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Difference Between Bivouac Waypoints and GPS Waypoints
    Date first written: 2017.05.30     Last Review: 2017.05.30

Table of Contents
1. Preface
2. Waypoints and Track Logs
3. Robin's Definition
4. Alan Neufeld Edit

1. Preface
People keep getting mixed up on this, so I'm going to beat it to death, and explain it in as many ways as possible. One chapter also contains a "non technical" explanation written by Alan Neufeld.

2. Waypoints and Track Logs
The following things exist: (I'm assuming you are familiar with the operation of your GPS, and hopefully have written a bivouac trip report.

  1. In a GPS
     In a GPS, there are two things: (1) Track Logs and (2) Waypoints I assume you are familiar with these. You make a track log by turning on "track logging" on your GPS and then starting to hike. Your GPS will then record points as you hike, according to the track logging interval on your GPS. (Typical interval is every 20 meters).

    "Waypoints" can be created at various "points of interest" by pushing a button on the GPS to "Mark" a waypoint.

  2. In Bivouac
     Bivouac trip reports and Road/trail bulletins have a field called "Waypoints". Below are examples of what you would see INSIDE the road record. The example is based on Ashlu Main:

    INSIDE THE EDIT FORM

    49.914309,-123.292659=Jct leave Squamish Main
    49.914475,-123.293753=Squamish River Bridge
    49.915435,-123.299922=Bridge over small Squamish tributary
    49.915679,-123.301438=cp
    49.915691,-123.302146=Fork for Ashlu A100, and fishing spots/Campground
    49.915159,-123.304061=cp
    49.914264,-123.306904=cp
    49.913646,-123.308846=KP Start of large construction on satellite
    49.911791,-123.314479=cp
    49.910872,-123.316914=cp
    49.910796,-123.318298=cp
    49.911065,-123.320304=cp
    49.910388,-123.321903=End Twin Bridges over Ashlu Creek
    
    The above text is usually generated by parsing a gpx file, or clicking the points along a line on GMap using the Draw and Save function. At that time, the editor can put in the descriptions.

    OUTSIDE DISPLAY
     See [roadxId1383-Ashlu Main]


     789-291 49.9143,-123.2927 0.0 21.0 Jct leave Squamish Main
     789-291 49.9145,-123.2938 0.1 21.0 Squamish River Bridge
     784-292 49.9154,-123.2999 0.5 21.3 Bridge over tributary
     783-293 49.9157,-123.3022 0.7 21.4 Fork for Ashlu A100
     778-290 49.9136,-123.3089 1.2 21.8 construction on satellite
     768-287 49.9104,-123.3219 2.3 22.4 End Twin Bridges over Ashlu
    Notice that only the labelled waypoints show up. The waypoints marked "cp" are just "control points". The first column is UTM codes which have been calculated from the latlongs. Similarly the 2 columns after the latlong are distances that have been calculated.

  3. In a Gpx File
     A .gpx file is for data transfer. They can be created by your GPS. They can be created by Bivouac. Once you have the file, you can "import" it into some other device. For example, you could download a .gpx file from a bivouac trip report, then import it into your gps.

    A Gpx file is just a text file. If you looked inside with a text editor, you would perhaps hundreds of lines of data, containing three types of "tag".


      <waypt>..</waypt> These tags start and end a waypoint

      <trk>...</trk> These tags start and end a track log
      <trkpt>...</trkpt> These tags start and end a track point

    That is how track logs and waypoints are contained in a .gpx file.

    Now we can talk about how gpx files are made up. If you make one from a GPS, it is obvious. If you make one from Bivouac trip report (by pushing "download gpx", it goes thru and makes a <trk> for the name of the trip, and then a <trkpt> for every lat-long. But no description.

    If you download a .gpx on the mountain page for a 10 km radius (gpx10), you will get a gpx file that contains a <trk> track for every road and trail within 10 km, plus a <waypt> for every mountain. In theory, the gpx file could tell your GPS what symbol to use, but there is no standard list of symbol names, so in practice, the symbol for a mountain will be whatever your GPS does.

    In theory, Bivouac could also spew out <waypt> sections for every waypoint along a road that had a description. But we would have no control over the symbol, so it could be a mess. That is why we don't do it at present.

    3. Robin's Definition
    People keep getting mixed up on this, so I'm going to beat it to death, and explain it in as many ways as possible.

    The term "waypoint" is used slightly differently in Bivouac than in a GPS. In a GPS, a "waypoint" is a single stand alone point with it's own label, etc. In Bivouac, a "waypoint" is one line in the waypoints field of a trip report or road record. These points are "ordered" points, and some can have labels. A GPS also has a data structure for an ordered set of lat-longs, called a "track log". On a GPS, track logs are created automatically by writing a new point into the file at whatever interval you have defined. Eg: every 20 meters. But of course there is no option to label these points. If you want a labelled point, you have to pull the GPS out of your pocket and create a waypoint. There will probably be a similar lat-long also in your track log, so the lat-long is duplicated.

    The bivouac, the "waypoints" field combines both labelled and unlabelled points. Such a list has enough information to produce both a "track log" and waypoints. The labelled points could create GPS waypoints.

    Only the labelled points are displayed on the trip page. But if you view the trip on GMap, or export the bivouac waypoints to a .gpx file, the resulting "track" could have all the points. But of course there are no labels in track logs. If you wanted labelled points, we would have to duplicate each labelled track point as a GPS waypoints. We plan to have that option in the future, but there are problems.

    Problems
     The problem with automatically generating GPS waypoints for some trip points is symbols. We would want a different symbol than for mountains. But there is no standard way for a gpx file to tell different GPS units what symbol to use. So they all get mixed together. This becomes very messy if the gpx also had dozens of mountains. It also gets messy when they get mixed in with waypoints you actually create on your trip. The GPS has no concept of keeping uploaded waypoints separate from created ones. They are all in one messy list.

    I have tried to work on symbol standardization with the people making GPS Map programs. But it has been difficult to get them to agree. In fact, it's difficult to even get their own non-standard names for their vast number of symbols.

    DEFINITION REVIEW
     After reading the above, review what these words mean:

    1. Gpx file
       A text file which contains track log and/or waypoint information. gpx files can be created by your GPS, or by Bivouac.

    2. GPS Waypoint
       A point stored in your GPS which has a symbol and label. In a gpx file, the tag is <wp> and </wp>.

    3. Bivouac Waypoint
       One line in the Waypoints field, consisting of a lat-long, an equals sign and a description. There is no symbol. When exported, they turn into "track points" in the .gpx file. These do NOT currently turn into GPS waypoints.

    4. Track Point
       A lat-long in a track log. Do not use Waypoint to refer to these. When you download a set of bivouac waypoints into a gpx file, they become track points. Track points could be called "bread crumbs" because they are automatically created by the GPS as you hike. In a Gpx file, the tag for track point is <trkpt>

    5. Track Log
       A track log is a thing in your GPS. There are no track logs in bivouac, only waypoint lists. A track log is a set of track points. A track log in your gps can come from two sources:
       1. As you hike, a series of "bread crumbs" automatically recorded.
       2. From a gpx, A series of <trkpt> values within a <trk>

    4. Alan Neufeld Edit
    There has been some confusion with regards to the use of the term "waypoint" on Bivouac with regards to GPS waypoints (which contain visible symbols and labels) and a Bivouac waypoint (which is simply a written description complete with lat-longs on the website itself), and so I will try to explain. When used on Bivouac, the term "waypoint" simply signifies a place of interest along a route and at present is NOT downloadable. On a trip report, for example, a list of these waypoints is often provided near the bottom of the page for the user's reference. As these Bivouac waypoints cannot be downloaded directly to a GPS or any other program as is, if these points are to be of use to the user, they will currently need to be created manually.

    The "Download GPX File" link in the Waypoints section of a trip report obviously is downloadable and these files show routes which are made up of hundreds or even thousands of track points. Although the Bivouac described waypoints previously mentioned are not downloadable, their specific coordinates will fall along the route line of the track log as simple track points - the obvious problem, however, is that they are not individually visible when viewing them on a GPS or other program.

    (We are working on a fix in order to be able to download the Bivouac waypoints directly, but the current problem with automatically generating GPS waypoints for some trip points is symbols. We would want a different symbol for rivers than for mountains, for example, but presently there is no standard way for a gpx file to tell different GPS units which symbols to use and so they all get mixed together. This becomes very messy if the gpx also had dozens of mountains, rivers, camps, etc. And it gets even messier when they get mixed in with waypoints you actually create on your trip. The GPS has no concept of keeping uploaded waypoints separate from created ones - they are all in one messy list. I have tried to work on symbol standardization with the people making GPS Map programs. But it has been difficult to get them to agree. In fact, it's difficult to even get their own non-standard names for their vast number of symbols.)