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New Online Topo Source

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New Online Topo Source

Postby mattyj » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:40 pm

Edit: see page 2 for update on slope analysis tool.

Until recently, there were two major sources for online US topo data: Terraserver and MyTopo. After a lot of hard work assembling 450GB of elevation data and approx. 60k USGS scans (thanks, USGS historical map project!), I'm happy to be able to offer another.

To view and print topo maps, go to http://caltopo.com/map.html. Chrome will make borderless prints at any size you want, Firefox will stick a white border around the print, and IE, well . . . it's IE.

As you use the map, the URL automatically updates; you can use this to send a link to someone. Some examples: Visitor Maps, Aerial w/ Contours, SF circa 1900.

If you go to http://caltopo.com/ and log in, you can also draw on a map and share it with others; for example:


This is just idle drawing, not meant to convey an actual ski route.

The USFS map layer is currently CA-only, but will be expanded to the lower 48 in another week or so. I will try to tackle nationwide historical maps after that. The USGS is still scanning WY, SD, MS, RI, MA, VT, NH and especially FL and LA; these states will get better maps as they become available over the next 9 months.

Note that I also posted about this earlier when the map data was California-only. This was originally developed as a mapping/management program for Wilderness SAR; if you like it, consider giving a donation to my team or your local SAR team.
Last edited by mattyj on Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby goofball » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:55 pm

super duper. thanks !
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby jdzaharia » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:45 pm

I'm digging the "Additional Layers" tab. I hope more visitor maps are loaded, as that's a great feature.

Much appreciated.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby mattyj » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:46 pm

Visitor maps of what?

Right now they're kind of an experimental feature - I wasn't really sure how useful they'd be. The NPS maps and newer USFS maps are pretty nice, but a lot of the USFS maps seem like they're based on scans of paper brochures rather than the source images used to make those brochures - low res, lots of artifacting, etc.

Are they useful because they show you where high-level features like campsites, visitor centers and trails are, or because the USFS maps show public-private property boundaries and obscure roads? Building the map layer takes a lot of manual effort (especially when they overlap), so I'm trying to figure out which visitor maps I should be focusing on.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby jdzaharia » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:02 pm

I like the USFS visitor maps for the property boundaries and ownership types. I also like them for the roads. In many places, one map does not show all the details. Rarely do I find one map that is the end-all-be-all for a particular area. I can see how much work they must be, though.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby mvs » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:41 pm

Do something for Europe, we're dyin' over here! :D One site for Austria, one for Germany, one for France, etc. All of them different interfaces and data quality. Sigh.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby mattyj » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:58 pm

In the US, everything produced by the government belongs to the people. My understanding is that despite your commie leanings, Europe doesn't have the same tradition. So while the USGS puts all its maps online for free, European governments can not only charge you for the map data but can prevent you from redistributing it without a license. I'd love to do Europe and tried digging into this a while back, but the english versions of government sites aren't always kept up to date with their native counterparts, and I kept hitting brick walls.

You can use my map viewer with the OpenCycleMap layer for worldwide coverage. It's not as good as the USGS maps here in the US, but my understanding is that it's more popular in Europe, and therefore has more people contributing and better coverage. I'd actually be curious to hear whether it's a suitable replacement for traditional topo maps over there, at least for easier scrambles.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby goofball » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:04 am

when i first used this i could use my scroll wheel to zoom in n out centered on my cursor placement. now that does not happen at all. did something change ? if so, that was super useful and w/out it having to zoom according to screen center, then pan around, is more than tedious enough to send me back to acme mapper. was fun while it lasted....
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby mattyj » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:01 am

It's back, but you'll have to reload the page a couple times to see it.

It's easy to trigger the scroll wheel zoom with a trackpad, and unlike a mouse wheel, you don't get any sort of physical feedback for when you've crossed a zoom level. This makes it annoying and then some on a sensitive laptop. I disabled it locally with plans to add it as a configuration option that gets stored as a browser cookie before the next code release, and then someone informed me of a serious bug with KML exports - in the rush to fix that, the half-complete scroll wheel modification went along for the ride.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby goofball » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:33 am

mattyj wrote:It's back, but you'll have to reload the page a couple times to see it.

It's easy to trigger the scroll wheel zoom with a trackpad, and unlike a mouse wheel, you don't get any sort of physical feedback for when you've crossed a zoom level. This makes it annoying and then some on a sensitive laptop. I disabled it locally with plans to add it as a configuration option that gets stored as a browser cookie before the next code release, and then someone informed me of a serious bug with KML exports - in the rush to fix that, the half-complete scroll wheel modification went along for the ride.


awesome ! you have my seal of approval, and all the weight that carries, once more. :) it is a really cool tool.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:50 pm

THANK YOU!
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby bedellympian » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:58 pm

This is amazing! Thank you!

Any chance you guys will have Alaska, Hawaii or Canada at some point?
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby cdog » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:13 am

I've been using this quite a bit. I enjoying flipping back and forth between the photos, shaded relief, and maps.
Ditto the value of Forest Service visitor maps - they are pretty handy when you don't quite need the detail of a topographic quad.
And the historic 1900s layer is pretty sweet for my neck of the woods (NE Cali).
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby mattyj » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:30 am

bedellympian wrote:Any chance you guys will have Alaska, Hawaii or Canada at some point?


Well, it's just me, no large group. Alaska and Hawaii will be added when the USGS finishes doing high-resolution scans for them, which unfortunately won't be until Fall 2012. I'm looking at adding Canada; big problem is figuring out how to integrate it with my existing tiles. Because of how the web mercator projection distorts scale and the way I have my tile layer set up, doing the northern portion of Canada down to zoom 16 will pretty much double my hosting costs, for very little benefit. I'm thinking thinking of integrating the west coast / rockies with my current layer and doing a separate layer with canada-wide coverage down to something like zoom 14.
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Re: New Online Topo Source

Postby kylenicolls » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:27 pm

Nice, thanks.
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