A walk through tunnel

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Tunnel is a cave map drawing program. It is written in Java, by Julian Todd, who started it in 1997. It is open source software, distributed under the GPL licence.

It allows to draw cave maps in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment, which is friendly and makes the drawing work very easy. Tunnel works on the data processed by survex. The input format is exactly the same as that used by survex. With tunnel you can:

  • draw the plan map of a cave (the drawing of the elevation map is under progress and will likely be there by the next release);
  • include the usual cave symbols;
  • include labels and text;
  • merge together pieces of cave maps to form a larger map (favouring collaboration and distribution of work);
  • easily develop additional symbols for your maps.

The Tunnel web pages have an online tutorial aimed at teaching the program to new users. There is an article about Tunnel by Dave Loeffler in the last issue (Spring 2006) of Compass Points, the publication of the BCRA Cave Survey Group http://www.chaos.org.uk/survex/cp/CP35/CP35.pdf .

Similar cave drawing softwares are:

Therion is also open source software, like Tunnel, distributed under GPL. It is developed by S. Mudrak. It uses a different model to manage the data, and is based on TeX and MetaPost. The input data format is close to that of survex, but there are a few differences. Therion requires advanced computer skills, which put it out of the reach of the average caver.

Carto is open source software distributed under GPL. It is developed by R. Hartley, but the development seems somewhat stopped at mid 2004. It is written in Java. It uses Compass plot files (extension .plt), and accepts images in png, gif, and jpg formats. TODO more about carto features and compare with Tunnel

Walls is not free software, and available only for Windows. It is developed by D. Mckenzie of Texas Speleological Society. TODO more about walls features

SVX is the data format used by survex. A brief summary of the syntax is in Appendix 2.a.

Tunnel can save the maps as images and in svg format. SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files can be viewed with Adobe svg viewer, which is freely downloadable from Adobe web site, https://www.adobe.com/svg/viewer/install/main.html

These pages were initially written out of my experience learning Tunnel. I hope that they will be useful to other cavers that want to learn how to use it. The examples, Media:data.zip, are based on the version 2006.03.26 of the code. You can use them, while you read these pages or yuo can use your own data.

You can get the original html pages,

Uncompress the pages and the bunches of images from the same directory.

marco corvi - Fri May 12 10:39:23 2006

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