Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

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Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby Son of a Beach » Wed 02 Jun, 2021 12:49 pm

Bit Map is an iOS app for GIS, mapping and navigation (ie, for iPhones and iPads).

Quick History of the world: Bit Map was first released in 2009. It was rewritten from scratch and released as Maps n Trax a couple of years later. Maps n Trax was sold off to another developer several years after that. It was then on-sold through several other developers, none of whom did any significant maintenance, and now it will not run on recent iOS versions at all.

Once my non-compete clause in the sale contract expired, and it was becoming clear that Maps n Trax was not going to be useable soon, I began work on a brand new app. I have re-used the Bit Map name that I originally started with because I no longer own the name Maps n Trax. I also re-trained in Geographic Information Systems several years ago, and have been working as a GIS professional for a few years now, so I have a much better idea of how these kinds of apps should work than I did the first time around.

Bit Map and Maps n Trax were the first apps on iOS to provide on-device georeferencing of arbitrary, user-supplied maps. Ie, scan a map (or take a photo of a map in a tourism brochure), or procure a map in digital form, then install it in the app. You can then navigate by your own custom map offline, and are not limited to offline maps supplied by the app vendor, nor required to have a network connection to view maps or navigate by them.

The new version of Bit Map (version 7... not released just yet) can now georeference your custom map images by 4 different methods. It can also use online map services such as WMTS, TMS, XYZ (inc OSM), etc. It can also download portions of these online services and save them for offline use.

There is the beginnings of a web site for the new Bit Map here: https://nixanz.com/bitmap/user-guide/

I've been using the new Bit Map as my sole mapping and navigation app while out bushwalking for about 3 years now (yes, I also carry a paper map and compass and occasionally practice using them). But it's taken me a while to find the time and motivation to get Bit Map 7 up to a state that it would be acceptable to other users.

At last, it is now feature complete and I'm starting to work through the bugs. By "feature complete", I mean that it has reached my initial goal of replicating all the functionality of my previous mapping apps, plus a few more features (such as very highly customisable symbology).

BETA TESTERS NEEDED

If you are interested in beta testing the new Bit Map 7, I would welcome your feedback. To participate in the beta testing, you will need to do two things:
  • Download the "TestFlight" app from the App Store. This is a free App from Apple that is used to manage apps that have been made available to your for testing.
  • Send me a private message with you first name, last name and email address. I need these to configure your Test Flight access.
Once I've configured your access, you will receive a notification that you can download and start testing the app.
Last edited by Son of a Beach on Thu 03 Jun, 2021 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby Son of a Beach » Wed 02 Jun, 2021 6:59 pm

PS. There are a few more glimpses into the early development of the original Bit Map at: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2660

That topic shows that I really was clueless about GIS and spatial data at the time. It was a steep learning curve, but the results were an exceptionally useful app.
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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby icefest » Wed 02 Jun, 2021 8:20 pm

any android app in the making?
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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 6:29 am

No, sorry. I don’t have the time to learn another system.

If I ever become rich and famous, I might employ somebody else to do an Android version or to migrate it to a cross development tool kit. But I think the chances of this are infintessimally small
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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 16 Jun, 2021 8:13 am

Fantastic SoaB!
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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby Son of a Beach » Wed 16 Jun, 2021 11:06 am

I'm starting to put together a list of map services that people can use with Bit Map (in theory, any WMTS, TMS or XYZ online map should work). The idea is to have a 'Resources' page that users can refer to if they want to find another map to add to Bit Map on their own device. The current resources page is at: https://nixanz.com/bitmap/resources/

If you know of any other services that you would like to run on Bit Map and want to share with other users, let me know and I'll add them to the page. (Please send a link to the provider's home page, as well as the URL that would be entered into Bit Map - usually a Capabilities URL or a URL template).

Additionally if people have any style (symbology) definitions that they think are worth sharing with other people, I can also add these to the resources page(s). These can be shared directly from the Style Editor view in Bit Map (then choose 'Copy' or 'Email', etc).

NB: I've just fixed a wide-ranging series of iPad-ONLY crashes. These crashes could occur any time a share/action sheet was going to be displayed, as well as several other types of alerts. I don't use iPads (only iPhones) so hadn't done much testing on the iPad, and had forgotten that alerts, share-sheets, etc, have to be handled a little differently when programming for iPads.
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Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 16 Jun, 2021 3:06 pm

Was an active user of your previous app and was disappointed to see it go. Since, has primarily used PocketEarth with good result. Just received your beta test link and will give this new one a go. Curious of the differentiation with PE and looking forward to see this app develop.

Add: The first I would comment from my initial 10mins of use is, the text labels on the default map are too small for my eyes. Can’t read them.
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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby Son of a Beach » Wed 16 Jun, 2021 5:27 pm

You can use the x1 button at the top (changes to a x2) to double the sizes of all the symbology. Even works for most tiled basemaps. :-)

Let me know how it goes.
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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 16 Jun, 2021 10:59 pm

Thanks!

That x2 certainly works to an extent but still many labels staying small. Not sure if it’s an app issue or cartography issue. Just very different to other maps I’ve used in past.


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Re: Bit Map for iOS (aka Maps n Trax) is Back! (Almost)

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 17 Jun, 2021 6:38 am

I may need to look into displaying basemaps at their native resolution. Currently Bit Map displays them (by default) at the resolution of the iPhone screen which was two pixels to every “point” when I restarted a few years ago. Back then my eyes were OK with it, but have grown older since.

The x2 should have brought the basemaps to their own native sizes.

However, I think some newer iPhones may actually have even higher pixel density (x3). So I might consider adding other options. Perhaps also the option to scale the basemaps and the other layers separately might be worth considering.
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