BC Marine Trails Website 'Improvements' 2021

JohnAbercrombie

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Check it out!!
:thumbsup:
New !!
:thumbsup:
Slower!! :thumbsup:
Fewer features!! :thumbsup:

Those old tools you loved- like being able to 'turn off' unwanted icons (Picnic sites, etc.) on the map? Try to find them now!!
:thumbsup:
Enjoy agreeing to the 'Code of Conduct' every time you switch pages on the site? You will love it!
:thumbsup:
Did you download the .gpx files for sites before this improvement? Good!
:thumbsup:
 
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CPS

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What browser are you using John? I found this actually loaded significantly faster than it used to.
I was going to log in to check out if there are features 'hidden' to non-members, but apparently my login credentials are no longer valid. Time to renew, I guess.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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What browser are you using John? I found this actually loaded significantly faster than it used to.
Chrome on Win10 PC
I was going to log in to check out if there are features 'hidden' to non-members, but apparently my login credentials are no longer valid. Time to renew, I guess.
Don't jump to conclusions too fast.
:)
I logged on (I'm 'paid up' till well into 2022) and tried to navigate around the site. I still get "Become a Member' pretty much everywhere I go, including in the 'Member map'.
map new marked.jpg


I went to the BCMT website on my Mac and didn't log in, and went to the 'ordinary, non-member' map and it seems to be functionally identical to the "Member Map'. The only difference I could spot is that the 'Measurement tool' is in a different spot (upper right) on the Non-Member map.

When I kept getting those 'Become a Member' banners, I thought I should check my membership status to make sure it hadn't expired. When I hovered the cursor over the 'MY BCMT' tab at the top of the home page, 'LogOut' was the only option that showed. I finally figured out that to see the full menu under that tab, it's necessary to click on the heading.

I did find out that by going through several menus and sub menus, I could get to the option of only viewing some types (picnic, camp, launch, etc) of sites on the map. and then to show that type of site again, another trip through menus and sub menus.
Some 'improvement' over the old website, which presented that option on the map page......
BCMTN-Map old marked.jpg


Perhaps most visitors to the BCMTN (now BCMT apparently) site use it in different ways than I do.
I'm sure there was extensive beta testing with experienced paddlers and users of the site....

Definitely it isn't easy (or possible at all in some instances) to do things at the BCMT site now, that I used to regularly do a few years ago.

It's interesting that on the website, under 'Our Work', there's not much emphasis on facilitating paddle trips, or helping paddlers to plan those trips. Supporting the paddling community...??? not so much, apparently.
I guess the best way we can 'Preserve the Coast' is to stay off it?
 
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ezkayaker

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Joined
Jan 14, 2022
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3
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Ladysmith
Check it out!!
:thumbsup:
New !!
:thumbsup:
Slower!! :thumbsup:
Fewer features!! :thumbsup:

Those old tools you loved- like being able to 'turn off' unwanted icons (Picnic sites, etc.) on the map? Try to find them now!!
:thumbsup:
Enjoy agreeing to the 'Code of Conduct' every time you switch pages on the site? You will love it!
:thumbsup:
Did you download the .gpx files for sites before this improvement? Good!
:thumbsup:
The map that was recently developed was thoroughly discussed and included even a survey to members (350 responses+). The former Geolive map went through several iterations over 2 - 3 years and had a couple weaknesses: it ran only on a Joomla platform and didn’t work well on a mobile device. Our Joomla content system was severely outdated and we needed to change to another system. The new maps work on all platforms well - desktop, phone, tablet, Mac, PC, etc. This is a huge plus in and of itself.

We managed to get the ArcGIS platform mapping license which is one of the most powerful systems worldwide. As in any new project there is a considerable learning curve. Fortunately, we were able to get several key volunteers including a software engineer, an ArcGIS platform specialist and a server specialist. We also had Wordpress technicians, a branding specialist and other professionally based people including a project organizer work a lot of hours throughout the entire process. Between branding, meetings, surveys, IT work and review these paddlers have invested 1500 hours of volunteer time. We are not project specialists. We were a group of paddlers who came together to pull this off.

As mentioned, the original map went through several iterations and this new map will have to go through several iterations to reach a satisfactory state of affairs. We have already made quick changes to cookies (so the Code doesn’t keep re-appearing), changed the ability to select several filters (i.e. select campsites, day use sites, launch sites) and made other small changes. This new map also accesses additional layers created by other organizations or First Nations. The old map used php scripts to send and receive information (data, images) and this all had to be rewritten by our software engineer, who is extremely meticulous. He volunteered a mere 200 hours of his time this year.

The IT team in the future will look at getting an image slideshow for popup boxes and hopefully when the cursor hovers over an icon the name appears. But quite honestly we are tired but we feel good about our efforts.
 

CPS

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Growing pains as with anything. I appreciate the amount of work that has gone into it and no doubt will continue to in future.

Lots of people just expect technology to work, but the back end involves a lot of work.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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The map that was recently developed was thoroughly discussed and included even a survey to members (350 responses+).
Is that list of survey questions available on the website, with the summary of the 350+ responses?
(I got the email on Jan 19, 2021, and I'm pretty sure I responded, but the survey questions don't seem to be available any more)

It's not just the map that's changed on the website.

It's difficult to find things on the 'Improved' website, as there's no 'Search' function, as far as I can tell.

I would have searched for '.gpx download' or 'file download', but......

Just how does the team envision the map and website being used by paddlers?
Did the team consider the work flow for using the BCMT resources to actually plan a paddling trip?
For my trip planning style, not being able to download waypoints and then upload them into a GPS is a big handicap.
Fortunately - for me- I have files I downloaded from the BCMTN site some years ago, before the 'Un-remembering Project' got fully underway.
An alphabetical list of all the BCMT sites - how will that be useful, or used?

map sites directory.JPG
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Maybe You should get involved.
I would have been happy to help, but there was no general request for any beta testing or input from paddlers like me while the website redesign project was underway. The 'survey' actually went out to people on the mailing list after the decision had been made to rebuild the website.
The implementation team knew what they wanted from the start, apparently.
I tried volunteering at BCMT for other work (maintaining and developing campsites) a few years ago but that wasn't possible as the only opportunities open to me involved 'invasive species removal'. Also a friend of mine was treated very badly by the volunteer process at BCMT, and that soured me on doing that.
I taught a few off-water navigation classes and used to highly recommend the BCMT site as a trip planning tool. I emphasized the advantages of supporting BCMT with a membership subscription, since members could download campsite information.
I don't think I could do that, now. So I consider the changes to BCMT as a loss, not a gain.
 
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AM

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Joined
Jan 30, 2006
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Vancouver
You seem to know everything.
In my experience, John has never claimed knowledge beyond what is appropriate. He has, however, been extremely generous with his time and considerable expertise whenever someone has a question about boat building or repairs.

When John makes a criticism, it’s worth listening to.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

ezkayaker

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Ladysmith
  1. The BCMT server is lightning fast. It's loading time on a page now is around 1 or 2 seconds because it's a SSD server. It may not have loaded super fast on the day we transferred all the memberships. The maps are on an ESRI server so you will have a different experience.
  2. The new site does have a search tool on the public page. Sorry, the old site didn't have a search tool as stated above. However, we didn't notice it missing on the member page. Yikes. It will be resolved likely within a month. Thanks for pointing that out.
  3. The BCMT volunteer coordinator now is a young fellow named Cameron, who is super friendly and easy going. Cameron's focus this year is on education but he will organize 1 or 2 clean ups. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body.
  4. There have been multiple requests sent out to help on our Trails Development committee and IT team in the past year. If you look at the volunteer webpages, our newsletters and so on there are lots of requests for help on this project.
  5. The implementation team didn't know what they wanted from the beginning. This project was planned out by great people, who do this type of work for others and the BCMT.
  6. There is a conversion tool on the site under 'Explore'. The trip planning resource page under 'Explore' is very similar to SKABC resources. Once again, this is a new site. I did like the older converter tool/map. But we couldn't duplicate it. Maybe in the future. Our converter produces a nice load up for Google Earth. And you can convert paddling areas into gpx on our site. As well, you can draw a route on the member map and filter by types of sites.
  7. We made the resources page simpler and easier to read. It's the same basic info as the old site but organized more smartly. With over 50% of people using mobile phones now (last time I checked) the old map was losing some of its functionality for a wider group. The new mapping system pretty well accounts for every shape of phone and most types of browsers. We've received a lot of positive comments but still lots of room for improvement.
  8. The map sites directory allows people to comment on sites now. We can share information as a paddling community by site. It's currently showing all photos. Our maps need some development for popups on showing photos. Our software engineer is slowly putting a photo app together for us including some programming around this.
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Thanks for that info.
There have been multiple requests sent out to help on our Trails Development committee and IT team in the past year. If you look at the volunteer webpages, our newsletters and so on there are lots of requests for help on this project.
I've been a member of BCMT for years and I read every newsletter I get from BCMT. I can't recall a request from BCMT for volunteers to beta test the new website (or parts of it) and submit comments, or for volunteers to look at changes the IT volunteer team was proposing and submit comments. I don't save the newsletters (and it's unfortunate that only the current newsletter seems to be available from the BCMT website) but I found a few from the past year and there was no request for comments on the IT team's work in them. The volunteer request that I've seen is obviously looking for skilled programmers/website code writers:
Volunteers will be working in a team, but remotely on cloud-based systems, using own equipment.
Volunteers with experience in WordPress, MySQL, PHP, HTML, CSS, photo-editing, or vector graphics, are preferred, but anyone with aptitude and willing to learn will be trained by experts.
I don't have those skills, so it didn't apply to me.
That's quite different from looking for comments from paddlers who have used the website for trip planning or seeking volunteer project opportunities, for example .
  • [*]There is a conversion tool on the site under 'Explore'. The trip planning resource page under 'Explore' is very similar to SKABC resources. Once again, this is a new site. I did like the older converter tool/map. But we couldn't duplicate it. Maybe in the future. Our converter produces a nice load up for Google Earth. And you can convert paddling areas into gpx on our site. As well, you can draw a route on the member map and filter by types of sites.
  • Thanks for that. I didn't notice it a couple of days ago. I must have been looking for "Download site info" or "Download .gpx" or 'Site info by area". The 'Conversion Tool' (to convert from the .csv files which are the only type that the new site can produce directly) is really -to my way of thinking- secondary to the real task of downloading site information. But obviously an oversight on my part. Downloading .gpx files seemed a lot more obvious and convenient on the old website and was one of the main reasons I became a member years ago. It's not possible to generate a .gpx file from the database in a one-step (for the user) process? After clicking on the 'Convert' button, the spinning wheel appears for a while and then this:
    convert tool.JPG
  • It wasn't obvious to me that anything had actually happened, as the 'Download' word didn't appear in the lower bar until I hovered the cursor over it. Perhaps it looks different on a phone? (though I cannot figure out how to deal with file downloads and transfers easily on an iPhone, and doing a trip plan on an iPhone is way beyond my capabilities- and patience.)


  • We made the resources page simpler and easier to read. It's the same basic info as the old site but organized more smartly. With over 50% of people using mobile phones now (last time I checked) the old map was losing some of its functionality for a wider group. The new mapping system pretty well accounts for every shape of phone and most types of browsers. We've received a lot of positive comments but still lots of room for improvement.
I was going to comment on the 'Trip Planning' page but when I tried to load https://www.bcmarinetrails.org/trip-planning/ in my browser, I got:
slow.JPG

Anyway, from my memory of looking at the Trip Planning section a few days ago, I think there should be more emphasis on how the BCMT website itself can be used for trip planning, and how becoming a member can help paddlers in planning paddling outings and trips..
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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About the Paddling Areas Site Info downloads....
The old website had (as I recall- I should have saved the site on my computer) a map with coloured 'blocks' showing the paddling areas.
Thre were about 20(?) areas in all.
The new website has 50 'Paddling Areas' - many of which have only a few (<10) sites, and some which have 'No Data', and they are listed alphabetically, not geographically.
Since the data for each area is a separate (.csv) file download which must be saved with a new file name, and then uploaded back to the BCMT site for conversion to a more suitable format (.kml or .gpx) and then downloaded again I didn't find the increased number of 'Areas' an improvement. Perhaps illustrating the new 'Areas' on a map could help and that may well be in a part of the new site that I haven't yet found. :)
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Suppose we are planning a trip out of Coal Harbour, and want to put BCMT waypoints for Quatsino, Cape Scott and North Brooks into our GPS.
Go to the BCMT website and have a look around. Under the Explore menu, we can see:
map sites menu tab 2.jpg

That should be it...Click on it....and we get:
alpha list map sites.jpg

That's not what we wanted...so (since @ezkayaker has already mentioned it) let's try:
converter menu tab marked.jpg

That brings us to this page:
converter page marked.jpg

Clicking on that link (circled in red) is the only way I can find to get to the list of paddling areas:
Paddling list C Scott selected.jpg

Select Cape Scott, and then the Export tab, which will bring us to:
pick csv.jpg

Select csv and save the file
save screen with generic sites file name.jpg

Don't forget to re-name the file, as the BCMT site hasn't transferred the Cape Scott name,
Repeat for the other areas we want.
Now we have the .csv files, but to get the .gpx files we need for our GPS unit, we need to do more.
Stay tuned...
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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I just noticed that BCMT now has a map showing the 63 paddling areas, including a number which don't appear on the BCMT Trail Management page pictured above. So that map is a good thing. :thumbsup:
new map of paddling areas.JPG
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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To get .gpx files which will be usable in your GPS unit (handheld or watch, or ???) the .csv files you have saved in your computer need to be -one at a time- uploaded to the BCMT site, converted to .gpx, downloaded and saved back in your computer. Then you can use Garmin HomePort (IMO better than Garmin Basecamp which BCMT suggests) or EasyGPS or similar programs to upload those waypoints in the .gpx files into your GPS from your computer.

So lets find our way to the Converter page again:
converter menu tab.jpg

which brings us to
converter tool start.jpg

Click on 'Choose File' and navigate to your .csv file in your computer.
convert csv 3.jpg

Click on Convert and after a few seconds the download bar will appear
convert csv.jpg

Hover the cursor over that bar, then click to download your .gpx file
download gpx.jpg

Repeat for your other .csv files.
:)
Easy, huh?
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Hint: Using the BCMT Trip Planning Tool (on the Map Page, not under Resources) with a computer with a separate mouse (not touchpad) requires some co-ordination. Use the mouse wheel to zoom and the keyboard arrows to pan, mouse clicks to set route waypoints.
At the bottom of the 'Measurements' list there's a button to export the route as a .gpx file.
How to do that with a phone or tablet, or even with a computer with a touchpad? Over to you.... :)
 
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