Friday, October 9, 2020

TouchTerrain 3.0: New GUI, place search, kml polygon file upload

What's new in Version 3? 

New GUI: With version 3.0 (October 2020), TouchTerrain has gotten a serious facelift. Gone is the utilitarian ca. 1995 aesthetic, replaced by a Bootcamp 4 based GUI. This is my first ever dip into using bootcamp and there are probably still some details to be worked out. 

GUI responsiveness: The Bootcamp GUI implements what it calls responsiveness which means that (to an extent) the app will try to dynamically"compact" itself when used with small screens (tablets, smartphones). Note that this should work on a smartphone but will look a bit weird. Hopefully most users will have a reasonably wide display when using the app!

GUI size adjustments: You will notice that there are 3 main parts ("cards" in Bootstrap speak) to the right of the map. Clicking on their titles (e.g. on Area Selection Box:) will grow or shrink them. By default, only the Terrain Settings and the 3D Printer Options parts are "open", the Area Selection Box (which hides the lat/long coordinates of the box corners) is closed. Opening all three together will make the green Export Button on the bottom to be shoved out of sight, so you'll have to close a part or scroll down to click on it.

Manual box coordinate entry: In version 3, the four coordinate fields inside Area Selection Box are now active. Changing any of the numbers and hitting Enter will immediately resize the red box accordingly.

"Oversampling" warning: If you configure things in a way that TouchTerrain will interpolate the DEM into a higher (more detailed) resolution that what the DEM source can provide, the Current DEM resolution value will turn yellow. Ex: The source DEM resolution is 30 m but you're requesting 20 m. Using 20 m will still "work" but it's counterproductive b/c it won't magically create more detail and your files will be needlessly larger than if you had configured it to resample at say 32 m instead.

Place search bar: As is standard in many other Google Map applications, you can now search for a place by typing a search term into the box and pick one of the five suggestions displayed.  Your map view will fly to the result you picked. Be aware that it will NOT move the red selection box to your new view, so don't forget to hit the blue Re-center box button when needed!

Use a Polygon from a kml file: If you have a kml file that contains a polygon or a polyline (e.g. the outline of a state) you can upload it to the app and use it as boundaries for the 3D model you download. 

To upload the kml file, click on Browse, select a kml file from you local drive and hit Open. Note that is has to be kml file, not a kmz file! Kmz is just the zipped version of kml. To use a kmz, unzip the kmz file, which will give you a file called doc.kml, just rename that and then upload it. You could of course also use Google Earth to digitize a polygon, save it into a kml file and upload it to the app.

After the upload your map view will jump to the area and will see your polygon in yellow inside the red box. Adjust the other settings and then hit Export. You will see a note (Using X points from kml file as polygon) and you model (and geotiff file) will be clipped (masked) by the polygon.

Note that this polygon will be cleared if you move the red box or if you use functionality that requires the app to reload, such as changing the DEM source or the hillshade settings. This is needed, b/c the polygon isn't inlined into the URL (like all the other settings). But, it should be pretty quick to re-upload the kml file again! Finally, be aware that if your file contains multiple polygons or polylines, only the first will be taken.

Other changes:

  • URL: Depending on you system you may no longer see the full URL in the browser. However, we now give you the full URL at the end of the export (as simple browser text), so you can still use it to "give" your model to somebody else.
  • GPX path lines:  On the standalone version of TouchTerrain, you can now drape path lines from gpx files over your model.
  • Map with jupyter notebook: The jupyter notebook standalone version can now show you an interactive Google Map in a notebook cell (using the geemap module). It also lets you digitize a rectangle, circle or polygon onto that map and use it as your model area.


  1. Hello, how can I access the Standalone? Very interested in trying to overlay GPX file. Thanks!

  2. Go to and downlaod/clone the repo. Best way to run stand alone is to run it via the jupyter notebook (.ipynb file), here's a html rendering

    A couple of cells down is an example of how to drape GPX path files on the terrain.

  3. Aside from probably saving from paper, there are many more things that you can benefit from in using a wireless printer. renting impresoras

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