Decent Free GPS Mapping Software

A paddling friend told me about USAPhotoMap. It downloads aerial photos from Microsoft’s Terraserver, plots GPS data on top of it, and displays it on your screen. I used it to build an aerial map of my Capers Island trip fairly quickly, unlike my hand-made topo map which took a while. USAPhotoMap is supposed to do topo mapping too, but I couldn’t get it to work properly. It also takes some getting used to its funky interface. There are no scrollbars, and clicking on some menu items doesn’t do anything but pop up a box telling you to use the keyboard instead. It doesn’t really have an intuitive, native Windows-app feel.

There’s a decent tutorial here.

It’s free software, so I won’t complain. Too bad you can’t technically publish the finished images, since Terraserver’s usage agreement basically prohibits doing anything interesting with the data.*

Anyone care to build a website where I can upload GPS track data and waypoints, annotate it, plot it on a topo or aerial map, and legally publish the result on my website? If I had the time I’d build it myself. USGS topo image data is public domain, but it’s near impossible to get without paying someone a hefty fee. I have an idea about that which I’ll publish later.

* Update 2004-03-13: It turns out that you can use the Terraserver images after all! At the bottom of the Terraserver page is a Terms of Use link that points to Microsoft’s site, and it basically prohibits everything. That’s what I saw originally and figured the data was unusable. However, the Terraserver FAQ states this:

Are there any restrictions on what I can do with the images that I download?

The images from the U.S. Geological Survey, and are freely available for you to download, use and re-distribute. The TerraServer team and the USGS appreciate credit for their work on this project by displaying the message “Image courtesy of the USGS”.

Start mapping!