TrailRunner 3, TrailRunner mini and the Mac App Store

TrailRunner has a small brother called TrailRunner mini that is available on the Mac App Store.

Bildschirmfoto 2013-01-07 um 09.15.00

What is the difference between TrailRunner and TrailRunner mini
If you are accustomed to TrailRunner, TrailRunner mini is just the openStreetMap based route planner -- no diary, no GPS import interfaces -- but can import files in the gpx, tcx, pwx and kml file formats!
In addition TrailRunner mini can automatically synchronize routes created and published by TrailRunner touch for the iPad or other instances of TrailRunner and TrailRunner mini (possibly running on a different machine, or to be more precise: can import routes from your dropbox).
Watch the video tutorial on what TrailRunner mini can do
Take a look into the TrailRunner tutorial to see what TrailRunner is capable of

Should I buy both versions?
Well -- as ever -- that depends…
If you consider yourself an expert routing freak with a GPS on your wrist, use TrailRunner 3. If you find TrailRunner 3 too complicated or bloated and you're only in need of a decent and simple to use route planner, go with TrailRunner mini.
In the end -- it depends on your personal bias between simplicity and features.

Well, and then there's TrailRunner touch for the iPad
TrailRunner touch is almost identical to TrailRunner mini, except that it's tailored for the iPad and the touch interface. As both support dropbox syncing, both apps can have a shared route database.
Read more about TrailRunner touch

What app do you recommend for the iPhone?
The closest relative of TrailRunner mini and TrailRunner touch is RaceBunny for the iPhone. RaceBunny is really simple. RaceBunny can record your trips and can import routes created in TrailRunner, TrailRunner mini or TrailRunner touch and display them as colored background routes.
So basically you plan a tour in either of the other Apps publish them to your shared dropbox route database and then display them as background routes in RaceBunny.
Read more about RaceBunny
Watch how background routes are set in RaceBunny

Alternatively there's Trails for the iPhone developed by Felix Lamureux. Trails is probably the best GPS recorder for the iPhone. Trails can send recordings via Wifi to TrailRunner but not TrailRunner mini. Alternatively you can send emails out of Trails to any of your devices and import the attached GPX file into TrailRunner mini, TrailRunner touch or even RaceBunny.
Read more about Trails

Why is TrailRunner 3 free/donation-ware while the other Apps are not?
I started all this with TrailRunner and it's for historical reasons that TrailRunner 3 is donation-ware.
As TrailRunner 3 is rather complicated to use, I chose to rewrite the heart of it for TrailRunner mini. The younger sibling is much easier to use and has far less features. But in an amount and complexity I can easily support and extend in the future. Something I can't do for every aspect of Trailrunner 3. Therefore TrailRunner 3 still is donation-ware while TrailRunner mini is more or less commercial software.

Bottom line
I develop all this stuff in my spare time. That's crazy, I know. So whatever app you use, have fun with them, let me know what you think and please understand that in the end -- it is the money I make with them what gives me the motivation to stick with it.

 TrailRunner 3TrailRunner miniTrailRunner touchRaceBunny
openStreetMap Route planner(1)(1)
off-road route planner
local network of tracks route planner
local network of tracks management
community routes browser and import
route profile analysis
shared dropbox routes databaseexport onlyimport only
activity recording (GPS)
activity diary and statistics

(1) TrailRunner mini and TrailRunner touch use a very fast and modern routing engine, compared to the routing engine of TrailRunner 3.

TrailRunner 3.0 -- Improvements on the way

A quick overview on that has changed in TrailRunner 3.0:

Reworked UI and wording
To better meet the vocabulary being used in other applications, TrailRunner will no longer speak about workouts but activities.
Also activities, routes and your network of tracks are displayed in a better UI.

All application modes now come with their own dedicated toolbar at the bottom end of the window making the UI much more clearer.

New Network of tracks editor
The new editor makes managing your network of tracks much easier. Drag selection and shift click extent selection lets you select more than one element
Operations on the action toolbar give you the toolset to effectively remove duplicate tracks and waypoints.
A list of modified tracks on the left helps you in finding out what was newly added to your network and may contain duplications to be merged into your network of tracks.

WayPoint Perimeters
As you know, tracks can be spitted by a waypoint nearby. In previous versions of TrailRunner the maximum distance from a way-point to track to make this happen was a fixed value of 10 meters.
In the new network of tracks editor, you now see this perimeter range around selected waypoints and you can drag the border to extend the range.
This is especially useful when you have locations where great chaos lies within because many routes start and end somewhere around this spot. Now you can just increase the perimeter of one representative for this location and TrailRunner will then be able to better consolidate new elements within this area.

Better OpenStreetMap Source
Changed the Background Map to CloudMade openStreetMap Fine Line with a contour overlay.
To effectively reload all map tiles, remove the Library/Caches/TrailRunner/GeoTiles/ folder

Improved Integration with EveryTrail
The community routes browser and importer now supports an improved API version for finding routes nearby on Additionally TrailRunner hilights not only the location of routes nearby but also displays the tracks. So you now easily can view what courses the routes have.

Improved Diary
The diary window now displays a map and more statistical information on the selected activity.

Simplified process of localization
Over the years, the number of strings requiring localization grew to a huge number. A new database based application now helps localizers manage and update the localizations with a very easy interface that also contains a ToDo list and automatic pre-translation provided by
If you would like to help out with an updated or even new localization, please contact me.

QuickGuide for TrailRunner 3.0
The QuickGuide shows you all main features of the application. Great for testing everything out:
> QuickGuide

TrailRunner 2.1v468 -- Topographic maps for Norway

Thanks to hints given by TrailRunner users, I added the new Statens Kartverk Digital Map Data Source for Norway — provided by the Norwegian Mapping Authority — to the list of OpenStreetmap sources.

As you can see in the depicted screenshots, the quality is phenomenal.
The Map data goes from a National Map scale down to a very detailed map with properties, buildings and roads.

To view the map data, switch to the openStreetMap source and then zoom in somewhere in Norway, TrailRunner will automatically select the new source and display the background map.

> Norwegian Mapping Authority
> TrailRunner 2.1v468

TopOSM -- topografic maps for Massachusetts, USA

Vidar pointed me to this beautiful map source that — unfortuanetly — is limited to Massachusetts, USA. The map is an interesting montage of several layers and data sources Lars Ahlzen has accomplished.
If you choose the openStreetMap as your background map in TrailRunner and view the area covered by this map server, TrailRunner now uses this source.

Read more about this project:
> What is TopOSM
> TopOSM online viever

Tracks, Trails, Routes, Workouts, Laps, Courses, WTF

„TrailRunner is powerful but at the same time can be confusing for first time users.”
This is what I hear from many users. The typical learning curve goes from prejudices on how things should work to misunderstandings on what is actually going on to understanding and loving TrailRunner or bailing out for something else.

This all rotates around the difference between a track, workout, diary entry, route and the network of tracks.
And to be honest, I know this problem and I am constantly trying to make things easier to understand.
In fact TrailRunner is three applications in one. TrailRunner is
- an activity journal
- a mapping application to maintain a network of tracks
- a route planning application

So whenever you import something into TrailRunner, your intentions might go into either direction. And interestingly this even shifts over time — as new users with new devices stumble upon TrailRunner.

Probably the following "glossary" might help understanding what TrailRunner is about and what the application can do for you — whenever you drop data into it:

A track is a list of geographic points with GPS coordinates. Within the real world a track describes the path from e.g. one sign-post of a hiking trail to the next. Each sign-post representing a crossing that connects to other tracks. Within the context of such a way or street, a track contains no timing or heartrate information. It's only where, not when and how.

Network of Tracks
One big feature in TrailRunner is to build and maintain a network of tracks. That is much like the lines of streets, roads, ways, trails and pathes printed on maps. The difference is that your network of tracks is your personal collection. A collection that represents the paths you actually run or cycle on, masking everything else out that you dislike or haven't strolled along yet.

Within this network of tracks you have routes. A route is more or less a sequence of tracks. One important thing is that within a route, if you go back and forth a track, this track is part of the route twice. This is the most problematic part as simple GPS recordings never have this kind of conceptual differentiation. So I reject the idea that a route and a track should be the same thing. They could appear as — in the degenerate case where a route is being made of one track being used only once within the route. But that is just a special case — although typical in activity tracking applications that just import GPS data points and visualize them.

The biggest similarity between what others call a track is what I call in TrailRunner a workout. Garmin calls this an activity but I dislike this term as it fits better to being a diary entry. But back to the difference between tracks and workouts: If a recording contains data points with values like heart-rate, cadence and calories, it's not a track. It's a sequence of training session data-points and therefore it is a workout. For this reason TrailRunner generally distinguishes between routes and workouts. Routes belong to geographic data, workouts belong to performance over time or distance. A workout and a route can be connected to each other if they follow the same geographic course, but must not.
TrailRunner even offers features to merge a workout with the course of a route. That's important for training devices that can track distances but not GPS locations (e.g. the Apple Nike+ iPod Sensor)

Summary: The different faces of a track
To sum this all up, a track can have the following faces:
If the track contains a series of geographic points without timing information, then it's a track within your network of tracks.
If the track contains additional timing information, then it's the course of a route containing the single track or a sequence of tracks.
If the track contains timing information and values like heartrate, cadence etc., then it's a workout.

Import of a track
Whenever you import a track into TrailRunner, the importer shows you the course of the track in the map part of the main window. Then in the lower part of the importer you can decide if the workout face of the track should be attached to a new diary entry.
Then below that you have options to add a route to your list of routes that is based on the course face of the track. If you choose the option to import as one piece then one long track is added to your network of tracks along with a new route that contains this single track as it's course. If you choose any of the other options, TrailRunner will merge the track into the network of tracks, splitting the track into smaller tracks and joining all similar sub-tracks with existing tracks. One important fact now is that the resulting route will be made of a sequence of tracks that describe the almost identical course as the original recording but complementing your network of tracks.

But most importand of all is: your imported track can go a split way. If you choose the diary and the merge way, you actually have two items deriving from one source but being independent after the import:
- The workout became an immutable one-time recording being stored in the diary.
- The route and your extensions to your network of tracks are mutable.
On tracks you can apply operations like move, split and join affecting the routes that use these within their sequence.
On routes you can change the sequence of tracks they should follow during their course.
But in the end you can create and modify routes to match your plans and use an exported course as a basis for your orientation — while taking your gear out and burning some calories. What you then record can be imported as a new workout into TrailRunner.

To complement this all, a map within TrailRunner is just pixels. A background image you see beneath your network of tracks and a hint for your orientation and manual creation of new tracks. The lines drawn on a map are not part of your network of tracks unless you add them by re-drawing them using the track-tool or by adding GPS recordings that followed the same geographic course of the "line".
The only difference comes with openStreetMap. The openStreetMap map source is a pixel representation of the openStreetMap track network. For this reason it is recommended that when you are using openStreetMap for routing (streets tab) you should also use the openStreetMap map source as your backound maps. As both then perfectly match.

Further Reading
After reading the above, please revisit the following tutorials.
> About TrailRunner feature slide-show
> Import and Edit Tracks Tutorial
> Mastering Track Merge Tutorial

If you still have questions, remarks or suggestions — I do listen! Just write me. Either here, in the forum, on twitter or classic email.

Detailed Bike maps from

I have updated the data source, as the openStreemap alternative is now hosted on a faster server.
If you didn’t know yet, the cycle map is based on the very same data as the OpenStreetMap project but uses a specialized map renderer for outdoor activities. At low zoom levels it is intended for overviews of the National Cycle Network; at higher zoom levels it should help with planning which streets to cycle on.

The new maps now display a elevation contours and hill coloring and have cycle lanes marked on streets within cities.

You might want to reload your maps if you want TrailRunner not to display the old cached imagery. You can either use File > Consolidate > Reload Background Maps or remove the whole cache directory from your home directory under yourHome/Library/Application Support/TrailRunner/GeoTiles/


I am impressed

Do you also dream of a time when topographic maps are available for free and the quality would almost be better than commercial alternatives? The time has come. Left you see the region where I do most of my "home runs" on google terrain maps and right the same area on What a detail, how nice…