April 21, 2012

In Search of a Caching Map History Display, Part II

In the continuing saga (since my last post) of trying to find a way to display your cache finds on a map with a timeline display, here's the latest update. As you probably know, Google Earth has a time slider bar which appears anytime you load data that contains a field containing a date:

In this case, I've simply opened a GPX file containing a selection of my found caches directly into Google Earth. Note that GE will read GPX files directly without you having to do any GPX-to-KML conversion beforehand. Since the GPX file contains a date field (several, actually), the time slider bar automatically appears in Google Earth.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Google Earth uses the cache "created" date field (the date the cache was hidden), so when you click "play", it will display each cache in sequence based on the date it was hidden. There does not appear to be any option to use the "date found by me" field instead of the "date created" field; which is what we are ultimately trying to do here.

I was able to create a CSV version of my finds file using GSAK, and exporting my finds to CSV format. Then I used Excel to strip off the "created" date and "last found" date fields, leaving only the "found by me" date field as the only field in the file containing date information. I then tried using GPS Visulizer to convert the CSV file to both KML, and GPX formats, but both times, GPS Visualizer removed the date information completely during the conversions, so I was unable to use the time slider in Google Earth. So save yourself the trouble, and do not attempt this method at home.

I then looked for a decent GPX file editor online, in attempt to strip out all but my "found by me" date information from my original GPX file. While there are many GPX file editing tools, most seem to cater to people that want to edit their track data from their GPSr device, rather than provide a tool that lets you edit a waypoint GPX file.

I also tried using GPS Babel, which is a great GPS file conversion tool, but it doesn't let you edit or remove any of the data fields from the source GPX file prior to conversion.

I finally figured out that when I exported my original GPX file from GSAK, it only retains the "created date" field, and not the other date fields, so the only date field Google Earth "sees" is the creation date. Even when you modify the view in GSAK so the only date field showing is the "found by me" date, it still exports only the "created" date to GPX format.

So next, I created a pocket query that includes only the caches I've found in the state of Nevada; all 24 of them (I wanted a relatively small file to work with here). But alas, I end up with the same result - the only date field included in the downloaded PQ file is the cache creation date.

So there you have it.There is no seemingly simple way to generate a GPX or KML file containing a list of the caches you've found and the date you found them, that you could then open in Google Earth and run the timeline tool to see the caches appear in the order you found them. If anyone knows a way to accomplish this task, I'd love to hear about it.

Cache On


CraigRat said...

We have a kml feed for a cachers logs at Geocaching Australia

I've got it so it os sorted by log date, not cache date

mine is here: http://geocaching.com.au/cacher/CraigRat.kml

works OK, had a lot of trouble with Google earth accepting the dates for some reason though, but I can load the KML and play a tour of the caches I've logged just fine.

Rozza Jullie said...

Hello. I read your post and I though it would be useful to indicate another free conversion tool. gpx2kml.com is good way to convert any gpx to kml format or kml to gpx files, when needed. Cheers!