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Fugawi GPS Mapping Software for Windows review

31st October 2002

 Article by Mike Barrett



Fugawi is a complete mapping solution for PCs which when connected to a NMEA compliant GPS receiver can display your position on a moving map.


The Fugawi PC software package retails for $99 USD. The review package provided by Fugawi comprised: the PC and CE mapping applications bundled with European Road Network maps; Europe IV Digital Street Maps $59 USD; and Vancouver - Whistler Digital Topo Maps $66 USD.


This review will cover most of the functionality of Fugawi but its main focus is on the areas which are used for FugPPC either directly or indirectly. It should be emphasised that there are many more features in Fugawi that we do not cover.  For the full Pocket PC Review, click here.

Fugawi GPS Mapping Software


Fugawi provides the ability to use commercially available maps and charts, free USGS maps and other geo-referenced images available for download from the Internet, and scanned or hand drawn maps that can be calibrated.


There is an impressive range of tools to manage your maps, waypoints,routes and tracks. These range from freehand drawing of routes on your map, to filing your waypoints.


Introduce your GPS either sleeve, CF GPS, or external GPS receiver and you have a complete navigation system.

Fugawi is commercially produced software which is available Worldwide. From their base in Toronto, Canada Fugawi software is developed, supported and distributed.

Click on picture for full image

Click on image for larger picture



  • Upload/download waypoints, routes and tracks into your GPS receiver, Palm or Pocket PC

  • Calibrate any map format that has geographical coordinates

  • Use with nautical charts, topographic, aeronautical or street maps

  • Draw routes and tracks freehand

  • Enhanced view of elevation profiles

  • Distance calculator

  • Attach pictures and sounds to waypoints

  • Create customized printouts, including grids in latitude/longitude and UTM

  • Dusk and night vision displays

  • Smart track reduction

  • Real-time GPS navigation

  • Upload any map to a Palm or Pocket PC


  • FUGAWI Digital Map Collection
  • Any digital BSB map or chart (including Maptech products)
  • USGS DRG topographic maps
  • Download Internet maps,
  • Create scanned map or raster graphics map file in bmp, gif, jpg, png, pcx, or tif format – simply chart 3 points on the map and provide map data.
For the purposes of this review an Toshiba Tecra with 128Mb Ram and 500Mz Pentium III processor were used along with a HP scanjet 4470c scanner.


Software Installation
The basic software package comes with the main application and a set of maps to get you started. The bonus CD differs depending on the area in which you live. If you live in Europe you will get a CD containing European roads, North American customers receive detailed street maps of the entire USA as well as the nautical Region 1 Planning Charts on CD. All other countries receive a World Geographic Names CD with over 6.7 million names.


Included in the package is a well written instruction manual. Printed manuals are rare these days and well written informative ones even rarer.


The installation of the software is easy as would be expected for a product such as this. The software is licensed using an application key which can be found on the back of the instruction manual.


Remember to set the PDA type in the preferences dialogue from the settings menu, prior to attempting to install the Pocket PC software. This is described in more detail in the Fugawi Pocket PC review.


Creating a map for FugPPC
Before you can do anything you need a map. Maps can be obtained from a number of sources: included with Fugawi is some maps on CD ; you can purchase additional maps and charts on CD; you can download maps from the Internet, typically USGS DRG topographical maps, Terra Server satellite images;BSB format maps and charts; and even GMF Vector Maps. If that does no cover your requirements then you can scan a printed map, draw your own map, or download map images from the Internet and calibrate them.

The instruction manual provides good easy to follow detail about loading and converting different map formats. If this is your first time it may seem a bit daunting but after you have been through the process a few times you realise that it is just a methodical process and can be repeated accurately even for locations that you have never visited before.


To create your own map either scanned, drawn or downloaded image is reasonably simple. All you need to do is to select the Calibrate map option and then start a guided calibration procedure. The calibration process launches a new window with two panels at the bottom. The first is the Reference Points and the second is the Calibration Checklist. The Calibration Checklist guides you through the calibration process.



First you open your map image, this can be in a number of graphic formats, including GIF, TIFF, JPG and BMP. Next you are prompted to enter the Map Information. This is where you select the map datum, the projection, and the scale. There is a wide selection of datums and projections. These should be selected to match the image you are calibrating, normally this information is included on the collar of the map.


Next is the setting of the reference points. First you locate a position on the map and double click on the location. You can make fine adjustments to the position using the scroll bars in the Reference Points panel, this allows you to get pixel perfect precision. You then enter the co-ordinates either using Lat/Long values, or the grid reference based on your map datum. You then hit the change button and the point is set and the process moves on to the next point.


If all this sounds a little complex don't worry, it is really quite simple.  Calibration is simple by just selecting intersecting gridlines at the corners of the map and entering the associated co-ordinates.


You need to enter a minimum of 3 points to calibrate the map. If you enter more it can make the map calibration more accurate. Fugawi shows an error value for all points when you add four or more points on a map which will give an indication as to the accuracy of the map image.


If your map has a collar (non map information around the edges) then you can adjust the boundary points informing the calibration process to ignore the edges. The final step in the calibration is to save the calibrated map. This pops up a dialogue box to allow you to enter the map name and save the results.


That is all there is to calibration. Your maps are almost ready to use. If you have calibrated you own map then you might be a little concerned about the accuracy of your map then Fugawi provides a special feature that allows you to check your calibration process. This will only work for maps that include sections with roads which are covered by vector graphic road maps, such as the European street maps supplied with the package. First you need to open your map in the normal way in Fugawi, then from the Overlays menu select open and open the map file that covers your selected area. You will then see the roads drawn on top of your calibrated map. The image to the right shows the results. Position your mouse over the image to see the map without the overlay.

Position mouse over map checking the calibration of your maps
Reproduced from Ordnance Survey 1: 50,000 mapping Crown copyright. All rights reserved.


Using the software
When you first start Fugawi you are presented with an empty window surrounded by a horizontal and a vertical toolbar plus of course a menu bar.


The side bar contains the following actions:

  • Cursor selection type: Grab, Zoom, Pointer or select
  • Query/find mode
  • Route editor Freehand draw or Edit
  • Track Editor Freehand draw or Edit
  • Photo Waypoint
  • Distance measurement tool
  • Drawing tool control
  • Centre GPS, Track,Route toggles
  • Autoload map toggle
  • Autoscale toggle
  • Track record toggle
  • Open Map
  • Search Map Library
  • Load adjacent maps
  • Find larger and smaller scale maps
  • display GPS window
  • Open Navigation, Waypoint, Route, Track and Overview windows
  • Zoom controls in out and specific percentage
  • Paging controls
  • Man overboard and Waypoint buttons
  • Scale indicator


The components (Maps, waypoints, tracks, and routes) of the Fugawi system are all managed in Libraries. the picture to the left shows the Forms menu from which all the library management functions are accessed.


You will find that all these open similar library displays so describing one will give you an idea of how these all work. At the core of the management libraries is a database. This database organises files of the various components in a hierarchical manner. This is structured like the familiar windows explorer interface.


The picture below shows the map library with the maps folder opened.  I use the map folder to organise all of my scanned maps, splitting them I use the map folder to organise all of my scanned maps,

splitting them into manageable categories particularly Marine Charts, and Ordnance Survey maps.


Other type of map, particularly the commercial products are stored by default in the BSB etc folders.


The actual maps are not stored in this structure, just the information required to use them. You can use drag and drop to move any component from one folder to another.



PDA Library

Click on picture for full image

Click on the picture for a full sized image.

The PDA Library is the main communication mechanism between the Fugawi application and the PDA. In order to display the PDA Library window as shown on the left you need to have your PDA connected to your PC using Microsoft ActiveSync. When connected you can select the PDA Library option from the forms menu.


This will then query the PDA device and discover the data that has been stored on the device. The PDA library window is organised in four sections: Top left Folder Hierarchy; Lower left components stored on the PC; Top right components stored on the PDA main memory; and Lower right items stored on the PDA memory cards. If you have more than one memory card installed then you can select which card is displayed.


There are tabs along the top to allow you to select from maps, waypoints, routes and tracks. Clicking on one of these changes the items displayed in the main area.


There are buttons to allow you to transfer for the PC to the PDA and the PDA to the PC. There is also a button to delete the item from the PDA. You need to be careful when using this option as it is easy to delete items from the PDA when you really intended to delete something from the PC. There is protection built in to save you from overwriting files on the PC if they already exist.


When transferring maps from the PC to the PDA Fugawi automatically converts the map from the current image into the native Fugawi format. This means that you do not need to worry about creating the right files and then copying them to the storage card. One click and it all happens for you. If you are converting and transferring a large map this can take quite a while.


Waypoints can be transferred to and from FugPPC using the PDA Library feature described above. The waypoint can be created on the PocketPC or in Fugawi. There are three ways to create waypoints: using the Waypoint tool and double clicking on the map; clicking the MOB button to create a special man overboard waypoint at the current GPS location; or clicking on the New Waypoint button and entering the information manually.


The picture on the right shows the edit dialog for waypoint information. Here you can enter the Name (shown on the map), comments, description ,proximity and co-ordinates. You can also change the icon displayed for the waypoint, which is only implemented in Fugawi and not carried over to FugPPC. The position of the waypoint name can also be configured in this dialog.


The main waypoint data is interchangeable with the FugPPC application and can be managed in both Pocket PC and also PC applications. You therefore need to set a procedure to ensure you do not loose information by concurrently editing waypoints in both applications.


The MOB waypoint is a special waypoint for mariners. It is intended to be an easy way to mark the position that an incident occurred, typically a man overboard.


Waypoints are a good way of checking map calibration as they are not specific to a map and can be displayed on any map where they are located. This means that you can set waypoints at say a church on one map and check that it is positioned properly on another map.


Tracks are essentially a sequence of points that are automatically recorded to a file, and displayed on the screen.


Tracks can be recorded using FugPPC and transferred into Fugawi for analysis. Alternately tracks can be drawn freehand in Fugawi using a pencil tool. Like other components tracks are accessed through the track library. Using the track library you can define which tracks are displayed on your map.


Fugawi supports the display of multiple tracks at a time. I found this very useful when creating maps of my local golf course. I simply started recording tracks and walking around features on a hole such as bunkers, greens and tees. These I recorded as separate tracks for each hole switching the recording on and off between the features. This resulted in recordings of 1 track per hole with additional waypoints recorded on tees, the centre of greens and at significant points on the fairway.


Routes are a series of points linked together. There can be a number of routes in the route library.


Once again the routes can be created either using FugPPC or Fugawi. These can then be transferred to the PC and either archived or edited. Routes can be created in Fugawi by clicking on the route tool in the side toolbar and then either clicking at individual points or by holding the left mouse button down and drawing. Individual clicks give you control over the number of points in the route whereas drawing creates a new point when the direction changes, this can leave you with a route that is difficult to navigate as the points will not always correspond to turns on your route.


A second mode of routing is the edit mode. This allows you to select individual route points and move them to a different location. To edit a route you simply select the edit mode from the drop down box beside the route tool and then click on a route point to activate it then click and drag to your required position.


Fugawi is supplied with a basemap of the world which is effectively an outline of the countries of the World. This is sufficient for locational purposes but of little use for anything else. If you live in North America or Europe the package comes with some bonus Vector Graphic Street maps. As mentioned above the review package was supplied with Europe IV Digital Street Maps and Vancouver - Whistler Digital Topo Maps.


Bundled TeleAtlas European Street Maps
The Bundled street maps provide road planning detail for Western Europe. Spot checks found minor (B) roads in the UK shown but no residential roads. The database was sufficient to identify local districts and villages. Moving further afield to Portugal the detail is a bit lacking the major roads are shown but large villages are not shown. These maps are suitable for route planning, but not for detailed street location. The maps come with DTED elevation data, although not essential the elevation data only covered parts of Europe in the eastern hemisphere.


TeleAtlas Europe IV Street Maps
The Europe IV street maps cover Denmark, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden to street level. I found the country grouping a little strange, the Maps did not include Northern Ireland, or Eire, and logically I would expect UK to be grouped with France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, etc rather than Scandinavia. That said the detail was very good right down to local lanes and small residential side roads. The maps were reasonably up to date, although a road opened a year ago did not appear in the data. Again the maps were supplied with DTED elevation data which again only covered the eastern third of the UK and about 95% of Norway. There were also some minor errors in the display of river features, the River Thames seems to stop at Tilbury and then restart at Leigh-on-Sea.


Vancouver-Whistler Digital Topo Maps
The CD contains 32 1:50,000 maps and 2 1:250,000 maps these are top quality topographical maps. Click here for an example of the quality of these maps. The only criticism of these is possibly the size of the optimised map. The Whistler section of the data converts to a 10Mb file for FugPPC, this takes a lot of processing power to convert and transfer. That said the results are excellent. Importing the maps into Fugawi was simple,all you need to do is put the CD in the CD drive and select the Import BSB option from the file menu. Fugawi will then determine which maps are on the CD and allow you to select which to import. Once imported they will appear in the Map Library under the BSB folder.


Other Features
Fugawi has many other features but these are not related to its use for the PocketPC, it can interface to traditional GPS units such as Garmin and many others, you can create picture attachments to waypoints, you can change the icons displayed with way points, etc. This review has focused on the features used to create, communicate and analise data used with FugPPC.


Strengths and Weaknesses
Fugawi's greatest strengths lie in the connectivity with the Pocket PC. You have all the tools you need to create, manage and organise your GPS mapping software in one package.


Fugawi provide a large range of Maps, and Charts for most areas of the World. An issue with Fugawi and similar software is obtaining or creating detailed maps. In the USA the government makes digital mapping data freely available. In the UK and many other countries this information is sold at commercial rates, and there is no recreational source of digital raster maps in the UK for Fugawi that we are aware of or tested.  This of course is not always a weakness, armed with FugPPC and some spare time you can go out and record your own tracks and create your own maps.


This is not a system for driving and automatic routing, but is defiantly a viable and exciting enhancement to outdoor pursuits. There are far better products on the market for those features, but when you get into a boat or an aeroplane than Fugawi comes into it's own.


The most major problem with this package is not the software or the GPS sleeve, but the actual battery life. Using the iPaq with most systems disabled and lowest screen backlight the battery lasts for about 2 hours.


As with other products of this sort combining Fugawi with FugPPC and a GPS device that can connect to both such as the Emtac Bluetooth GPS or maybe a Garmin or similar hand held, that way you get a semi portable and fully portable GPS system which is fully flexible.


Digital Scanning of Maps and Downloading of Digital Maps Disclaimer
All maps do hold a copyright notice to prohibit the copying of the maps.  Please check the terms and conditions of the copyright and your rights before digitally scanning any paper maps or downloading of any digital maps from websites.  Most mapping companies will grant you a license to make at least one copy of the map for personal use only, however please check first and if requested to do so, request permission from the copyright holder first before scanning or downloading the digital maps.


Ordnance Survey Copyright Restrictions
Permission to scan an Ordnance Survey paper map (which is less than 50 years old) for retention on a retrieval system must be requested in writing stating the purpose of scanning Ordnance Survey maps, scale of mapping to be used and total area to be scanned in cm squared at original scale. Permission will not be given if the customer can be supplied with an equivalent digital mapping product from Ordnance Survey.  A one off data royalty charge will also be applied, calculated using the number of mapping units scanned, and the customer must hold a Digital Licence with Ordnance Survey.



Manufacturers Website


Pocket GPS Reviewer

Mike Barrett

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website




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Overall Rating 83%

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