive to it, and could view the gpx file in the folder, but it refused to download onto the phone.

At my wits end, I ended up at Bikemap. Not hoping for much, I uploaded my gpx file, which Bikemap very kindly accepted and displayed for me. I logged into my account on my phone using the official Bikemap app (who would’ve thought?) and there it was. Too bad it can’t do turn by turn offline navigation. Oh yes, here maps can do that….

I feel like this shouldn’t be this hard. I ended up looking at my planned routes before leaving, and using here maps to navigate there in online mode so that I could monitor the traffic.

I am prone to going for the most complicated solution when a simpler one exists, so what this all boiled down to was: Can I predefine a route, load it onto my mobile device and navigate that predefined route using offline turn-by-turn navigation? It would seem to me that the answer is no.

Creating, saving and loading a custom route onto a mobile device: Part 1

I’ve decided to post this here and not on my personal blog, even though this problem arose because of the awesome holiday I had planned. This has turned into a little personal project, so I tried to approach it from an end user point of view, instead of an enterprise GIS point of view. I scheduled several places to visit, and wanted to optimise the routes to these places based on my preferences, not time or traffic etc.

Here+logo+2012 google-maps-logo Bing_Maps_blue20logo ESRI_ARCMAP_transparente

  1. I created a collection on and diligently added each place, along with a note describing which date the place would be visited and in which order.

    Naturally, I forgot that saving a custom route to a collection in Here maps is an absolute pain, and I can’t save it offline anyway.

  2. I then searched if Google Maps can do it. Moving on.
  3. Next, I tried Bing Maps. To my surprise, and similar to how here maps surprised me, Bing Maps allows you to add places, create polys and lines, set styles and export to KML or GPX! Colour me impressed.

    With my Microsoft account signed in, I added two places and selected the route I wanted. I then launched Maps on my Windows Phone to see the fruit of my labours. Of course, nothing happened.

    A quick Google search (sorry Bing, but it’s really never going to happen for me) confirmed that places would synchronise between Windows devices, which I can verify as places I added in the Windows 8 Maps app do appear on my phone. However, they do not synchronise with places added through the web interface, even though it’s the same Microsoft account. Sigh.

  4. This is how I ended up back in ArcMap, using the Find Route functionality, and converting the route graphic to a feature class so I can GIS it up nicely. However, generating each route and converting for each feature class did not appeal to me, even by writing a script to do it for me. Ultimately, it would still leave me with pretty jpegs, and I am not setting up an ArcGIS Online trial to load in my phone just for this.

here is everywhere

While I wasn’t paying attention here Maps added a Map Creator option, where users can add/edit road and place information. Following the theme of this blog, everything is spatial and spatial is becoming everything. Anyone can now draw a polyline or place a point, create more and more data, and turn that data into information fairly quickly.

This is why it is important for those of us working in the GIS field currently that soon there will be no such thing as the GIS field anymore. It will be biotechnology + gis, environmental + gis, engineering + gis, auditing + gis etc. We need to either specialise in a few subject areas, or position ourselves as providing holistic spatial solutions specific to the client’s domain.