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General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: BobT on December 02, 2014, 10:07:14 AM

Title: Android tablets
Post by: BobT on December 02, 2014, 10:07:14 AM
I know this is a Garmin map source forum so I am not sure if it is proper to post this here, if not a moderator can delete it.
First off I do make Garmin ATV/SxS maps for Moab, Paiute, Taylor Park, and WV that are hosted on this site.  That being said I and most everyone I ride with who has a SxS have switched to Android Tablets, I still have my Montana.  You can get refurbished ones pretty cheap.  The other advantage is that you have a nice tablet to do other stuff with.  We do not activate them with a service provider, they work fine with no data service on the trail.  They are full fledged GPS units and will do anything a Garmin GPS will do.

There are two good apps, Backcountry Navigator and Oruxmaps.
BCN ($10) only accepts gpx tracks, I have converted my maps to BCN format.
Orux reads Garmin .img map files and is free.
They both cache off line maps for use on the trail.

Link to my files and instructions on using OruxMaps (

Link to my files and instructions on using BCN (

There are very large threads on using Tablets in a RZR on the Polaris RZR forum
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: mastertdb on December 02, 2014, 05:28:20 PM
Thanks for all the help it is greatly appreciated.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 01, 2015, 06:10:26 AM
Quote from: BobT on December 02, 2014, 10:07:14 AMmost everyone I ride with who has a SxS have switched to Android Tablets, I still have my Montana.  You can get refurbished ones pretty cheap.

Bob, after reading some of your posts about Android I decided to take the plunge and got an 8" tablet yesterday. I have waited for years for Garmin to come up with a large screen automotive device with advanced capabilities and come to the conclusion that it's never going to happen. And even if it did, I probably wouldn't be able to afford it. ;)

Best Buy had the Dell Venue 8 on sale for $108 so I pulled the trigger. It doesn't have an internal GPS but I already had a Garmin GLO bluetooth receiver. I have installed OruxMaps and so far am very impressed. I especially like the customization features that allow me to devote the whole screen to the map without a bunch of "stuff" cluttering the view.

I am only using raster maps at this point, I converted two of my maps to the .rmap format and they work great. Will dig into the vector capabilities in the coming days. Actually, the thing that started me in this direction is a program called CompeGPS Land that runs of both Macs and Windows. They also have Android and iOS apps. I installed the iOS app on my iPhone and can also use my maps there. My plan was to use their android app as well, but it isn't compatible with 4.4. I like Orux better anyway, so no loss.

I will start a thread in the mapmaking forum on these things soon. I don't think there could be any objection to this on the site, the Mapmaking forum says it's for discussiong of  the "creation of custom maps and non-Garmin maps."

CompeGPS is a very powerful program on the desktop, and kind of a novelty since there's so little Mac software for making maps. I used it to convert my GeoTIFF source maps to the .rmap format. You can download for free and use all the advanced features for a month at no charge. It also works with a variety of vector formats like shapefiles and .mp files.

I still like my Garmin Nuvis and handhelds, but this may be the beginning of my transition away from them. Between the Android tablet in the car and the iPhone in my pocket, I can cover a lot of bases. I think it would be good to start some discussion of this in the forums.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Seldom on April 01, 2015, 08:17:52 AM
I'm looking forward to that thread, Boyd.  If I understand you correctly you can use compeGPS to import MP files that will work on iOS? Will they be routable?
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 01, 2015, 09:47:57 AM
It's a very powerful package, I'm still a little overwhelmed. Documentation is OK, but the author is not a native Engish speaker. Sorry, I have only concentrated on the raster capabilities so far. You can actually create/edit vector maps right in the program. The manual is here:

The Windows and Mac programs are identical and they are well integrated with the iOS app. You can mount the iOS app filesystem in the data bar and drag files back and forth. A clever feature of the iOS app is that it contains its own FTP server. This makes it easy to transfer maps using an FTP client over wifi on either Windows or MacOS X.

I also had the Mac version talking to my Garmin GLO bluetooth GPS and tracking in real time. Not something I really need, but the novelty value was great since this kind of program really hasn't been available on the Mac before.


Here's the iOS app (TwoNav) running on my iPhone 5s


And here's the same map in the OruxMaps app on the Dell Venue Android tablet.

Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Indrid Cold on April 01, 2015, 12:36:51 PM
Split this off from the What Garmin GPS should I buy thread as it has nothing to do with the subject
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 01, 2015, 12:43:04 PM
Thanks. :)
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 01, 2015, 08:01:52 PM
Have only scratched the surface here, but I was surprised at how well oruxmaps rendered the NJ topo map I'm currently working on. I simply took the file from the GPS (ie: gmapsupp.img) and copied it to the maps directory in Oruxmaps. It even used my custom .typ file.  The main thing that makes it hard to read is that the road labels do not follow the lines, they are all horizontal.

It is rather slow to render, much slower than .rmap raster imagery. I gather that it is first rasterized, then displayed. On the orux site, they say this library is being used to parse the .img file:

Note that orux only runs on Android and not iOS. I still haven't looked at the CompeGPS/TwoNav vector capabilities.

Here's my map in Mapsource on Windows


And here it is in oruxmaps on Android

Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 02, 2015, 08:55:41 AM
Tried using an .img file of my topo in orux maps today. It works, but not all that well. The map rendering looks pretty good although it's slow to update the screen. But the program's inability to rotate text is a real problem, horizontal labels on vertical roads are a mess.

The software just renders a raster image, then rotates it in track up mode. So labels can be upside down, sideways, etc. This kind of defeats the biggest advantage of vector based maps.  ???

So I probably won't be using orux with my Garmin maps. Now I need to explore what other vector formats it can use, and also have a look at how TwoNav handles vector data.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Red90 on April 03, 2015, 06:37:24 AM
I tried but found Orux does not work with most IMG maps and when it does, the presentation is poor.  You can run other map styles, but a lot of place I go, I need the custom Garmin maps.

Would love to see a good Garmin map program on Android.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 03, 2015, 09:50:02 AM
Garmin actually has an Android version of StreetPilot that is available in certain countries but not North America. I gather there are ways to install, but not anything we can discuss here.  ;)

Garmin still makes an iOS version of StreetPilot, and I have the Western EU version. I have not been able to figure out how to install another map however. I can copy files to the app using a program called FileBrowser, but they are not recognized. Haven't revisited this recently, but from what I read last year, there was a way to install your own maps on older versions of the StreetPilot app, but not the newer versions.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 03, 2015, 10:54:03 AM
Just looking into this some more, see the following CompeGPS Land FAQ:

QuoteHow can I open IMG maps (Garmin MAPSOURCE) with CompeGPS?

Posté par: Lucas Aguilar activé 11 February 2008 03:35 PM

CompeGPS cannot open MAPSOURCE directly. However, It can open maps in DBX format of the program MAPDEKODE.

1. Install MAPDEKODE - ExecuteMapdekode - Select option "File > Open *.IMG"

2. Select IMG file you want to convert.

3. Select option "Database > Create DB from .img"

4. Mapdekode will save the map in DBX format.

5. CompeGPS open directly DBX maps simply selecting "Mapas > Abrir Mapa".

Nowadays, we don't know a sistem that let you convert all IMG maps to DBX in one time.

You will need to install CompeGPS Land - see the link I posted earlier. If you can get the map working in this program then it can be transferred to their iOS and Android app (TwoNav).

I searched for awhile, but could not find a working link to download the MAPDEKODE program however. Then I remembered the Wayback machine at and was able to find an archived site from 2007 where the files are still available. Read the installation instructions and download the files here:

I did a really quick test, opening one tile from one of my own Garmin topos, then exporting as a DBX file. CompeGPS was able to open it, but it was all messed up. Only seemed to show one object at a time and would change as I clicked on it.

CompeGPS can also import .mp files, so I gave that a quick try. The results were the same kind of messed up map that I got with MAPDEKODE.

Did not do any further testing because MAPDEKODE looks like a complicated program that could take some time to understand. But maybe someone else can play around with this and report. Converting .img files isn't much of a priority for me. For my own maps, I would just as soon work with my globalmapper source files, then export to some other vector format that an app can open.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: popej on April 03, 2015, 03:48:46 PM
I have Orux on my Android phone, but I like more 2 other programs: Locus and OsmAnd. Locus functionality is similar to Orux, it can display nicely raster and vector map. OsmAnd works mainly with vector maps and supports functions like search and routing.

For both programs exist free tools for creating vector maps. Source format for tools is OSM xml. I think any mp source can be relatively easily converted to xml and then to a vector map. I haven't tried to do it, but I have created maps from native OSM data.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 03, 2015, 05:29:54 PM
Thanks Popej! Just downloaded Locus and installed one of my .rmap files. Looks good, lots of customization options. Will have to check this out in more depth.  :)
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 04, 2015, 06:11:54 AM
Quote from: popej on April 03, 2015, 03:48:46 PMFor both programs exist free tools for creating vector maps.

Can you point me in the right direction here? I am not very interested in OSM, I just want to get my own vector map data from Globalmapper into a format that will work in one of these apps. Have not found any straightforward way to do this yet. I would just like some kind of tool to convert a standard vector format (like shapefiles) to the OSM XML, and also allow me to customize the style of the map (line color and width, polygon fill, font sizes, etc).

I tried exporting to KML and that worked, but was really slow to render in Orux. I don't think it would be practical for a large map.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: popej on April 04, 2015, 07:45:50 AM
Vector maps for Locus (and for Orux too) are created by mapsforge plugin to osmosis. You need java for these tools.

Osmosis page is here:

Info about mapsforge plugin is here:

There are some nuances with installing this plugin. On my Windows I put it to osmosis\lib\default directory and add a text (no parantesis) " " to file osmosis\config]osmosis-plugins.conf

Currently I'm using osmosis 4.3.1 and map-writer plugin 0.4.0. Probably newer plugin will work too.

Conversion of data is controlled by xml file indicated in "tag-conf-file" option to command line. Xml contains all tags that should be preserved in map. See example of xml here:

Locus has published their xml too, but all links that I have are outdated.

There is equivalent of TYP file for these maps. It is called a theme and it is an xml file with icons. You can find themes and more help on locus forum:

Edit: I have forgot about OsmAnd. Compilation of maps for OsmAnd is simple, just run OsmAnd Map Creator, which can be downloaded form main site:
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 05, 2015, 08:51:16 AM
Thanks. I looked at those, but am really lost with this Java stuff, LOL.  ;) 

But it looks like I can export .osm files from my vector data in Globalmapper and apparently OsmAndMapCreator can turn them into .obf files. Are these directly usable in Orux and Locus? The MapsForge maps I downloaded in Orux have a .map extension.

I don't want to create routable or searchable maps, I just want to get my vector data on the screen! :)

Will take a closer look at this soon.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: popej on April 05, 2015, 10:49:20 AM
OsmAnd has own map format, it won't work in Locus or Orux (well, I haven't even tried). But you can try OsmAnd too.

Creating maps for Locus can be done with command line window. I use some batches for this task. For example my batch for creating map of Poland form OSM data looks like this:
set JAVACMD_OPTIONS=-Xmx14000m
call osmosis\bin\osmosis.bat --rb poland.pbf --rb pl_sea.pbf --m --mapfile-writer "preferred-language=pl" "comment=(C) CC BY-NC...." "" "bbox=48.98,14.09,55.1,24.17" "tag-conf-file=tag-mapping.xml"

Xmx option in "set" reserves memory for java, --rb options read pbf files, --m merges last 2 files, --mapfile-writer call plugin to compile map. All subsequent options are for plugin.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 05, 2015, 01:05:43 PM
But it appears you are using .pbf files from OSM for this. I want to use my own data that is currently stored in globalmapper .gmp files. This seems complicated.... I can export to shapefiles but then I lose any colors/styles in the original source file and I also need separate files for areas, lines and points.

Seems like there should be a straightforward way to do this, but maybe I just need to adapt to a completely new way of thinking?  :D
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: popej on April 05, 2015, 03:02:02 PM
All these tools expect OSM xml on input. There are programs that can create xml in OSM format. One is Global Mapper, but probably you would need current version. Quick google search showed me this page:

There are 2 tools to directly convert mp to OSM, I don't know them, but maybe they are worth trying.

I have used ogr2osm, which can convert shp (and some other formats) to OSM:

This is one of these free tools, that needs a bit study to get it working. I'm using it inside OSGeo4W shell provided by QGIS. Ogr2osm does only formal conversion from one format to another. To get usable data in OSM, source format should contain attributes as used in OSM.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 05, 2015, 03:32:46 PM
Thanks again, it's going to take me awhile to get up to speed here but I appreciate your help!

I am going in a little different direction now however. I am going to use Orux for the time being, and if I convert my globalmapper files to raster imagery, then convert them to the .rmap format (using CompeGPS), they look very nice. But raster imagery has the problem of not working well through a wide range of zoom levels.

The real strength of this app seems to be downloading WMS tiles though, and they can contain multiple levels so that line width, font size, etc are properly scaled as you zoom. So it occurred to me that I could create my own WMS server, use it as a data source and cache/download data from it in Orux.

I have installed the GeoServer package and have it running on the LAN with a shapefile as a test.

I was able to add it to Orux as a data source and it can render my shapefile through the full range of zoom levels. The roads are all just plain blue lines, so now I have to learn how to create different styles. But it works. :)

Lots more to learn here, but it might be a simple way to get maps into Orux and other similar apps. Of course, it will still have the limitation that everything is rendered in North Up view, but maybe I just need to accept that for the time being.

Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: popej on April 05, 2015, 04:23:07 PM
I'm not a fun of raster maps. Too big size, too little functionality. It is kind of last resort, rarely needed, with huge geographic data gathered by OSM. My knowledge of related technology is weak. I think mobac is quite popular tool for raster maps:
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 07, 2015, 07:30:39 AM
I agree about the limitations of raster maps, but it is going to take awhile for me to figure out how to get my maps into one of these compatible vector formats and give them the appearance I want.  My career has been art and design, so I'm particular about all the little details. :) With raster maps, I know exactly what I'm getting. And I know how to make maps look the way I like in Globalmapper. So I will live with the limitations while I learn about these new vector formats.

I now have geoserver setup with a test topo map about 20 miles x 30 miles and 4 layers. Each layer is a separately rendered TIF file (for levels 14-15-16-17). I like this because I can use appropriate details, font sizes and line widths for each zoom level. So I can do things like removing the minor contour lines and short roads as you zoom the map out.

I downloaded MOBAC awhile ago but didn't take the time to really understand. I have configured my local geoserver as a custom map source in MOBAC now, and just used it to create a map for Orux. Seems to work very well.

Now I need to go back into Globalmapper, build a bigger map and tweak the appearance of each zoom level. I am certainly learning a lot of new things. :)
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: Boyd on April 23, 2015, 03:37:20 PM
Here's an update on my Android adventures. :) I ended up exchanging the Dell Venue tablet at Best Buy for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0. Turned out that the Dell tablet didn't have an internal GPS chip (a spec not posted on Best Buy's site). I thought it wouldn't be a problem since I can use my Garmin GLO bluetooth GPS, but I was wrong. The Google Play store won't even let you download many apps if your device doesn't have an internal GPS.

Am very happy with the Galaxy Tab, the screen is really bright. Quite a bit brighter than my Garmin Dezl 760 and much brighter than my Nuvi 3550. Have built two custom mounts and am trying to decide which I like best. :)



Sticking primarily with Oruxmaps for now, although I have tried several other apps like Backcountry Navigator, Locus and TwoNav. I like the user interface better on Orux.

Concentrating on raster imagery for now. I have a map that covers the southern half of New Jersey with 5 zoom levels. It's big, about 1.5gb, and using MOBAC with the sqlite format there are about 39,000 files. I learned that FAT32 doesn't like this, I was getting errors towards the end of copying the files. Reformatting the SD card as exFAT solved that problem.

I really like using geoserver as a personal WMS server while working on maps. This allows me to test them on the tablet without copying any files or installing anything. I can access them directly on the server with the tablet over wifi.

My current focus is developing a relational database that will automatically scale all the map features for each zoom level. I export shapefiles from Globalmapper, import the .dbf files into FileMaker Pro, then export back to Globalmapper. When I'm happy with the appearance I render the map as a raster image.

MOBAC is a nice software package as well. Runs on Macs and PCs. And it can export raster imagery in almost any format for Android, iOS or even Garmin's "custom map" (.kmz) format.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: BobT on April 24, 2015, 06:21:44 PM
Boyd and Pope, I enjoy reading you post sharing your knowledge and insight.  Just wish I understood most of it.  Keep it up.
Title: Re: Android tablets
Post by: 93ToyTruck on May 08, 2015, 10:22:56 AM
I have a Garmin map that I convert to MBTiles for use on Android and Apple devices. MBTiles is a raster map so the files are large. The conversion process was actually really easy. ESRI shapefiles are exported out of of GPSMapEdit then used in TileMill as the source data. TileMill uses CartoCSS file for styling the map. It's similar to CSS but it has conditional logic. You write IF statements that reference the fields in your ESRI data.  The fields are the data from the MP file like Type, Label, EndLevel. I had to convert the POI icons and backgrounds in my TYP file to PNG then reference them in the css.  Line styles are defined in the css and there's a lot of control for styles like opacity. There's zoom value in the css that you map to EndLevel to control when elements are displayed.

I was planning on converting to TileMill's vector map but it won't work offline. OSM vector appears to be the only offline vector option. I'm expecting the conversion to be similar where the data and styles are migrated separately. The data conversion being performed programmatically and the style conversion being a manual effort.

It seems like ESRI shapefiles would be the most likely format for conversion to OSM. I was able to get Gdal and ogr2Osm working on Windows using these steps:

The only way I could get the versions to agree was to use Phython 2.7.9. Make sure you get the right version of Gdal and Python if you're got an amd processor.

I ran Ogr2Osm on a 120mb Esri shapefile of my roads. It took up 8gb of ram which the amount of physical memory that I've got installed. It ran for a few hours and appeared to be working but I killed the process because I needed to use my computer. I'm going to let it run tonight and see what happens.

Is the OSM output xml or binary? I've got topo data that I want to convert and the shape files are over 1 gb. If it's xml then the file size will be huge.

Is the esri shapefile data supposed to be prepared in some way before converting to osm? How does it get converted to pbf?

How are OSM maps styled?

Thanks for any help that you can provide!