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How Bivouac GPX Files Are Displayed in Various Programs/Devices #2110
    Date first written: 2009.02.26   Review Date:2015.07.07

Table of Contents
1. Preface
2. General GPX Facts
3. Backcountry Navigator Android GPS
4. Memory-Map
5. National Geographic Topo! 4.0
6. Google Earth
7. GMap4
8. Garmin ETrex Legend Cx
9. Garmin Oregon 450T

1. Preface
This document tells you how Bivouac .GPX files are displayed in various programs, websites and devices. Eg: What do you see when you import a .gpx file into Google Earth? What do you see on a smart phone? A Garmin GPS? A digital map program? To answer this, I first explain that gpx files can contain tracks, routes and waypoints. Then I explain how these tags appear in various programs. There is a separate chapter for each device/program. The first few chapters are all digital map programs, then there are websites, and finally physical GPS units.

2. General GPX Facts
GPX Files are just standard text files. You can open them with any text editor. What you see is some special syntax for defining waypoints, tracks and routes. You can also open them with Internet Explorer or Firefox, and see a colored display with the syntax highlighted and indented.

The three main types of syntax are:

  "wpt" Individual Waypoints
  "trk" Tracks
  "rte" Routes

  A "wpt" (waypoint) is just a stand alone waypoint. These could be used for gas stations, coffee shops, or mountains.

A "trk" (track) is a continuous stream of points automatically collected by a GPS. The difference between a track and a route is that a track does not have specific names for the individual points.

A "route" is a series of connected points, each one with a name, lat-long, elevation, etc.

As of 2015, Bivouac trip reports, roads and trails are exported as TRACKS. Previously I had alternate code to see them as Rte points. If you open the GPX file for any given trip report, you'll see a single "trk" tag and then you'll see a series of "trkpt" (track Point) tags.

It is up to the receiving program how it is going to display the gpx file. For example, "memory-map" displays the route as a continuous blue line, and each route point is a blue dot. When you hover the mouse over the blue dot, you see the name. However Google Earth will display exactly the same GPX file as a continuous line, but the individual route points are not clickable.

The rest of this document tells you how to upload Bivouac GPX files into various devices, and discusses how they will be displayed.

3. Backcountry Navigator Android GPS
Backcountry navigator is a GPS map program that runs on Android phones. It does not allow the gpx file to control line color. In theory, a gpx file could ask it to display one of hundreds of special symbols it has. However, because these are not standardized in any way across devices, most gpx files including Bivouac make limited use of these. As of 2017, Bivouac gpx files use their Symbol name for Alpine_Hut, but of course that only works on Backcountry navigator.

4. Memory-Map
I tested importing a whole series of trip reports into my Memory-Map digital map program. A good trip report for testing is my "Silverdaisy and Claimstake Peak" report (Trip6367). Here are instructions:

1. Go to any given trip report, and scroll down to the waypoints section.

2. Click on the GPX link. This should allow you to download the file to your computer. The file will have a name like "Trip6367.gpx".

3. Start up memory map. Click "Overlay..Import" and select the previously downloaded file. The GPX file will position you to the correct 1:50K mapsheet. The route should now appear as a blue line on the map.

4. Note that each waypoint is a blue dot. If you hover the mouse over the dot, you'll see the full description of the waypoint.

5. If you right click on the waypoint, you can adjust various properties. For example, you can tell it to "show" the waypoint name continuously.

5. National Geographic Topo! 4.0
This is a digital map program, put out by National Geographic. I tested importing Bivouac GPX files into National Geographic Topo! 4.0 and it works. When you get it working, it displays the Bivouac route as a blue line, and with little "Route Point" symbols for each waypoint. And you can hover over any given route point, and see the description. However, the names of route points can't be longer than 6 characters, and it forces you to rename any longer ones.

Test Exercise: Using Scott Nelson's trip report "North Ridge of Mount Baker:

1. download the .gpx from bivouac into a directory on your machine

2. start up Topo!

3. Click "Handhelds"

4. click "In a .gpx file..."

5. navigate to the place where you put the file
  Eg: C:\temp\

6. it tells you that the you have 1 route. Select that route.


a. The default route display shows both the name and the coordinates for every route point, which is a mess.

c. If any wp name is too long, a "Invalid Waypoint Screen" will pop up. Push "Change GPS Setup", then "Waypoint Display" and click [x] Hide Waypoint labels.

d. Alternatively, if your waypoint names are too long, you can replace all names with numbers. This is done by pushing "Cancel" on the warning screen. It gives you the option to replace all the waypoint names with numbers. I used this for Scott's report.

e. If the route has any duplicate waypoint names, then the program will force you to rename them to make them unique. Note: Scott's trip has three unnamed waypoints each of which have just =cp. These are interpreted as duplicate names, and Topo! will force you to rename them to be unique.

It is unfortunate that the program uses the same settings for any GPX file as it does when downloading directly from a GPS. A better design would be to have a separate import function for gpx files.

6. Google Earth
As of 2009.01.23, we have tested uploading Bivouac GPX files that contain Rte tags into Google Earth.

1. Export the file
 2. Start up Google Earth,
 3. Click File..Open, and browse to the file.
 4. Click on the file and Google Earth should position to the correct location and show the route as a turquoise line.
 5. Note that the GPX file is now displayed in the Google Earth "Places" pane, under "Temporary Places"

The Google Earth implementation of GPX files is not as good as some others, because they don't make the "route points" clickable. They are not properly handling the "RtePt" tag. The only clickable waypoints we've seen in Google Earth are from "wpt" tags.

7. GMap4
GMap4 is the program that implements the "Topomaps" link on every trip page, road page, etc. The gpx file that we pass it is currently displayed as a red line. None of the waypoints show up, the name and description is not available. (It is lost in the conversion from .gpx to google KML files. This is being investigated).

8. Garmin ETrex Legend Cx
To get a bivouac GPX file into any given GPS hardware requires an intermediate program. There is no concept of "direct export" from a browser to a GPS without going through a program.

To get the GPX file from Bivouac into your GPS requires the file to be "imported" into a piece of software, and then "sent" to the GPS. (With the GPS attached via a USB cable). Just about any map program can be used. I've tested both free programs like "Easy GPS", and also purchased map programs like Garmin Map Source, Memory-Map, National Geographic. They all work roughly the same. When you "import" the GPX file it shows up as a line connecting a bunch of points. If the program has map data, the line will be drawn on a map. To initially configure it, the "Send" function usually has a "configure" button, you choose "Garmin" and "USB" and then you can "Send".

You soon discover that it is advantageous to use a program which has maps, because this allows you see what you are doing, and perhaps insert more waypoints, or adjust the line to be more accurate.

Memory map works really well for this purpose, except that due to a licencing issue, it doesn't transmit the elevations to your GPS.

I have done extensive testing of how the Garmin ETrex Cx handles Bivouac GPX files (and other GPX files). What you see depends on what the interface program decided to export.

9. Garmin Oregon 450T
The Oregon 450 Touchscreen is a GPS with built in maps, and a touchscreen. I use one to capture waypoints. I have not investigated the upload of .gpx files.