ForeFlight allows you to import and display custom KML shape files in ForeFlight’s Maps view. This page provides a step-by-step guide for importing and displaying the files, as well as guidance on supported shapes and other data types, and a sample KML file that you can download and import into ForeFlight.
Video 1. How to import User Map Shapes.
Step 1: Build your KML files
KML (Keyhole Markup Language) is a common file type used for displaying geographic information. There are many programs that allow you to build and export custom map shapes as KML files, one of the simplest being Google’s “My Maps” program. After creating a new map, follow the instructions here to download the map as a KML file. Note that KMZ files are not able to be uploaded. They need to be converted to a KML file for use.
The full KML standard supports a very large variety of different data types, allowing you to specify things like simple geometries, time-dependent feature, camera perspectives, and even guided tours. A full list of data types supported by KML can be found at the top of Google’s KML developer reference page.
ForeFlight’s User Map Shapes feature supports only a small subset of these data types, contained primarily in the Geometry, StyleSelector, and SubStyle groupings (using the organization defined on the reference page). This is sufficient for creating simple or complex arrangements of shapes, lines, and points with support for labels and icon styles.
Below is the full list of data types that ForeFlight supports. If you import a file that includes elements not listed here, the unsupported elements should be simply ignored by ForeFlight and the rest of the file will display correctly.
- StyleMap (only the "normal" style is supported)
- gx:LabelVisibility (only Google extension namespace currently supported)
Note: KML Files must be smaller than 4MB to appear in ForeFlight.
Step 2: Connect your device to iTunes
Plug your iPad or iPhone into your computer via the Apple USB cord. Start iTunes on your computer, or wait for it to automatically start.
Step 3: Click on your device name in iTunes
Inside iTunes, click on the icon for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. You will find the device icons at the top of the iTunes screen. Make sure you click on the device that you want to copy procedures to.
Image 1. Open iTunes and select the icon for your device.
If you don't see your device name listed, make sure it is plugged in properly. Try disconnecting the USB cable from both your device and the computer, and then plug it in again.
Step 4: Click on the 'Apps' tab for your device
Inside the window for your device, click on the APPS button on the left. It should show all of the apps you have installed on your device. Scroll to the FILE SHARING section at the bottom of the page and click on FOREFLIGHT.
Step 5: Drag your KML files into iTunes
On the right, you will see a listing of ForeFlight Documents. If this is the first time you've imported anything to the app, this listing will be empty.
Drag your KML files and drop them onto the ForeFlight Documents table. While the files are copying over to your device, you will see a brief 'Sync in Progress' message on your device.
Image 2. Select the APPS button, scroll to FILE SHARING and upload your files in FOREFLIGHT DOCUMENTS.
Step 6: Launch ForeFlight
ForeFlight only looks for new KML files on startup, so if the app is currently running, double-tap your iPad’s/iPhone’s Home button to view currently running apps and swipe ForeFlight up off the top of the screen to close it. Once that is done, reopen ForeFlight normally.
Step 7: Display your map shapes
Your newly-imported map shapes appear at the bottom of the layer selector, on the right. The names are taken directly from the filename, excluding the extension. Tap on one of the shape layers to display it on the map. You can display one map shape layer at a time. If your shape layer contains points, you can tap on them to view their name and geographic coordinates and create a direct to route from your current position to the point.
Image 3. Select your shape file from the drop down menu.
The following files provide some examples of the flexibility of User Map Shapes. You can view the contents of each file by opening them in a simple text editor like TextEdit. Click on a filename to download it through your browser.
UserMapShapesSample.kml (65 KB) - Demonstrates the supported icon styles and examples of lines, polygons, and circles.
US_Crude_Oil_Pipelines.kml (134 KB) - Basic map showing the network of crude oil pipelines in the US.
US_HGL_Pipelines.kml (71 KB) - Basic map showing the network of HGL pipelines in the US.
Texas_Counties.kml (1.5 MB) - Shows all county borders in the state of Texas.
Alaskan_Coast.kml (3 MB) - Detailed map outlining the state of Alaska. As with other large KML files, there will be a delay of up to a few seconds between tapping on the layer and it appearing on the map as the app works to render the file.