Frequently asked questions about ShareMyRoutes.com

See also: About Us, How to upload & download, Bugs and features

What is ShareMyRoutes.com?

ShareMyRoutes is about letting people share information about routes they have experienced. These routes can be anything from walking (hiking), cycling, to drives around scenic areas. A route may contain the actual path you followed, either recorded from a GPS, or authored in a suitable application, photographs and annotation of various points along the way, and descriptions and even your story of how you completed the route. Other people can find these routes, look at information the author has provided, and even download the route to their GPS, or a program like Google Earth. They can also leave comments about the route.

For some background on who is behind the site, see the about us page.

I'm new here, where do I start?

You might want to start by searching for routes. Have a look for routes you are interested in, and check out all the details, like the map, the photos, and the elevation profiles. If you can't find your favourite routes, how about adding them? To add routes, you'll need to create an account first. See the intructions below for how to do this.

How do I create an account?

If you haven't already created an account, you'll need to do this before you can create routes, or leave comments. Don't worry, it's free and easy to do.

How do you create a route?

There are two ways to create a route. You can either draw a route using the Silverlight Route Editor, or import a compatable file format.

To draw a route see the help included with the Silverlight Route Editor.

To import a file you'll need a suitable application to either download the data from your GPS, or to draw the route. Google Earth is free, and has excellent facilities for route creation. Most digital mapping programs, like Memory Map, Anquet, Fugawi will export a route in GPX format. That route may be a 'track;' downloaded from your GPS, or a route one you have created in the program. As well as digital mapping applications, there are applications designed to interface with your GPS, such as Expert GPS, and Ozi Explorer, you can use them in much the same way as a mapping application to download a track and produce a GPX file

Before you can create a route, you'll need to login, or create an account.

Once you have created the route, you can add extra details. You can upload photos which you can then label waypoints (places of interest) along the route. This helps make the map more useful to other readers. You can also add some information which describes the route, making it easier to find, such as keywords describing what the route is about, what activities it's for, and how hard it is. You can also add directions, and if you want any 'story' to do with the route, such as your experience.

How do you use a route?

You can look at a description of the route, an elevation profile of the route and a map of the route on the website. Although online mapping is constantly improving, the online maps for a given area may not be very detailed, especially in more remote areas If you know the area well, this may be enough detail to be able to mark the route onto a paper map. If you have the right software, you can also download the route, and then use this. When you download a route from this site you will get a file containing a route, even it was originally uploaded as a track (see above for the differences between a route and track), and any associated waypoints the route author has added. You can use this in a compatible application, like Google Earth or Memory Map to see the actual route in more detail than the mapping provided on the website. You can also load the route from the application onto your GPS, and use your GPS to help you navigate the route. Please refer to the documentation for your application and GPS, as the procedure will vary. The latest GPS units make this process very easy. However, it's very good idea to have a paper map marked with the route (or at least a printout of the route description and map) with you as a backup, in case your GPS fails. Its worth remembering trees, high buildings, and other things which prevent a clear view of the sky may mean you GPS doesn't work properly at times. Never rely solely on your GPS!

What are routes, tracks and waypoints?

In summary: A route is a course you intend to follow, where as a track is the course you actually followed. A waypoint is a place you have 'bookmarked'.

Routes and track have a particular exact meaning with most mapping applications. ShareMyRoutes can actually deal with both routes and tracks, but it's worth knowing about the differences between each. A track is a recording by a GPS of your position, elevation and speed at a series of points in time. Before uploading a track to sharemyroutes.com it's a good idea to have a look at the track and edit it to just show the data you want. A route is a series of points which have been created in a suitable application. Like a track they contain position date for a series of points, typically at points where the route changes direction. You can use a route on a GPS to help you stay on your intended course, as the GPS can give you directions to the next point on a route.

You can add a name and description of each waypoint. A example of a waypoint would be to mark the position of a feature like a bridge or a campsite. Waypoints can be imported from the original file, or created in sharemyroutes.

Importing Photos

You can add photos to a route to illustrate the route. There are two steps to this process. First you import the photos, and then you place these photos at waypoints. When photos are imported, data about each photo (if present) called Exif data is also stored. The data typically includes the time and date the photo was taken, and details about the camera settings.

Exif data

Exif data can also include the location of the photo. Some cameras record this data, or you can use an application such as Google Picasa to add this afterwards. If location data is present, a waypoint at that position will automatically be created. If the route is a GPS track, we can also use the time stamp of the photo to calculate the location of the photo, by comparing the time to the track. If the photo matches a position on the route, then a waypoint is automatically created as well.

Camera times

Often the camera's own internal clock may not be properly set, so before we can match the photo to the track, we need to determine the timezone the camera's clock was set to. Mobile photo cameras are usually automatically updated to the correct time for the location (including daylight savings time), so the timezone is usually local time for camera phone images. Unless you remember to change the camera's internal clock when the clocks change, or you travel to a different timezone, the camera's internal clock will be for you home location. The best way to figure out the offset is to look at the time the photo was taken, and work of the offset from that.