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Furkot road trip planner
GoneNomad
I just stumbled across this site: Furkot Road Trip Planner

At first glance, it seems promising.

I haven't had time time to test it, but it does appear to have some of the long trip planning features (start/stop time of day, stops, etc.) that are absent in google/herewego/mapquest apps. Also, Furkot stores trips you plan on the local storage of the device you use, not just online. And Furkot has better waypoint export functions than googlemaps & mapquest had in the past (but don't have now):


The couple who run this site apparently started testing Furkot in July, so hopefully they will update this post soon.

According to this article, Furkot transfers the trip info to standard navigation apps, so I guess the devil is in the details as to how well it does that. This article also mentions "Roadtrippers," which I have tested a couple of times in the past, and found to be woefully lacking as an S&T replacement.

The one caveat I'd have about Furkot is that (like Roadtrippers) it appears to access google.com/maps data for trip planning. Google provides a way to do this using their APIs, which are routinely used to show store locations on company websites. Furkot & Roadtrippers make more extensive use, but google charges for that after a certaion monthly volume threshold is exceeded, which is why Roadtrippers has a very low limit on the number of trips you can plan (or modify) per day with a free account (and even the paid RT account has a daily trip limit too). Once a trip is planned, it looks like Furkot is better than Roadtrippers at capturing the trip data needed for use on other devices.

Here's a few excerpts about Furkot from their website:

"You can plan your future road trip here. Just click on the map and let Furkot figure out how long it will take you to get there. Set limits on the travel time so none of your sightseeing has to be done under moonlight (unless of course that's what you want). Let Furkot know how long you are planning to stay in one place and watch it recommend the best place to spend the night. Allow Furkot to fill the details of the hotel reservation for you on a booking service of your choice."

Mobile and offline
Furkot works on a wide range of devices: phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers and - most importantly - it works offline. It means that you do not have to have a live Internet connection (neither WiFi nor cellular/mobile) to access your trip while on the road. You only need to connect to the Internet once - to open Furkot and load your trips. After that, they are accessible even in the middle of nowhere. And the middle of nowhere is a great place to take your trip to.


Point a browser on your phone or tablet to http://furkot.com. Log in (you only need to do it once per device) and Furkot will store the list of your trips and contents of all ongoing and future trips locally on the device for offline access. Additionally every trip you open will be also stored locally. Bookmark Furkot for easier access while on the road.

Export, import, synchronize

As much as we like you, the user, to do all your trip planning on Furkot, we don't want to lock you in. After you invest your time into putting a trip plan together, you have every right to take it wherever you like. Conversely, if you used another application or website, you should be able to bring your plan into Furkot and not start from scratch. And if you have a planning tool that complements Furkot, you should be able to use it seamlessly in tandem.
To help you exchange your trip plans with other applications, websites and devices Furkot supports exporting, importing and synchronizing trip plans in variety of formats.

We are working on expanding the list of trip plan formats supported by Furkot. If Furkot is not offering the file type you need, drop us a line and we'll try to add it.
Attached Images
furkot-export-trip-.png  
GoneNomad
Furkot shows the time anywhere on the route, just by putting the pointer over that part of the route.
This is useful for several reasons, but one of the most common is to avoid rush hour traffic in major cities.

You don't have to add additional waypoints, as usually is the case in S&T
(e.g.: if there wasn't already a line at the appropriate point in the S&T direction list).

(The image below is a composite of 3 screen captures):


Unlike S&T, Furkot also adjusts for time zone changes. From their website:
Planning a Trip
"Once you hit Done Furkot plots the route and calculates the time. If you want to start at 9am and drive till 6pm Furkot shows you that it will take at least 3 days to get to Devils Tower from Boston. Trip drawer has some handy stats.

Furkot also found and added hotels to our trip. These are just suggestions added to accommodate the 9am to 6pm driving days. Please note that since we are driving West and crossing the time zones the Furkot accounts for time changes and adjusts arrival times as needed."


...But it only displays the correct time AFTER a waypoint is placed in a new time zone. Up until that point, time along the route is still in the origin time zone. In the screen cap below, Walmart was added as a stop to force the time zone to adjust. The point to the east of the Ogallala Walmart is in the Mountain time zone (this map is in western Nebraska). As far as I can tell, the time zone is never specified for any time that is displayed, which forces users to keep track of whether the time is in the origin time zone or correct local time zone.


Attached Images
furkot-screen-cap-1.jpg   furkot-time-zone-example.jpg  
GoneNomad
Update:

I found this in the comments section of the "Mobile and offline" page:

--------------------------

Jeremya year ago Ok. I'm just not getting this. I design the trip and when I go to use it via my iphone it doesn't even use the route I've made. It opens either in Apple or Google maps and just looks at the point I'm going to and maps it as it normally would. Unless I'm doing this wrong, this is of no real-world benefit to me when it comes to actually navigating my trip. I've shared my trip with trips@furkot.com, so any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.


  • furkot Mo• a year ago
  • I don't think you are doing anything wrong. Furkot is not a navigation app. It's a trip planning app. If you need something more sophisticated than Google Maps or Apple Maps you need to install it on your device.
--------------------------------------------

In other words, this has the same problem as any of the other trip planners that use another app for the actual navigation: you may be able to plan a trip in great detail, but then when you use that other app to actually navigate, it may not follow your carefully designed route. Maybe if you use enough waypoints, maybe you can force the nav app to follow the original route. But the uncertainty means you'll never know for sure without a careful review of the route AFTER it is in the nav app., which is typically on a small screen device that doesn't make that easy.

If it's like the others that use this scheme, Furkot is probably also limited to handing off the navigation of only one waypoint at a time, which adds an extra degree of complexity on a long trip, especially if you had to add a lot of via points.
Ken in Regina
Interesting. I want to do a bit of testing with ALK CoPilot. Like you, I suspect the issues the iPhone user had are mostly related to the navigation app on the target device.

I'm pretty sure I can get a GPX file into CoPilot on my phone or tablet. If so, I'll try a Furkot route in it to see what results.

...ken...
GoneNomad
I did a pretty extensive test of ALK CoPilot several years ago, and posted some of the results here on this site.

IN the meantime, ALK was bought out by a larger company, which seems mainly interested in providing customized solutions to large trucking & logistics companies.

The laptop version of ALK CoPilot never was updated to the same version as the mobile apps several years ago, although the trucking-specific version was.

Trip planning on the CoPilot Android app is woefully inadequate. I never was able to fully determine how well the trucking-specific Windows version worked because there is no demo and too costly to buy just to try.

Although I'm not sure about how well it works in Canada, for US travel, I'd pick "Here" (now "HereWeGo"), with the only caveat being that since it was bought by a consortium of carmakers, they seem to be intent on decontenting the free version, and I suspect the only way to get a better "paid" version (if there ever is one) may be to buy one of their cars? As an example, Here had high quality US & UK english voices that pronounced street names, but they later pulled them, supposedly to focus on the "basic" voices, and even though they were barraged with a storm of user complaints, the HQ voices remain unavailable... to any new user. The HQ voices still work fine for people who downloaded them while they were available (like me).
_______________________________________________________

I spent the better part of the day yesterday working with Furkot.

It looks promising, but it's the product of a VERY small company (very little info available either, no phone number or business address; fewer than 10 people; might be a couple of guys). From the looks of their suggestions blog, it looks like even most of the suggestions they seem to agree with aren't acted upon, which is not surprising considering that the company size.

Some of their inexperience shows in their decision to be too "cute" with some parts of the interface, sacrificing usability in real-world conditions (e.g.: on a 200+ ppi touch-screen device in a vehicle on a bumpy road where elements that retract to tiny slivers makes them almost impossible to hit with a mouse pointer, much less a fingertip). Another example is omitting basic functions like allowing lists of places (POIs or stops) to be sorted by attributes, and failing to make the selected POI REALLY easy to distinguish on a map that's cluttered with other identical icons.

The model they use (hooking into Google's map data) has the advantage of being a relatively easy way to build a trip planner (Roadtrippers also does this but has so many designed-in limitations that it's basically useless for frequent long-distance travelers) , and using the most accurate map data but ultimately is very limiting because google makes it free for modest usage but charges big fees for heavy users of their data. Also, handing off the nav task introduces another way for things to go wrong.

But especially if it's just a few guys behind Furkot, they've done a truly outstanding job so far, getting most things better than ANY competitor, even the paid products of PND hardware makers (most of which are stuck with legacy PND-derived interfaces).
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
Like you, I suspect the issues the iPhone user had are mostly related to the navigation app on the target device.
...ken...
Using different maps for planning and navigation is asking for problems.

Since Furkot is (like Roadtrippers) basically a different (and much more sophisticated) interface for accessing googlemaps, trips planned in Furkot should match the navigation routing if the google's nav app is used.

Other than the old legacy programs like S&T, about the only other way to do full-blown trip planning with routing consistent with the navigation is BaseCamp + Garmin PND. Too bad BaseCamp is such a POS

...although I haven't tried BaseCamp in a couple years; maybe they've improved it some since then? They had finally started to show logos for POIs back then, which IMO is a must have vs. one "Knife & Fork" icon for all restaurants.

It's a shame that our options are still so limited, when there are so many apps for so many totally frivolous things!
Boyd
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
I suspect the issues the iPhone user had are mostly related to the navigation app on the target device.
http://www.macworld.com/article/2687984/how-to-create-multi-destination-map-routes-on-your-iphone.html

Quote:
Reader Len Daniels faces a frustration with mapping apps. He writes:

Much as I love the ability to navigate using Apple’s Maps and Google Maps with my iPhone while driving, I’d like the option to create routes with multiple destinations. I often visit one client after another and it would be convenient to create a single route that moves from one to the next. Is there a way to do that with either of those apps?

Regrettably, no. In the case of Apple’s Maps app it’s not entirely surprising given that the OS X version also supports just a single destination. Google Maps inability to do this is more puzzling as its web-based counterpart does let you create multi-destination routes. Although you can send links to these routes to your iOS device and open them in the Google Maps app, only the beginning and end of your journey are displayed. Open these links in Safari and you do see the route with all its destinations, but you don’t get the benefit of turn-by-turn navigation.
Regarding Garmin, I rarely use Basecamp, never much cared for it, and I just don't do route planning. However I gather the introduction of shaping points in the past few years was a big improvement. They allow you to force the route to go where you want but they aren't announced on the device and you aren't prompted to return if you skip one. I believe they began supporting this feature on the Nuvi in 2013. My newest units are from 2012 and are not compatible.

But the way the Nuvi and Dezl series handle POI's and waypoints has only gotten worse. Now there are no labels, just icons - which are uglier than ever. And it's hard to understand why some are displayed and others aren't. No menu settings to control this, only a global on/off setting (that sometimes doesn't work at all).

Waypoints are really bad, back around 2012 (?) the Nuvi started completely ignoring any custom symbols you had assigned in Mapsource/Basecamp and displayed everything as an ugly "signpost". You can choose from a variety of other similar ugly signposts if you edit the waypoint on the device. Maybe they are supporting this better in Basecamp on the current models…. but I doubt it.
GoneNomad
I don't care for Basecamp either. I've only tried to use it a few times to see if it was a viable option to replace S&T. I just tried it again today, and was reminded of how clunky the legacy interface is. AFAIC, that applies to Garmin's PNDs too. As an example, multi-step address entry is a thing of the past, and PND makers should have moved past that years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd
re: "In the case of Apple’s Maps app it’s not entirely surprising given that the OS X version also supports just a single destination. Google Maps inability to do this is more puzzling as its web-based counterpart does let you create multi-destination routes."
I know that earlier this year, google announced that the newest version of the google maps/nav Android app will support multiple stops. But the last time I checked (several months ago), the version actually available still did not do that. Maybe it does now. Even so, I'm sure that functionality will be restricted to trips planned with (or imported into) the google map app.

AFAIK, all other apps use Android's ability to hand off a destination to a nav app (and lots of apps do that, such as GasBuddy, etc.) are only able to do that for a SINGLE destination.

So I am almost certain that is how Furkot would have to work too, meaning that every long trip would force users to start a series of shorter navigation sessions, one for each waypoint on the trip.

But Furkot has many very useful features (like this one, which shows elevation change along a route segment):

But then there's the little minor glitch that the setting that causes the elevation graph to show up is turned off every time you create a new map or open a saved map.

It turns out that some - but not all - of the settings are retained after logging out and back in on the same computer & browser, but none of the settings are maintained with the account, meaning that accessing the account with a different computer or simply clearing the browser's cache wipes out all those settings that are retained.

That's the kind of glitchy thing that creates user frustration because they KNOW the last time they used it, it showed up, next time it doesn't, and they wonder how to get it back on again? Furkot has a lot of other minor niggling problems too, part of which is the developers apparent tendency to get a little too cute with the interface, sacrificing practicality in the process.

However, the feature set is good enough that I can see it being a reasonable S&T replacement just to establish a schedule, which it already does better than S&T by adjusting for Time Zone changes, something S&T users requested for years. Furkot developers need to make that TZ adjustment automatic, because as it is now, you have to add waypoint(s) just inside a "new" TZ to force Furkot to adjust time. And that requires looking at a TZ map layer that is not available in Furkot, or just knowing where the TZ changes.

And since it uses google's map data, the map accuracy & search functionality is light-years ahead of S&T. Of course that also means it requires an internet connection to search for POIs and plan a trip, too. It only (supposedly) stores that data locally AFTER it's been found online.
Attached Images
furkot-elevation-change-chart.png  
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
Interesting. I want to do a bit of testing with ALK CoPilot. Like you, I suspect the issues the iPhone user had are mostly related to the navigation app on the target device.

I'm pretty sure I can get a GPX file into CoPilot on my phone or tablet. If so, I'll try a Furkot route in it to see what results.

...ken...
It sucks to get old. I've already been at least partway down this road before:

http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/5221-add-route-trip-files-copilot-live-android#post50429



So now that I've revisited how to get a fully usable route into CoPilot, using Garmin's Basecamp and RouteConverter for Windows, and tested that CoPilot can use the route, I'll try creating a trip with Furkot and see how CoPilot deals with it.

...ken...
Ken in Regina
Okay, I've done a bit of testing. First the point of this note ...

It was observed that loading a detailed trip plan from Furkot (or any other trip planner, for that matter) into one of the default map apps on Android or Apple produces disappointing results. I speculated that it's because of the limitations of the apps on the target devices, not anything wrong with Furkot. This testing is specifically aimed at proving (or not) my point.

First, I created an 1800+ km motorcycle trip from Regina, SK, Canada, to Squamish, BC, with a target 3 day one-way trip, using Garmin Basecamp's Trip Planner. It was fairly easy to get it to go on the route I wanted using some of the more interesting and less traveled roads.

I exported the trip into a .GPX file, converted it to a .TRP file using RouteConverter for Windows, and copied the .TRP file to ALK CoPilot on my Android phone. I loaded the trip file into CoPilot ... and was very disappointed with the results. I didn't even ask CoPilot to calculate the route. The stops were all in the wrong order. The resulting route would have been a nonsensical mess.

I took a look at the GPX file that Basecamp had created from the original trip plan and it was immediately obvious that the problem was in Basecamp's export. All of the stops were placed in the file in a sort of random order. There is enough other information contained in the file that it's possible Basecamp could reconstruct the route properly. But there is no way a file converter would have the smarts to put things in their proper order for use in the converted file. Full stop for Garmin Basecamp's Trip Planner for this purpose.

Next I tried the Route creation tool in Basecamp. That was a frustrating experience trying to force the route to go on the specific roads I wanted. Inserting via points into routes in Basecamp is a proper pain in the posterior. Worse, when I saved the route as a GPX file and then converted it to .TRP using Route Converter, only the main stops went across. The various routing points did not appear to convert. Full stop for Garmin Basecamp's routing tool for this purpose. No loss because it was way more work than it was worth to force the route where I wanted to go.

Next I created a trip in Furkot Road Trip Planner. This was a mixed experience. It should be rather easy to insert points that will force the route where you want it to go. Your cursor is a little flag icon that you can just click anywhere you want to force the route to go and it does it.

..... Sort of .... When you click on the location on the map you want to force the route to go, Furkot drops the flag in some relatively random location. It's normally in the general area you want but it was never dropped exactly where I clicked. It was never even near the spot I clicked on. Sometimes it was as far off as 50 km or more. So then I had to drag the flag to the spot I really wanted it to be. It took me a few minutes to figure this all out. Even after I figured out how to deal with it it was still frustrating.

But it was still less frustrating than trying to force Basecamp to take those same roads. So I soldiered on and got the route I wanted ... a three day one-way motorcycle trip from Regina, SK, to Squamish, BC, over some really interesting roads with recommended end-of-day stopping points.

Now for the important part of the test... I exported the trip from Furkot directly into CoPilot .TRP format (how handy is that?!!), copied the resulting 3 files (one for each day of the trip) into the appropriate folder on my Android phone and loaded each one into CoPilot.

Each one resulted in the route I wanted for that day.

One learning from this is that no matter what you do, you cannot stop CoPilot from recalculating the route before you can use it. I was ready for that, having for years used Garmin personal navigation devices which do the same thing. When I planned the trip I had to do some forcing just to get Furkot to go where I wanted and I made sure I had enough interim points to force even a Garmin device where I wanted to go (old habits die hard). So I got the route I wanted for all three days.

Actually there was one positive side effect of the recalculation in CoPilot. There was a portion of one road in far western BC that I could not force Furkot to take no matter what I did. When CoPilot recalculated, it took that road!!

So, at least on Android, you can use the detailed trips you plan with Furkot with relative ease and have them go where you want them to if you use a proper navigation app like ALK CoPilot. You will end up with one trip file per day of the trip. I don't find that a negative at all.

It should be noted that I only used the most basic features of Furkot for this test. I did not do any meal planning or accommodation planning or sightseeing stops. All I was interested in was if I could use a moderately complex multi-day route on my Android phone if I used the right navigation app. I can do that, at least with Furkot's ability to directly create a proper .TRP file for CoPilot.

I count this as a success.

...ken...
Ken in Regina
I should mention that when doing the above testing I also did a fourth option. I used CoPilot for Android's built-in route planner to produce it directly on my phone. It was the easiest of all options to create the route and force it where I wanted it to go. ... Even on my phone which isn't the most ergonomic device to do that sort of thing!!

...ken...
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
... I exported the trip from Furkot directly into CoPilot .TRP format (how handy is that?!!), copied the resulting 3 files (one for each day of the trip) into the appropriate folder on my Android phone and loaded each one into CoPilot.
So, at least on Android, you can use the detailed trips you plan with Furkot with relative ease and have them go where you want them to if you use a proper navigation app like ALK CoPilot. You will end up with one trip file per day of the trip. I don't find that a negative at all.
Yep, that's because Furkot has all those very handy & easily accessible trip file export options, and CoPilot is one of a handful of apps that can open a trip from a file.

Most other Android nav apps use Androids built-in ability to hand-off a location to an app of the user's chosing, which also limits the navigation to one point at a time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
....When you click on the location on the map you want to force the route to go, Furkot drops the flag in some relatively random location. It's normally in the general area you want but it was never dropped exactly where I clicked. It was never even near the spot I clicked on. Sometimes it was as far off as 50 km or more.
Routes in Furkot can be changed via dragging, just like google maps, because this part of Furkot literally IS google maps.

I have not seen any of huge discrepancies that you mentioned, but maybe it has to do with the map data in Canada?

I did see cases like this example (which also exist in google maps):

Red arrow shows original direction of travel before exiting to stop at the Travel Center of America (red circle). Default TCA location creates a route BACK up the nearby onramp to the opposite direction on the interstate. You'd be able to SEE the TCA but not get there... at least not until you exited at the next off-ramp to the east and headed back to the west on the nearby surface street (Prospector Dr.)
Moving the flag closer to Prospector Dr. forces the route to go past the TCA entrance, which doesn't show up on this map. But it still directs you past it, continuing on to the right:

In the real world, stuff like this is inconsequential, as long as the route is close enough that you can SEE the intended stop and are roughly headed toward it (unless the bogus loop past the stop adds a lot of distance, which would make the schedule inaccurate).

I've seen this type of thing before - especially out in the sparesly populated west - on other map/nav programs too. CoPilot is particularly bad about it.
The root cause in all cases is not having the actual driveways in the map data, so the mapping program just grabs the nearest road, which in cases like this, is an on-ramp to an interstate instead of a parking lot entrance.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
....
I count this as a success.
...ken...
Yep, I agree. Furkot needs some work in a few areas, but as it is now, it's head-and-shoulders above the rest (which is admittedly a rather sparse group). What's even more impressive is that apparently it was created by just two people.
Attached Images
example-01.jpg   example-02.jpg  
Boyd
Big Mac Road? LOL
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
...one road in far western BC that I could not force Furkot to take no matter what...

...ken...
Just out of curiosity, exactly where was that road segment?
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