Developing Maps for GPS units
Posted 30 December 2007 - 11:02 AM
Posted 30 December 2007 - 11:43 AM
I get a lot of requests for my maps in a format that can be uploaded to GPS units, especially by Search and Rescue teams. I would appreciate any advice or experience you folks have in this area. I have a feeling this is not a trivial task by any means. Can I convert my maps in-house, should I outsource the job, or is this one of those areas where the development costs outweigh the market potential unless there is a fairly large pool of customers? Thanks.
Are there specific GPS units / file formats mentioned?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: @redgeographics
Posted 30 December 2007 - 08:52 PM
In the world of consumer GPS units:
The uncompressed (non-NT) Garmin map format is very well understood, and there are tools for creating maps that work on them. The most popular (and to my knowledge, the most complete) is cGPSmapper, though be expected to pay about $260 USD for the privilege of creating "commercial" maps, meaning ones that you can legally sell. For $360 USD, you can get it bundled with Global Mapper. Making the maps is a bit less trivial than acquiring the tools, however, as the Garmin map format is highly optimized for rendering performance and a small memory footprint. You have the most flexibility with Garmin, though, as it is relatively easy to create maps that function like any other "official" Garmin map.
The Magellan map format is kinda-sorta understood, in that Magellan makes software that can build maps for Magellan units. The hard part is getting the right version of the software, and then modifying the resulting data file to work on the Magellan units. Alas, there is far less integration between these custom maps and the base Magellan software.
I'm not aware of software for creating maps on TomTom.
In the commercial GPS space, you can build maps for Magellan with MobileMapper Office (this is how it's done for consumer units, too, only it's a series of hacks not a supported procedure) and other software, but the costs involved are fairly high.
To be honest, the best bet here is to encourage the use of something like a PocketPC or Palm device where the user has control over the GPS software, and can choose something that allows the use of well-known map formats. A good example might be OziExplorer CE which runs on the PocketPC platform, interfaces with any NEMA-standard GPS receiver, and can display a maps from a wide variety of formats.
Posted 02 January 2008 - 01:03 PM
As I am sure you are aware, my main concern would be keeping your stuff exclusive since it's a commericial product hitting a governmental world. Many federalies aren't typically used to the daily dealings of copyright issues.
As far as market potential goes, my feeling is that you have to be a big enough public player to make it worth your time since the distribution channels are so different. As you are a "big player" in California, it may be worth your time to try selling a few digital titles, but where are you going to find your buyers? Your website offers the most upfront distribution, but where do go from there? You could promote your digital titles from your printed ones (on map or your map racks), but that takes time and what if it doesn't work? Tom, I know your skepticism is as honed as mine and I just don't see this being a big seller for you unless you jump in all at once which is obviously risky at best and definitely a distraction from your new printed publications. Please tell me if I'm assuming too much here or if I'm starting the year off too pessimistic.
Posted 02 January 2008 - 01:15 PM
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