Saturday, October 24, 2015

Subscriptions Go Live

While I don't expect this news to be greeted with thundering applause, CalTopo subscriptions are now live.  Based on feedback from y'all, I moved to a two-tier pricing model:

You can still create, share and print maps for free, but prints will be limited to 5 pages of 8.5x11 and KMZ and MBTiles exports will be size limited.

At the moment, the Pro level is simply everything the Basic level has, but bigger - maybe I should have called it "super size" instead.  Unless you really need large-format PDFs or large scale KMZ or MBTiles exports, I realize it may be a tough sell for $50 at the moment.  However there are some additional features slated for the Pro tier that I'm pretty excited about, and some of which will carry significantly increased costs, and I don't want to be stuck needing to raise prices in six months.

For the detail-oriented, there a few sneaker items in that table:

  • PDFs can now go to 48" instead of just 36".  Perfect for those with access to office plotters and ink purchased by the barrel.
  • The maximum PDF length is now 40 pages, but multipage PDFs are limited to 8.5x11 and 11x17.  If you absolutely need a 5 page 24"x36" PDF, you'll need to make five separate documents and combine them on your own.  That keeps my server much more sane.
  • The default PDF retention limit is now 7 days.  Most people don't need a linkable PDF longer than that, and PDF data was becoming a significant portion of my total DB size.
  • KMZs now go to 200 images instead of 100.  Be aware that most Garmin GPSs won't handle more than 100 images across all KMZs loaded on the device, because Garmin wants you to buy BirdsEye imagery instead.
  • MBTiles exports are now possible.  This has become the go-to tile storage format for smartphones, and I'm excited to offer it.  More on that in another post, but if you use an app that already licenses my map layers, such as Gaia or Backcountry Navigator Pro, you're generally better off downloading maps directly through them.
In addition to those user-facing features, I also upgraded (again) to a new server with twice the RAM.  For the second time in a year, CalTopo had started experiencing short, intermittent outages from running out of memory during heavy usage.

I've tried to keep nagging to a minimum and to avoid full-page "Upgrade Now!" popups.  I'm firmly convinced that CalTopo has a solid value proposition and that the site itself is my best sales tool.  Unavailable options are grayed out and have an upgrade notice nearby, but otherwise, there's plenty of opportunity for new users to discover why the site is so valuable, instead of me beating them over the head with it.

If you are signed in, and are not a subscriber, you will also see an upgrade link in the top menu:

To change your account status, or simply find out more about it, go to or click on your account in the left bar, choose the "Your Account" tab, and then the "Change Status" button.  You'll see something like this:

Payments are handled by Stripe; your credit card number goes straight to their server and I never handle or know it (other than the last 4):

Any problems, please drop me a line at  SAR members and people who have previously donated should contact me directly for a redemption code.

Monday, October 19, 2015

HTTPS Support

In preparation for subscriptions and credit card handling, CalTopo now supports secure https connections.  Because all requests from an https page must also be in https, there are a few features that don't work quite right yet, most noticeably the land management, fire activity and fire history layers, but that's all I've found so far.  If you run into other issues, please let me know.

That concludes this public service announcement.