RoadMap 1.0.12 review

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RoadMap is an open source (GPL) program that provides a car navigation for Linux and UNIX

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 1516K
Developer: Pascal Martin
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RoadMap is an open source (GPL) program that provides a car navigation for Linux and UNIX. It displays a map of the streets, tracks the position provided by a NMEA-compliant GPS receiver, identifies the street matching this GPS position and announces the name of the crossing street at the next intersection. A rudimentary trip feature allows RoadMap to display some basic navigation information (distance to the destination, direction, speed, etc..). Voice messages are generated that duplicate some of the screen information.

It is possible to display a specific area by providing a (complete or incomplete) postal address, the intersection of two streets or an exact position (longitude / latitude).

The map files used by RoadMap are generated from the TIGER files provided by the US Census Bureau, and thus cover the USA only. The RoadMap map format is a binary format that is sensitive to the endianness of the processor. Maps available on this site cover all the USA and have been generated for a little endian processor (such as the Intel Pentium and StrongARM processors).

RoadMap has been designed to be usable on both a desktop or laptop PC, or on a PDA such as the iPAQ from HP (formely from COMPAQ). It can use either the Gtk 1.2 , Gtk 2.0 or QT graphic library for its user interface. The Qt interface supports the Sharp's Zaurus PDA. All these machines share the same endianness and can use the maps provided on this site.

RoadMap is at an early stage of development. At this time there are no routing features implemented yet. The plan for the future is to implement some navigation features similar to those found in commercial street navigation systems. The main limit for implementing routing is the lack of navigation information in the US Census Bureau database (for example one-way street are not indicated). The US Census Bureau has clearly indicated that it does not plan to add these information in the future (the USCB does not need them).

RoadMap uses gpsd for the GPS link and flite (festival lite) for the voice messages. Note that flite can be rebuilt with better voices than the default one (such as a US voice instead of a british one--some may disagree :). See the flite README for more information. Here is an example, courtesy of Scot Wilcoxon:
cd flite make clean # to remove old executable files ./configure --with-vox=cmu_us_kal16

RoadMap comes with its own GPS status screen, which provides an overview of the satellites received and highlights those the GPS has a fix on. This status screen allows for placing the GPS device in a position that optimizes satellite reception, even if that means making the GPS device's screen not accessible.

RoadMap uses a binary file format for representing the maps that is compact enough to allow the storage of many maps on a Compact Flash or MultiMedia card. For example, the map of Los Angeles county takes about 10 Mbytes of flash space. RoadMap comes with a set of tools to convert the US Census bureau data (both the 2000 and 2002 versions) into its own map format. Future versions of the US Census bureau data will be supported as well (usually a 1 or 2 months after the data has been released).

When RoadMap starts, it displays a map of the same area that was displayed on the latest session. Clicking on the map screen triggers a "sign" that displays the name of the street, road or freeway (if any) that is the closest to the mouse hotpoint.

What's New in This Release:
This version includes some GUI improvements (the user can redefine the toolbar & menu) and bug fixes.
Improved maps are now available on the web site, which were built from the TIGER 2004se files.

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