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.

RaceBunny 4 -- Plan and Follow a route

NOTE: wifi sync is no longer available as of TrailRunner 3.7 v709, use the dropbox sync instead.

RaceBunny is a free companion app for the iPhone 4. RaceBunny has the following feature set:
  • Record activities and send them to TrailRunner for analysis and journaling in the diary.
  • Plan a route in TrailRunner, send the track to RaceBunny and follow the course.
  • Select between different background map types like Google Satellite, Google Terrain, OpenStreetMap and OpenCycleMap
  • GPS location recoding is being done using multitasking resulting in high resolution recoding data.
  • On devices supporting app switching with multitasking, GPS recoding keeps running even when RaceBunny is running in the background.

The following tutorial describes how you can create a route in TrailRunner and send it to RaceBunny:

To use RaceBunny, follow these steps in TrailRunner:
  • Go to Preferences > Synchronize and set RaceBunny as the iPhone partner application.

To send routes to RaceBunny
  • In the main document window, click the iPhone icon and in the left pane select the send-tab.
  • Start RaceBunny on the iPhone.
  • Select a route in TrailRunner and click the send button.
  • The selected route is being transferred to RaceBunny and is added to the list of routes.

To receive completed activities from RaceBunny
  • In the main document window, press the iPhone icon and in the left pane select the import-tab.
  • In RaceBunny tap on the tracks button, select an activity and tap on the Send button.
  • TrailRunner will open the import pane. Add additional comments and import the activity to your diary.

Additional notes
  • To exchange data between TrailRunner and RaceBunny a domestic WiFi connection is being required.
  • RaceBunny keeps recording your GPS location in the background. This works only on devices with multitasking support and this may also increase your battery consumption.

Download RaceBunny for free from the app store:

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.

TrailRunner 1.8 - GPSies on the Run

Long on the list and now available: The integration with, the outdoor route sharing portal, has been improved.
The route course lookup is accessible through either the File > Find Routes Nearby command or the new toolbar-icon. A new importer pane will open on the left displaying all routes available near the current map location. Browse, check and import what you like and use TrailRunners merge and planning options to individualize what others have already explored for you.

Import directions from

If you want to import a route planned with into TrailRunner, follow these steps:
Goto and use the Get Directions tab to plan your course.
Click the Link to this page link.
In the Paste link in email or IM edit field, append &output=kml to the end of the url (with no blank inbetween)

Copy the whole URL and paste it into the address bar. Press the return key.
A kml file will now download. Drag the maps.kml file onto TrailRunner or the main window. The course importer will open.

More convenient alternatives:

Convert Google Maps Data to GPX
> GMapToGPX (German)