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Interactive Offline Maps

January 16, 2014

At last – interactive offline maps in Fulcrum

Offline maps in Fulcrum just got a whole lot more interactive! While the new support for one-to-many relationships has been getting a lot of attention, the latest mobile builds also quietly included a slick enhancement that allows for feature interaction within offline maps.

Fulcrum has always supported offline reference maps via MBTiles, but until this update, these maps were simply static raster tile images, similar to the Google basemaps. While raster data, such as aerial imagery, makes a great reference layer, it is often advantageous to be able to view the attributes associated with vector features.

TileMill Tooltip Templates
Fulcrum offline interaction

Using TileMill, a powerful open source map authoring tool developed by Mapbox, you can now transform both vector and raster geodata into beautiful, interactive map packages, which can be loaded into your Fulcrum app and used entirely offline.

TileMill takes advantage of UTFGrid technology to efficiently encode attribute data for use in MBTiles map packages. Simply configure the Tooltip Templates in TileMill to define which attributes to include and how you’d like them displayed.

This enhancement can be extremely useful for referencing your existing GIS data within the context of your data collection project. Say, for example, you have a Code Enforcement Violation app that you are using to map and record regulatory violations in your city. Wouldn’t it be great to have tax parcel boundaries, complete with owner and property class information available during your inspections? This workflow is now possible thanks to the enhanced MBTiles support in our latest release. We’ve put together a detailed guide to help you configure your own interactive offline maps.

Sign up for your free trial and see what you can accomplish with Fulcrum! Let us know what you think of this new functionality- we’d love to hear how you are using it.

‍Update August 2020:

Today we added a much anticipated feature to our Android client that now allows users to save time and bandwidth. Previously in order to utilize true offline maps on Android, each map would have to be uploaded to your account, and then downloaded back down to each device. This presents challenges for users with limited to zero Internet connectivity.

To solve this, we have added the ability to tell the Fulcrum Android application about MBTiles files that exist locally on your device. This grants users and organizations the flexibility to determine how the actual file gets on the device. Whether it is a direct transfer from computer to device via USB, or downloading the file from a network location, as long as you can get the file on the device, you can use it.

Once you copy or download the MBTiles file to your Android device, launch Fulcrum and navigate to the basemap selection screen that you are already familiar with. You will notice a new menu item in the top right corner labeled “Add Offline Basemap”. Simply tap this and you will be displayed a file explorer type screen.

Then, navigate through your device’s file system to the location where you placed the file. Note that in order for the file to be listed, it must have the “.mbtiles” file extension. Once found, tap the filename and you will be taken back to the basemap selection screen. Your new offline basemap will be listed. Simply select it from the list and you’re ready to collect some data!

To remove a basemap that you added via this method, all you need to do is delete the MBTiles file. Fulcrum will recognize it is no longer present and remove it from the list.

‍To read more about offline maps in Android, please check out our blog, True Offline Maps in Android!