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GPS/Navi software for delivery routes
sebberry
Hello folks,

A friend of mine does deliveries for a local flower company a few times per year. All of the addresses are written down on a sheet and he has to plot them on maps and do all the route planning manually. I was helping him out yesterday and saw just how tedious this all is, especially for 200+ deliveries.

It got me thinking - since all the addresses have to be typed into a spreadsheet after the deliveries are complete anyway, why not start off by putting all the addresses into a spreadsheet then importing that into some form of mapping software? I thought I'd give it a try.

I created a simple spreadsheet with the addresses and descriptions of what the item was, just like the sheet he'd have to submit. I then downloaded a trial of Streets and Trips 2011 (Thank you MS for finally giving us downloadable trials) and imported the XLS sheet into S&T.

Great - the import went well and all the addresses were plotted on the map with pushpins. It even allowed me to create an optimized route from all the pushpins. Even better.

But here is where it falls short - when you click the pushpin for more information, there is no way to display the additional data imported from the spreadsheet (ie, is the flower in a vase, pot, etc.. which box number is it in, etc..) This is very important to have this information when looking for a specific item in the van along the route. There is also no way to add a note (ie, "delivered @ 2:45pm) to a pushpin.

So while S&T is about 75% of the way there, it won't quite meet his needs. Can anyone suggest any mapping software that "goes all the way" and offers features like this?

Thanks!
t1d
Re: S&T

Welcome to the forum! Great job on a creative solution!

I'm not sure if a pushpin that has been imported can be edited, or not, but I am confident that you should be able to import, initially, the additional information into additional text lines in the address areas. I believe that you may need to do a bit of tweaking of the column information in the S&T import wizard to tell it that you want the additional column information... Particularly the column heading names... I do not use this procedure often enough to remember the particulars, but I know that it is covered very well in this forum. Give it a search and read in the S&T help instructions. There is also good information for salesman regarding routing that would be helpful to you. We have very gracious gurus, here, and they will be along, soon, to help you, further.

Lots of good 411, here:
http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/site-search.php?q=import+pushpin&sa=Search
sebberry
Thank you!

In the import wizard I was able to import the additional data as "<Other data>" but when right clicking a pushpin and clicking "Show information" it only displays address information, not the "other data".

I thought about putting the other data under one of the unused address fields, but I'm not sure if that would confuse the mapping engine. "Flowers in vase" does not look anything like a postal code

The other concern is mixing up data in the spreadsheet - after all the sheet needs to be turned once the deliveries have been completed. I suppose one could simply rename the columns afterwards, but it's starting to complicate things.

Surely some of the smaller delivery companies have a solution - can they really be doing all of this by hand with paper maps? Yikes. Huge opportunity for Microsoft here if that's the case.
t1d
I am confident this is fairly straight forward in S&T and that we are just missing a step. I am working on a test for you, now, and will be posting in a few minutes...
t1d
Got it... After importing the spreadsheet/Highlight New Pushpin Set/Data/Data Set Properties/Balloon/Click On Desired Additional Info... Easy Breezy... See Thumbnail... You can rename the Pushpin Set to something useful... No need to change the spreadsheet...
Attached Images
flowers.jpg  
SpadesFlush
I think the step you are missing is to get the pushpin balloon to show the downloaded information. Assuming the collateral information was logically organized in the spreadsheet and those columns were given the right heading in the data wizard process, you need to make sure the balloon shows the data.

If you look at the Properties for the pushpin set, you should see a tab marked "Balloon." Open that and make sure there is a tick mark for the columns you want to display.

As for adding further information such as delivery times, it is probably best to keep the original Excel file open in the background and alt-tab back and forth between the Excel file and S&T to enter data in the spreadsheet.
SpadesFlush
Tom made his entry before me, so he gets the gold metal.
t1d
Good job on learning about optimizing the route. I noticed that the delivery time may also be a factor in running the route. There may be a way to incorporate the timing into the route. Maybe assign Hours to a "Deliver After Time" column, sort by time, import times as different pushpin sets and optimize each set... It may be easier than that and I just don't know the technique... Hang on, someone will surely be along that knows for sure... One of our members actually does training for salesmen on using S&T... He would likely know... He's a good guy...
sebberry
Thanks guys, I knew I must have been missing something!

Appreciate the help
t1d
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
As for adding further information such as delivery times, it is probably best to keep the original Excel file open in the background and alt-tab back and forth between the Excel file and S&T to enter data in the spreadsheet.
SF,

Beatchatodadraw

Are you saying that the data file may be open and available for real-time manipulation into S&T? No re-saving needed? No re-importing needed? Thanks for your input.
sebberry
When I right click a pushpin and view information, it now shows the "Type" and "Box" fields that I imported - major bonus.

I also see that there is a blank field just below the address that I can type into, such as recording "delivered at time". Unfortunately what I don't see is a way to export this back to an excel sheet. There is the GPX export function but that's not going to work.
t1d
Now, you are out of my league
Wouldn't this be an original spreadsheet item that could be manipulated?
t1d
You can also turn all the Balloons on/off for a given pushpin set by right-clicking on the set in the legend and selecting Show All Info...
sebberry
Quote:
Originally Posted by t1d
Now, you are out of my league
Wouldn't this be an original spreadsheet item that could be manipulated?
Most likely, yes. Just leaving the spreadsheet up in the background would allow updating it. I just thought I could get a little more creative
t1d
Maybe something like this?
http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=218173

I am sure our members know a straight-forward method... Just hold on a bit more
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