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First in a series on tools for creating your own vector maps for Garmin GPS units.– cgpsmapper is a compiler that converts geographic features in the textual mp (Mapa Polska) format into the format required for Garmin GPS units.

The free version, available at the , supports compiling basic maps and many Garmin-compatible features, but other advanced features like POI indexing, routing and and addressing aren’t supported.

Oher limitations of the free version include: Stan Kozicki, the author of cgpsmapper, also sells a number of commercial version that add progressively more features as you pay more money.

The cheapest shareware version is , and adds direct support for shapefiles as input data, some indexing support and a few other features.

Since all the other commercial versions cost 0 and up, they’re really for serious mappers only; but all shareware versions that don’t include routing come with a 30-day trial, so you can give them a test run.

cgpsmapper has a command-line-only interface, which makes it a bit cumbersome to use; fortunately, a number of the free map editors I’ll cover in future posts can interface directly with it.

But even if you mainly use the map editors, you’ll want to download the , as it’s the principal reference not just for the program, but for the mp map file format.

mp is a text-only format, and it’s possible to create mp files using just a simple text editor; sample mp files are included in the program directory.

For simple custom maps, you can just work with a map editor, and don’t really need to worry about the mp code.

But if you want to take advantage of all of cgpsmapper’s features, you’ll really need to learn at least something about working directly in the mp format, no matter how painful.

I wouldn’t create maps directly in this format with a text editor unless it only has a few features, but there are ways to modify map characteristics and feature definitions easily if you get familiar with the mp format.

It’s also possible to get maps compiled for free with many of the features only available in the shareware versions.

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