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Using Terrain Navigator Pro (TNP) to create custom MyTopo printed maps

Introduction

Terrain Navigator Pro (TNP) is a powerful, feature-rich, PC-based mapping application that is part of the Trimble / MyTopo suite of products and services. Well liked for its flexible feature and ease-of-use, TNP is the go-to mapping solution for professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Because a seven day trial of TNP is available for free (no obligation, no subscription necessary, no credit card required) it is an option available to anyone needing to create a custom map. These maps can be printed at home, or uploaded to MyTopo to be professionally printed on our waterproof papers using specialty inks. So long as you use TNP to make custom maps to be printed at MyTopo, your TNP subscription is FREE - just let us know whenever you need to re-activate your trial subscription.

Note: The TNP product trial also includes access to the TNP mobile app (iPhone/iPad and Android) and the terrainnavigator.com web portal. These options are not applicable for creating maps for printing at MyTopo; instead be sure to use the PC application. (And sorry, a Mac-native version of TNP is not available.) Those relying on these other platforms are highly encouraged instead to schedule a free mapmaking session.

Helpful Video Available

Check out this video which will show you just how easy it is to use Terrain Navigator Pro to create your custom map. Then follow these steps:

Creating a FREE TNP Account (and starting a free trial)

First, you'll need to create an account at terrainnavigator.com and sign up for the free trial. To do so, you can watch this video for guidance, then follow these instructions:
  1. Visit https://terrainnavigator.com/Product/FreeTrial
    Review the information and press Free Trial:  

  2. TNP is sold by the US State (or regional areas of New England and Mid-Atlantic.) Click on the state that you wish to use TNP to make maps for. (Note that only one state is allowed during the trial period.) Do not select any add-ons (as they are not applicable during the trial period), note the cost of $0, and finally press Next: 
  3. Now we will set up your TNP account's login information. Pick a Username (many people use their email address, but that is not a requirement), then enter (and confirm) your email address and a password you would like to use with Terrain Navigator Pro.
    Note that these credentials are completely separate from any used previously with MyTopo or related web sites. If you already have a TNP account, you will be prompted to log in (and the trial period will not be available. However, please contact TNP support at 800-627-7236 (or TNPsupport@trimble.com) and we'll be happy to reset your trial - so long as you are making maps to be printed at MyTopo.
    Once you have entered the desired username, your email address (which will be verified so please don't enter garbage) and selected a password, press Next: 
  4. Here, enter your contact information. When complete, press Register: 
  5. Verify the account information (don't forget your username and password - you'll need these later) and press Yes.
  6. A confirmation screen will now display. It will also be sent to your email address - check your spam folder if it didn't seem to arrive. The most important items on this screen (and in this email) are:
    a. Your TNP Product ID - listed under "Free Trial Product Key". 
    b. The PC download link
If you run into any issues creating the account, please call our TNP support staff at 800-627-7236 or email them at TNPsupport@trimble.com.

Installing TNP on the Windows PC

While TNP includes a great mobile app and flexible web portal/website, the heart of the system is the PC software. The PC software can then be used to create a PDF file for printing at MyTopo. To set up the PC software on your PC:
  1. Download and run the PC download link.
    Note that this file is 'signed' by Trimble, and is free of malware, etc. It is safe to run this file on your PC.
  2. Follow the on-screen prompts and enter your:
    a. Product ID (See step 6 above.)
    b. TNP Username and Password (See step 3 above.)
  3. The PC application will then download and install.
  4. The state you selected in step 2, above, will be available to download and add into Terrain Navigator Pro.
    This portion of the installation process may take some time, as the entire library of classic USGS quads for your state is downloaded to your PC.
Please check out this video for more details on creating a trial TNP account and downloading the TNP PC software application.


Installing the Custom MyTopo Print Templates for TNP
We've created a special set of print "templates" that are optimized for creating large-format maps - exclusively for our MyTopo customers.

During the installation of this plugin, you may be informed that your Windows Text Size is not compatible with PDF generation. If so, you will be prompted to change the size of text, apps, and other items to 100%. This is necessary to create true-to-scale PDF maps.  



Once the download and installation process is complete, you will be able to double-click the Terrain Navigator Pro icon on your Windows desktop to start TNP.

Making a Simple Custom Map with TNP

TNP is designed with far more capabilities than are necessary to create a simple PDF for offsite printing. As such, there are a few steps to this process. But don't worry, you'll be making maps in no time.
  1. Launch TNP by double-clicking the desktop icon:


  2. TNP may need a moment to process the map catalog. Once that has completed, read the welcome message, then proceed to the main map display window:


  3. Next, we'll find the center point for your custom map. TNP has an extensive Find menu with many options to search the state with. If your area of interest is within the region of New England or Mid Atlantic, start by switching to the desired state by opening the File menu and choosing Select State/Region.

    Open the Find menu and pick an option. You might choose Search All Placenames, for example. Search for the desired location, then press Replace Active. (This is shorthand for "Replace the active map in the main map display with one that shows the area of interest." - which would be kind of hard to fit on a button.)

    Click on the red "Find Circle" (that indicates the location of the object or feature that you searched for) to remove it from the map.

  4. Using the hand (drag tool) on the toolbar, position the map on the screen is roughly in the correct location. While your at it, you can also switch between Topo (USGS Topographic) and Aerial (Aerial Orthophoto) on the tool bar. Note that Topo and Aerial are the only map types that can be printed on large paper sizes. Don't worry about the map scale and other options (yet) - instead work on finding the approximate location for the center of your finished map.

  5. Open the File menu and choose Print/Publish Map (or press the Print button on the toolbar.) This will open the Print window, which is where the real map design takes place.


  6. We'll start by choosing a Template - which is a preset page layout; open the Templates tab. Remember those special MyTopo Print Templates that we mentioned earlier - now we'll put them to work! Double-click the MyTopo Map template that corresponds to the size (dimensions) and orientation, and format (Folded or Rolled) of map you would like. For example, the template for our most popular custom map is: 24"x36" Roller MyTopo Map; double-click to load that template into view. Do NOT press Save - that will overwrite the selected template with whatever settings are currently active.

    If a "Folded" template is chosen, you will notice small "tic marks" on the edge of the map - these are there to allow the map to be folded properly by our production staff, and for your guidance. Don't forget to also specify the "Folded" option when you upload the map to MyTopo (see Step 12.)

  7. Next, we'll verify the map dimensions, etc. Since we will be exporting the map to be printed at MyTopo (unless, of course you have your own large-format printer and supply of waterproof paper and specialty inks) press the Export Preview button, then open the Printer/File tab.

  8. About halfway down the left side, you will find Exported image layout; since you'll be exporting a PDF, this is the area that may need adjustment. Start by setting the Save as type to PDF file. Also, check Show image after export - as that will help you ensure the final map meets your expectations.

    Now, verify the Dimensions (length) to the paper size you want your map to be printed on.
    MyTopo offers the following paper sizes:
    - Width: 18.0 in, Height: 24.0 in (Portrait)
    - Width: 24.0 in, Height: 18.0 in (Landscape)
    - Width: 24.0 in, Height: 36.0 in (Portrait)
    - Width: 36.0 in, Height: 24.0 in (Landscape) 
    - Width: 36.0 in, Height: 48.0 in (Portrait)
    - Width: 48.0 in, Height: 36.0 in (Landscape)


  9. Next, we'll set the scale and other parameters specific to your map. Click the Properties tab. If necessary, click on Map in the list of Page Blocks.


  10. Start by selecting the Type of map. Large format printing is supported for Topo (USGS Topographic) Standard and Shaded Relief, Aerial (Aerial OrthoPhoto) of various years, and Merge combinations between those two. Satellite Image and Terrain Contour maps are not able to be printed in sizes beyond 11"x17".

    Next, select your map Scale. ANY map scale can be typed into that selection, you are not limited to the common scales presented.

    For Print layers, you may want to de-select some layers that you do not want to appear on your map. In most cases, you will want to uncheck Benchmarks and Photo Labels; in some cases, Streets may want to be hidden.

    You may want include grids on your map; if so, change the Grid style to Ruler with default grid. For UTM, MGRS or other grid coordinate systems, choose Format in the Map section, above.

    Finally, inspect the Preview on the right side to ensure the coverage area is correct. You can move the map a bit by clicking and dragging.


  11. Press Export, and save the PDF file! Note the folder where it is being saved (typically the Documents folder.) Once generated, the PDF should open automatically (if you checked Show image after export in step 8 above) - otherwise open it from the folder it was saved in.

    Inspect the PDF to be sure it meets your specifications; if not go back to TNP and make any adjustments. Consider keeping the Print window open and re-exporting the PDF until you are pleased with the results. (Otherwise you'll need to redo all of the prior steps.)

    NOTE: If the margins look "off" (too large) on the PDF, please see the question regarding excess much white space, below.

  12. Send it in!
    Go to: https://mapstore.mytopo.com/products/tnp-upload and upload the map you've created.

    Be certain when ordering your map that you specify the same paper size and format (rolled or folded) as you set up using the print Template in Terrain Navigator Pro. Otherwise, your map will not be scaled correctly, making the map inaccurate.

Is there a video tutorial of this process available?
Yes! Check it out here.

  
Where can I learn more about TNP?
Each window has a Help button - press it to be taken to an interactive manual that explains that part of TNP. Also check out the Help menu, then choose Contents, Getting Started: The Basics. You'll also find all sorts of articles on our support web site and YouTube channel. For example, this article provides a good "getting started" guide. And for a seminar geared towards the very process of creating a large map for printing at MyTopo, please check out this video.


Can I add markers, tracks, and other annotations to my Map?
Certainly. Anything added to the base map is a "Layer." While there are lots of various layers you can add, Markers, Routes, and Tracks are the most common. Layers are added to the map in the main map view (steps 2-4 in the above instructions.) With limited the exceptions of size or overall visibility, layers can not be modified within the Print window.

Here are some articles on Layers:
In TNP, any layers you create are stored into Projects - starting with the "Default" project. In short, any layers you add into TNP will be available automatically when it restarts. To learn more about Projects, please see this article.


My PDF appears to have a bunch of excess white space. What's wrong?

We have observed an odd side-effect when the Windows Interface is sized larger than 100%. In certain cases, this can cause the PDF rendered in TNP to be sized incorrectly - with large margins added to the right and bottom of the map. To correct this on future PDFs published with TNP, either: a. Set the Make everything bigger or Change the size of text, apps, and other items control in Windows' Settings, Display to 100% (the Make text bigger option, if offered, does not appear to affect TNP's PDFs and could be adjusted to suit your taste) or b. Use a 3rd-party PDF printer already installed on your PC - use "Print" (and "Print Preview") rather than "Export" to create a map using a 3rd-party PDF.


Can I make another map again later? What happens when the free 7-day trial expires?

Once the trial period concludes, TNP will no longer operate. However, if you have need to make a custom map again, please email us at TNPsupport@trimble.com to re-activate the trial. Obviously, this offer is only valid for those who are using TNP to produce maps for printing at MyTopo on a regular basis.

Do you have a video that will walk me through using TNP to create a large map?

Yes!  Check it out here.

You also may be interested in this webinar - which will show you all the tips and tricks needed to make the perfect map using TNP.

TNP is great! How do I purchase a subscription to use it for more than making a MyTopo custom map?

Log into terrainnavigator.com with your TNP username and password (if you forgot them, they are displayed in TNP on the PC under File, Preferences, Subscription and User Account.) Once logged in, click Subscriptions. TNP subscriptions start at $99 for a 90-day period, or $240 for one year. Add-ons and additional states are also available. If you have questions, call our TNP team at 800-627-7236 or email TNPsupport@trimble.com.

Note that use of TNP to create a custom map for printing at MyTopo is FREE - just email us at TNPsupport@trimble.com and we'll be happy to re-enable your TNP trial period, free of charge or obligation, whenever you have need of a large printed map.

I have a Mac. Can I use TNP to create custom maps for printing at MyTopo?

Yes - but PC emulation is needed. For more details, please see this article.

What happened to the MyTopo website? Why can't I make a map online anymore?

MyTopo is in the process of a major renovation to be able to better serve you. We are rebuilding our DIY map-making system and have disabled public access while we rebuild and reimagine MyTopo. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we transition to a new map making system. TNP is an option available to our customers who need a custom map, as an interim solution while our online system is being renovated. 

TNP is too complex for my needs. Can you design and print a custom map for me?

Yes - schedule an appointment for a free online mapmaking session, and we'll be happy to help design your perfect map. Before starting the video conference, try to determine the coordinates of the approximate center of the map using Google Maps, then right click on the map to reveal the coordinates at that location. For more information on getting coordinates of a place using Google Maps, please see this article.

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