Sunday, November 06, 2005

Vito SmartMap 3.16 Freeware Version

Vito Technologies offers quite a broad range of PocketPC based apps including some GPS Navigation titles. Among them AstroNavigator mentioned in an earlier post.

If you look at the website you won't realize that there is a freeware version of SmartMap available. Vito gives away for free the PC application, MapManager required to create maps in the .vtm format used by their PocketPC charting product: SmartMap version 3.21.4. The full version of SmartMap can be tried for 15-days before purchasing a license for US$29.95.

To obtain the freeware version, go to PocketGear and download version 3.16. According to the nag screen you can track up to 500 points, have GPS positioning only with tracking map and up to 10 pushpins (waypoints).

After downloading and installing MapManager you can create a new map by selecting Layer | Add layer. You can select raster images in .jpeg format or vector-based ESRI Shapefiles. You can overlay shapefiles, but I'm not sure if you can combine different types like place a .shp file on top of a .jpeg. I got a a warning message while trying that.

Then you add up to 3 entries in a foothold list (Tools | Foothold List). Notice that you need to provide coordinates in dd mm.mm format. Also make sure you click the E button to indicate West if that's the case. After that you 'snap' the image (Tools | Snap) probably with the idea that if you have several layers, they would all be snapped together to form a single georeferenced image.

BTW, if you reopen the saved map, don't expect to see the marks in the map for the reference points or the "foothold" list with their corresponding positions. After a map is saved, those points are gone. You can move the mouse over the image and verify their coordinates in the status bar. After that, copy the .vtm file to the PDA and you are done. This page describes the process of map creation with MapManager.

SmartMap

During installation SmartMap replaces some of the original .wav files which looked intriguing but harmless. SmartMap requires a live connection to the GPS receiver. Only after it obtains one, the main screen you come up. Load your map by selecting Map | Load Map.

A green arrow indicates a fix. You can notice that the image is redraw in sync with the GPS receiver blinking led. You can't zoom on a raster image, but that is enabled on a vector-based one. You can save points and tracks and export them as .shp files. It would be interesting to overlay them on top of the .jpeg images in the MapManager utility, but I'm not sure that's doable in the freeware version (or fully licensed one).

For a freeware package you get the basics, but I wasn't particularly impressed by it. It doesn't hurt, but doesn't heal either.