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Elusive hunt for a good PocketPC GPS database/map package... recommendations requested


sfsdfd
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I've recently acquired a Garmin NavMan sleeve for my iPaq, and it works pretty well. However, I'm frustrated by the lack of decent software to do basic GPS functionality. I record all of the cache info - manually, even - as a document on my iPaq 5450, and then I keep switching between it and my GPS mapping application. Painful!

 

Here's what I'm looking for, in Windows CE/PocketPC form. Your recommendations are appreciated. Here's the kicker: I'm a software developer - if this app doesn't yet exist, and people are interested, I'll write it.

 

1) The app should download cache info directly from geocaching.com, or at least use files manually downloaded from geocaching.com and transferred to PDA.

 

2) The app should be able to communicate with a Garmin NavMan device (and other common PocketPC GPS units.)

 

3) The app should allow the user to input custom points - useful for mapping geocaches that we're planting, interesting spots, etc. The user should be able to label and name the current GPS position, or some coordinates inputted in a standard coordinate format.

 

4) The app should be able to display the locations of cache sites relative to the current GPS spot, zoom in/out, and move around. I don't even need it to display street/terrain data - just current location, cache and interesting spot locations, a scale indicator, and maybe a compass and the time.

 

5) The app should allow the user to access info about any geocache, either by some search-database mechanism or by selecting it on the map. The info should include the name, coordinates, posted info, hints (decryptable on device), and user comments.

 

6) The app should allow you to select a destination (either by database search or clicking on it on the map), scale the map accordingly, and continuously display heading and distance coordinates between current spot and destination.

 

7) The app should log notes written by the user about any geocache, and should allow the user to send data back to geocaching.com to log visits.

 

So does something like this exist? If so, please recommend - most packages appear to be *either* a GPS-unit display *or* a geocache database, but not both.

 

David Stein, Esq.

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I think you'll be doing some coding soon...

 

You should be able to get all the cache information from the GPX files available to members. I'm sure you will have a few happy PPC/GPS users if you do this.

 

homer.gif

"Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand."

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OK, guys - it's written.

 

I've spent the past month holed up in a cave, basically, writing an application that does the stuff I mentioned above (and a lot of other cool things.) I think the iPaq geocaching community will really like this app.

 

But since it pulls information directly from geocaching.com, I want to check with the web administrators to get their reaction. Much more respectful to do this than to just make the app available and face a cease-and-desist order. I'll keep you posted.

 

In the meantime, I'd like to gauge your reaction to the pricing. GPS apps seem to sell between $10 and $30. Does $20 sound like a fair price? Would you pay that for an application that did what I described (and considerably more)?

 

David Stein, Esq.

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quote:
Originally posted by David Stein:

Would you pay that for an application that did what I described (and considerably more)?


 

Nope.

 

I'd say most of us use free apps. If you set up a place for people to donate to the cause, you'd probably get more of a response. That's issue one.

 

Two. As it stands, it unlikely you'd get any blessings from TPTB as they've stated time and again, they don't like data mining via HTTP. If you want data bulk, use a query.

 

You'll notice most all apps function off the GPX query.

 

On the other hand, rumors have when the new .NET site comes online, it might have a conduit into the raw data. But, at this point, it's still rumor, AFAIK.

 

CR

 

72057_2000.gif

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quote:
Originally posted by Sissy-n-CR:

I'd say most of us use free apps.


Thanks for the response, Sissy-n-CR.

 

My Navman came with some mapping software that runs really poorly and has no user-level support for coordinates. When I looked for alternatives, all I found were the most basic applications - and even when I bought one, called GSPT, that seemed the most promising, it just flatly didn't work. It was exactly this absence of workable software that compelled me to write this app.

quote:
Originally posted by Sissy-n-CR:

If you set up a place for people to donate to the cause, you'd probably get more of a response. That's issue one.


Eh, I don't generally like begging online. It's a hangup probably fostered by my distaste of the whole savekaryn.com thing.

quote:
Originally posted by Sissy-n-CR:

As it stands, it unlikely you'd get any blessings from TPTB as they've stated time and again, they don't like data mining via HTTP.


Interesting. I'm pretty new, so I'm not aware of anyone raising or answering this question. I did check their FAQ, but didn't find anything on the topic.

 

As far as querying, I'll look into building that into my application - maybe as the sole method of pulling data from geocaching.com - but I'd like to get a response from the administrators, first, on whether they'll allow an application to do this at all. Would be pretty unfortunate to build in the functionality and then get my app excluded from the site...

quote:
Originally posted by Sissy-n-CR:

You'll notice most all apps function off the GPX query.


I've not run queries before, so I have a question: How much information does a query present? Does it include all of the user comments, or is it just basic information, like coordinates and waypoint name? I read up on the XML schema, but it doesn't seem to include all of the information on the geocache page.

 

Again, thanks for the response.

 

David Stein, Esq.

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A GPX file contains pretty much the complete pertinent information on the cache itself and up to the last five logs.

 

There are several others that dig deep into the GPX files and have developed some really good apps. Talk to ClayJar, LilDevil, Fuzzy, and FizzyMagic. They, among others, really know what's going on under the hood.

 

Some others have even automated the download of the queries, (queries come in your mail) and have them run through various programs to then be loaded into the GPS unit and PDA. Nothing better than syncing your PDA, loading the waypoints, grabbing your caching bag, and hitting the door!

 

In case your wondering, my basic queries include my complete list of finds and all caches within a 150 mile radius; all loaded in my GPS and Palm m105--none "staler" than a couple of days while could be as fresh as this morning.

 

Oh, no need to beg. Even GC.com while the basic function is free, offers extras at a nominal price.

 

CR

 

72057_2000.gif

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I don't have a WinCE/Pocket PC type system, so I wouldn't buy your program but here's my two cents on your program:

 

There have been numerous posts regarding 'data scraping' or gathering cache info directly from the GC.com site. Every post has been NO NO NO NO, don't do it. You risk getting yourself banned or your IP address blocked from accessing the site. This activity loads the system too much and it's already too slow.

 

If I did have a system that this would work on, I would be really hesitant on buying any software, regardless of how good it is or how little the price. I would definitely want a trial version before I'd buy anything, regardless of what the program is for. I pretty much only use freeware for geocaching and I know that there are a lot of other people that feel the same way.

 

And here is a link for the GPX file format. I just did a Google search on GPX file format definition. There are a lot more sites that have the info, this is just one of them.

 

One other thing, thank you for writing the program, even if I probably won't use it. This is a great sport/hobby/obsession and we appreciate all the help anyone can give us to make the information easier to manage.

 

"The best way to accelerate a Macintosh is at 9.8m/sec/sec."

-Marcus Dolengo

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Thanks for your efforts. I currently am using PalmOS, so this won't help me, but I do plan on upgrading sometime soon.

 

If you are able to integrate the pockey query GPX files into your program (instead of scraping) you might just have a winner!

 

I'm not against paying for software...but you will need to offer a fully functional demo to prove it is worth the money.

 

Good luck!

 

homer.gif

"Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand."

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I always take my Axim with me, but just for the cache pages and sorting info. I use gpxView for that. It even will export pushpin files for MS Pocket Streets. I use a Garmin Legend for hunting the cache. It's much more durable and cheaper, not to mention very accurate. Even with a CF GPS card, I wouldn't use it for hunting the cache. I use Pocket Streets for navigating when needed.

 

I appreciate your efforts, but I won't be purchasing the program.

 

"It's free advice and worth every cent."

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quote:
Originally posted by targetdrone:

I use a Garmin Legend for hunting the cache. It's much more durable and cheaper, not to mention very accurate.


Interesting decision - hoping not to turn this into a hardware discussion, but I wanted to comment on this.

 

When I was looking into the GPS market a few months ago, I strongly considered buying a separate unit. But I already carry around a PDA, a notebook computer, an MP3 player, a digital camera, and usually a cellphone - I already have enough batteries to charge! I really wanted an integrated unit in order to eliminate an extra battery in my geek repertoire.

 

Since then, I've begun reconsidering my decision. I'm now carrying a $700 PDA through the woods and over streams instead of just a $200 GPS unit - that makes me somewhat nervous!

 

David Stein, Esq.

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Everyone:

 

Thanks very much for your feedback. GPX files appear to be a great solution to this issue. I'll be working this into my app over the next few days; expect some news, and maybe even available software, by the weekend!

 

David Stein, Esq.

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Everyone:

 

It's been a long eight weeks, but my program is almost complete. Fellow PocketPC owners, rejoice! Our days of struggling with overly expensive hardware with no functionality beyond a typical dedicated GPS unit are nearly over! icon_smile.gif

 

David Stein, Esq.

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Not sure if this sounds good to anyone, but here goes. I brought up (a year plus ago) that Geocaching.com might look to some of the developers to donate there software to the cause. Then they could resell it to members, to help raise a bit of cash. This was way before pocket queries, gpx and the likes so there was no real need for software.

 

I for one would be more than happy to pluck down 10-15 bucks for a great integrated piece of software for my Axim.

 

Either way you go I can't wait to add a little more functionality to my Axim.

 

AZMark

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AZMark:

 

Sadly, I emailed Geocaching.com about a month ago, and just never got a response.

 

Fortunately, I also emailed Handango.com and they responded, so I'll be listing it through them.

 

On the issue of donating free software to the cause: I've decided to go with a trial version that's pretty functional, and a full version that's considerably better. Note: This is NOT crippleware - no "it works beautifully for five minutes, then nags you for money" garbage - I hate that as much as you!

 

David Stein, Esq.

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Yep! I finished the code about 4am on Sunday morning, and last night I finished up the (rather extensive) documentation. Now it's just a matter of packaging it up into a setup.exe file (which Microsoft has made unnecessarily complicated) and shipping it off to Handango with a brief write-up and some screen shots. I'm hoping to complete this (finally) by tonight, so watch this space for imminent release info!

 

David Stein, Esq.

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It's available!

 

<a href="http://www.handango.com/PlatformProductDetail.jsp?productId=78387">link to Handango software page</a>

 

It's available in both a trial version and a full commercial version. Note that the only differences between the trial and commercial versions are 1) the trial version will only import 20 files from a GPX file, and 2) the trial version won't save or load your location database or settings when you start and exit the app. Everything else works just fine.

 

Enjoy, and good luck!

 

David Stein, Esq.

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