Mapping software comparison article

Hi all, I’ve spent around three months writing a detailed comparison of different mapping software, and it’s time to release it into the wider world. I hope it’s interesting to anyone who uses this type of software for planning AT, and I’d be really interested to know what you think.

I love maps, and because I’m a bit of a geek, I love mapping software too. It’s super convenient and it unlocks so many possibilities for using and exploring maps in new and interesting ways.

There’s a good variety of mapping software out there, but most people pick one and stick with it due to the relatively high cost of switching. There’s the financial cost of having to purchase map tiles or subscription packages, the mental cost of having to learn a new system, and the cost of the time it takes to transfer your library of routes from the old system to the new.

Despite that, I meet lots of people who would benefit from switching. The best options include crisp high-definition maps, an intuitive user interface and whizzy features like 3D flythrough and more. The worst software is slow and unresponsive, clunky to use, and some systems even lack an undo button.

This long-form comparison covers six pages, each exploring a different aspect of the software. I cover the different options available, and give my opinion on what works well and what doesn’t.

Read the article here

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Nice. A very thorough comparison.

I’ve been a happy user of ViewRanger for a few years. Though I’m pretty unimpressed with OutdoorActive. Since they merged and development of ViewRanger has ceased I really hope that they eventually bring the useful features of ViewRanger across. Until that time I’m pleased that the ViewRanger app and website continue to function.

Though, the biggest gripe I have with ViewRanger is the inability to print maps to scale. That seems to be even worse with OutdoorActive… Want to print something at a random scale, badly sized on the page, with a half dozen additional pages of stuff you couldn’t care less about? They’ve got you covered!
But if you just want an A4 sheet with as little wasted space as possible containing an OS map correctly sized at 1:25,000, you haven’t got a hope in hell.

I contacted them about three years ago to ask about that feature. They were very quick to respond saying that it was on their list and would be released very soon… Still nothing.

Funnily enough, when I was doing my research, I must have come across at least 10 people saying the same thing!

It’s utterly crazy.

They’ve got some great features in the App - such as the constantly visible OS 10 figure grid reference, the customizable waypoint and off track alarms which I use a lot; and even their free mapping is pretty detailed. I far prefer the ViewRanger app to OS Maps, and the pricing is good. I’ve usually managed to grab a Black Friday deal on full UK OS mapping for less than £20 for the year.

They’ve got some great selling points… But the lack of decent printing to scale is a massive oversight on their part.

I wonder what will happen now since the merger… Of course, they claim that having joined forces they’ll be bringing “all the great features” of both together. But OutdoorActive seems to be little more than a cheap “facebook for outdoors people”.
I couldn’t care less about what every other Joe in the area is doing, but that’s where their prime focus seems to be.

Love this article. I’m a keen ViewRanger fan - and have been for a while, although am dreading the OutdoorActive transition as/when I’m forced over. At which point I may bale.

My absolutely favourite quote…

if you use a Mac or an iPhone then my opinions may be less relevant to you.

This isn’t explicit to mapping software! :wink:

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Cool article man!

OS maps by far the best due to the print feature. I find navigating off map and compass a lot more fun, but I don’t want to buy a new map every time. Instead I just print of an a4 section and boom!

Can bing maps not do this? Or does it not keep the scale?

Nah - I tried it before I got OS maps and you can only do like 3km squared on explorer.


The article doesn’t include Digimaps for Schools which is used by quite a few school Geography departments - and hence their CCFs as well. One thing that does really well is print out an A4 or A3 map to scale - it creates a PDF (you have to be careful to print with correct settings).

I can’t find on their website any information on eligibility - maybe you really do have to be a school rather than a youth organisation?