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Thread: ACME map advantages / hints

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mark Schaefer's Avatar
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    ACME map advantages / hints

    There was an earlier thread Topozone sold to Trails.com which discussed several of the free alternatives to topozone. Additional information was in a Topozone is no longer useful thread at Summit Post.

    Many of us have migrated to the ACME Mapper 2.0. Another commendable alternative is Mytopo.com.

    If you have not yet tried ACME here are some sample maps:
    Mount Marcy topo, wide view
    Mount Katahdin topo, detail
    Mount Washington satellite image
    Pinkham Notch road map

    Some ACME advantages and hints (perhaps overly verbose) follow:

    Better functionality. Currently ACME appears to provide the most useful functionality compared to the competition. IMHO, ACME is far better than the former topozone.

    Performance. I have noticed that the map download may be a bit slower than topozone using broadband, but not much. ACME downloads the map in smaller pieces obtained individually from TerraServer. These are then assembled in your computer's browser. Hopefully it is not too much slower for dial up users versus the former topozone.

    Intuitive. Most functions are easy to use. You probably can figure out most of it on your own. The familiar google pan and zoom functions are employed. You can recenter a map by double clicking on any position on the screen. Some help info can be viewed by clicking on About in the tool box which displays this page.

    Full Screen. The map will occupy nearly the full browser screen with no border areas. Wide borders are common on the other online map tools. So you see more map content with ACME maps.

    Search function. It works well if the name is unique, such as a search for: Gray Peak NY or Mount Eisenhower NH. It is tolerant of some spelling variations, abbreviations, and typos. However, a search for Panther Mountain NY will find one, but probably not the one you want. There is no "search result list" comparable to topozone - a deficiency of ACME. So you may need to think of a nearby geographical name with a unique name. You can also enter in coordinates such as N 42.1 W 74.1. Click on About in the tool box to see more search options. If you get a pop up window Cannot parse location when you search, that means the name could not be found in the USGS GNIS database.

    Markers. Each time you search, an opaque google marker is generated. Also you can click Mark to create a marker at the current map's center. They may be helpful to annotate a map. ACME's ability to place multiple markers anywhere on the final map is useful. However, the markers accumulate in your browser's cache. Any linkable map URLs that you create will become very long and complex if there are markers in the cache. If you are creating a map link to post, delete any markers that do not display on the current map, and use them judiciously as they may cover map detail. Click on Markers to delete all or specific markers.

    Linkable map. As you search, zoom, pan, or recenter the map, the URL field of the browser is not updated as it was with topozone. To generate a linkable URL for a map, click on Link to this page. The URL field will be updated. If there is more than one marker in the browser's cache, the URL becomes very long. Even one marker results in a URL that is too long for my tastes. Unless really required I recommend deleting all markers before clicking Link to this page to generate a linkable URL for the map.

    Browser history navigation. As mentioned above the URL field is not updated as you navigate the google controls and move around the map. Nor is the browser's "history" updated until you click Link to this page. So beware that if you use the browser's "back page" control, you will revert to the map when the URL field was last updated. The browser will retain no history of your recent map navigating from the current URL. Previously deleted markers may also reappear in the browser's cache. "Reloading" (PF5) also reverts the map to the current URL and loses any subsequent, recent navigations.

    Maps other than topos. It is very easy to switch to satellite images or road maps via the buttons on top or the Links in the toolbox. Also there are many other good functions available via the Links. You can link to a map using another popular map service, link to geocache and benchmark data, find geotagged photos posted on the flickr service, and other good stuff.

    Toolbox. To hide it, click on the revolving globe in the tool box. Click on the globe again to bring the toolbox back.

    Map display quirk. I have noticed an occasional quirk with some browsers on some computers (which I have not been able to debug). Very occasionally the map does not display, although it has been fully downloaded. If that happens, click on Link to this page or other function in the toolbox, and the map should rapidly appear. Most times the map displays properly. I suspect it may be something in the browser cache or internet preferences, but I have no further clues.

    Printing. Before printing select the desired orientation (profile vs. landscape) using the printer preferences. The printed page and browser window may not have the same aspect ratio and orientation. The northwest corner of the map and the scale will be the same on the printed page as it is on the display. ACME will add or drop map content from the east and south to fill the printed page. Use the browser's print preview to ensure that you will print the topo portions that you need. Note: none of the ACME boxes (tool, buttons, etc.), nor the google navigation controls are printed -- which is as it should be. You will have to write the distance scale on the printed map if desired. I have seen some problems using some older printers, but I have had no problems with more recent printers.

    Comments and additional hints are welcome.
    “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” Henry Ford
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  2. #2
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Schaefer
    IMHO, ACME is far better than the former topozone.
    As someone who is busy converting hundreds of topozone links, I disagree.

    * Topozone would center a map at any arbitrary point while Terraserver and hence Acme will only give you combinations of predefined squares

    * Scans were better on Topozone, lots of Terraserver maps come up showing margins or legends

    * Topozone would give you the coordinates of the current mouse point, if somebody knows how to do this on Acme please tell me how

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    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    I asked Mark to put up a tutorial here on ACME. And I'd like to thank Mark for taking the time to lay this out for VFTT members who might be interested in ACME as a successor to Topozone.
    Topozone was a handy internet tool, but it was purchased by another organization. Unless you want to spend $$ for the paid version the usefullness of Topozone is diminished in the opinion of many unless you pony up for it.

    Roy, Mark did a huge favor to the hiking community by locating and posting links to the (many of them obscure) 67 Catskill 100 summits. The USGS had mislocated a number of those summits or even completely mislabelled mountains. And Mark is mostly done on the even more obscure Catskill 200 highest list.

    Everone is entitled to their opinions, but I'm hoping the VFTT membership might greet his efforts with an open mind and a thanks for bringing this to people's attention.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mark Schaefer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoySwkr
    As someone who is busy converting hundreds of topozone links, I disagree.

    * Topozone would center a map at any arbitrary point while Terraserver and hence Acme will only give you combinations of predefined squares
    Yes, that is the performance issue I noted. ACME is clearly slower. You can search on any coordinate set such as N 42.1 W 74.1 (via Find in the toolbox), and ACME will center the map there.

    * Scans were better on Topozone, lots of Terraserver maps come up showing margins or legends
    I have not seen margins or legends in maps displayed by ACME. I have noticed that the scan resolution with ACME may not be as good as it was on some printed maps that I had previously created with topozone (perhaps more pixelation with ACME).

    * Topozone would give you the coordinates of the current mouse point, if somebody knows how to do this on Acme please tell me how
    If by the mouse point you mean the center of the map, click Link to this page in the toolbox, and the decimal coordinates appear in the URL field. If you want another point, double click to recenter the map there, and then Link to this page as before. You may have known a feature of topozone that made this easier.
    Last edited by Mark Schaefer; 06-23-2008 at 08:02 PM. Reason: typo
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    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoySwkr
    As someone who is busy converting hundreds of topozone links, I disagree.

    * Topozone would center a map at any arbitrary point while Terraserver and hence Acme will only give you combinations of predefined squares

    * Scans were better on Topozone, lots of Terraserver maps come up showing margins or legends

    * Topozone would give you the coordinates of the current mouse point, if somebody knows how to do this on Acme please tell me how
    I found it quite painless to convert Mark's list to Acme. It took about 5 minutes.

    If you double click a point, it will center it. Then click 'link to this page', and you are all set.

    If you need help with bulk conversion, let me know...
    Tom Rankin
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    Senior Member Raymond's Avatar
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    Figures. Doesn’t work on either of the browsers on my Mac at work.

    I’ll give the other computer, whatever it is, the one which uses Windows 98, a shot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond
    Figures. Doesn’t work on either of the browsers on my Mac at work.

    I’ll give the other computer, whatever it is, the one which uses Windows 98, a shot.
    I wasn't seeing anything but a green box (ACME mapper) but if you click on the "Markers" or "Link" buttons it brings up the map.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mark Schaefer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond
    Figures. Doesn’t work on either of the browsers on my Mac at work.

    I’ll give the other computer, whatever it is, the one which uses Windows 98, a shot.
    Thanks Carole for the post. I didn't have access to a Mac for testing, but had tested with Safari, IE, and Firefox on Windows platforms. The problem is intermittent with all three browsers. I would like to get a better handle on this issue. Clicking on one of the tool box hyperlinks does seem to consistently resolve the problem.
    “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” Henry Ford
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  9. #9
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Thanks everybody for your help so far, I never saw the no-map before and when I got it the first time today (Firefox, XP) I already knew what to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Schaefer
    You may have known a feature of topozone that made this easier.
    In Topozone, the mouse coordinate was tracked & displayed live.

    I have not seen margins or legends in maps displayed by ACME.
    Look at the top here, also the bottom :-)
    http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=42.09999,...2.1%20W%2072.1
    Not quite what I saw in S NH but equally useless.

    That brings up another issue - Topozone allowed you to separately set the base map scale and display scale via radio buttons, while with Terraserver you just use +/- to set the display scale and it gives you its choice of base map. For example, with the link above if I click "-" enough times I get a real map, but I can't enlarge that map to a greater scale like Topozone (or can I)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rankin
    I found it quite painless to convert Mark's list to Acme. It took about 5 minutes.

    If you need help with bulk conversion, let me know...
    It may depend on what format the links are in, feel free to try one of these for example:
    http://hikenh.netfirms.com/X4klist.htm
    http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/Prominence.html
    Last edited by RoySwkr; 06-24-2008 at 12:08 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoySwkr
    It may depend on what format the links are in, feel free to try one of these for example:
    http://hikenh.netfirms.com/X4klist.htm
    http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/Prominence.html
    My apologies, but the topozone data on those pages does not use lat and long, which Mark used for his page. If you can tell me what the acme format is for your data I might still be able to convert it.

    Also, what do z= and s= specify? Zoom and something else ?
    Tom Rankin
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Mark Schaefer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoySwkr
    Thanks everybody for your help so far, I never saw the no-map before and when I got it the first time today (Firefox, XP) I already knew what to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Schaefer
    You may have known a feature of topozone that made this easier.
    In Topozone, the mouse coordinate was tracked & displayed live.
    Topozone was indeed function rich, the automatic and continuous update of the URL was nice. Most google map based implementations work similar to ACME, and I can see pros but mostly cons to the URLs not being updated automatically.

    I have not seen margins or legends in maps displayed by ACME.
    Look at the top here, also the bottom :-)
    http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=42.09999,...2.1%20W%2072.1
    Not quite what I saw in S NH but equally useless.
    Now that you mention the specific example; I saw that switching to a satellite image from a detailed topo -- where the detailed satellite images were not available. In some cases ACME automatically zoomed out to where there was an available satellite image. When it did not automatically zoom out I saw what you observed, and I had to manually zoom out.

    It appears that ACME is missing access to some 7.5 minute topos. And that is a real problem where they are missing. We probably need to contact ACME on that one.

    That brings up another issue - Topozone allowed you to separately set the base map scale and display scale via radio buttons, while with Terraserver you just use +/- to set the display scale and it gives you its choice of base map. For example, with the link above if I click "-" enough times I get a real map, but I can't enlarge that map to a greater scale like Topozone (or can I)?
    Mixing and matching base map and display scale was a great feature of Topozone. I don't see any way to do that with ACME.

    It may depend on what format the links are in, feel free to try one of these for example:
    http://hikenh.netfirms.com/X4klist.htm
    http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/Prominence.html
    From the toolbox Options in the toolbox; there is a Coords pull-down, UTM is available. Selecting another format changes the displayed coordinates in the toolbox. You can copy that toolbox field to the clipboard. However, it does not change the URL format when you subsequently click Link to this page. ACME URLs seem to be only in decimal, but I will keep looking for another format. Note: The other coordinates work in IE and Firefox. They do not appear to work in Safari. My Safari level is 3.1.2 (525.21) which was updated yesterday.

    My mind only thinks in decimal coordinates. I had apparently made a fortuitous choice in choosing decimal topozone URLs which made the conversion to both ACME and MyTopo URLs relatively easy with a good text editor.


    Another Topozone function richness item I miss: The ability to search for place names with wildcards et. al. Or any other search that resulted in a page of multiple locations. I have found I can still accomplish that with Topozone, as I remember some of the Topozone search URL verbiage. The result list comes back surrounded by all the trails.com full access signup info we all know and hate. But at least it still works.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rankin
    My apologies, but the topozone data on those pages does not use lat and long, which Mark used for his page. If you can tell me what the acme format is for your data I might still be able to convert it.

    Also, what do z= and s= specify? Zoom and something else ?
    Actually some of the links use lat/long, there is a real mishmash in their format

    Those with z are UTM, z is the zone. Acme Mapper will accept UTM if you read the directions

    s is scale and 25 means 1:25,000 , layer=DRG25 is the same, you can probably just ignore these if you default to an appropriate size on Acme Mapper

    If you think these are bad, the trails are much worse as they are varying sizes depending on the length of the trail and Acme Mapper supports only one size

    Now you see why most of my 400+ links remain unconverted

    I have a friend who is actually considering paying the $50 for Topozone, but even if you do that apparently you get a lame interface not the original. In my case as a web host that doesn't work since each user would need to pay.

    And while Acme Mapper has features that the old Topozone didn't, overall I still feel that old Topozone was better but PB is correct it's gone for now. A rare example of computer functionality regressing.

  13. #13
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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