Google's "My places" is great for showing lots of traces (in my case, paths representing bike rides I've done). But it only shows 20 or so per page.

I'd really like a map (a statically rendered .png would be ok - but prefer dynamic online) with 1-200 traces highlighted over a base map. I'm happy to use online or offline tools (preferably Windows, Mac ok, last resort Linux) to achieve this, but the fewer steps and unfamiliar technologies the better. (I'm not really familiar with any offline GIS tools.)

Lots of other sites allow you to upload traces, which they'll display in a list - but I haven't found any that will actually render them all simultaneously.


Have you ever heard of Google Fusion Tables? You can simply upload your bike trails stored in a CSV/TXT or KML format and then it will create a nice online table from those data which you can visualize on a google map so visualizing ~200 traces with FT should not be a problem. The tool creates tiles that will be loaded on top of the google map, so it wouldnt eat up memory. Fusion Tables also has an API which you can use if you plan to make a standalone web application to display your routes and route data simultaneously.

In case you have your bike traces in shapefile format, you may want to check out shpescape.com which is a neat tool to turn a shapefile into a new Fusion Table.


  • Interesting approach. I've managed to import a few KML files in, and it works ok, but it looks like it will start paging just like "My places" once I hit some limit. The traces look like lines drawn over the tiles - what makes you think they're rendered as tiles themselves? – Steve Bennett Jan 2 '13 at 4:38
  • Use a web debugger like Fiddler and watch its console when you load your map using fusion tables. You will see that google serves up tile images. Moreover, thats the concept of the whole service, to enable the visualization of MANY geometries without knocking the browser out. Another option I1d suggest is CartoDB if you are open to alternatives. – EZMapdesign Jan 2 '13 at 8:18
  • Definitely open to alternatives. CartoDB doesn't seem to work for me: it considers a GPX file to be a "table" (free accounts are limited to 5), and it only renders it as a dot, not a whole path. – Steve Bennett Jan 3 '13 at 4:09

If you do not need to share your data interactively (ie- web page), and are just looking to display your GPS/GPX data on a nice basemap and maybe do some printing, you could easily do that in the "offline" Quantum GIS software. It is free, open-source, available for all of the operating systems you mentioned, and will natively read/open your GPX files.

To get a nice looking basemap to overlay the data on:

  1. Open QGIS
  2. Install the "OpenLayers" plugin (if needed, it may be installed by default)
  3. Add a basemap from the Plugins->OpenLayes options
  4. Add your GPX layer(s) onto the map canvas

At that point, you can symbolize the GPX layers to your heart's content and still get the cartographic benefit of a nice looking base layer.


In the end, I learnt TileMill (for some other purposes) and used that. I collected all the routes as GPX files then converted them to GeoJSON using GDAL's ogr2ogr:

for f in *.gpx
  echo $f
  ogr2ogr -f GeoJSON "$f.json" "$f" routes

In TileMill, I added each one as a separate layer (there are about 35), and used classes to add properties that were interesting for each one:

enter image description here

That meant I could apply styles to various properties:

enter image description here

End result:

enter image description here

It'd probably be better to have loaded them into PostGIS, and manage their properties there, but this was a bit simpler to get something up and running.


I am developing a web mapping client that can to do what you describe. My purpose is to do vector web mapping as described in this paper and I took GPS traces visualisation as an example use case. It is still a prototype, but there is an online demo here (it requires Java). I have not tested it on all environments: I hope it works for you!

enter image description here

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