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Managing Projects, Splitting the Default Project, Project Synchronization to TNP Mobile/Web, and Other Tips


Projects are used in Terrain Navigator Pro to create collections of layers (such as markers, tracks, routes, etc.)  Projects are similar to documents in a word processor. Just as you have a document file for each document you make with Microsoft Word, each collection of markers, tracks, etc. that make up a trip, client, job site, or similar designation, should be kept in their own Project in Terrain Navigator Pro.

However, because Terrain Navigator Pro is not a "document based" application (like Microsoft Word, Excel, and similar productivity applications) there are a number of important differences. We'll touch on these as we go through this article.

The <<Default>> Project

When you first started using Terrain Navigator Pro, a "Default" project was automatically created on your behalf. This is similar to how Microsoft Word opens to a blank page when you start it. This allows you to get started quickly doing the important task of annotating the map with layers - customizing it for your particular needs.

As you've undoubtedly noticed by now, Terrain Navigator Pro doesn't have a "Save" button; when you close TNP, the layers you've added to the map are automatically saved. Then, when you start it again, Terrain Navigator Pro automatically loads those layers. What is actually occurring is Terrain Navigator Pro is opening the last Project that you were working on. In the beginning, you are only using one Project (the "Default" project) so this all works automatically - and you may not be aware as to the presence of the Project. Again, this is by design, so that you can quickly return to your work without worrying about these details.

For many applications, a single Project is sufficient. This is especially true if you are using Terrain Navigator Pro for simple measurements and map printing/exporting. However, if you continue to create more layers in Terrain Navigator Pro, this Default project may become unwieldy. This would be like using Microsoft Word and opening the same document file each time - then adding and editing that same document, and printing off just the pages needed. While you could use Microsoft Word in this manner, it would quickly become inefficient and cumbersome.

Thus, after a time, you may want to consider using multiple Projects to designate different collections of layers (markers, routes, tracks, etc.)

Project Properties

In the File* menu of Terrain Navigator Pro, open Manage Projects. This is the command center for all of your Projects. To continue the analogy, this is like much of the File menu (or "Office Button") of Microsoft Word. Where in Word you use the File menu to create New documents and Open others, Manage Projects is used in a similar way.

* Access to the Manage Projects window can also be gained by opening the Layers menu and choosing Manage Projects.     

If this is your first look at the Manage Projects window, you will see a single project <<Default>> in the list of Available Projects on the left side of the window. It will be highlighted in blue, which indicates that it is selected for management.  On the right, the Properties of the highlighted Project are shown.  This is similar to many of the Edit windows within Terrain Navigator Pro; selecting an object (marker, route, track, etc.) on the left side of their respective Edit windows allows you to adjust that object's properties.

A project has many useful properties. Most important is its name. However, you can also give notes as to what this project contains; prevent it from accidental editing, and access a few other items which we'll explain later.

Because the Default project is special, there are some properties of the Default project that cannot be changed. For example, the default project is always named "<<Default>>" - it cannot be renamed. Likewise, the Default project cannot be synchronized with another project (such as one created with the TNP Mobile App.)

Creating New Projects

As we've said, having a single (default) project with all of your "stuff" in it can become unmanageable. Thus, at some point it may be time to create a new project. In the Manage Projects window, press the New button (under the list of Available Projects.) Give the project a name that will describe the contents of this project, and press OK.

Now don't panic.

As you probably know, when you have an Edit window open in Terrain Navigator Pro, any changes made in that window are immediately reflected on the map. (For example, when you change the color or symbol of a marker.) By creating a new project, you have started with a blank map. All of the layers in the previously loaded project have been put away, and you now have a fresh canvas on which to create a new set of layers.

This is very much like opening the File menu of Microsoft Word and selecting New (or pressing its "New Document" button.) You start with a blank page on which you can create your document.

Activating (or switching between) Projects

So, if you've been following along, you now have at least two projects in your list of Available Projects. The first is <<Default>>  - the collection of layers that you have created to date. The second project is the new one you just created (which doesn’t have any layers in it.) Note also that the active project's name is displayed in the window title across the top of Terrain Navigator Pro (unless you have the Default project activated.)

You can easily switch between projects by selecting another on the list of Available Projects, then press Activate. Go ahead and activate the <<Default>> project. See, I told you not to panic - all of the layers you created previously are still there in the Default project.

Terrain Navigator Pro always has an "Active" project. In other words, it needs to have a place to keep the markers, routes, etc. that you create. Because Terrain Navigator Pro uses a complex series of database files to store this information, it is only possible to have one project active at any given time. Likewise, it must always have a project active. This is why it starts with a Default project, and grows from there. Note that this is one way that Terrain Navigator Pro differs from Microsoft Word - Word can manage many documents at once and each document consists of a single file.

Some shortcuts that you should be aware of:
You can double-click a project name in the list of available projects. This activates that project and closes the Manage Projects window. You can also select a project (by clicking on it) without activating it; this allows you to see its notes and other properties before activating it. If you have the desired project selected, but not yet activated, press the Open button to activate the selected project, and exit the Manage Projects window. (If the active project is selected, then the Open button is grayed out - since that project is already activated.)

Copying and Deleting Projects

Sometimes in Word, you don't want to start with a blank page - instead you want to start with an existing document, modify it, and then save it as a new document. Likewise, in Terrain Navigator Pro, you may want to start with one project, and then build a new one from it.

Instead of Word's "Save As", Terrain Navigator Pro has "Copy." With the <<Default>> project selected in the Manage Projects window, press Copy. You will be given the opportunity to name the new project. Give it a suitable name (omitting the special <<>> characters) and press OK.

Now you will have two distinct copies of the layers contained in the Default project - the original layer, and the copy that you just created. With this new copy, you can make whatever additions, changes, or removals that you desire - while the original project remains untouched.

Deleting a project is very simple. Select the project that you wish to delete in the list of Available Projects, and press Delete. However, this is not an operation that is to be taken lightly. Once deleted, all of the markers, routes, tracks, and other layers within that project will be gone. For good. No undo. No "oops". (Thankfully, Terrain Navigator Pro automatically backs up your projects, so you can recover your lost data. This is done through the Preference for Backup & Restore - and is enabled when you first install Terrain Navigator Pro to archive automatically into your "My Documents" folder.)

Setting a Starting Location

As you create more and more projects over a wider area, you may want to designate a special map to open whenever that project is activated. With the project selected and activated in the Manage Projects window, you can specify a starting location for that project. If you always want Terrain Navigator Pro to open the area where you were most recently working (within this project) set the starting location to <<Last Location>>.

If you are viewing the area you always want this project to open to, select <<Current Location>>. This will cause Terrain Navigator Pro to always open the map you are currently looking at whenever this project is activated.

Finally, if you have any Bookmarks defined (as set up in the View menu) they can be selected to create a starting location for the project.

For detailed instructions on this process, please see:

What the heck is Project Synchronization and how do I use it to get my tracks and markers from the TNP Mobile App?

Simply put, project synchronization is the process by which two projects share common layers. It might be easier to visualize synchronization using an analogy before diving into the specifics.

Imagine that you are in charge of an office building. The first floor has a filing cabinet with a collection of manila folders. Each folder has some papers in it. Now you also have workers on the second floor of the building who need access to the same paperwork in the first floor filing cabinet. While you could make all the workers on the second floor run down to the first whenever they needed a paper, you decided on a different plan…

On the second floor, you place another filing cabinet. Then you hire a clerk to run between the two cabinets every few minutes. Whenever the clerk finds a new paper in one manila folder on the first floor, he copies it and brings it to the matching manila folder on the second floor. If he finds that a folder contains a paper that has been changed, he copies that change onto the paper in the other folder. Finally, if a folder no longer contains a specific piece of paper that it previously held, he goes to the companion folder and destroys that paper.

Ok, so it's not a perfect (or practical) analogy, but you get the point: Project Synchronization is the guy who runs between the two filing cabinets.

So what does this mean in Terrain Navigator Pro? On the desktop you have a set of projects (in the "first floor filing cabinet", if you will.) On your mobile device, you have another, separate set of projects (on the "second floor".) Project Synchronization is the link between these two separate projects.

Note that the two projects do not have to share the same name. While it is recommended that you keep the same name between the two projects, there is no requirement to do so. (The guy running between the cabinets can handle it.) Likewise, there is no restriction that says that one project has to remain synchronized to the same project. However, realize that doing so can cause confusion - all the papers in one folder are now in another. You can also set rules (or a "method" for the synchronization) such as only copy new papers, but don't shred anything. See the help documentation on Project Synchronization if you want to make your head spin with all the possibilities - otherwise, stick with "Full Synchronization".

Ok, now that we've explained the concepts, let's see how to make it work practically…

Suppose you've used the Terrain Navigator Pro Mobile App to create a track and some markers. When you created those layers, you did so by activating a project. (Just like the Terrain Navigator Pro desktop, the mobile app needs a project in which to keep any layers that you have created.) Once you are back in front of the PC, open Manage Projects. A new project will probably be there - and it will be named the same as the one on the phone. Note that Enable Project Synchronization is checked - indicating that this desktop project is synchronized with some other project. Press Setup Synchronization, and you will see that the project is synchronized with a matching Terrain Navigator Pro Mobile Project. The guy running between the two floors has been busy and has set this all up for you.

This is done because in File, Preferences, Project Synchronization, you have selected the option 'Automatically create new projects when a new mobile project is added.' In other words, when you make a project on the phone, make one on the desktop too. Note that this preference is enabled by default in Terrain Navigator Pro version 9.5 or later - if you started with version 9.2x, this preference may be off - and you will not automatically see the mobile projects. Instead, check this preference on, then press Create New Projects Now. This will create the matching projects on the desktop, for each one that was created on the phone.

Suppose you want to go the other way? In other words you want to create a project using the desktop software, fill it with markers, routes, and tracks, then see the project on the phone. Use Manage Projects to create the new project. However, rather than selecting 'Do not synchronize this Project' select 'Synchronize this Project with a new Mobile Terrain Navigator Pro Project.'  This will create a matching project on the phone at the same time you create it on the desktop.  Any markers, routes, tracks, or geopins created on the desktop will automatically be sent to the phone (in the matching project.)

Now you can create very intricate relationships between mobile and desktop projects. For example, suppose you had an existing project on the desktop that you wanted to bring the contents of a mobile project into. Select the project in Manage Projects and press Setup Synchronization. Set 'Synchronize the current project with' to 'Mobile Terrain Navigator Pro Project'. Then a list of projects that were created on the phone will appear. Select the project that matches and press OK. For the available method, you have a choice. If you want all the changes (including any existing layers) in the desktop project to be merged with the project on the phone, select 'Full Synchronization.' If, however, you just want to "download" the contents of the phone into this desktop project - without sending the differences back to the phone, select 'Display, keep changes local'. (This causes the desktop project to display the contents of the phone, but not transfer changes, or other layers, back to the phone.)

Once you get the hang of Project Synchronization, you will find all sorts of shortcuts throughout. For example, you can enable the preference (File, Preferences, Project Synchronization) to automatically create a mobile project whenever a new project is created on the desktop. When selecting from your list of mobile projects, you can also create a new mobile project, delete an existing mobile project, or rename an existing mobile project. When Setup Synchronization is pressed, a text window describes exactly the type of synchronization that is engaged for that desktop project.

For more information on setting up Project Synchronization and how to get started with the TNP Mobile App, please see:

Common Questions

When should I create a new project?
That depends how you use Terrain Navigator Pro. Those who use it for Search and Rescue and other emergency services typically create a project for each incident (or day within a multi-day incident.) Those who use it for real estate or other land management tasks often create a separate project for each listing, client, or land area managed. Collections of trails and other annotations within a particular forest or park may make a good project.

In short, there is no one answer as to when a new project is needed. However, if you are constantly finding yourself needing to show and hide groups of layers in the Layer Size/Visibility window, or Terrain Navigator Pro suffers from sluggish performance, chances are good that your layers should be split into two (or more) projects.

How do I split up an existing project (such as the Default project?)
Use project management to create a copy of the master project, then delete any layers that do not apply to that new project.

Specifically, in the Manage Projects window, select the project that you want to split and press Copy. Give the project a new name that reflects the contents that you want to have in this project - avoiding the use of the <> characters if you are copying the <<Default>> project. Then with this new project activated, delete any layers that do not apply to this project. This can be done quickly using the Edit windows in the Layers menu. (If you make a mistake, close the Edit window and select Undo from the Tools menu.)

Once you have a smaller project created from the master project, make a second copy of the master project and delete anything that doesn't apply to this copy.  Do this as many times as necessary until you have broken the master project into smaller, more manageable projects.

How can I back up (or "save") a project for archival purposes, or to share with another copy of Terrain Navigator Pro?
You will find options to backup, restore, import, and export projects (or Terrain Project Archives) in the File menu of Terrain Navigator Pro. Projects are also automatically backed up in the My Projects\My Terrain Projects folder of your computer.

Why does the Open button in the Manage Projects window turn gray?
Open is a shortcut button that really means "Activate whatever project is selected in the list of available projects, then exit the Manage Projects window." Since that can't fit on a button (without using really tiny print) we decided to call the button 'Open'.

If a project is already active (that is, it was selected in the list of available projects and 'Activate' was pressed - or this particular project is the active project)  the 'Open' button can't operate on that project, since it is already active. Close is used instead - to close the Manage Projects window and return to that already active project.


Why can't I use certain characters (such as '<') in my project's name?
Project names are restricted to the characters allowed by Microsoft Windows for files and folders. We use <<Default>> to note that this is a special project - you cannot use these '<>' in a project name that you create. Other characters that are not permitted include: ?*|'


Can I have a base project, then build on top of it?
In some cases, it is useful to create a project that contains a common set of layers. For example, if you always start your projects needing a specific set of property boundaries, you could create a project that contains only those boundaries. Then instead of creating a new project, use the Copy button in Manage Projects to make a copy of the base project that contains the boundaries, and name the copy to reflect the properties of the new project.

Note that projects remain separate entities. In the above example, if the boundary in the base project is changed, those changes will not be reflected in any copies of that base project that you may have created.


Can I look at more than one project at a time?
No. Terrain Navigator Pro uses a complex series of data files to display all of the layers within a single project. It is not possible for Terrain Navigator Pro to view more than one set of these files at a time.


Can I transfer layers from one project to another? Can these layers be 'shared' so that if they are edited in one project, they are automatically updated in the other?
Layers can freely be copied and pasted between two projects. Open the first project, right click on the desired object (marker, route, etc.) and select Copy to Clipboard. Activate the second project, then open the Tools menu and choose Paste.

If you want to copy/paste more than one object at a time, use File, Export, Marker (or route, track, etc.) Once you select the layer objects you want to copy to another project, press Copy to Clipboard. Then activate the second project and choose Tools, Paste.

Note that these do not link the two copies of the object. Thus, if you copy/paste a marker from one project to another, then change that marker's color, that change will not be reflected in the original project.


How do I use Project Synchronization to link two different copies of the desktop version of Terrain Navigator Pro?
While Mobile Synchronization is commonly used to synchronize a desktop copy of Terrain Navigator Pro to a mobile device, it can also be used to synchronize two (or more) copies of the desktop software - provided the same mobile account is registered to both copies of Terrain Navigator Pro. (See File, Preferences, Subscription and User Account to specify your active TNP account.)

If you cannot to share the projects via a common mobile account, you can also use Text File synchronization. Set up a shared folder that both copies of Terrain Navigator Pro can access, and then enable text file project synchronization to that folder on both copies of Terrain Navigator Pro. See the help document within Terrain Navigator Pro for more details on text file synchronization.

How do I use Project Synchronization to view (and edit) a project on the web site?
When you establish synchronization with a Mobile Terrain Navigator Pro Project, you are actually sending the project to the TNP Cloud on servers maintained for your benefit. The TNP Mobile App uses these servers to obtain the project's data layers. This automatically also makes the project available for viewing and editing on the web site. Thus, setting the synchronization to "Mobile Terrain Navigator Pro Project" will make the project be available for viewing and editing via as well as the TNP Mobile App.

For details on editing your projects at, please see:

Do you have any instructional videos on how to use Projects?
Yes. Check our YouTube channel for such videos including Basic ProjectsUsing Overlays with Projects, and Desktop Projects to Mobile Synching.

This article refers to Microsoft Word, which is a trademark of the Microsoft Corporation. The use of the product's name in this article does not represent an endorsement or recommendation - it is merely a commonly known and widely used example of a document-based application and is used here solely for illustrative purposes.

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