j2me, GPS, Mobile Phone #4 The Open Data effect

This is the fourth look at the current state of j2me mobile phone mapping with gps focusing at applications with openstreetmap. We are seeing the development of new mobile applications, because now there is data and it is free, and available. A lot of this would be covered by the presentation I made at the State Of The Map Conference, Manchester July 2007, you can see my slides and the recorded audio too.

Viewing Recording Editing Other Stuff

Trekbuddy : Talked about this in an earlier post, and it’s going from strength to strength, The next version will have routing based on gpx, rte, rtept, wpt – so one to look out for. Also, Tom Higginson’s application enabling you to easily create a TrekBuddy map, allows mapnik and osmarenderer.

J2memap : I finally got this working, but requires a hack to get osm on there. However, j2memap does provide a library, so you can built an application that uses osm images, and the j2me engine. Quite smart. Network costs are for me, the main reason why I don’t use this. Zooming in and out of the map takes up far too much money. (you can disable the network access, but then you don’t get any maps).

GpsMid : Is a really cool opensource application for use with openstreetmap data. Talked about this before. What this does is read a downloaded .osm file and packages it into a precompiled midlet for the phone. It compresses 3mb osm into 244k midlet, code and data! It works really smoothly, zooming and connecting with the gps to get your position. It displays the streetnames, and POI /Nodes, and because it’s vector, you can search the data for names and it will zoom in to that area, and give a line from where you are to where it is. It is open source, and needs developers! I’d like to see nice gps recording, and overlays of tracks, or the loading of gps traces from the server. or the correction of road names instantly… (more on this later)


Getting a GpsMid midlet is reasonably straightforward too.

java -jar Osm2GpsMid-0.2.29.jar manc.osm propertiesfile

bundle.name = manc
region.1.lat.min = 53.326
region.1.lat.max = 53.626
region.1.lon.min = -2.592
region.1.lon.max = -2.052

you can have it churn over the huge planet.osm or use JOSM to get a smaller .osm file.

Vgps – Vietnamese GPS : Similar to GpsMid, but you gotta pay them and give them the osm to compile the midlet. However, the rendering looks nicer, and there are one way arrows, etc. Nice search and waypoints too. Uses gps to get location. Worth a look. You can download a load of applications for free from their site, including Cambridge and London. Couldn’t get it to work on my Nokia 6230i – but have a look to see what people are doing with osm data.

Mobile Trails Explorer : Briefly mentionned in an earlier post, I really like MTE. It’s the other open source project, and one where openstreetmap can really lend itself to. It basically records and displays tracks (both before and after). I’ve written some code to import a gpx track and then you can display as a greyed out ghost track. The good thing for openstreetmap is that this is useful when keeping track of whats already been mapped. and it would be a short step to download and import traces from the osm api too. Again, it needs you. would love to see some osm background map. They have a google groups discussion list.


Whereami: By Adam Boardman. This is a great S90 and S60 Mobile application using Openstreetmap Data.whereami.jpg

This actually downloads osm data from the server, and renders it on the fly. It keeps areas in a cache, so if you got to the same area, it doesn’t have to download the same data. You can zoom in and search and annotate things too. Great stuff! Haven’t got a link to this yet, but will update.


So we are seeing openstreetmap data availability increasing the development of mobile applications. Proof indeed of the argument that National Mapping Agencies keeping hold of the nations data stifles and stunts good development and enterprise. Now people, are using osm data, as that’s what is available, and are doing the work with that.

We also had quite a lot of discussion about the type of mobile applications and what we want. At the moment, we are creating the data from scratch, but soon we will be editing and annotating existing data, should our tools reflect this change?

I record tracks on the phone and then use my desktop to correct and edit openstreetmap data, add tags, straighten out the wobbly roads etc. I also use the phone is display map of where I am or want to go to.

I would like to be able to edit names, add in points of interest, maybe not edit the geometries of roads on the phone, but add in tags, maybe flag a road up that’s wrong. I want to see the tracks being made on top of existing osm data, so we can check for accuracy.

In the future, our phones will be more powerful, adding in photos, voice, etc, we can have quite a powerful application. We also need to make it simple enough for my mum to use!

State of the Map

Back from State of the Map, Openstreetmap’s first conference in Manchester. It was a very good, full two days. I think everyone was left with the feeling that OSM is maturing, growing and suceeding. Getting entire countries now, Netherlands, Spain. We will see a domino effect where National Mapping Agencies will be being increasingly eager to donate their data.

Plus we are in a new place, asking each other “what do we do when the map is complete?”. This new step was mentioned in a few talks, Muki Haklay’s and Sean Phelans, we will be evolving from working with creation, the nuts and bolts, to editing and maintaining, with abstractions of the inner workings, and that also the types of users will also change. Tools should be developed to help the newbie, the OSM wives and school kids to be able to easily and accurately work with OSM.

some initial highlights:

  • Mainly, meeting people from online mailing list, putting faces to names.
  • Muki Haklay’s talk about usability concerns (I own up, I have trouble pronouncing osmarenderer too!).
  • Seans energetic talk about the UK mapping space. Multimap has a lot of goodwill from openstreetmappers.
  • Barry Crabtree’s wiggly puslating maps. Wonderful!!
  • Licensing panel debate – still not totally convinced either way, but I do feel the need for people to be able to use osm and their own copyrighted data.
  • Mapnik’s live linux CD
  • The excellent organisation. It went so smoothly
  • The Rails book, cheers Steve, I solemly promise to use it for osm.
  • The realisation that I need a cycle now 🙂
  • Great beer and curry and chats and laughs! (see pic below)

My talk went alright (i get a bit nervous) , I’ll be posting about some of the ideas in more detail later, but the Open Source J2me / mobile mapping space is starting to take off now. Whether its because of the increase in GPS ownership, or the new mapping API’s, what we are seeing is projects springing up that are using Openstreetmap data because its out there, and free. Plus, people are developing cool applications towards openstreemap data now.

All the recorded talks will be found online, and some were also videoed. In the meantime you can view my presentation via slideshare.

Oh, Leeds Mapping Party! September 15th-16th 2007!

Come get Openstreetmap manchester for yer phone!

Made using GPSMid , and in preparation for the State of the Map Conference this weekend, download and install this free j2me application for your phone!

jar and jad files:




Lost? Cant find that street? Use the built in search to find and zoom to the streetname!

If you have a Bluetooth GPS it can connect to it and update your location on the map.

Havent got a phone? no worries, get the emulators from: http://java.sun.com/products/sjwtoolkit/download-2_5_1.html  and open it up in “run midp application”