blankblank blank

Status Of The Garmin Map Compiler cgpsmapper – ?

Both GPSTracklog and GPSFix link to a page on the cgpsmapper website that indicates development will be ceasing on that Garmin map compiler. This is a real shame; over the past decade, this compiler has driven the creation of thousands of freely-available maps for Garmin GPS units, as well as being a boon for creating your own personal custom maps. I use it all the time – just posted about it again recently. Even some international Garmin units have sold maps created with cgpsmapper.

In a more detailed post at the Yahoo Map Authors group, Stan Kozicki, the author of cgpsmapper, talks about this issue in greater detail. His biggest problem appears to be his inability to keep up with changes in the Garmin binary map format, since Garmin doesn’t formally document it; I know they recently made a change that broke map “locking” in his commercial version of the program. He’s apparently still talking to Garmin about some kind of continuation of the program for use in non-commercial independent map creation, with them possibly supplying more detailed information about the Garmin format. But Garmin appears to want the commercial versions of cgpsmapper to go away in favor of their commercial (and expensive) Map Product Creator.

I really hope that Stan and Garmin can come to some kind of agreement; I think the availability of cgpsmapper and the Garmin maps it creates helps drive commercial demand for Garmin units. Ten years ago, Garmin and Magellan had comparable market shares in the handheld GPS field; today, Garmin overwhelmingly dominates that arena, and is also far more popular than Magellan in the automotive arena as well. I don’t know how much the ability to create custom Garmin maps with free software had to do with that (creating custom Magellan maps is far more difficult, and requires proprietary software), but it certainly didn’t hurt.

In any case, there’s no indication from Stan that he will withdraw the last free version of cgpsmapper from availability anytime soon, and maps created with that version should work fine on most current Garmin models. Other free options for compiling Garmin map files include mkgmap, MapTk and MapDekode. I’ve been playing quite a bit with mkgmap recently, and am pretty impressed; it’s command-line only (like cgpsmapper), but I’m working on a GUI that  will support most of its features/options.

Looking for something else? Enter some keywords below, then click "Search".    

2 Responses to “Status Of The Garmin Map Compiler cgpsmapper – ?”

  1. 1 Igor Brejc

    >> I think the availability of cgpsmapper and the Garmin maps it creates helps drive commercial demand for Garmin units.

    It definitively does, but AFAIK Garmin doesn’t really earn any money on units, it earns money by selling maps. I’ve been a Garmin user for 3-4 years now, I have 2 Garmin units but I haven’t bought any official Garmin map so far. Instead I decided to use mkgmap and I’ve also implemented my own software to produce free maps from OSM data (through cgpsmapper).

    This is probably the main reason Garmin keeps the map format closed-source.

  2. 2 MarkS

    I have to agree with Igor. When I got my GPS unit a very significant factor in the decision was the availability of programs such as cgpsmapper (and mkgmap). On the back of sucessfully using my handheld GPS with these programs we also got an in car sat nav from garmin.

    If it wasn’t for programs such as this I would probably have gone with a rival manufacturer. Not publishing information on the map format might help garmin sell a few more maps in the short term, but ultimately it will sell less units and less maps as people will go elsewhere.

Comments are currently closed; feel free to contact me with questions/issues.