Sunday, August 27, 2017

Offline Save/Load

There is a lot of value saving to the cloud. When you save to scribble maps you cannot only access your map from anywhere but we also keep a save history so changes can be recovered. We are one of the only mapping services that offer save history logs of maps.

That said, there are times when you don't want your data to touch the web. Though Scribble Maps has been through security audits there are times you may want to be overly cautious with your geo data. This is why we rolled out the ability to save and load offline map files.

How Does it Work?

When you hit "Offline Save" a .smjson file will be downloaded to your system. SMJSON is just a text file that contains all your geodata. Clicking "Offline Load" will allow you to load this downloaded file back into Scribble Maps.

While the file will download it should be noted that this leverages HTML5 tech so you are not actually downloading the file from us you are downloading it from your browser. At no point during this process is there any kind of round trip to the web where the map data could be intercepted.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pen Tool Arrives!

We rolled out a large update today and the biggest feature is the addition of the pen tool for drawing smooth curves on a map.  We have created the UX in such a way that it can be easily done without much technical experience. This post will focus on how to use the tool.


To draw a curve all you have to do is select the pen tool an then start clicking or touching the map. When you click you will see something like this.

Point nodes are the points that the line segments curve between. The control nodes controls how much of a curve there is. The easiest way to understand how these work is to just place some points and move them around to get a feel for it.

Locking Points

If you want to work on the line without accidentally adding additional points to the end of the line, you can click the "Lock Point Add" in the top left corner.


Once you are done you can click "complete curve" in the top left in the same panel as the lock point add. If you want to edit the line after it is completed, you can use the edit tool (pointer).

Pen Polygon

Using the paint bucket tool it is also possible to create a closed pen polygon on the map. Just select the bucket tool and click inside the pen line curve.

Measuring Distance/Area

Once you have your pen curve or pen polygon drawn on your map you can then use the edit tool to measure the line or polygon. This is really useful if you want to measure smooth curves on a map.

Final Thoughts

We hope this helps make your life easier for drawing and measuring smooth curves on a map. It should be mentioned that both pen polygons and pen curves can get exported as gpx, geojson, kml, and shp.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

GIS & Advanced Operations

We have rolled out our first version of our GIS and advanced operations panel. This panel lets you do some really cool things like bulk editing, creating travel time polygons, grids, and more. You can even create your own scripts for later usage. To access this panel click "Scripts & GIS" under menu.

GIS Operations Overview

This screen allows you to do sophisticate operations such as creating exact circles, measuring distances along lines, changing marker styles in bulk and more!

To get started simply navigate the folders on the left to find the operation you are looking for.

Create Line By Points:   Draw a line between two latitude / longitude points.
  1. Input Title (optional)
  2. Input Start Lat,Lng
  3. Input End Lat,Lng
  4. Select a color for the line.
  5. Click Create Line.

Create Circle at Point:   Draw a Circle around point with radius.
  1. Input Title (optional)
  2. Input middle Lat,Lng
  3. Input Radius
  4. Click Create Circle

If the marker is tall the circle might look off center but this is an optical illusion.

Draw Circle Around Marker:   Draw a Circle around a marker with a radius.
  1. Input title for new circle (optional).
  2. Select Marker to draw circle at.
  3. Input Radius
  4. Click Create Circle

If the marker is tall the circle might look off center but this is an optical illusion.

Draw Grid:   Allows you to draw a grid between two markers
  1. Select first marker.
  2. Select second marker.
  3. Select cell count.
  4. Select grid color.
  5. Select grid line thickness.
  6. Click Create Grid.

Travel Time Polygon:   Draws a travel time polygon around a marker
  1. Select type.
  2. Select start (marker).
  3. Select Range in minutes.
  4. Select Line Color.
  5. Select Fill Color.
  6. Click Create Travel Time Polygon.

Travel Time Grid:   Creates a grid of different colored dots representing travel time.
  1. Select type.
  2. Select start marker.
  3. Select Range in km.
  4. Select Colors.
  5. Click Create Travel Gid.

Travel Time Point Web:Shows travel times from a start point to every point in a group (Max: 100 Points)
  1. Select type.
  2. Select start (pre-placed marker).
  3. Select Group.
  4. Select Colors.
  5. Click Create Travel Web.

Line colors are adjusted percentage wise to the longest duration to allow comparison of similar duration groupings.

Distance Along Line:   Allows you to place a marker at a distance along a line.
  1. Select Line Overlay.
  2. Select Marker to put at distance.
  3. Input distance and select unit.
  4. Click Mark Distance.

Distances longer than the line will be put at the end.

Centroid:   Will plot centroid for all points in a group with marker.
  1. Select Marker Style
  2. Select Group
  3. Click Plot Centroid

Center Of Mass:   Will plot center of mass for all points in a group with marker.
  1. Select Marker Style
  2. Select Group
  3. Click Plot Centroid

Center:  Will plot center for all points in a group with marker.
  1. Select Marker Style
  2. Select Group
  3. Click Plot Center

Reverse Points:   Allows you to reverse the points of a shape.
  1. Select Overlay.
  2. Click Reverse Points

Useful if you want to reverse the direction of arrows or measure distance from the opposite end.

Scribble Maps YouTube Video on GIS Panel:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Managing Users & Collaboration

It's a new year and we have a lot of exciting things planned. In December we quietly rolled out some really big features which you probably noticed on our update log. In this post we are going to talk about them a bit more in depth.

Synchronous Collaboration

Since starting Scribble Maps one thing that it has constantly been used for what collaboration and this was despite the collaboration having some major problems. The biggest issue is that if two people were working on the same map at the same, whoever saved last would overwrite changes by the other user. This created some serious restrictions on what you could do with Scribble Maps. For instance if a teacher wanted their entire class to work on one map, they would constantly run into problems.

We had considered all types of ways to solve this problem but the problems with all the ways we reviewed were they were designed for crowd sourcing, we wanted to create something designed for organizations and smaller groups that was not tedious.

The solution we arrived at was rather a simple one, it was a method coders use regularly when working together on projects and that is the idea of merging. If someone makes changes to a map while you are working on it, you will be given a prompt like this.

Clicking merge will pull the most recent map, combine it with yours, and save the result. Overwrite will save only your changes and skip merging. We also added a "merge" option to the load/import menu. This will allow you to save maps with different Map Id, and merge them together. Merge works differently than import that if an overlay already exists, it will not create a duplicate. This will make combining maps much easier.

This brings us to our next large feature.

Managing Users

Up until this point user management didn't exist. A map could be associated with an account and you could let someone view/edit it by giving them a password. This created an issue, however, if you created a secure map and gave another user the password they could both edit and view it even if you really only wanted them to be able to view it and not edit it. Now when you save a map clicking "manager users" will let you add users to the map.

As a free user you can add up to 3 free users and unlimited VIP users. As a VIP user you can add 5 free users and unlimited VIP users. Here is a quick breakdown of the roles.


An admin can view, edit, and manage users. It should be noted that if you are the creator of the map, you will always have ultimate control and you never to need to add your self.


An editor can view and edit a map but does not have the ability to manage users.


A viewer can view a map. This is most relevant to the "secure" map type. Normally a secure map requires a password to view. If a user is added as a viewer, they are allowed to view the secure map without a password but they must be logged into their account.

Other Notes

Password functionality works the same, it still acts as a view and edit key. However, with the new user management you no longer need to give out a password if you only want a user to view a map and not edit it. If you have any questions about this or other functionality please do not hesitate to drop us a line using the "Get Help" button.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Road Point Snapping

Recently we rolled out our road snapping feature. This feature was something we received requests for a lot, but it was technically very difficult to implement. However, we now have our own open street maps server and this allows us to grab road data directly. Drawing something like a curve before was very difficult. Now with road snapping it is much easier.

The output data is actually clean data derived from OSM. Meaning the nodes of the road will match those generated from OSM. We use a combination of tactics for this including path finding and in some cases this might make the road snapping act oddly, we are aware of this and are going to improve it in future versions, but we decided it was good enough to roll out in a beta version so our users could start using it immediately.

OSM / Google inconsistencies
You might notice as you are using this, the guide layer (represented by a thin blue line) might not line up perfectly with Google. It should line up perfectly with data from Mapbox and OSM.

Depending on how highly trafficked an area is will depend how accurate and close the data is. We should take the time to note that you can contribute yourself at

Future with OSM
By setting up our own OSM infrastructure this is going to have some great implications for us in the future. Including, but not limited to, the ability to have a totally independent API, our own independent Scribble Maps layers, and the also a new feature to allow you to highlight countries/states etc..