Monday, January 16, 2006

MapAdvisor 3.0 & SuperWaba

Before adding MapAdvisor to the list of misses for '05 I decided to give it one more try (15-days free trial available). MapAdvisor let you use aerial photos and topo maps as moving maps in both Palm and PocketPC devices.

In order to run it on a PocketPC, you first need to install SuperWaba, which will act as a Virtual Machine for the MapAdvisor Java-like code. Use the installer included within the downloaded trial (version 4.5). MapAdvisor won't work with the current version of SuperWaba.

You can use its companion .NET-based Windows program QuakeMap as a way to obtain, and generate maps for MapAdvisor.

While running it for the first time QuakeMap will ask for your zip code and provide the corresponding map from your surrounding area. You then select "tiles" to be exported to the PocketPC device.

Select a rectangle area with the mouse and then click over it, the selected tiles are written to the maps directory on the PC. Copy them to the mapmaps8 folder in your PPC device.

The freeware version allows for only 3x3 tiles to be exported thru the Map Wizard. A full license (U$9.99) will give you ten times more.

Installing & Running

Install both SuperWaba 4.5 and MapAdvisor 3.0 to their default directories in the PocketPC device. SuperWaba won't run if installed to a different location. And I didn't have much luck with MapAdvisor either.

You will notice that thanks to SuperWaba, MapAdvisor will have a very peculiar look & feel. Without the visual controls you are used to with regular WinCE applications. And it might fit in better among Palm users.

MapAdvisor will first ask for the location of the map directory with its MapManager module. Select the corresponding tab (Memory, Card) and the directory where you have the maps copied to. If you had them copied to the mamaps8 directory in the SD/CF Card, select it and hit "Open zoom8 map directory".

This should display the image you generated with QuakeMap. You can zoom in by selecting different values in the 2nd combobox where Top is displayed by default (2m for example). You can also use the device buttons to zoom and browse your map image.

First configure your GPS receiver under Menu | GPS | Configure GPS... Give it a try by hitting "Start test". Then "Stop, Save and Close" to go back to the main screen.

Now select FollowGPS in the third combobox at the top of the screen. You should have a cross pointing your location in the map. If you got this far you can try creating a track for a moving map. This is where my original try had gone sour. But this time it somehow worked.

Open the menu and select GPS | Start Track... Then select GPS | Track log prefs... Select the interval in seconds and distance you want to log your change in position. You can also pick different colors for the display. Save your changes and after moving around you might be able to see your trail in the map.

To save a trail select Menu | File | Save track pdb... Pick a new database or use the default one provided. You can keep databases of waypoints too (.pdb is the default database format used by Palm devices and supported by SuperWaba).

Because of the way SuperWaba Runtime was configured it will take over your PPC and you won't be able to run any other application simultaneously with MapAdvisor, including access to hardware buttons. You will need to Exit from the program first.

MapAdvisor imports/exports data to/from .GPX files. The full license of MapAdvisor 3.0 ($19.99) will also give you access to historial earthquake data and pre-loading of aerial/topo tiles.

SuperWaba

Like but not the same: SuperWaba uses approach and language similar to Java but is a product on its own. You will need to write code using their own SDK (free registration required for download).

"Superwaba was created in the beginning of 2000 by Guilherme Campos Hazan (Guich) and derived from another open-source project called Waba (from WabaSoft)."
The Community version is free for runtime usage. For development use you need to pay a subscription for their SDK. Current version 5.5 has runtimes available for Palm, PocketPC, SmartPhones and Symbian. There is a library for GPS development: WabaGPS, a port of javaGPS that "provides communication to a serial port using NMEA protocol".

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