Working with bearing lines

Adam's Avatar


28 May, 2016 06:57 PM

I'm trying to add some bearing lines to a map. After playing with the functionality for a bit, I think I understand how it works, and what constraints currently exist. Essentially:

1. A bearing line is not created using the GUI--you must enter the desired bearing and distance as text values in the creation dialog
2. Thereafter, the bearing line cannot be edited in any meaningful way--dragging the vertices does not alter the comment generated that states the bearing and distance

If I'm looking at a map, and want to enter a number of bearing lines, doing the above is quite inconvenient--I have to know the bearing and distance in advance. Usually, that's what I want to find out. I realize that I can draw a line first, and look at the bearing and distance as I'm drawing the line, but then I need to write those down, and enter them in the bearing line creation dialog. These added steps are quite inconvenient.

So, I'd suggest a couple of feature changes:

1. Allow one to enter a bearing line by clicking two points on the map (similar to line creation)
2. Keep the generation dialog the same, but update the comment if the line is edited (vertices are dragged)
3. Allow conversion from a line to a bearing line

Lastly, it would be convenient if the label for the line could default to the bearing and/or the distance. That way, a printed map will have the bearing lines shown along with the bearing (and would automatically update if the bearing line were edited).

I haven't used the bearing line features much, so perhaps I'm missing something--if so, please enlighten me!

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by matt on 28 May, 2016 07:31 PM

    matt's Avatar

    Hi Adam -

    The bearing line feature is intended to make it easy to plot a line on the map when you already know a bearing - for triangulation, cell phone forensics, etc. Once drawn it converts to a regular line, rather than anything special, to keep me from the overhead of managing a separate bearing object type.

    You might want the Measure -> Take Bearing option. Or, when drawing, the top right of the screen shows both the total line distance and the bearing from the last point.

    ^ Except, on re-reading your message, it sounds like you're already aware of that. If so, I'm unclear on what you're trying to do. Can you describe the end result in more detail - what are you trying to do, and how do you intend to use the map / bearing lines?

    • Matt
  2. 2 Posted by Adam White on 28 May, 2016 08:24 PM

    Adam White's Avatar


    Ah, I actually hadn't seen the Measure -> Take Bearing option. That does

    Here's a little more context for use: I'm planning a hike that is mostly
    off-trail. Thus, my route is mostly a series of waypoints connected by
    bearing lines and distances. In addition to route waypoints, I'd like to
    include bearing lines to features of prominence (visible peaks, etc).

    So, in creating my maps, it is necessary to to create a record of those
    bearings and distances in some way, so that I can bring it with me in the
    field. To keep those documented right now, I have two options (I think):

    1. Create a line. The bearing and distance are indicated in the upper-right
    as the line is created. However, since the line creation dialog (where I
    could enter that information as "comments") is gone by that point, I need
    to manually write down the distance and bearing, then finish creating the
    line, then edit the line, and manually enter the distance and bearing in
    the comments for the line.

    2. Create a line. After the line is completed, take a bearing measurement,
    clicking exactly where the line is. In the measurement dialog that appears,
    highlight and copy the bearing/distance information, then edit the original
    line, and paste that in as the comments (or externally to a spreadsheet,
    text editor, etc).

    With either of these approaches, since the bearing/distance information is
    in the comments, and since that appears in the legend for the map, a
    screenshot of the legend along with a printout of the map contains all the
    information needed.

    I think the second approach is preferable, but it would certainly be
    convenient if the Measure -> Take Bearing tool had an option to create a
    line after measurement that included the bearing/distance information in
    the comments. Or, alternatively, if the Create Bearing Line tool could
    allow input via either text entry OR the same GUI that is used the Measure
    -> Take Bearing tool. I think the results would be identical.

    I also think that I should probably rescind my recommendation about
    defaulting labels to distance/bearing. I tried that a few times, and I
    don't think there's a way to do it without excessive clutter.

    In any case, it's food for thought. I can achieve what I want with the
    existing functionality, but as outlined above, with either approach, it
    takes a bit of clicking (or worse, manually writing things down--eek!)


  3. 3 Posted by adamg32 on 02 Jul, 2016 05:17 PM

    adamg32's Avatar

    Hi Adam,

    I'm sorry one of us hasn't gotten back to you sooner. You've got some good suggestions and are definitely using CalTopo in a different but totally reasonable way. Matt has a good long list of features to add and this seems like a pretty simple one. I've poked around a little to see if I could come up with a better option but nothing appeared to me. I'm sure you've exhausted the menu options.

    Thanks for bringing this up, and for your patience!

  4. adamg32 closed this discussion on 02 Jul, 2016 05:17 PM.

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