Satmap Systems Ltd., an outdoor sports maps and GPS technology innovator, launched their first product Active 10 in October 2007. The Satmap Active 10 is a simple to use, affordable GPS receiver displaying high quality, digital maps on a large colour screen.
Following its launch, Satmap Systems’ next goal was to offer its customers a free and easy-to-use online route planning service, and it was at this point that they turned to Felinesoft to develop the necessary functionality to enable this service to happen. Given the complexity of projecting custom maps using Virtual Earth and the necessary integration with Satmap’s website as well as the customization of the Active 10’s internal software, the creation of the online route planning tool was going to be a complex project.
The Route Planner needed to communicate with the Active 10 through SatSYNC, a custom version of Active Sync, and also had to interface with the MySQL server used by www.satmap.com. It was to feature Virtual Earth v5 and would allow the user to plot and save routes on-line, then export them in GPX format to use with the Active 10.
To enable the projection of a custom map on the Virtual Earth system Felinesoft used a Microsoft application called Map Cruncher. However, it would soon become apparent that the way Map Cruncher operates would compromise both the accuracy needed for the map projection and also the effectiveness of online tool due to the length of time taken to produce the maps themselves. Therefore Felinesoft needed to develop a tool which would create a file with the information of the location of all the maps that Ordnance Survey provided us with relating to its location in the Virtual Earth System. Then the Map Cruncher was used to read and render the maps from it. This initially seemed to be the solution but Map Cruncher was not designed to cope with rendering so many maps in one go, so it failed. The solution was to divide up the data into sections to enable Map Cruncher to handle it, and to do this we also had to change the way the Map Cruncher stores images on the server as it was too slow in accessing them. Finally, 6 machines and 3 days later all the images required were rendered, all the different pieces were merged back together and all the high quality Ordinance Survey Maps could be projected on the route planner.
The Route Planner was written using ASP.NET, with C# for the user interface as well as for the business logic, and Microsoft SQL Server as the Database Management System. The mapping system used is Microsoft’s Virtual Earth where the Ordnance Survey maps are projected. As well as Ordnance Survey mapping, Satmap customers also have the option to plan routes using aerial photography of Great Britain available on the route planner.