I'm often asked whether it's possible to create a coffee table book from a TrackMyTour map. It's a fantastic idea: A hard copy book of a vacation or journey would make a wonderful keepsake. It would provide more sentimental value and longevity than a website or app could ever offer.
I've made attempts to support printing, but never arrived at a good solution. Writing software to layout content for print is very different than writing it for the web. A web page is fluid to fit on different devices and screen sizes, while printing has page breaks and a fixed page size. The rules for one do not apply to the other.
There are also many variations to TrackMyTour maps that makes creating a generic solution difficult. It would be easy if it were only photos, but a map contains dates, captions, and locations. This is all interesting content that contributes to the overall story. And of course, a design that looks nice to one person may not look nice to somebody else. It's highly subjective.
In early 2018 I decided to take on this challenge. Shortly after starting I realized I had to make some fundamental changes to the app. You may have noticed some of these changes: TrackMyTour now supports multiple photos per waypoint and higher resolution photos. These were welcomed features on their own, but were also motivated to make the content ready for books. These and some other infrastructure changes were completed in late 2018.
Since the beginning of the year I've been working on TrackMyTour Books, and I'm happy to write the first release is nearing completion. Let me tell you a little about what TrackMyTour Books is and isn't.
What is TrackMyTour Books?
TrackMyTour Books is a service to generate, edit, and order a hard copy book from a TrackMyTour map. A primary focus of the application is to automate as much as possible. TrackMyTour Books will import the map, distribute the content among the pages, apply a layout to each page, and offer theming options to "stamp" pages with backgrounds, colours, fonts, and borders. Pages and elements can also be edited and fine tuned to your liking.
TrackMyTour Books isn't a fully fledged book editor like many well established services. However, I believe the service will provide the basic features required to create a nice looking book from your map. Of course, I will certainly considering enhancing the service depending on feedback and demand.
Here's a screen shot of the editor after applying the "Denim" theme.
There is still lots of fine tuning needed, but it's slowly coming together.
Beta Testing & First Release
I'm looking for beta testers to try the editor and provide usability feedback. If you're interested then please contact me. If all goes well I plan to make the app available before the end of the summer.
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