Mapping file formats

Everything you ever wanted to know about mapping software file formats, but were too busy yawning to ask

Introduction

Mapping software is changing the way people plan routes. When combined with a GPS, it can make navigation so much easier, in the same way that sat-nav has done for in car navigation. You can plan a route, or download one from the internet, upload it to your GPS, and be able to follow nice easy directions*. That's the theory anyway. Sadly it's not quite so simple. There are many different software packages available. Most have their own propietary file formats. In fact there's a whole alphabet soup of them out there.

We've tried to support the most popular formats in use, which isn't always easy, as the software manufacturers don't often document the file format. We also support a format called GPX, which is something of a de-facto standard, with many of the most common software packages supporting this format. If all else fails, there is a programme called GPSBabel which will solve most conversion format nightmares.

Supported Formats

Here's a list of commonly used mapping software packages, and the recommended format to use to download routes with:

Remember, if all else fails, GPSbabel may help, and if that doesn't work, you can always download the route as comma separated values (CSV), and import that. If that still doesn't work, might we suggest purchasing some other mapping software?

Programme Recommended Format Notes
Memory Map .TXF Download and then open file in Memory Map. You can then convert it to a route, by clicking on the track in the map window.
Tracklogs .GPX Latest versions of track logs support GPX.
Anquet Download as GPX, and convert using GPSbabel.
Fugawi .GPX Download and import as a GPX file
Google Earth .KML
Garmin Mapsource .GPX Not tested, but Garmin claim GPX support.

Other software such as Autoroute, will work if you download a .CSV file and then import it.

* We're said it before, and we'll say it again: Don't rely solely on GPS for navigation. They don't work very well under tree cover, batteries run out, and the level of detail even the best one show, is poor compared to a map.