Imagery tiling sources not working

If you have attempted to use the mapquest imagery tiling background source you will have seen a message that the service has been discontinued.

Depiction is a low cost mapping solution. We have attempted to find as many free data sources that are available to use within our program.  Unfortunately some of these providers will change their API or stop providing the service completely, which is the case with MapQuest.  The NASA Landsat source also is not working and only delivers brown tiles of nothingness.  We are on the hunt for a new free imagery tiling service.  Once we find one we will issue a new build of the software.  In the meantime if you want to have imagery in your map then your only choice will be to take screen shots of other imagery and bring the images into Depiction and geo-align them.  We are sorry of the inconvenience.

January 26, 2016 Webinar Video now available online.

The video of the January 26th Webinar on merging tabular data with shape files is now available on our website. You can find it here. You can also download the powerpoint from the video here.

Creating your own background map tile cache

In our last webinar the issue of the background tile cache came up.  One question was would it be possible to have the tile cache on a thumb drive so that it could easily be moved to another computer.  Currently if you go to the tools menu in Depiction and select settings and then the advanced tab.

You will see a display that shows the default location of the tile cache.  Currently you can not change this field and you would need to do this in order to place the tile cache in a different location such as a thumb drive.  We are exploring the possibility of letting you update this setting to the location of your choice.

If you are unfamiliar with the tile cache let me explain its use.  When you are viewing your story in Depiction the back ground map source can be a map or an aerial image.  Depending on which you have chosen the program goes out to the internet and finds the desired image tiles for that location and zoom level you have chosen. When it finds them it stores them on your disk in the directory specified in the settings above.  However, before Depiction goes to the internet to look for a particular tile or tiles it first looks in the cache directory to see if the tile is already there.  If it is then Depiction  takes the tile from there and doesn’t go to the internet.  The benefit of this is speed and also if the internet is down it is still possible to display the background tiles. The downside of this is that if the map tile has been updated then Depiction will continue to display the old tile.  You might particularly notice this if you happen to update an Open Street Map yourself and then don’t see the change you made.  To get around this on the Basic Settings screen there is a check box to Overwrite existing cache with new. If you check this box then Depiction will ignore the cache and go directly to the internet.  Normally you would want to keep this box unchecked.

So knowing how depiction works using the cached files it would be possible to create your own cached tiles from a map source other than those provided by Depiction.  We have one customer in Germany that did just that.  He has written a paper on how he achieved this.  It is fairly advanced but with his permission I am sharing it with those of you that have the skill set and maybe inclined to attempt this.  You can find the document here.

Live Reports and Gmail 10-12-15

If you use a Gmail account for your live reports email you may have had a frustrating experience of the Live-Reports giving you an error message.  Turns out Google has made a change and they won’t allow “unsecured” applications to log in unless you give your permission.

From Google’s website:

Allow less secure apps to access accounts

We have added a feature that allows you to block sign in attempts at the domain or Organizational Unit level from some apps or devices that do not use modern security standards.

See the Frequently Asked Questions section below for examples of apps that do not support the latest security standards.

Since these apps and devices are easier to break into, blocking them helps keep your users’ accounts safer.

Default less secure apps account access

Existing users with any programmatic login requests with plain passwords in the last 90 days will be able to use less secure apps by default. New Google Apps users and existing Google Apps users with no programmatic login requests with plain passwords in the last 90 days will not. Instead, by default, they will see a “Password incorrect” error when trying to sign in to less secure apps.

Enabling less secure apps to access accounts

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console .
  2. Click Security > Basic settings.
    Where is it?
  3. Under Less secure apps, select Go to settings for less secure apps.
  4. In the subwindow, check Allow users to manage their access to less secure apps .

Once you’ve set Allow users to manage their access to less secure apps to on, affected users within the selected group or Organizational Unit will be able to toggle access for less secure apps on or off themselves.

In order to give it permission log into your Gmail account and choose Sign-in and Security.

scroll to the bottom of the page. Turn on “Allow less secure Apps”

New Build now available 10-9-15

In the previous post I mentioned that the current build of Depiction was not Geo-coding starting locations.

We have fixed the problem and created a new build which you can find here.  This build 12614 will geo-code starting locations.

Starting a new Depiction is currently not working 10-8-15

Our initial geocoding of a new location at the Welcome screen is currently not working.  This will mainly effect new users. Long time users that have geo-coded their location before won’t run into this because the geo-coding info will be in their cache.  We hope to have this resolved soon.

March 24th Webinar recording now available online.

The March 24th webinar covering the Add, Display and Manage menu options is now available here.

Depiction and the National Grid

During our webinar today one of the participants asked if Depiction was compatible with the USNG.  At the time I wasn’t sure what he was referring to.  He was kind enough to have an expert in its use drop me a line and point me to some resources. So here is what I have found out so far.  USNG stands for US National Grid system.  You can find a very complete description here.

The USNG is a based on the UTM coordinate system.  Depiction does have the ability to display locations in the UTM format.

Tools-Settings MenuIf you go to the Tools menu and choose settings and then click on the Coordinate format.  The UTM format is the 5th one down.

There is a website called the US National Grid Information center where you can find shape files for download.  However what I discovered was that these downloads have lots of data in them and you can’t have a depiction boundary too large and load one of these shape files because it can bring Depiction to its knees.  A couple of them I checked out had around 65,000 shapes. When I tried to load one of these for a large area it brought Depiction to its knees.  However, for smaller areas you are able to import the file.

Depiction displaying the National Grid

This Depiction area is 65 x 39 miles and has about 6600 shape elements.  Depiction was able to read it and display it but I noticed the program was a little sluggish. Especially when it had to display all 6600 shapes.  If you turn off the display of the shapes and display the shapes in a smaller revealer you will get much better performance. It is having to redraw those 6600 shapes everytime that you do something that causes the program to slow down.

So in order to use this go to the US National Grid Info Center web site.

US National grid web site

Choose the region you are interested in.

Choose the zone that covers your area of interest. Click on it and will start a download. Choose a location were you want the file to be downloaded. Once it is downloaded open the zip file and do an “extract all” and place the results in  a folder of your choosing.  Then start a depiction, keeping the size to around 2500 square miles or less. Then go to the add menu and choose the file option and browse to your folder.  Choose the file with the .SHP extension and auto detect for element type and click add and it will bring the file in.  When the shapes come in they are assigned random colors but if you want no color then you can go to the manage menu.  Select all of the shapes and choose edit. That will bring up this screen.

Depiction Manage - Edit Properties menu

scroll down to the ZOI Fill field and click on it which will bring up the color palate.  In the bottom right there is an option for no color. Choose that say apply and the colors will disappear.

Hope that will help those of you interested in the national grid.

Video of January 27th Webinar now available online.

The recording of the January 27th webinar on Depiction Basics and Tips on use is now available and can be found here.