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Who wants to help design an all-new trip planner from the ground up?
GoneNomad
This has been one of my test routes for quite a while. It's a tricky route that's intended to find flawed routing algorithms.

Most of the map sites now handle the first leg (to Whitehaven Welcome Center) correctly... or almost.

On the longer routes (to Nashville or Miami), Here, Bing & TomTom all plot entirely different routes unless other via points are added.
Only
Streets & Trips 2013 and
Google Maps don't do this. S&T's default routing to the Whitehaven Welcome Center isn't optimal,
but it's a reasonable route that trades shorter distance for a higher percentage on the interstate.
Only Google maps plots the correct route by default AND doesn't
change completely just because a more distant destination is added.

Here maps seems to have the worst routing on longer routes
... (not that this is exactly an epic trip length).

The Here default route for
1200 Main St, Imperial, MO 63052 to Whitehaven Welcome Center
(which is directly on the best route to Nashville):



But go much further than that and the route changes completely, and not for the better.

And even worse, it "resisted" attempts to manually correct the route;
adding a via point often resulted in unexpected rerouting away from where the via point was added.

Try the addresses below for yourself, and you'll see what I mean.

1200 Main St, Imperial, MO 63052 to 204 Largo Dr, Nashville, TN 37211

Here default route is 336 miles

(which is about 10% farther than the route that is typically the best one for this trip)



One via point should have been enough... NOPE!



How about another via point? NOPE! Still not there!

What if I move that 2nd point to a different place? NOPE!



It finally took 3 carefully placed via points to nail down the route.

Now it's only 302.8 miles
,
and although the time is shorter too, it's still longer than the real-world time would be.




screen caps: http://imgur.com/a/w8qc8
GoneNomad
The Bing maps default route had the routing mistake as Here:


But it was a LOT easier to fix.

And Bing also has a feature that allows points like this to be added to the list (though not differentiated from actual stops).
Ken in Regina
Unless there is some reason you want to take those specific roads that you forced the routing onto, that seems like an awful lot of work to save 2 minutes (HERE) or 4 minutes (Bing).

...ken...
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
...that seems like an awful lot of work to save 2 minutes (HERE) or 4 minutes (Bing).
...ken...
The default route is also about 33 miles farther, which is about 10% more miles.

And in real-world conditions, the driving time savings is more than a few minutes. I've driven that route many times. Off-peak, that "correct" route (which GoogleMaps comes up with by default) probably saves at least 20 minutes.

...and more than that if leaving St. Louis during evening rush-hour, because the "Here" default route (that backtracks to the north into Illinois) would hit severe outbound traffic. Timing matters a lot on routes like this.

...as does awareness of the actual road conditions. I suspect google has better info on that, and maybe the others just have too much aversion for state or county roads, so they stick to the interstates for a route segment (in this case Cairo, IL to Paducah, KY) that's twice as far... even though KY286 is a perfectly viable route... as long as you're not traveling when the schoolbuses are on it.


Two other things:

1. Fundamentally, this test helps determine if a routing engine is RELIABLE, so that the user count on it to not produce an unexpected result, reducing the need to scrutinize a route overview (like was par for the course more than a decade ago. It shouldn't be that way now).

2. it shouldn't BE a lot of work to force a route to go the way you want, at least not to overcome the goofy things Here does (if you try that route yourself, you'll see what I mean). Adding one via point is OK; having to add three is not.


I'd rather find out now that like I (almost) did in Nebraska, in the middle of the night, in a rainstorm, when I (almost) trusted a PND's instructions that would have resulted in the same large unnecessary detour shown in this screencap.

......
GoneNomad
How to use the GoogleMaps "LABELED" places to build a locally stored list of stops in a route:

Labels can be added to differentiate intended stops.
In this case, they're named "Stop #..." but the prefix or name can be more unique...



The FIRST stop on a route can be added from any of the accessible lists. But subsequent stops cannot;
as a practical matter, places have to be found in THIS search window when you add a stop to the route:


The same LABEL can be applied to multiple places, which produces search results like these two examples
when searching for places to add to a route:




Using LABELs this way has a good side effect:
The "Route Shortcut" that can be saved to the home screen uses the label name of the last stop

(which helps overcome the problem of the non-changeable default route name):


This approach has one drawback:
The route list displays Labeled waypoints by their label names ONLY:

That can be overcome by including the place name when they're labeled

(which typically will happen on the larger screen of a laptop or desktop PC rather than on a smartphone)

.........
Attached Images
google-maps-app-route-labeled-places-1.jpg   google-maps-app-route-labeled-places-2.jpg   google-maps-app-labeled-places-search-name-stop.png   google-maps-app-labeled-places-search-name-11.15-1.png   google-maps-app-labeled-places-search-name-11.15-2.png  

google-maps-app-labeled-places-named-stop-.png  
GoneNomad
Utilizing these currently available capabilities (which hopefully will get better in the future), might produce a trip planning workflow that goes something like this:

1. Places you might like to visit can be Saved (starred) from their google.com/maps/place/["placename"] (info page).

2. Notations about these places can be kept several places, but google.com/bookmarks shows a list of all Saved places, and provides a way to add notes about each place too, as well as some basic organizational functions. google.com/bookmarks also allows places to be "labeled" (and sorted by this label):


...but it's important to remember that this "Label" is NOT the same as the
that shows up on the google.com/maps/place/["placename"] info (e.g.):

However, it's possible to go to there from google.com/bookmarks in only one step.

3. From the google.com/maps/place/["placename"] (info page) places can be Saved (starred) or labeled. and those labels can contain (among other things) the date you expect to visit, which makes subsequently finding them easier.

4. Places labeled using show up in the GoogleMaps app "LABELED" list, sorted by distance from the current location. Although this list needs a data connection to update, after that happens, it's cached locally, and will work without any data connection.

5. From there it's pretty easy to build a multi-stop route and use the GoogleMaps app's Nav module, without any internet data connection, as long as the map area was saved locally using the 'Offline Areas' feature.

..........
Attached Images
google-place-add-label-button-shows-up-here.png   googlemaps.com-bookmarks-label-notes.png  
SpadesFlush
It is always a good idea, if there is time, to "manually" review routes generated by software (whether S&T, Google Maps, Bing, etc.) to apply human navigator wisdom as possible improvements.

I can see how Bookmarks can be a useful alternative to Contacts for creating inventories of possible stops or POIs. There does not seem to be, however, the ability to import from CSV files to Bookmarks as you can in Contacts, fwiw. And, although you can label Bookmarks, I do not see how you would be able to manage displaying groups of labeled Bookmarks the way you can with Contacts.
SpadesFlush
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoneNomad
...
5. From there it's pretty easy to build a multi-stop route and use the GoogleMaps app's Nav module, without any internet data connection, as long as the map area was saved locally using the 'Offline Areas' feature.

..........
...so long as your route does not exceed the number of stops Google Maps allows.
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
It is always a good idea, if there is time, to "manually" review routes generated by software (whether S&T, Google Maps, Bing, etc.) to apply human navigator wisdom as possible improvements.
I agree. (see the next post for two more good reasons)

I don't expect any maps or routing algorithm to be perfect. Mistakes will happen.*** But...

1. The fewer mistakes, the better.*

2. Nothing is ever going to be perfect (as proponents of self-driving cars will find out soon enough!). That's why I want a route planner that allows me to see an overview map at a large enough size to easily detect & correct routing errors. And for that I need at least a large tablet, but a PC is preferable because the touch-optimized mobileOS browsers and apps are more cumbersome (thus slower) in a few key areas.

Some people are content to just enter destinations into their PND and off they go. I'm not, and here's why:

3. For short trips most any of the nav app/PND default routes probably aren't too far out of the way. But a similar glitch on a longer route might take you 30+ to 60+ miles out of the way (as is the case for the two examples I've used in recent threads). And, longer routes seem to be more likely to have routing errors. *

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
I can see how Bookmarks can be a useful alternative to Contacts for creating inventories of possible stops or POIs. There does not seem to be, however, the ability to import from CSV files to Bookmarks as you can in Contacts, fwiw. And, although you can label Bookmarks, I do not see how you would be able to manage displaying groups of labeled Bookmarks the way you can with Contacts.
Yep, that's a good point. I thought you were having to jump through some hoops to make Contacts work, but I'll have to go back and read your recent posts again.

The problem does remain that google.com/bookmarks is pretty limited. But I don't see the google.com/bookmarks as a repository for large POI collections, just a somewhat better way to manage those I find on google maps. Though there is no import, the html export sure does come in handy.

There's another possible problem: google.com/bookmarks looks like an orphan product: it's not even named correctly, since it's actually saved places, and it uses a term "Label" that conflicts with the more commonly used "Label" @ google.com/maps & the GoogleMaps app. I could build a workflow around google.com/bookmarks only to have it disappear, any time. That's not going to happen with Contacts.

And if I really wanted to, I could create a script to run though a list of POIs, force google.com/maps to "find" them, and then "star" them, one by one. From there it's easy to get html lists or sets of bookmarks. This amounts to "mining" google's more exact data using the fairly accurate coordinates in POI lists.

That's exactly what I proposed to a few of the list maintainers @ POI factory. It works because their geo-coordinates are close enough that google maps always finds the POI as a named place, and automatically changes the URL accordingly. Actually, that's a nice feature, because it's another way of verifying POI locations. If googlemaps doesn't do what I described, then the POI probably isn't there.


The other thing is, though, a list of 2,000 POIs imported into Google Contacts don't automatically show up on a map.

POIs imported into S&T show up on a map, and I can assign custom icons in S&T which is a major drawback to google maps (and many others). If the POI file has URL links in it, they are clickable from each POI "flag" in S&T. Check out this post. Being able to see just a (custom) icon, OR the name, OR the name & info, on a map, is a powerful feature in S&T, and clickable links is the icing on that cake. True, a text search @ google.com/maps will show POI balloons on a zoomed-out overview map, but it often misses a lot of them too, especially for category searches.

Also, S&T import wizard is a lot better (native Excel files; choose destination for each column, etc.),

Which is why I may well be going back to S&T for just this reason: it not only has better trip planning functions, it has much better POI management too.

That being said, it may be that the same POI lists that originate as Excel file scan be imported into Google contacts easily enough that it provides a more useful way to manage them than is possible in S&T. So maybe BOTH S&T and Google contacts is the way to go?


As it stands now, it looks like what it will take to get the job done is a combination of S&T2013, Bing.com/maps** and the Win10 Maps app for navigation, on a 12"+ Win10 PC/Tablet.

Part of what's driving this is: S&T2013 has (re)proven it's value, still unmatch by anything currently available, especially for people (like me) who highly value having a tool that WORKS ALL THE TIME, without a data connection;
and
I think Microsoft (still playing catchup) will probably make more of an effort to improve Win10 mobile apps (like Maps) than google, especially since google's philosophy about functionality (still) revolves too heavily around having internet access. In short, googlemaps is great for urban use, but I'm hoping Win10 Maps will continue to grow into a more useful tool for rural areas. Time will tell, but it's already better from the standpoint of allowing state-by-state map downloads.

Probably would still use Android googlemaps on a pocketable device for local search/discovery and short trips/detours to those places. GoolgeMaps still absolutely OWNS this, as the comparison maps I've posted on here prove. This usage is very similar to the ENTIRE usage of most nav app/PND users.

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

*I've done a LOT of testing, and it shows me that Google maps does very well for the type of long distance trips (often out into the boonies) that I'm interested in. I'm sure that many more other people are concerned about short routes across town during the day, and to them, traffic conditions are more important, but I'm not interested in that. For those people, maybe Waze or TomTom (which has traffic conditions) would be better. But here, we're looking for an S&T replacement.

** In the test above, Bing.com/maps was the only one that found the correct exit to that Whitehaven Welcome Center. Even google blew that one; it actually does that too often, but most of the time, it's inconsequential because it gets you close enough to SEE the entrance.

*** Especially with "HereWeGo" ...
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
It is always a good idea, if there is time, to "manually" review routes generated by software (whether S&T, Google Maps, Bing, etc.)
...especially if using "HereWeGo" because as these two examples show, it's prone to routing gone wild.
Not only are both of them BAD, they also aren't the same (and they should be).

Oak Ridge, MO - Nashville, TN (full size image)

Oak Ridge, MO - Clarksville, TN (full size image) (228.6 miles; 4:03)
.............
For reference, this is the google.com/maps default route (184 miles; 3:13), which is also the correct route:


BTW, Bing may use the same maps as "Here" but I just tested these two routes in Bing.com/maps, and although it doesn't default to the most optimal route* Bing sure does NOT come up with two different wacky routes like "Here" does.

* S
ame as in previous comparison above, Bing defaults to a route that's about 10 miles further but only a few minutes longer.
Attached Images
oak-ridge-mo-clarksville-tn-here-maps-default-.jpg   oak-ridge-mo-nashville-tn-here-maps-default-.jpg   oak-ridge-mo-nashville-tn-google-maps-default-.jpg  
GoneNomad
Spades - I spent a little more time checking out Google Contacts.

I must admit, it looks promising, but I'm not sure it could cope with thousands of POIs.
Of course, neither can google.com/bookmarks either.

I will have to learn more, including the difference between Groups and Circles.

.........
GoneNomad
I almost forgot to check this:

Spreadsheet data can be imported into My Maps too: google.com/maps/d


Would need an internet connection to use it though, and can't navigate directly from it either.

...
Attached Images
google-my-maps-import-data-spreadsheet.png  
SpadesFlush
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoneNomad
...
I must admit, it looks promising, but I'm not sure it could cope with thousands of POIs. ...
The thing about Contacts is that you do not have to be snowed-under by "thousands of POIs" because they do not all have to appear in your default "My Contacts" group which is where Contacts opens itself. All you have to do is uncheck My Contacts in the Groups drop-down list. That can be done for single entries or it can be done for whole groups.

So, you could import a CSV file. The simple process of doing that sort of import will bring all those new contacts in as a discrete Group with today's date and a trailing number. You can rename the Group to better-describe the constituents, like Ikea, or HomeDepot, or whatever. Since these are not all your good buddies and you don't want to seem them every time you open Contacts, you can un-check "My Contacts" and they will still be saved as the Group you named them without cluttering-up your true Contacts. All Groups are listed in the left sidebar.

Then when you are really interested in that Group, you open it up and search or whatever.
SpadesFlush
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoneNomad
...

The problem does remain that google.com/bookmarks is pretty limited. But I don't see the google.com/bookmarks as a repository for large POI collections, just a somewhat better way to manage those I find on google maps. Though there is no import, the html export sure does come in handy.

There's another possible problem: google.com/bookmarks looks like an orphan product: it's not even named correctly, since it's actually saved places, and it uses a term "Label" that conflicts with the more commonly used "Label" @ google.com/maps & the GoogleMaps app. I could build a workflow around google.com/bookmarks only to have it disappear, any time. That's not going to happen with Contacts.
Agree.
Quote:
...
As it stands now, it looks like what it will take to get the job done is a combination of S&T2013, Bing.com/maps** and the Win10 Maps app for navigation, on a 12"+ Win10 PC/Tablet.

Part of what's driving this is: S&T2013 has (re)proven it's value, still unmatch by anything currently available, especially for people (like me) who highly value having a tool that WORKS ALL THE TIME, without a data connection;
and
I think Microsoft (still playing catchup) will probably make more of an effort to improve Win10 mobile apps (like Maps) than google, especially since google's philosophy about functionality (still) revolves too heavily around having internet access. In short, googlemaps is great for urban use, but I'm hoping Win10 Maps will continue to grow into a more useful tool for rural areas. Time will tell, but it's already better from the standpoint of allowing state-by-state map downloads.
...
I think MSFT has shown very amply that it can never run fast enough to catch up. It might buy the leader before he/she gets to the finish line but it won't out-run him/her.
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
...I think MSFT has shown very amply that it can never run fast enough to catch up.
That may be true lately... But not always. Case in point: Macintosh vs Windows.

But of course in that case what it had going for it was that legacy DOS apps could run in the same hardware as the nascent Windows.

And Microsoft's prosperity being contingent upon compatibility with "legacy" something-or-other still holds true today.

Meanwhile, google built up tremendous market share (vs. iOS) before Microsoft made a credible entry (after wasting more time with false starts like Windows Phone and Windows 8).

So in this case, you may be right, especially considering how MS's previous mapping products languished. They probably just don't have as high a priority as they do for google. For instance, it took MS almost a year to copy one of Here's useful features (that google still doesn't have): the ability to group saved places together (in "Collections").

So where do we end up at the end of this extensive evaluation/examination? Right back where many people already were, based on cursory anecdotal experience? Using S&T for trip planning and googlemaps app for local search & navigation? Maybe so. Depends on what MS does with their maps app in the next year or so.
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