Interview: Breadcrumbs – A GPS mapping app

We’ve been testing every GPS mapping app and plugin we could find here on Trail Sherpa.  And the results have been disappointing.  That is, until we found Breadcrumbs.

Their web-based GPS track management app is very easy to use, intuitive for the first time user, and loaded with tons of cool features.  Did I mention the 3D rendering!  We used Breadcrumbs to embed a GPS track for our last trail report for Bridge Mountain.  Take a look.

The best part is that the team at Breadcrumbs is just getting started.  They recently released a new version that I have admittedly not had time to test much yet.  But make no mistakes, I will run it through the paces.  I know their team is very excited about it and they have a few new things in the works that I wish we could share.  But I promised to keep their secret and I will do just that.

Recently I had a chance to chat with the two lead guys at Breadcrumbs, Christoph and Stewart.  Below is a snippet from that conversation.

What is Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs is a online GPS track management application that allows users to visualize (in 3D), organize, edit and share their GPS data and associated photos/videos. Breadcrumbs improves on the average desktop GPS management software and places it on the web; the application is free and can be used to track any outdoor activity, from hiking to skiing. We also have an active community and you can search over 50,000 tracks to help you plan your next adventure.

What inspired you to create this platform?

When I first bought a Garmin Etrex and started tracking my snowboarding runs I was really disappointed with the software Garmin provided. I ended up exporting data from their application and using Google Earth for the visualization due to its realistic representations. I then started thinking about how to attach photos and videos (I had a helmet camera), the only solutions available were long-winded and technical. Another problem that I encountered was that there was no easy way to share my adventures with friends and family. I decided to take the problems into my own hands, found a business partner and Breadcrumbs was born.

How do you use the service yourselves?

We are both outdoor enthusiasts one of us living in Vancouver, Canada and the other at the foot of the Alps in Austria so we have endless opportunity to take Breadcrumbs for a test-drive.

Whenever I am out biking, snowboarding or hiking I switch my GPS devices on and track my route. Once uploaded to Breadcrumbs I like to view the statistics on how long I have been out, how many miles I travelled etc. Looking at the track in 3D is also fun, especially if I have been somewhere interesting such as the Grand Canyon. As I live a long way from my friends and family, I also like to share my tracks on Facebook so they can see my adventures too.

What’s coming next for Go Breadcrumb users?

We are currently working on a complete overhaul of our website with improvements to the design, a new learn section with help articles and a dashboard showing a feed of your latest tracks to name but a few things. I think the changes will dramatically improve the user experience.

Also we now have 3 smartphone integrations which allow you to track you adventures on Android and Nokia devices and working with developers we hope to expand this selection further.

What do you see as the role for GPS data and apps in the outdoor experience?

Good question. Discoverability of new places is one great benefit, being able to search other people’s GPS data and view it on a 3D map, allows you to plan your trip in advance and make sound choices on where you go based on the group you are with. Apps make this even easier as they allow you to make decisions and search while you are away from your computer.

Another benefit is navigation. I have recently been getting into backcountry hiking/skiing trips and being able to upload tracks to your device and then follow them is a huge benefit. You have to be careful though, if the GPS device dies for whatever reason you still need to be able to make sure you can work the trusty map and compass!

Let’s not forget it is also fun to visualize your adventure and share what you have been up to with family and friends.

Final thoughts

These guys, and their service, have changed the course for mapping services for outdoor bloggers.  Lots of sites offer similar functionality but require that your post to their site and link to it from there.  Others are package nicely in WordPress plugins but offer very little flexibility in how that map is displayed.  And a vast majority of the plugins we’ve used fail to update with WordPress leaving users in a bad position every time a new version of WP is released.

Breadcrumbs is a solution for most of those problems.  What they are working on for their next release will be even better.  Give them a look and test their maps on your blog.  You can do even more than we have in our initial test and the new platform holds many new ways to engage with other hikers.  This solution is a step in the right direction and one that I think will quickly become a favorite for many outdoor bloggers.

Thanks again to Stewart and Christoph for letting me peak under the hood and for kindly sharing their time for this interview.

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I'm the founder of Vestor Logic, the digital strategy and web design firm that created Trail Sherpa, ParksFolio, and Modern Steader. I'm a day hiker, top chef in camp, doting husband, and father to two headlamp wearing boys. My work in digital media brings those experiences to life.