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"Find Nearby Places" on the route ahead & see their icons at any zoom level
"Find Nearby Places" on the route ahead & see their icons at any zoom level

This is something many users have discussed or asked for before, here:
and probably in many other threads too.

Currently, about the only simple way of "Find Nearby Places" on the route ahead is to click on a route segment in the "Directions" pane (if there is a useful segment already in your route, like the next off-ramp) and search around "Selected driving instruction" like this:

But in most cases that off-ramp won't already be on your route, so you'd have to add an unplanned exit, or put in extra waypoints along the route (as SpadesFlush suggested here: http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/3520-difficult-poi-search-streets-trips#post27609 and elsewhere), just to "Find Nearby Places" in that area.

This is not too much of a problem sitting at a desk doing route planning on a big monitor, especially for a route that will be used more than once, though in that case I'd think you'd remember it after the first time!

But while navigating, this is a big PITA! And in most cases, adding extra waypoints in situations like that (smaller display; zoomed out; unsteady/bouncing worksurface) leads to waypoints being automatically inserted onto the WRONG side of the highway, something you might not notice until S&T starts to guide you into a big loop!

So what would be REALLY helpful in this situation is a new feature like this:

My mock-up above shows a search 40 miles ahead on the route, 0.5 miles away from the route. It's the same search function as searching around the entire route, except limited to a part of the route from your current GPS location to a point ahead however many miles you designate.

Obviously, the wording might need to be altered, but I think it is fairly self-explanatory just the way it is now.

OK, I know I ran across some older posts where people described needing something like this. And others have posted the workaround of inserting more waypoints (which is the best we have now, but those are extra steps in a difficult environment that also falls victim to S&T's inability to automatically put waypoints on the same side of the highway as your current route)

So, how many would like to be able to "Find Nearby Places" on the route ahead, as I've outlined above?
Attached Images
s-t2011-find-nearby-places-screen-cap-2.jpg   s-t2011-find-nearby-places-new-feature-screen-cap-1.jpg  
OK, here's the part about being able to see POIs at any zoom level. Below is a similar screen capture to the one above, but I've added a custom POI set for Home Depot, and I've also added an 44x44 pixel logo icon too:

This 44 pixel HomeDepot icon shows up the same no matter what the zoom level, so it is easily visible even at the zoom level shown above where the built-in POIs are tiny green squares that all look alike.

AFAIK, there is apparently no way to assign custom icons to built-in POIs, icons that will show up big enough at any zoom level to recognize what they are at a glance.

There's another problem though. Custom POIs (which S&T calls "Pushpins") are not controlled the same way; the set shows up in the "Legend and overview" pane, and although the "Find Nearby Places" LIST does correctly show or hide any custom POIS depending on whether they are in the search range, that does not control whether custom POIs show up on the map; in fact ALL custom POIs in any given set show up or they ALL are hidden, depending on the setting made here in the "Legend and overview" pane:

and you can't have BOTH the "Legend and overview" and "Find Nearby Places" panes open at the same time. At least some of the settings available for custom POIs ("Pushpins") shown in the "Legend and overview" pane also need to be available in the "Find Nearby Places" pane.

I understand that the custom added POIs are "pushpins" that are technically different than S&T's built-in POIs. What I don't understand is WHY?

Anyway, it would be useful if the same "Properties" settings available for custom added POIs (which S&T calls "Pushpins") here:

were also available for the built-in POIs
(which can only be turned on or off; can't change size of appearance of icon, here):
Attached Images
s-t2011-find-nearby-places-screen-cap-3.jpg   s-t-show-hide-places-categories-box.jpg   s-t2011-pushpin-properties.jpg   s-t2011-custom-poi-pushpin-popout-menu.jpg  
Here's a fairly simple change that I'm suggesting for the "Find Nearby Places" pane, that would be very helpful, based on my own use and on what others have posted at the links in my first post.

As it is now, the only option for categories in the "Find nearby places list is to hide it (as shown on the left), which not only hides it on the map, it also causes the category to disappear from the list shown below.
There are other options available for individual places within each category, but as it is now, you have to click on each one, one at a time, to use them. It would be very useful to have two of those options available for every place in a category: To be able to show/hide info flags for every place in a category at once and to be able to highlight/un-highlight every place in a category at once (as shown on the right).

And if was possible have this same feature for more than one category by to shift-selecting multiple categories, that could be helpful too. But even having to do it category by category would be a huge improvement over the way it is now, having to click on each place, one at a time.

Another possibly useful thing would be to differentiate between "hiding" a category and making it not show on the map. Currently, "hiding" a category removes it from the list. So really the term "Remove" is more appropriate for what happens. Of course it is fairly easy to get it back by going to View->Show or hide places... so this is not a big deal. But you might just want to "hide" it in the list by suppressing the display on the map instead of removing it from the list. Most of the time this isn't an issue, because the icons for the built-in places are so tiny. But it might become more of an issue if another feature I've suggested was implemented: allowing bigger, custom icons for the built-in places.

And, speaking of the "View->Show or hide places...-> categories panel, there needs to be a way to see lists of the built-in POIs here (similar to how individual places appear in the "Find Nearby Places" pane shown above), and a way to add custom categories and move the built-in POIs in and out of these new categories, and add new tabs to the categories panel, as shown below:

In the image above, two new buttons have been added at the bottom, and at the top are two custom tabs, named "Group 1" and "Special" (but the user should be able to pick the names). How should that be done? The following images show examples of the types of interface S&T should provide to organize both the imported POIs (pushpins) and the built-in POIs (places), all of which are similar to the way files are displayed in a standard Windows file folder in the "Details" view, e.g.:

- Derived from MS Excel's interface:

- Derived from the Hotmail interface (allows sorting by clicking on "Arrange" button)::

- Derived from Firefox's organize bookmarks mode (allows sorting by clicking on column header):

IMO, while I like the Firefox interface shown above, and it's nice to be able to 'drag' the pointer over an area to select multiple items, sometimes this can be slower than using the checkboxes as in Hotmail, so having checkboxes to select which ones you want is useful. I added similar checkboxes to the Excel window. But I do think that it should be possible to sort lists like these by clicking on the column header.

S&T's built-in POIs are extremely comprehensive. But as POI lists grow ever larger, the changes I've outlined above would allow users to better utilize S&T's built-in POIs, by customizing how they are organized and by making them easier to see at a glance at any zoom level. Currently, S&T handles built-in POIs ("places") differently from user-added custom POIs ("pushpins"). BOTH types of POIs ("places" and "pushpins") need to be handled in the same way and in the same place (currently that would be the "View->Show or hide places panel"), incorporating the improvements I have outlined above.
Attached Images
s-t-2011-find-nearby-places-show-info-highlight-all-category-1.jpg   s-t2011-show-hide-places-categories-box-r1.jpg   s-t-places-mock-up-showing-churchs-chicken-list-hotmail-.jpg   s-t-places-mock-up-showing-churchs-chicken-list-firefox-bookmarks-.jpg   s-t-places-mock-up-showing-churchs-chicken-list-windows-file-mgr-.jpg  

In my first post, I linked to this old post (http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/3520-difficult-poi-search-streets-trips#post27606), but since a link alone is easy to overlook or ignore, I think it's worth posting here in this thread, since this is a very good real-world example of what happens due to S&T's less-than-optimal handling of the built-in POIs ('places'):

Originally Posted by jfkelley
In May 2010, jfkelley said this:

This comes up all the time and we haven't figured out how to do it (reconstructed transcript of actual conversation):

Driver: "Say, I'm getting a little tired. Can you find a hotel, preferably a Hilton or Holiday Inn along our route and about 4 hours down the road? That way we can call ahead and make a reservation."

"Uhhh.... It looks like I can find hotels along our route within 50 miles of our current location or within 50 miles of our destination."

'Hmmm. That's no good. How far off the route does it take us for the various POIs? I don't wanna be driving 20 miles off our route in a strange place in the dark."

"Hmm. I don't know. I don't think I can adjust that?"

'Well, can you just show all the hotels along the route?"

"I think so, there's a list and all these little dots that come up."

"Can you sort them by distance from here?"

"I don't think so, I can sort by name, but then all the Holiday Inn's are just clumped together in no particular order and I have to poke each one, one at a time and try to find it on the map."

"Can you filter that list to just show Holiday Inns?"

"I don't know how."
It is true that the latest versions of S&T can find POIs along the entire route, not just the current locatoin or the destination. As for the rest (in bold red type above), he can't know how to do it because S&T can't do that. But he could have done it in Delorme Street Atlas (although their implementation of that feature leave a lot to be desired, at least it's there): http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/3520-difficult-poi-search-streets-trips#post44211
I just realized that at some point after S&T2007, Microsoft removed the capability to convert all places in a category to stops (shown below). In S&T2011, this capability is no longer there. You have to pick each place, one at a time. While I would not necessarily want to convert all the places in a group to stops, this does show how it could work to show the nametag or info (or better yet, a custom logo) for each place shown below as a numbered route point in a yellow box:

At the zoom level shown above, none of the built-in POIs (places) are visible on the map, but converting them to stops creates numbered yellow boxes (route points) at each one, providing their approximate location. But of course there's still no way to know which one is which. If the numbered points shown on the map above were keyed by that number to the list on the left, it would be about the same as in Google maps. Even as it is now, at least you do know they are all Pizza restaurants... unless you do this again to different category. But I'd rather not have to keep referring back and forth to a numbered list when there's a better way... Instead of a yellow box with a number in it, each point shown above could be a custom logo assigned to that category.
Attached Images
There's also one more thing... this is something that could EASILY be changed (and I know several others have already asked for this): the yellow cross-hatching that fills the "Find nearby places" search area is far too obtrusive. It is usually more hindrance than helpful. PLEASE tone that yellow cross-hatching way down, or provide an options setting for it. A slightly different color tint would be a better choice than the pronounced cross-hatching of relatively opaque yellow lines. And the black perimeter line usually doesn't really need to be there at all, but if it is there, it should be a different color, maybe red.
As an example of how Streets & Trips could display POIs, I (finally) found a nav program (Navigon MobileNavigator) that displays POIs with logo icons, and even does this when zoomed out far enough to be useful:

When you zoom in a little further, nametags automatically show up:

Unfortunately Navigon didn't make any provision to prevent nearby POI icons from displaying on top of one another. They need to automatically be arranged in a row or a grid so that every icon is visible.

The point of all this is so that you can tell at a glance what POIs are near your current position, or where you are heading.
Attached Images
navigon-screenshot_2012-09-16-13-31-47-2.png   navigon-screenshot_2012-09-16-13-31-47-3.png  
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