First Impressions: Routebuddy 4

The new edition of Routebuddy software for both OSX and Windows has arrived during the last couple of days. I’ve played with it a little and will look to write a full review when I have time. But this is the edition that implements map printing and route printing options. I know a lot of people who have ben interested in Routebuddy have not really considered it as a serious option until route printing has been implemented.

This is not a facility that I use and I don’t suppose that I will much but on first look it is a nice implementation. Here is one of the printouts (click to gain access to bigger image):

map

If this was a longer route the software would have split it into a number of page prints. A very nice feature — to me at least — is the inclusion of grid references on both the horizontal and vertical boundaries. You don’t have to worry about being on a piece of map that doesn’t have a grid reference on it. You can also see that it is aligned for true North.

Tile creation seems quick. Colin Ibbotson — who works on continuous routes of thousands of miles — tells me that tile creation slows a bit over 1,000 kilometres but that it gets there effectively in the end.

Another feature in this new edition is the automatic production of route cards. These have tons of information on them and this will be especially welcome for mountain runners although there;s too much for me personally. However, each route card has a brat summary section at the top which includes a time calculation based on Naismith. The route card data gives you bearing, distance, height and so and also includes paces something which runners will be pleased with. All we need know is to be able to customise the software with our individual pace length and speed over the ground but I think that is coming.

For existing customers this is a £15 upgrade which seems good value for money. Colin tells me that — for him — the inclusion of route printing means this is a big upgrade.

A full review will follow. For me Routebuddy are now operating the kind of regular upgrade programme that I experience with all of my best software. If they continue to develop like this they will be effectively providing a kind of subscription service, although of course you will always own the version you bought.

If you’ve been waiting for Routebuddy to implement routes it is probably time to take another look.

Comments

  1. I have a copy of Routbuddy but I still scratch my head and wonder why they want to have print outs showing true north. This shows the grid skewed – unnecessarily, in my opinion.

    I also have major problems plotting a long route, for instance a fourteen day TGO Challenge route. I got to the end of a two hour plotting session yesterday only for the software to freeze and the entire route was lost forever. I was not a happy bunny…

    I am also not happy that there is no “gazetteer;” You cannot type in a place name and go to that point. This is a major drawback, in my opinion.

    If your example of the print out is accurate, then the grid display is far too heavy and this dominates the mapping unnecessarily. There are other minor niggles.

    However! There are things that I find absolutely wonderful with Routebuddy: I *love* the way you can click into aerial photo views and Google Earth. Their handling of gpx and kml files seems to be a lot better than Anquet. It “moves” a lot more smoothly than Anquet as well.

    • I’ve certainly had no problems planning TGO routes so it is worth reporting the crash to RB. Agree about the absences f place search (weird because you can do this with the same map on IOS devices).

      Using a Mac this is much better than Anquet. Are you using the PC version?

    • Just a thought Al. Make sure your day routes are in different place files.

    • Hi Alan and thanks for your comments.

      RouteBuddy Grid layout…
      It’s not that we set out to offer the grid (printed or viewed) showing true north – though that does offer its own advantage over any other map software – and perhaps the word ‘skewed’ is misleading in that it sounds as though the grid tile is distorted, it is not and is still a square, but the reasoning and difference actually lie elsewhere…

      In old-style map software you’ll have noted you can only open one map at a time, not utilise layered maps, not overlay satellite imagery, nor mix different country maps in the same window – nor do a host of other things you’ve come to accept as the norm in RouteBuddy. If you look at maps in Anquet, Isys, Memory-Map, Mapyx Quo and Tracklogs they use the very old OSGB36 (yep that’s ‘1936’!) as the projection for Ordnance Survey maps and, whilst this is easier for them to do, with the plus of no extra work on the OS maps, it leaves these applications as very limited-use when compared to one built to support the modern standard WGS84 datum, as RouteBuddy does.

      Whilst I don’t expect the OSGB36 datum, and its grid pattern to go away immediately, it is notable that the Ordnance Survey are modernising their data so that it can be used in the WGS84 datum, their vector data already is. The raster Ordnance Survey maps we offer unfortunately suffer from the extant historical grid overlay, because that’s something we’re used to as a nation and want to ‘have around’ – and I suspect the OS themselves may not yet be ready for the change in several ways. Of course the OSGB36 datum would be wildly out if extended to other countries, so they all have their own – such as in France with ‘Lambert 93′ and ‘UTM or NAD27 or Albers’ in North America. So it’s much more useful, and readable, to adopt a modern datum with WGS84 and apply that to all the maps worldwide.

      Will today’s early teenagers, who seem to be plugged into their mobile devices, and who will travel more than we did, eventually care about loss of OSGB36 when it’s easier to understand, and utilise – on a worldwide scale – Latitude and Longitude? I feel not, but time will tell.

      So far the only two map companies, worldwide, to adopt WGS84 for a mix of raster and vector maps are RouteBuddy, in offline map software, and Microsoft’s Bing for online maps. (Yes Bing also shows Ordnance Survey maps reprojected to the WGS84 datum, aligned as in RouteBuddy.)

      In a nutshell: RouteBuddy is the only modern mapping application, offering more useful tools, advantages and regular new features that are linked to the WGS84 datum and, without using that datum (in software terms) it would be like going back to the stone age. The grid lines are perfectly useable, but are now projected in a modern way to suit modern software and future mobile devices.

      Plotting a long route…
      I can’t tell why RouteBuddy froze at that moment; Whilst I truly share your frustration I can say that it’s not always the software you are using that can cause a freeze, so we should keep an open mind. If RouteBuddy crashes then we have an auto BugReporter which opens up and invites you to send the data back to us, only if we receive that data can we make adjustments. I’m a Mac user and fortunately benefit from the way OS X and RouteBuddy work together to constantly make interim backups whilst creating long routes; You’re a PC user and I don’t know which OS version you are using, and if that OS supports incremental backups? If it doesn’t then we should talk and see what can be done.

      Gazetteer…
      No, it is not possible to type a search into a gazetteer and ‘go to a point’, the Ordnance Survey gazetteer (as supplied with older style map applications) only takes you to the general area of a tile, which is not accurate. Currently the only way to accurately search by pinpoint is to layer a RouteBuddy Ordnance Survey map over a RouteBuddy Vector Road Map, then you can search right down to lane, or say a Post Office near a planned long-distance route, like the TGO Challenge for example. Which brings me on to:

      RouteBuddy ‘Search’…
      The search facility on RouteBuddy has also yet to be changed, because we’re going to take it way beyond just a search facility in the future; So there is no point at this moment in time building in the dated vague location search and rather limited (only 250,00 entries) Ordnance Survey Gazetteer, only to dispose of its code at a later stage. (And when you consider the price of the latest UK vector road map, where search data is in the millions of points, at only £19.99, this really serves as the best search option by far.)

      Grid display on print out…
      I accept that these lines are too heavy for some, may not be the right colour and so on and so on; But Alan, this is only the first release of printing grid lines and we do pump out many releases over each year – so these features will be refined; Software, by its very nature, is never complete; But we (unlike our competitors) do offer an application that is growing and adding useful (and thought out) features all the time. As far as I know Anquet don’t even offer a grid print out.

      I hope all of that helps to explain the way we do the things we do! :-)

      -neil

  2. Hi Andy,

    Yes Colin is very much a power user and has multiples of exceptionally long routes in his database; Although his type of use is not an average we have thought about Colin’s data and created the required tickets for the foundation changes to be made to RouteBuddy.

    The new Route Cards only contain the data a RouteBuddy user puts into it, so if a route is potted out with a mass of twists and turns, and over a long distance, then the Route Card will show the detail for each and every routepoint – but when printed out there could be many pages to support that long, and detailed, route. Therein lies the rub… The created RouteCard just printed contains data, as set by the user, on all of the very accurate routepoints just plotted, but thereby lots of pages to be printed off. Of course with the ability to overlay a route on top of a route in RouteBuddy you could click out only the major points along the route, but then of course you lose the detail, and the accuracy / safety… The choice is not made by RouteBuddy but the user.

    Btw – the paces were included for walkers as well as runners; In my old ‘Scouting for Boys’ book it mentions counting paces!

    -neil

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