Am I stupid or is MapSource poorly designed and lacks key features?

Started by Harry Gilbert, December 14, 2009, 01:16:46 PM

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Harry Gilbert

FWIW, I have designed and written commercial and industrial software for 30+ years. After using MapSource with my GPSMap 76 CSx for a while, either I fail to understand it, or it lacks key features. Maybe the people here can help me understand and use this producr better to preplan routes on my laptop and load them to my GPS.

Background:  I am planning a trip from Michigan to Florida, and have a list of 20 places I want to go for wildlife photography and Eco tours. When I cannot find an attraction in MapSource (City Navigator 2010 v 3), I find it on the internet, locate it in Google Earth, save the .kmz file, and convert to .gpx using GPS Visualizer. Then I can import them into MapSource.

1. But I can only import one .gpx file at a time. Each time I load a waypoint, it deletes the previously imported waypoint. I am forced to locate them all through MapSource at once, and save them as a group, or they cannot all be loaded as a group.  Must I create an artificial route between multiple waypoints as an artifice to get them all back into MapSource, and then delete the ones I'm not going to use? Is the workaround to manually combine the .gpx files into one file (after all, they're just .xml files)

2. If I use POI loader, I cannot find any way to permanently load the POIs to MapSource, which seems to ignore the POI file.  What am I missing here?  Can POI Loader ONLY be used with the GPS unit and not with MapSource?

3. When I want to create a Route in Mapsource, there seems no way to tell it how I wish it routed (use highways, avoid highways, etc.). Why is this not in MapSource (or where is this configuration hidden?).

4. MapSource has it's own logic to do routing. If I insert a waypoint to force a certain desired route, I frequently get a path that travels a few miles, and then does a U-turn back to the main route. Why, and how can this be avoided?

What I'd like to see:

1. Ability to load custom POIs and make them available to MapSource
2. Ability to load two or more waypoints into MapSource (from individual .gpx files)
3. Ability to tell MapSource how I want the routing done (as I can in my GPS Map76 CSx)

Sorry if these are NOOB questions - I am enjoying my GPS, but the MapSource software seems to have been designed by someone who is not a GPS user, and its documentation seem very sparse.


I am not much of a mapsource devotee either... but it certainly has its following. My thoughts are:

1. Sounds more like a limitation of Google Earth to me. You could create a bunch of waypoints in mapsource  by clicking on the map anywhere you want. These can all be exported together as a .gpx file. Same thing is true if you create the waypoints on your GPS itself - you can import them as a group. I have never seen any reason to do what you're doing, so I'm not sure what other software might help. Regardless, Mapsource can certainly import a .gpx file containing a whole set of waypoints. It does replace existing waypoints when you import a new file however.

2. Don't use POI loader so I don't know. Maybe you need to convert the POI's to a .gpx file?

3. Maybe I don't understand what you want? Every version of Mapsource I've seen has routing preferences (Edit > Preferences > Routing) which lets you do these things.

4. Yeah, that's just the way it is unfortunately. To force your desired route you will need to insert a lot of waypoints and use trial and error to figure out where. This is one reason why I almost never use it.


You can combine gpx files in MapSource using copy and paste (Ctrl-x,Ctrl-v).

Edit>Preferences>Routing will let you set preferences like Vehicle Type (car, vehicle, foot), road type ( gravel, expressway), and avoidances (tolls, u-turns, ferries).  Similar settings are available on your GPSr.

To add via points to a route in MapSource:
Draw the route with the route tool connecting end points.
Select the route you  with the Arrow tool next to the route tool.  It will turn yellow.
Select a point on the yellow route.  You will see straight lines connect the end points and the arrow.
Move the arrow to a via point and click.

Don't know how this transfers to the GPSr, but it will give you a useable trip plan.

Harry Gilbert

Thanks, all - I had overlooked the Edit -> Preferences tab. Routing is much easier, now.  I did say I was a NOOB at this.    :-[

Able to separate a group of waypoints into individual ones, or to combine them, by manually editing the .gpx (.xml) file. I may write a utility to automate this when I get back from my trip.

I still think it's poor design for MapSource to not recognize the output of POI Loader, and to erase any waypoints in the application when you import one. They should have at least had a dialogue box giving the option to Add to / Replace existing waypoints upon import.

My problem was not with Google Earth - it often allows me to locate attractions / POIs that are totally missing from the Garmin products.  City Navigator / BaseMap even lacks certain US zip codes (try finding the zip code 49723 for the Legs Inn in Cross Village, MI USA, or even the Vilage itself.) Not in City Navigator.


I know this isn't helpful at all, but I tend to agree with you that MapSource is poorly designed, and lacks key features.

But hey, what do I know!


Can't help but agree it's a poor product. I find it easy to keep all my waypoints in one gdb file and move them around as needed by copy/paste. You also have the option of using categories, although they are of little help to me. If I'm putting together a map set, each mapset can easily contain it's own required waypoints and can be put into and taken out of the GPSr as needed.

Harry Gilbert

Interesting... I had saved a mapset, and a file containing custom waypoints for my Florida trip.  So I want to create a SD card containing the selected mapsets and waypoints.  Loaded the previously saved mapset into MapSource, then when I loaded the waypoint file, it deleted the mapset. When I re-loaded the mapset, it deleted the waypoints.  Am I overlooking some technique or workaround?

Also, I find if I transfer a set of waypoints to the card, and then want to add a few, the new ones replace the old ones!


Just to check terminology... a "Mapset" refers to the individual "tiles" which make up the map on the GPS. This is a completely separate entity from waypoints. You will see a separate tab for Maps and Waypoints on the left. These are treated separately and you choose which items you want to exchange with the GPS by checking the appropriate boxes in the Send and Receive dialog boxes.

Sending waypoints should not delete maps, and sending maps should not delete waypoints unless you have mistakenly check the wrong options in that dialog.

Harry Gilbert

Maybe I wasn't clear - I was importing a saved Mapset from my harddrive in MapSource (which recreated the list of tiles). But then, importing a waypoint file kicked out the list of tiles.  This is my biggest issue with MapSource - importing ANYTHING kicks out everything else.  This is my MapSource issue.

On the GPS, Being a very cautious individual, I bought 4 2Gb microSD cards, and created duplicates of my desired basic Mapset. Now, I can create separate sets of routes and waypoints for different trips and have a card ready to pop into the GPS.  More convenient when I'm traveling by auto from Michigan to Florida.  In Michigan I have my set of routes and waypoints for both upper and lower peninsulas; somewhere around Georgia, I swap in the "Southern" card and have all the points I need for that part of the trip (all the wildlife preserves and eco-tours).  Another card has my set of waypoints and routes for an upcoming Alaskan trip (fly to Vancouver, then travel by bus and car).  The fourth card keeps the basic MapSet preserved - just in case.


You know, I don't like Mapsource either, and don't use it very often. So I'm not sure, but I think the way around these problems is to run more than one instance of the program, then copy and paste whatever you want into the other window. I believe this is also what seldom_sn is suggesting in an earlier post.

But since we're talking about poorly designed products, your 76csx should also probably be added to the list. These older units were designed to be managed entirely with Mapsource, so the GPSMap hardware and Mapsource software are sort of a "marriage made in hell".  :)

This is understandable, because Garmin really pioneered the consumer GPS'es that we have today, and they had to make it up as they went. But it's looking really dated when you compare this to modern computers and software.

The Oregon and Dakota series are finally moving away from these limitations, as well as the Nuvi 1200/1300/1400 series. You can drag and drop files between your computer and GPS, and once you build a library of maps, tracks, waypoints and routes, you don't really need mapsource (unless you want to use the maps on your computer).

Being limited to one map file named GMAPSUPP.IMG is ridiculous. These new models allow you to name the maps anything you like as long as they have .img extensions. Unfortunately, I don't think this will ever be ported to the older units like yours.


I believe the Windows version for this is also out, right?


   * BaseCamp will recognize all MapSource products except BlueChart.


Harry, think of it this way, waypoints are completly separate from maps or map sets. If you have either one in your GPSr and load a different waypoint or map into it, the previous one will be pushed out. You can not add to an existing file in the GPSr. You must replace the whole thing each time you transfer. You can however download from your receiver to mapsource, add to it in mapsource then uplaod it back into your GRSr in the altered state. I can see no way for your maps to push out waypoints or waypoints to push out maps if everything is labeled correctly. Good luck.

Harry Gilbert

Thanks to all for your help and advice. There is a lot to learn about this "hobby".  I got the GPS Map76 CSx for two reasons: first, a good price on Amazon, and second, saw a National Geographic program where geologists were (successfully) using that unit.  The newer units are great, but as a NOOB who really started out only needing to geotag photos and record my wanderings, the unit I bought seemed appropriate.

I'll try the MapSource multiple instance copy/paste trick....

Yup, it works great! Again, thanks.


I think MapSouce is on the way out. Garmin is Beta testing a new version of BaseCamp on the Mac that allows non DEM maps and once that feature gets ported over to the Windows version, I don't see any need for it anymore.

Anybody tried GPSfiledepot's installer with BaseCamp.  I just loaded it up, and it recognizes all my custom and Garmin MapSource products, but I haven't tried to create any new products since I installed BaseCamp.


Quote from: Boyd on December 19, 2009, 12:04:54 PM
I believe the Windows version for this is also out, right?


   * BaseCamp will recognize all MapSource products except BlueChart.
Looks like it is, I wonder what's up with the BlueChart? The Mac version will use it.

Does BaseCamp provide an tool to select maps to send to a device?  If so, I can't find it.  

Found it, right click on the device icon.  Brings up a window similar to MapSource, but tiny and hard to zoom.

GPSfiledepot should copyright its terms.  Not only is Garmin making "Custom Maps", but their BaseCamp dialog for sending maps to device is called Mapinstall.