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History of GPXML, timeline

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  • Doug Adomatis
    Hello GPXers, I m writing an article that documents the history of exchanging GPS data. And I could use some help filling in significant events in the GPX
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 11, 2008
      Hello GPXers,
      I'm writing an article that documents the history of exchanging GPS
      data. And I could use some help filling in significant events in the
      GPX timeline. So far I have...

      September 2001 – GPXML forum established for developing common format
      for exchanging GPS data.

      December 2001 – first GPX schema published

      ??/2004 – Offroute launches GPXchange.com

      December 2004 - MapSource version 6.5 which features GPX file import.

      July 2005 - Google Earth application features support for GPX data.

      Please reply with what you feel are significant events in the
      proliferation of support for GPX in software applications, on-line
      tools and databases.

      The completed article will be posted here and on my web.
      Thanks,

      - Doug
    • Ricardo
      Hi Doug, On the Magellan side, the introduction of the eXplorist series in 2005 included GPX support in the form of their Geocache Manager. In 2006 they
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 12, 2008
        Hi Doug,

        On the Magellan side, the introduction of the eXplorist series in 2005
        included GPX support in the form of their Geocache Manager. In 2006
        they expanded their GPX support by releasing MapSend Lite Beta which
        supports GPX tracks, routes, and waypoints in addition to Groundspeak
        geocaches.

        For DeLorme, I know that Topo USA 6.0 (2006) supports GPX, but I'm not
        sure if that was their first product to do so or not.

        Other software apps that might be worth noting include GPSBabel
        http://www.gpsbabel.org/ and of course EasyGPS http://www.easygps.com/

        And the article should probably also include when geocaching.com
        (Groundspeak) released their geocaching schema for gpx.

        -Ricardo
      • Robert Lipe
        ... Their VantagePoint supports GPX, too. ... Funny. I just sent Doug those details. I agree. :-) One of the things I meant to mention to Doug was that I
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 12, 2008
          > On the Magellan side, the introduction of the eXplorist series in 2005

          Their VantagePoint supports GPX, too.

          > Other software apps that might be worth noting include GPSBabel
          > http://www.gpsbabel.org/ and of course EasyGPS http://www.easygps.com/
          >
          > And the article should probably also include when geocaching.com
          > (Groundspeak) released their geocaching schema for gpx.

          Funny. I just sent Doug those details. I agree. :-)


          One of the things I meant to mention to Doug was that I think GPSBabel was
          the first open source program to support GPX. Having the implementation of
          a real GPX reader/writer examinable by other developers was probably a good
          thing.
        • Doug Adomatis
          following up... Listed below is what I have to date. Corrections and suggested additions would be appreciated. - Doug September 2001 – GPSXML forum
          Message 4 of 9 , Aug 20, 2008
            following up...

            Listed below is what I have to date. Corrections and suggested
            additions would be appreciated.

            - Doug

            September 2001 – GPSXML forum established for developing common format
            for exchanging GPS data.

            December 2001 – first GPX schema published

            December 2001 - GPSBabel, a popular program for converting GPS data,
            supports GPX file format.

            May 2002 - TravelByGPS.com publishing "Waypoints, Routes, and Tracks
            to Adventure" in GPX file format.

            September 2002 - Geocaching.com started distributing their geocache
            data to premium members in GPX file format.

            March 2004 - Backpacker.com offers downloadable GPX files for sale.

            December 2004 - Garmin added support for GPX in MapSource version 6.5

            July 2005 - Google Earth launches with support for importing GPX data

            January 2006 - Garmin unveils nuvi series car navigation devices with
            native support for GPX

            January 2006 - National Geographic added GPX support to TOPO! version 4.2

            March 2006 - Northport Systems added GPX support to Fugawi Version 4

            April 2006 - DeLorme added GPX support to Topo USA Version 6.0

            January 2008 - Garmin unveils the Colorado series handheld GPS units
            with native GPX support.
          • Dave Patton
            ... December 2005 - OziExplorer supports GPX files http://www.oziexplorer3.com/eng/history.html Release Version 3.95.4j (December-2005) February 2006 - Degree
            Message 5 of 9 , Aug 20, 2008
              On 2008/08/20 8:46 AM, Doug Adomatis wrote:
              > following up...
              >
              > Listed below is what I have to date. Corrections and suggested
              > additions would be appreciated.

              December 2005 - OziExplorer supports GPX files
              http://www.oziexplorer3.com/eng/history.html
              Release Version 3.95.4j (December-2005)

              February 2006 - Degree Confluence Project search results
              available for download as an OziExplorer waypoint file,
              GPX waypoint file, or Google Earth placemarks file
              http://www.confluence.org/whatsnew.php

              Late 2007 - OGR adds support for GPX
              http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/log/trunk/gdal/ogr/ogrsf_frmts/gpx

              --
              Dave Patton
              CIS Canadian Information Systems
              Victoria, B.C.

              Degree Confluence Project:
              Canadian Coordinator
              Technical Coordinator
              http://www.confluence.org/

              OSGeo FOSS4G2007 conference:
              Workshop Committee Chair
              Conference Committee member
              http://www.foss4g2007.org/

              Personal website:
              Maps, GPS, etc.
              http://members.shaw.ca/davepatton/
            • Andy Mabbett
              In message , Doug Adomatis writes ... That s an interesting list of events. I suggest adding it to
              Message 6 of 9 , Aug 20, 2008
                In message <g8he92+g08b@...>, Doug Adomatis
                <gps_maps@...> writes

                >Listed below is what I have to date. Corrections and suggested
                >additions would be appreciated.

                That's an interesting list of events. I suggest adding it to Wikipedia,
                together with citations (e.g. links to relevant blog posts/ new pages,
                etc.)

                --
                Andy Mabbett
              • Dan Foster
                Hello Doug, Where are you publishing this? Who is the intended audience? What s your motivation for documenting GPX history? I don t think a timeline of
                Message 7 of 9 , Aug 20, 2008
                  Hello Doug,

                  Where are you publishing this? Who is the intended audience? What's
                  your motivation for documenting GPX history?

                  I don't think a timeline of press releases announcing GPX support in
                  various programs is particularly interesting or useful, except to GPX
                  history buffs or as a means of garnering links on wikipedia. I think you
                  could write a much more interesting article by discussing the
                  implications of each of these "milestone" events in GPX history.

                  For example, the release of GPX 1.0 was significant because up until
                  that time, every GPS or mapping program used its own (usually
                  undocumented) file format. GPX was the first effort by multiple
                  vendors to agree upon a universal format for exchanging data.

                  Geocaching.com's support (and extension) of GPX was significant
                  because it rapidly became the largest source of consumer GPS data on
                  the Internet, and it was in an open format and could be used by a
                  number of free programs right off the bat (EasyGPS, GPS Babel, GPX
                  Spinner...)

                  Compare and contrast with the proprietary .tpo format, which was
                  probably the most used format for trail data at the time. Note how
                  long it took for NG Topo! to embrace GPX due to their investment in
                  .tpo and MapXchange.

                  Google Earth's support for GPX was significant because it became the
                  largest GPX application overnight, but also because it offered us
                  KML, which, while it didn't solve the exact problem that GPX set out
                  to solve, was close enough of a solution that it probably good enough
                  for many people.

                  You'd have a hard time convincing me that any program's support for
                  GPX after Google Earth came out had any significance, other than that
                  they finally realized they were getting left behind.

                  You've mentioned nothing about mashups - the fact that GPX is XML and
                  could be easily mashed up with Google Maps, Virtual Earth, and the
                  rest of the Web APIs led to all sorts of uses for GPX from companies
                  like MotionBased.


                  August 9, 2004 - GPX 1.1 released.

                  It's been over 4 years since any work has been done to extend GPX. Maybe
                  you should be writing an obituary.

                  --
                  Dan Foster
                • Doug Adomatis
                  ... Thanks Dan for the thoughtful and detailed reply. I m just trying to get my facts straight first, then I ll fill in the verbiage as necessary. As I wrote
                  Message 8 of 9 , Aug 20, 2008
                    --- Dan Foster wrote:
                    > Where are you publishing this? Who is the intended audience? What's
                    > your motivation for documenting GPX history?

                    Thanks Dan for the thoughtful and detailed reply. I'm just trying to
                    get my facts straight first, then I'll fill in the verbiage as
                    necessary. As I wrote in my original post, the article is for
                    publication on my web. When you see the article, I think my
                    motivation will be a little more clear.

                    - Doug
                  • Doug Adomatis
                    ... As promised, here is the link to the complete article http://travelbygps.com/articles/2007.php The text of which is copied below. - Doug Title: The History
                    Message 9 of 9 , Aug 25, 2008
                      --- "Doug Adomatis" wrote:
                      >
                      > The completed article will be posted here and on my web.

                      As promised, here is the link to the complete article
                      http://travelbygps.com/articles/2007.php

                      The text of which is copied below.
                      - Doug

                      Title: The History of eXchanging GPs Data

                      25 August 2008

                      It seems like about once a year, something comes along that motivates
                      me to write about the state of recreational GPS, where we've been, and
                      where we're going. This year it was an article in Backpacker Magazine.

                      A recent email I sent to the editor of Backpacker Magazine went like this:

                      "I give BACKPACKER credit for the well written iHike Guide (June 2008)
                      but I found myself giggling over all the hype about the sharing of
                      location data being "new." Patrons of sites like TravelByGPS.com have
                      been using for years what you report as "new tools" and "new rules"
                      for the "digital revolution." Moreover, the 13-page guide gives scant
                      few references to the standard that facilitates trip planning,
                      documenting, and sharing - the GPs eXchange (GPX) file format - which
                      has been proliferating for almost 7 years. When you sensationalize
                      what is common practice, you look a little silly."

                      Here is a look back at the practice of exchanging location information
                      in the GPX data format and how it has been adopted by companies
                      providing GPS hardware, software, and recreational data:

                      September 2001 â€" GPSXML forum established for developing common format
                      for exchanging GPS data.

                      December 2001 â€" first GPX schema published.

                      December 2001 - GPSBabel, a popular program for working with GPS data,
                      supports GPX file format.

                      May 2002 - TravelByGPS.com begins publishing "Waypoints, Routes, and
                      Tracks to Adventure" in GPX format.

                      September 2002 - Geocaching.com starts distributing their geocache
                      data GPX file format.

                      March 2004 - Backpacker.com offers downloadable GPX files for sale.

                      August, 2004 - MotionBased.com enables users to upload and analyze GPX
                      data.

                      December 2004 - Garmin added support for GPX in MapSource version 6.5

                      January 2005 - Magellan announced Geocache Manager PC application with
                      support for GPX..

                      June 2005 - Backpacker Magazine teams up with Trimble Outdoors to
                      create trip sharing web site.

                      July 2005 - Google Earth launches with support for importing GPX data

                      January 2006 - Garmin unveils nuvi series car navigation devices with
                      native support for GPX

                      January 2006 - National Geographic added GPX support to TOPO! version 4.2

                      March 2006 - Northport Systems added GPX support to Fugawi Version 4

                      April 2006 - DeLorme added GPX support to Topo USA Version 6.0

                      January 2008 - Garmin unveils the Colorado series handheld GPS units
                      with native GPX support.

                      Clearly the digital revolution in trip sharing is not "new." But
                      considering Backpacker Magazine's need to sell issues and bring
                      attention to its own trip sharing web site, I can understand why the
                      editors would pump up the rhetoric. What I do not understand is why
                      Backpacker left out out significant GPX data wherehouses (pun
                      intended) under the iHike guide's Plan-it section.

                      [Graph Internet Rank of Popular Trip-sharing Websites]

                      The Alexa graph at right shows Internet reach for the popular location
                      information web sites. Backpacker listed Trails.com and Google Earth
                      (bbs.Keyhole.com), but it did not list Geocaching.com. The cache pages
                      and visitor logs at geocaching .com provide a wealth of trip data in
                      GPX format. According to those who should know, the adoption of the
                      GPX format at Geocaching.com was key in the acceptance of GPX as a
                      common format for sharing GPS data. Geocaching.com's support of GPX
                      was significant because it rapidly became the largest source of
                      consumer GPS data on the Internet, and it was in an open format that
                      could be used by a number of free programs right off the bat (EasyGPS,
                      GPS Babel, GPX Spinner...). The proliferation of GPX file sharing
                      surely influenced the likes of Garmin to include GPX support in their
                      own GPS hardware and mapping software products.

                      When Garmin acquired MotionBased.com, it purchased the fastest growing
                      online mapping application for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.
                      Within it's first year, MotionBased signed up over 11,000 GPS users
                      who uploaded approximately 140,000 individual outdoor activities.
                      MotionBased.com was also not included on Backpacker's list of trip
                      planning web sites, but perhaps it should have been. Currently,
                      MotionBased has a similar Internet rank as compared to the two lowest
                      ranking web sites listed - Backpacker.com and Topo.com.

                      Arguably the most popular trip sharing web site is the Google Earth
                      Community. When Google Earth launched it became the largest GPX
                      application overnight. And soon after, most all the popular GPS and
                      mapping programs fell in line supporting GPX.

                      Google Earth allowed users to open GPX files, but they could only be
                      saved in a new format - the Keyhole Markup Language (KML) or in
                      compressed form (KMZ). The result is that users started sharing files
                      in KML, but they still needed GPX to transfer the data to their GPS
                      devices. Going back-and-forth between formats is a pain especially
                      when some of the information gets lost in the translation.

                      Trip sharing web sites would rather not have to maintain multiple
                      formats. Most sites stick to one and point users to programs like GPS
                      Babel for converting from the one to another. But now that we have two
                      formats that are so prevalent, which one is the best for publishers?

                      According to Jeremy Irish, founder of Geocaching.com, "GPX is an
                      excellent format for exchanging GPS data, but the presentation
                      capabilities of KML make it a better delivery mechanism for Geocaching
                      and Waymarking data." Irish has no plans of updating the data format
                      at geocaching.com but, "If and when we do, it is likely that we'll
                      move to KML."

                      I agree with Irish. Most of the downloads at TravelByGPS.com are in
                      GPX format, but I like to show off the data with screenshots of Google
                      Earth. It is a hassle to create a KML file and tweak it for display
                      purposes, but Google Earth is hard to beat as a visualization tool. If
                      Google ever gets serious about supporting devices, I'd be inclined to
                      convert to KML too. And if that ever happens, the follow up to this
                      article may well be the obituary for GPX.

                      Maybe in the shadow of all the hype at Backpacker, the editors know a
                      move from GPX to KML is underway. In the same issue as the iHike
                      guide, a contest was announced, encouraging readers to submit trip
                      reports with "the most ingenious uses of new technology" using
                      mash-ups, visuals, narration, geotagged photos, slideshow tools...
                      When I read this, I could not resist coming up with my own contest
                      entry. Here is the result:

                      Simulated Flight over Nantahala National Forest along 50-mile hiking
                      route, looping the Appalachian and Bartram Trail with whitewater
                      option ( http://travelbygps.com/premium/nantahala/wesser.php )

                      Enjoy!

                      - Doug
                      Owner, TravelByGPS.com
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