Sunday, March 18, 2012

Choosing the best mapping software

Choosing_mapping_softwareToday we’re going to begin a series of posts that look at mapping software choices — a complex decision that can befuddle the most rabid and tech savvy GPS enthusiast.

Much of what I say here will be opinion; I’ll tell you what my favorite mapping programs are, but I’ll also tell you why. It may be because they do an outstanding job meeting everyday needs, implement popular features exceptionally well, or use intuitive interfaces that dramatically reduce the learning curve. I’ll also highlight programs that do what the others don’t, giving you powerful tools for atypical needs.

These programs were all featured in my book, GPS Mapping – Make Your Own Maps, in more detail. Consider this a short course. So check in frequently over the next week or two. I’ll cover a wide range of options that will help you meet your mapping needs.

Other posts in this series:

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Hi,
    Seems interesting to me but, I went ahead and looked at your book which I consider buying, but it seems to me that you missed one very interesting piece of software here and that is the German/Canadian Duo TTQV/PathAway… The first one (TTQV) is on Windows but works well in Parallels Emulator on Intel Macs, the second one (PathAway) is available both for Pocket PCs and for Palm and the two talk well together… 😉
    I am NOT affiliated to any of those brands but this is the setup that I am considering right now…
    Thanks… I’ll be reading you with interest !

  2. Thanks Arnaud. I definitely focus more on software for the U.S., though the next installment in this series will have broader appeal. And I don’t do much with PDA software either. I have heard good things about TTQV though.

  3. What about DeLorme’s Topo software? Seems like a they fit the bill for cd based mapping software…

  4. A lot of people like DeLorme’s software, and it has some strong points. But (IMHO) the user interface is very cumbersome and unintuitive, and there is a huge learning curve.

  5. tommy dee says:

    I’d say you gave DeLorme what they deserved. After five versions (duh) I still can’t believe how incredibly bad the interface is. It’s like they are looking to earn some bad design award. Don’t even try to talk to their support people. Ugg.

  6. No argument on the DeLorme interface, but they have developed a great support reputation in recent years. Their forums are excellent…

  7. I am looking for a good program that lets me concentrate on scenic roads and trips. For example, I am riding from Panama City, Fl to meet a Charity ride in Lake Placid, NY. But.. I want to go from south end of Blue Ridge Pkw to the North End and then immediately get on Skyline Drive (also from south to north.) None of the programs that I try will let me select the route and then add departures (like lodgings or little side trips)

  8. Hi Rich,

    I suggest that you take a look at NavPak. It was the first to offer scan-your-own charts and maps capability to the public in 1994. It uses a companion App called MapSetup that is used to easily calibrate your maps, charts and sat photos. The NavPak demos are available from our website.
    Some free charts are available at this link:

    If you have any questions about NavPak or MapSetup, we will be happy to

    Pete Palmer
    Global Navigation Software Co.

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