What is a Trip?

Trips are the primary way to share your travels with family and friends. A trip shows your last known location as well as where you've been. The trip viewer allows the viewer to adjust the amount of history displayed, show current traffic and, if allowed, to download the trip's location data.


Viewing Trips

Trips may be viewed using the trip viewer or as an embedded map in a blog, forum post, etc. If you click on a trip link the trip viewer will be used to view the trip. At the top of the trip viewer is a navigation bar that provides additional information about the trip and access to the various menus that allow you to make adjustments to the map. See the image below.

From left to right...

  • The home button, when clicked, will take you back to the SpotWalla home page.
  • The airplane icon appears if you're logged into SpotWalla. When clicked it takes you back to your My Trips page.
  • The trip name is actually a menu to additional information and functionality. Clicking the trip name pops up a menu that allows you to view detailed information about the trip, make adjustments to the map detail, view the location legend and see detail about the last location on the map.
  • The Showing value tells you how many locations are being displayed in the viewer.
  • The Views information tells you how many times the trip has been viewed.
  • If the trip is public, a Facebook icon will appear. When clicked, this allows you to "like" the trip and post it to Facebook.
  • On the far right is the date/time of the last location on the map. Clicking the last location will pop up a window that shows the last location detail.

By default, SpotWalla will try to display around 100 locations for active trips. It does this by automatically determining the initial days of history and fill percentage. You can adjust what's displayed by clicking the trip name in the navigation bar at the top of the screen and choosing Adjustments from the menu. To see more locations you can increase the number of days of history and/or the fill percentage. Just click the Update Map button when you're finished and a new map will be displayed.

The adjustments screen allows you to turn on/off the traffic layer. The information displayed is current as of when the page was loaded. For more information on traffic coverage areas see: Google Maps Traffic Coverage Area

To maximize the viewing experience, set your browser to full-screen mode when in the trip viewer. It's a beautiful thing.


Creating & Updating Trips

Before creating your first trip you must create and configure a device. If you haven't yet done this, please see the list of Supported Devices.

Now that you have a device setup, configured and locations are flowing into SpotWalla you're now ready to create a trip. Ensure you're logged in, click your username in the upper right of the screen and choose Trips from the menu. Toward the top of the page, click the button.

All trip information is organized into four areas - Required Information, Security Information, Map Options and Track Overlays.The sections below discuss the information needed to create a trip.

Required Information

With the exception of a description, all trips must specify the following information:

  • Device - The device you're using to document this trip.
  • Name - A short name for the trip.
  • Description - A short description of the trip.
  • Start & End Dates - The trip's start and end dates and times. Dates are based upon the timezone setting of the device being used to document the trip. Modern browsers will be able to display the date/time widgets used on this page, but if some reason it doesn't then enter the start/end date values in YYYY-MM-DD format and enter the time values in HH:MM 24-hour format. For instance, 2015-02-22 and 23:09 respectively.

Security Options

The trip's security settings determine your exposure to the rest of the world. All options are discussed below.

  • Secure Zones - If the device has active secure zones, will this trip honor them? If you're creating a private trip intended for family and close friends, you may want disable this feature.
  • Download? - When Yes anyone who is able to view your trip will be able to download your trip locations in various formats.
  • Comments? - If you want to allow viewers to comment on your trip, check this box.
  • Hiding the time component of each location will prevent others from trying to calculate your speed.
  • Speed Data? - If speed data isn't supplied by the device itself, SpotWalla calculates your speed. Calculated speed data is an approximation and cannot and should not be deemed accurate. It is a good indication of movement and could prove useful to those viewing your trip. If you select this option, speed data will be displayed for each location on the map.
  • Is the trip private? Private trips are private because SpotWalla will not display the trip on any home page search.
  • Password - If you assign a view password to your trip, viewers will have to supply the password before they're allowed to view the trip.
  • Selecting the types of messages that appear on a trip is an effective way of controlling your exposure. For instance, if you use OK messages to mark where you're spending the night, you may want to display those locations on a private trip and not display them on a public trip.
Note: If you allow the world to download your trip locations and you've chosen to hide the time component in the popup windows, the time component will not be hidden in the downloaded data.

Map Options

A trip's mapping options allow you to control the look and behavior of the map displayed and include:

  • Profile - The profile typically indicates the type of trip you're taking or more specifically, the mode of transportation used to take the trip. The selected profile determines the icon used to mark your last known location on the map. These include:

    Profile Description
    Generic. The color of the icon indicates type of message - Ok = Green, Yellow = Custom, Red = Help, Orange = Track.
    Hiking and Sightseeing
    Off-Road Vehicle
    Recreational Vehicle
    Directional. The arrow inside the icon indicates your bearing/direction. The arrow is not precise, but rounded to the nearest 22.5 degrees which include N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, and NW. The color of the icon indicates type of message - Ok = Green, Yellow = Custom, Red = Help, Orange = Track.

  • Icons - You can set the type of icon displayed for each message type/location that doesn't mark the start, end or last known location. The choices are a numbered icon that will display the location's sequence number or a simple colored dot to indicate the message type. Here's a table with the icon options (actual size)...

    Type Numbered Icon Dot

  • Lines - Normally, a line is drawn from one location to the next location. This line isn't intended to show the route traveled, but make it easier for viewers to follow the locations in sequence. Unchecking this box will supress the lines from being drawn.
  • Map Type - The map type determines the type of map initially displayed. It can be one of Normal, Satellite, Hybrid or Terrain. The default map type chosen is the one specified in your Account Preferences.
  • External URL - This can be a URL to anything else on the web such as a blog, pictures, ride report, etc.

Track Overlays

If you want to display one or more tracks on the trip page, choose them from the list of tracks displayed in the list box.

When you're finished click the Create or Update button.


Linking to Trips

There are a number of ways to share your trips with others. One such way is by using the trip's URL. You can share this URL via email or posting it to a blog or any other way you choose.

Trip links can be found and copied by following these steps:

  1. Ensure you're logged in, click your username in the upper corner of the screen and choose Trips from the menu.
  2. Locate the trip you're interested in reviewing.
  3. Click the trip name and choose Trip Links from the menu. A dialog window will appear containing all of the trip's links. Depending upon how it's setup you'll see different links.
  4. Find the link you need and click inside the box to highlight the link. Use the mouse or keyboard to copy the URL to the clipboard.

Depending on how the trip is configured, you will see up to 3 different links.

  1. The first link is the most basic. When clicked it will display the trip with all the default settings. If the trip is password-protected, the viewer will be prompted for the password.
  2. If the trip is password-protected, the second link is the same as the first, but contains the password in it. While it defeats the purpose of being prompted for a password this may be a convenient to share the link with family and close friends. Just tell them to not share the trip link with the world.
  3. The third link has additional parameters that override SpotWalla's default behavior and displays the entire trip and pans/zooms the map to display the entire trip.


Embedding Trips

Embedding allows you to include a fully-functional map of your trip in a web page or blog post. The only requirement is that the HTML IFRAME element must be supported by your browser as well as the system where your page or blog is hosted.

The basic syntax of the IFRAME element used to embed a trip is:

 src='embed link goes here'
Embedding failed because inline frames are not supported by your browser or the web server.

If the viewer's browser doesn't support IFRAMEs, the Embedding failed... message will appear instead of the trip. The width and height parameters determine the width and height of the IFRAME respectively. The other parameters affect the IFRAME's characteristics. For more information on the IFRAME element, refer to your favorite HTML documentation.

The embed link goes here text will be replaced by one of two links:

  1. A Trip Viewer link. This is the link to a fully-functional map. It's the same map that you're most familiar with.
  2. An Embed Viewer link. This map doesn't show the left pane, but still allows the viewer to interact with the map.

These two link types are discussed in detail below.

Trip Viewer Link

Because of the full-page nature of the Trip Viewer, embedding a fully-functional map is possible. To find your trip's link, see the section: Linking to Trips. Once you have the link, simply replace the embed link goes here text with it. For example:

Embedding failed because inline frames are not supported by your browser or the web server.

If your trip is configured with a password, consider using the link that contains the password. Otherwise, the viewer will be prompted for the password.

The trip viewer accepts a number of parameters which can be supplied in the link/URL...

  • fillFactor - a numeric value indicating the percentage of locations between now and hoursPast to show on the map. For instance, if there are 100 locations available in the last 24 hours and the fill factor is 10 percent, only 10 of those 100 locations will appear on the map. Valid values are: 100, 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.9, 0.8, 0.7, 0.6, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, 0.2 and 0.1. Only applies to active trips.
  • hoursPast - a numeric value, multiple of 24 used to determine how many hours/days of history to show in the trip viewer initially. Must be a multiple of 24. 1 day = 24, 2 days = 48, etc. Only applies to active trips.
  • showAll - Possible values are yes and no (default). When yes the map will zoom such that all locations will be shown. When no the map will zoom in on the last known location. Only applies to active trips.
  • showHome - Possible values are yes (default) and no. When yes the links to the SpotWalla Home page at the top and bottom of the left pane are enabled. If the viewer clicks the link, they will navigate to the home page within the IFRAME. Not really a good option. So you may want set it to no when embedding a trip using the trip viewer link.
  • showInfo - Possible values are yes (default) and no. When yes the left side information pane will be present. When no the information pane will not appear.
  • zoomLevel - A numeric value between 1 and 20 that determines the default zoom level for an active trip. The smaller the number, the map will show more area. Careful with this parameter, though. If you select a high zoom level and travel into a region of the world where Google cannot supply map detail of that area at the given zoom level, the map will not show any detail.

Embedding failed because inline frames are not supported by your browser or the web server.


Downloading Trip Locations

Downloading trip locations can occur in two places. If you've elected to allow the people who view your trip to download its locations, the trip viewer will display a menu item that allows the viewer to download the locations. Regardless of this setting, you will always be able to download a trip's locations by following these steps:

  1. Ensure you're logged into SpotWalla, click your username in the upper right of the screen and choose Trips from the menu.
  2. Locate the trip you're interested in reviewing.
  3. Click the trip name to access the menu.
  4. In the Downloads section select the download type - GPX, KML or CSV.

Public downloads contain detailed information about each location.


Security Settings

There are a number of ways to secure your trips. From totally open to totally private, you determine the level of exposure with which you're comfortable. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you really want to secure a trip, select the options to make it private, password-protect it and don't allow downloads.
  • If you don't want to show the exact time of each location, select the option to hide the time component.
  • Remember that downloaded data contains the time component of each location.
  • Consider securing the device used to document this trip. For more information on how to secure a device, see the section - Secure Zones.
  • Each trip has a unique identifier which is embedded in the trip's URL. Prior to July 13th, 2010 all trips were assigned a unique, but sequential identifier. This made it easy for web crawlers and people who haven't anything better to do to view trips. Now, however, each trip identifier is non-sequential and more difficult to decipher. You may generate a new URL for a trip for whatever reason. To do this, click Generate New URL from the trip's menu.


Adding Pictures to Locations

You can associate a picture with any location. When the location appears on a trip, the icon marking the location will include a camera. If the viewer clicks on the icon, a popup window appears showing the location data and the picture.

Unless you're using a BubblerGPS, SWConnect or gibbyTrip device SpotWalla doesn't store your pictures so you'll need to host them somewhere on the web. We're big fans of the kind folks at SmugMug, but any website will do the job. Some popular picture-hosting websites are:

You can associate up to two pictures with each location. A small picture is mandatory. A large picture is optional. The small picture will be displayed when someone viewing your trip clicks a location icon and the popup window appears. If the viewer clicks the small picture, the large picture is displayed, if one exists. The size of the small picture should be kept to around 300x300 pixels. The large picture can be as big as you choose.

Perhaps the easiest way to add a picture to a location is by viewing one of your trips, but you can also add a picture to a location when browsing a device's messages. Follow these steps when viewing a trip...

  1. This won't work if you're not logged into SpotWalla. So log into SpotWalla, if needed.
  2. Click your username in the upper right corner of the screen and choose Trips from the menu.
  3. Find the trip, click its name and choose View Trip from the menu. You should be viewing your trip now.
  4. Using the map, find the location you want to update. If you cannot find the location, use the widgets in the Adjustments section of the left pane to display more locations. After you find the location, click its icon. A popup window will appear on the map.
  5. Click the Update Picture link at the bottom of the popup window. If you don't see this link, go to step one. A window appears containing the location detail including two editable fields for the links to the small and large pictures.
  6. Enter the small picture link. The link should begin with http://. For instance:


  7. Enter the large picture link. The link should begin with http://. For instance:


  8. Now click the Update button. If the links are valid, you should see the small picture at the bottom of the window. If you entered a large picture link, you will be able to click the picture and see the larger picture.
  9. Click the Close Window button when you're finished.