Virtual Hiker Editor version 0.0.1 (pre-alpha) released

Virtual Hiker version 0.0.1 (pre-alpha) released

Virtual Hiker is a Java program that allows a user to easily and interactively use map data to plan hikes or explore new areas. This program includes features helpful to the hiker such as interactive 3D maps of the terrain rendered in real-time; the ability to trace trails across the terrain and get height verses distance profiles; and the ability to tile together adjacent maps to create seamless map areas. Version 0.0.1 is the 1st release of this software since moving the project to

Virtual Hiker 0.0.1 can be downloaded from:

Virtual Hiker comes in two parts: Virtual Hiker itself and VH Editor. This release contains a binary version of VH Editor only, the source release contains Virtual Hiker as well.

Virtual Hiker is an end-user program that is designed to read maps that have been processed and organized into a coherent database. Virtual Hiker is easy to use, has a simple user interface, and would be shipped with a CD-ROM containing an associated map database. VH Editor, on the other hand, is a bit more complex, but is also more flexible. VH Editor is primarily used to read raw USGS map data and convert it to a form that is easier to work with in Virtual Hiker. VH Editor also includes a small amount of map editing and analysis features (very small, but growing). VH Editor can do everything
Virtual Hiker can, but adds additional features that may not be of use to some users.

The primary features of Virtual Hiker and VH Editor:
* Can read most types of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) map data that
is on a 24k Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid. This
includes Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) images including Digital
Orthographic Quads (DOQ), Digital Elevation Maps (DEM) in either
ASCII or SDTS format, and Digital Line Graphs (DLG) in either ASCII
or SDTS format.
* You can load as many map layers as you want (until you run out of
memory) and they can be tiled together to form large seamless
* When multiple map layers are either overlaid or tiled together,
they can be saved to a single Virtual Hiker specific file that
groups all the map layers together.
* The user can select any location on the map and get latitude,
longitude and (if a DEM map layer is loaded) altitude for that
* A line can be traced across a map (that includes a DEM layer) and
a plot of height verses distance will be generated as well as
some other statistics calculated.
* DRG images (which are often very large) can be processed to create
a tiled image that can be loaded and displayed and zoomed in and
out of efficiently while using very little memory.
* DLG map elements can be picked by the user and queried against a
database. Currently this feature is a "proof-of-concept"
implementation only, but could be extended to be a powerful
feature. Imagine the user clicking on a trail map element and
getting information on the trail; it's name, length, difficulty,
description, etc.
* An interactive, 3D map, rendered in real-time can be generated
for any number of tiled DEM map layers (they do NOT have to be
joined together into a single large DEM first!). The terrain
rendering algorithm renders in real-time even for fairly large
data sets (I've tested it with up to nine 30m DEMs loaded at a
time -- about 1.3 million grid points -- on a 350 MHz
Macintosh G3). Any image can be texture mapped onto the 3D
terrain and a feature is provided that will convert any DRG
into an appropriate texture map. This allows you to use standard
topographic maps as textures as well as properly map aligned
satellite photos and map aligned orthographic aerial photographs
(such as DOQs).

Posted by Joseph A. Huwaldt 2004-08-06