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View Geocaches On Top Of Arcims Services


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I don't know if this topic has been beaten to death, but a keyword search for "ArcIMS" tells me it hasn't so here goes:


I'm normally able to get a good feel for general geocache locations in the USA using Mapquest but while vacationing in another country, that doesn't hold up too well. And Geocaching.com's own generated map isn't worth much either.


So what can a geocacher do? Here's what I tried, and am happy enough with (This is all done on a Windows XP machine and with a broadband internet connection):


1. Download geocaches. Y'know, your typical geocaching.loc file from the website. It's all just texty XML so you can concatenate all your LOC files into one if you like in your preferred text editor. Just make sure you don't have any errant tags


2. Convert your geocaching.loc into a CSV file, or comma separated file. I tried GPSBabel to do this. (Download GPSBabel / Pick a package) I selected the Mapopolis.com Mapconverter CSV as the Output file & Format. You can name it whatever you like, like geocaches.txt or something. You can open this file in your text editor and clean things up: I removed a few things so all I had was the cache name and the Northing & Easting coordinate. Also, put in the appropriate column headings as the 1st line if it's not already up there.


So now, you should have some CSV text file with contents that look sorta like this:


Geocache, Easting, Northing
Find Me by SomeGeocacher, 123.45678, 12.34567
No Find Me by AnotherGeocacher, 135.79, 24.68



3. Convert your CSV text file into a Shapefile. I couldn't find an immediate converter for this so I ended up downloading and using DIVA GIS. (Download DIVA GIS) I haven't looked at this program too thoroughly; all I know is that it is able to create a shapefile from the CSV file I made in the previous step. After installing & opening this program, in the menu bar, go to Data -> Points (TXT) to Shapefile and use your CSV text file as the Input File. Pick "Comma" as your Field Delimiter and specify your Output File location. Select your X / Longitude drop down as Easting (or whatever you named it) and Y / Latitude as Northing.


* Note: Shapefiles are not just 1 file; they basically consist of 3 files with the same name but different extensions: .SHP, .SHX, and .DBF. All are needed for the shapefile to work so don't delete any or rename any of them different from the others


Click the Apply button and you should have a new shapefile (3 files) now. You will also see the point shapefile loaded into DIVA GIS.


4. Okay, where am I going with all this? I want to be able to see streets and other data with the geocache points on top. Now comes.. more installing.


ESRI's ArcExplorer is a free GIS data viewer. (Pick a download.) Not only can you view shapefiles with it, you can load in public internet mapping services powered by ESRI's ArcIMS. Woo!


* Note: ESRI has other offices in a bunch of other countries so if you don't like the English-centric ArcExplorer, maybe you can find another.


For my example, I used Japan. After installing & opening ArcExplorer, in the menu bar, go to Layer -> Add Layers... and a Catalog dialog box comes up. Expand the WWW tree and then double-click Add Web Site. For URL, punch in http://www.geographynetwork.ne.jp. Click the OK button and now you can pick available services. Highlight the basemap one and either double-click its name on the right frame or click the Add Layers (1st icon) button. Voila, it's now loaded into ArcExplorer. Next, expand your Local computer tree and navigate and add in your geocache shapefile.




That's it. I had found the basic resources for Japan lacking, and when I used MapQuest to zero in on the latlong, the data MapQuest uses is geographically off. In contrast, I found the Japan ArcIMS service to have more details and be more geographically correct. I'm also able to "load" in as many points as I want to view and manipulate them however I please.


Feel free to try other services, or post other useful URLs if you find any...


USA: http://www.geographynetwork.com

Hong Kong: http://www.ypmap.com

Japan: http://www.geographynetwork.ne.jp

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