I love standards. When companies adopt and use these, it can make life so much easier. This is the case with the recently announced Garmin Communicator API. This new API allows developers to create applets that will allow geocoded web data to be sent directly to a GPS or downloaded as a GPX file. According to their website, this includes…
- Auto-detection of devices connected to a computer
- Access to device product information like product name and software version
- Read tracks, routes and waypoints from supported recreational, fitness and navigation devices
- Write tracks, routes and waypoints to supported recreational, fitness and navigation devices
- Read fitness data from supported fitness devices
- Geo-code address and save to a device as a waypoint or favorite
- Read and write using standard XML files (GPX,TCX)
- Support for most Garmin devices (USB, USB mass-storage, most serial devices)
- Support for Internet Explorer and Firefox on Microsoft Windows.
- Mac OS X Firefox and Safari support is under active development.
Of course, this direct communication only works with Garmin devices, but the ability to download standard GPX format makes it useable on just about any GPS.
One of the best uses of this API is TakItWithMe from EarthNC. This free application will take map data from Google Maps‘ My Maps function, covert it to GPX, then directly upload to a Garmin GPS unit. Placemarks are translated as waypoints, and map lines are translated into routes. Pretty sweet!
Applications like TakitWithMe make transferring data directly to GPS units much easier. However, I think you still need something like ExpertGPS for archiving and directly manipulating GPS waypoints and data.
UPDATE: I just noticed that Geocaching.com has also implemented the Garmin Communicator. You can transfer individual caches directly to your GPS, however, you can’t select multiple caches for transfers. I haven’t checked as to whether or not this is a premium feature. I do know that it doesn’t allow you to download a GPX file. Since you can download multiple LOC files, that would probably be redundant anyway.