other topo formats - NGS TOPO!

redbeardredbeard Global Mapper UserPosts: 279Trusted User
edited November 2009 in Suggestion Box
This is a suggestion for a future version perhaps (though not as needed as the maps are easily found on the archive.org site and GM cuts the collars).

An ability to use the National Geographic Society's TOPO! product, which is sold in the shop on this site. They recently discontinued their professional line of products, and some of us have their state series or the backroads set. They make nice background maps for whatever it is we are working on.

States/state bundles are about $100, and the backroads is $50. The backroads product is nice as it has nationwide seamless coverage of the 100k topo maps, as well as elevation, roads and hillshading.

So that's my suggestion, but I'm not sure what kind of demand for this would be (or the legal stuff). So is there any demand for this kind of support? Or am I the only one?

Comments

  • MattMatt Global Mapper User Posts: 176Trusted User
    edited October 2009
    In case you're not aware, the NG Topo layer is available for Google Earth. You can find more info here.

    http://www.gelib.com/ng-topo.htm

    Here's the link to kml file.
    http://www.gelib.com/maps/_NL/ng-topo.kml

    AFAIK it's legal, for non commercial use only.

    Matt
  • global_mapperglobal_mapper Administrator Posts: 17,238
    edited October 2009
    There have been requests to support the National Geographic TOPO TPQ file format, which I believe at least some of the TOPO! products use. Someone has decoded the format so this may be possible to support, although I'm not sure how much demand there is for such a thing. Guess it would depend on how many TOPO! users there are that are also Global Mapper users.

    Thanks,

    Mike
    Global Mapper Support
    support@globalmapper.com
  • redbeardredbeard Global Mapper User Posts: 279Trusted User
    edited October 2009
    That's kind of what I was getting at. How many TOPO! users are there? Do you want to be able to use this data in GlobalMapper?

    I've seen the kml plugin for Google earth, and it works well. I've been using the web version for a while longer, which I found on esri's web mapping api site- in some example. But you can't use that link in GlobalMapper.

    I just have the Backroads, and its a lot of data (17 cd's) that completely covers the 50 US states. It's good useful info.
  • vieuxdelamontagnevieuxdelamontagne Global Mapper User Posts: 66Trusted User
    edited November 2009
    Here's my two cents. It would be really helpful if Global Mapper could read and interpret/convert the vector data format(s) produced by TOPO! TOPO! has a LOT of users, and they can't (As Far As I Know) share their data in any open or standard or non-proprietary format.

    A good many years ago I quit using TOPO! because it was very expensive and worked with raster and vector data only in its own formats; conversely, the data I purchased with the software could be used conveniently only with TOPO! software. As geographic data available (usually at no cost) on the Web burgeoned, these restrictions came to seem like a bad bargain. A separate problem was that NGS never seemed to appreciate that in GPS standard usage there is a difference between "tracks" and "waypoints"; if I fed it a track, it would accept it, but save it ONLY as a (very long) vector of waypoints--which is not what one wants.

    I hope this may have changed since I gave up on the NGS, but it now would be hard to have to go back to using something as primitive and restrictive as TOPO! after learning to use more capable programs (e.g., GIS software, Global Mapper, OziExplorer, Google Earth, NASA World Wind,...) that are not subject to these restrictions.

    However, I frequently find on the Web, or have mailed to me, vector data produced by TOPO! VERY frequently, in fact. These files are a challenge to use. There ARE conversion programs available, but As Far As I Know, they're limited. Even the ability to take an ordered list (a "vector", if you prefer) of waypoints and have it interpreted as a "track" seems to be lacking; I sometimes receive what undoubtedly was once a perfectly good GPS-produced tracklog after someone has allowed TOPO! to mangle it into a list of several hundred waypoints; I then have the task of converting it into something usable. For me, that's a multi-stage process that usually requires execution of one or another little bit of freeware to extract the waypoints into something non-proprietary, then conversion to ASCII, then some effort in OpenOffice Calc, then some basic text editing, and finally reading the resulting ASCII with Global Mapper so that the converted file can be properly interpreted and saved as a track file.

    Since this problem seems to happen a lot, owing to the near monopoly that NGS has established over the market for digital topographic maps within the United States, what I would appreciate most would be a simple way to input data in any of the vector formats that TOPO! has used (there are several; there have been changes over the years) and then interpret the result intelligently as waypoints, tracks, "line features", "point features", or whatever, so that they could be saved in non-proprietary vector-feature formats (e.g., .gpx, .kml, .shp,...). I suppose that it might be nice to have the capability to WRITE TOPO!-formatted files, but to me that's of secondary importance.

    The ability to read TOPO!-formatted raster data doesn't seem very important, at least to me. The quality of TOPO!'s digitization is very, very good, but most of the raster data that NGS sells in this format are available free in other formats from well-known and well-publicized sites.
  • global_mapperglobal_mapper Administrator Posts: 17,238
    edited November 2009
    Can you provide some sample vector data in the TOPO! format so that I can take a look and see if it would be possible to read that format directly?

    Thanks,

    Mike
    Global Mapper Support
    support@globalmapper.com
  • redbeardredbeard Global Mapper User Posts: 279Trusted User
    edited November 2009
    A good many years ago I quit using TOPO! because it was very expensive and worked with raster and vector data only in its own formats; conversely, the data I purchased with the software could be used conveniently only with TOPO! software. As geographic data available (usually at no cost) on the Web burgeoned, these restrictions came to seem like a bad bargain......
    ...The ability to read TOPO!-formatted raster data doesn't seem very important, at least to me. The quality of TOPO!'s digitization is very, very good, but most of the raster data that NGS sells in this format are available free in other formats from well-known and well-publicized sites.

    Part of the reason I sort of want TOPO! support is because of how much the data cost. I wish to use the public domain part of the data in my own projects, and it was getting under my skin that I had the data, but no way to use it :mad:. Granted, it is getting easier to find/get DRG data, but I do like how you can have a seamless DRG setup that doesnt require finding all the pieces or waiting on the terraserver site. There is a KML file that gives you the same TOPO! data from ESRI, and they have it as a basemap option in their ArcGIS Explorer data viewer product.
    So the post/thread was sort of a TOPO! users Anonymous group. I mean the stuff was $100 a state originally and can't do anything but look at it using their clumsy viewer.
  • MattMatt Global Mapper User Posts: 176Trusted User
    edited November 2009
    I'm working on nationwide seamless KML DRG bundles for Google Earth that will include 24,000, 125,000 and 250,000 scales. Haven't worked out details on pricing or distribution yet, but will be fraction of what NG charges for Topo.
  • redbeardredbeard Global Mapper User Posts: 279Trusted User
    edited November 2009
    Matt, couple questions, I'm slightly confused.
    KML or KMZ?
    125,000? or 100,000?

    I was getting at using the data for other mapping projects, not just viewing or using in Google Earth or ArcGIS Explorer. It'd be nice to convert the TPQ to a geoJPG or something. But I'm sorta thinking toss the whole TOPO! stuff and forget I had it as far as GIS related projects go.

    But, I have read somewhere that Global Mapper was thinking of being able to use KML or KMZ (not output, but input)? Is this on the list for version 12 or 13 or so?

    If it is, cool. I'm sure many will use it (myself included).
  • global_mapperglobal_mapper Administrator Posts: 17,238
    edited November 2009
    Global Mapper has supported both import and export of KML and KMZ files for quite a while now. The only thing that is really missing is the ability to pull in external files from a web site that are referenced by a KML/KMZ file. Currently only local raster data can be pulled in.

    Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

    Thanks,

    Mike
    Global Mapper Support
    support@globalmapper.com
  • redbeardredbeard Global Mapper User Posts: 279Trusted User
    edited November 2009
    Thanks for the clarification, I guess I was reading about that particular issue, pulling data from other servers that are reference in the kml.
  • MattMatt Global Mapper User Posts: 176Trusted User
    edited November 2009
    redbeard wrote: »
    Matt, couple questions, I'm slightly confused.
    KML or KMZ?
    125,000? or 100,000?

    I was getting at using the data for other mapping projects, not just viewing or using in Google Earth or ArcGIS Explorer. It'd be nice to convert the TPQ to a geoJPG or something. But I'm sorta thinking toss the whole TOPO! stuff and forget I had it as far as GIS related projects go.

    But, I have read somewhere that Global Mapper was thinking of being able to use KML or KMZ (not output, but input)? Is this on the list for version 12 or 13 or so?

    If it is, cool. I'm sure many will use it (myself included).

    Sorry, meant 100,000. KMZ and KML are pretty much the same thing. KMZ is simply a KML file that has been compressed using ZIP. Their are advantages and disadvantages to each, depending on the specific application.

    GM supports simple KML/KMZ rasters. Doesn't seem to import raster SuperOverlays though. For example, the attached file.
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