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GPX Explained

What is GPX?

GPX (the GPS eXchange Format) is a data format for exchanging GPS data between programs, and for sharing GPS data with other users. Unlike other data files, which can only be understood by the programs that created them, GPX files actually contain a description of what's inside them, allowing anyone to create a program that can read the data within.

How can GPX help me?

GPX lets you exchange data with other GPS users, who might not be using the same software as you. Imagine the following scenario:
You're leaving for vacation tomorrow, and you wonder if anyone has some waypoint data for the tropical paridise you'll be visiting. You do a quick search on the web, and find a data file created by a GPS user who just returned from vacation!
You've found some GPS data you can use on your vacation! Perfect! Or is it?

Without GPX

You download the file, Vacation.txt from the vacation webpage, and try to open it with your GPS software. It crashes. Even though your GPS software reads and writes text files, this one is a bit different. You try making some changes by hand, but it's taking too long, and you're afraid you'll make mistakes. You do a quick web search to find a solution, but no converter exists. You end up printing out the text file and entering some of the waypoints into your GPS by hand. On the second day of your vacation, you realize that all the waypoints are off by a quarter mile. It turns out the website owner had his GPS set to a different datum, and you forgot to change your GPS before entering the data by hand.

With GPX

You download the file, Vacation.gpx from the vacation webpage, and open it with your GPS software. You're surprised that it opens and transfers successfully to your GPS, since the file was created by a Lowrance GPS user on a Macintosh computer using a program you've never heard of. But since your GPS software supports GPX as well, you now have a complete, accurate set of waypoints for your vacation.

Feeling lucky, you wonder if there's a way to get the waypoints into your new street mapping software, so you can plan a route from the hotel. Your street mapping software doesn't support GPX, but maybe there's a converter available? A quick search on the web turns up another webpage! You wonder how much it's going to cost to buy a program just to do the conversion, but it turns out you don't even have to install new software - the webpage uses a FREE online form to convert your GPX file. You click the Submit button on the form, and your web browser launches your street mapping software with the converted data.

The next day, lying on the beach, you think about how easy it is for GPS programs to exchange data using GPX. While sipping a cool drink, you remember that anyone can write their own GPX converter to transform GPS data into a spreadsheet, a personal webpage, or a data file for their favorite program. And you think to yourself, "GPX really is a better way to exchange GPS data."

What are the benefits of GPX?

Here are some of the benefits that GPX provides:

What programs already support GPX?

Visit the GPX Resources page to get the latest list of applications and web services that work with GPX. If you don't see one of your GPS applications listed, write to the program author and ask them to support GPX in their next release.

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