GIS Mobile Comparison

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This page is used to describe comparisons between GeoSpatial Mobile applications to help users select suitable applications for their requirements.


FOSS4G 2010
A comparison of Mobile GIS applications
Free and open source software for GIS has evolved a lot from last years, faster than privative alternatives and now every FOSS4G expert has several very good tools to use on desktop PCs and web.
The mobile field is a bit different and few experts are using free and open source mobile GIS, despite of good applications exist. Last years with the appearance of Android OS phones a new wave of map applications have been developed.
At this talk, different mobile GIS applications will be analyzed, compared and tabulated.
The objectives are:
  • To provide a detailed list of FOSS mobile GIS applications
  • Find how far are free and open source software from privative alternatives
  • Help to choose the best tool for every project
The main aspects of the comparison will be: functionality, complexity, customizability, formats compatibility and performance and the applications compared will be: ArcPad, gvSIG Mobile, BeeGIS, TangoGPS, Google Maps Mobile, gvSIG Mini, Layar and others

Product List

gvSIG Mobile

gvSIG Mobile is a project aimed to develop a free and open source GIS/SDI client on mobile devices.

gvSIG Mobile is a version of gvSIG Desktop an OSGeo project under incubation, adapted for mobile devices, with support for shapefiles, GPX, KML, GML, ECW, WMS and images, capable of using GPS. Among its features there are tools for project management, display of local and remote information (via WMS standard), layers management (symbols), querying alphanumeric information of the elements, editing data using customized forms, creating GPS tracklogs/waypoints and so on.

Feature Value
Name gvSIG Mobile
Version 0.3 / 1.0 alpha
Release Date nov-2009
Open-Source Yes
Free (cost) Yes
Main Organization gvSIG Association
User Documentation Yes (English, Spanish, German)
Languages English, Spanish, French, German, Italian

gvSIG Mini

gvSIG Mini is a free viewer of free access maps based on tiles (OpenStreetMap, ...), with a WMS, WMS-C client, address and POI search, routes, hybrid location and more things.

Feature Value
Name gvSIG Mini
Version 1.0
Release Date sep-2010
Open-Source Yes
Free (cost) Yes
Main Organization Prodevelop / gvSIG Association
User Documentation Yes (English)
Languages English, Spanish, German, Italian


Enebro allows view and editing vectorial cartogarphic information, also allows visualizing images and navigation using GPS systems. It is a useful tool for field work related with field inventory, territorial inspection, field work data revision, etc.

Feature Value
Name Enebro
Version 2.0.37
Release Date aug-2008
Open-Source Yes
Free (cost) Yes
Main Organization Junta de Andalucía / Guadaltel
User Documentation Yes (Spanish)
Languages Spanish


ArcPad is designed for GIS professionals who require GIS capabilities in the field. It gives field-based personnel the ability to capture, edit, analyze, and display geographic information easily and efficiently.

Feature Value
Name ArcPad
Version 10
Release Date TBD
Open-Source No
Free (cost) No (aprox. $700.00 single-user license)
Main Organization ESRI
User Documentation Yes (English, Spanish) TBD
Languages TBD


tangoGPS is an easy to use, fast and lightweight mapping application for use with or without GPS. It runs on any Linux platform. By default tangoGPS uses map data from the Openstreetmap project. Additionally a variety of other repositories can be easily added.

Feature Value
Name tangoGPS
Version 0.99.3+debian-2
Release Date
Open-Source Yes
Free (cost) Yes
Author Marcus Bauer
User Documentation Yes (English)
Languages English


FoxtrotGPS is an offshoot of tangoGPS application, with a focus on cooperation and fostering community innovation. It runs on any Linux platform. It aims at covering some features of TangoGPS not 100% open-source (used Web services, templates for GUI generation, ...). It's in a preliminary stage as of Sept-2010.

Feature Value
Name FoxtrotGPS
Version 0.99.4
Release Date June 2010
Open-Source Yes
Free (cost) Yes
Author Community around a mailing list at OSGeo
User Documentation No (English)
Languages English

Open-Source Comparative

Here, a comparison of important open-source features is displayed for every product being analyzed.

Name Progr. Language Open Source License Public Version Control Public Bugtracker Mailing List Developer Doc. Active Development Contributors
gvSIG Mobile[1] Java ME - CDC Yes GPL 2+ Yes (SVN) Yes Yes (Very Active) Partial Yes 7
gvSIG Mini[1] Java ME CLDC / Java Android Yes GPL 2+ Yes (SVN) No Yes (Active) Yes Yes 4
enebro[2] C++ Yes Non-standard/Under request No No No No Unknown Unknown
ArcPad[3] C++ No N/A No No Yes (Very Active) Yes Unknown Unknown
TangoGPS[4] C Yes GPL 2 Yes No Yes (Active) No Yes Marcos Bauer + helps
FoxtrotGPS[5] C Yes GPL 2 No No Yes (Very Active) No No 3

Target Platform Comparison

Name Open Source W. Mobile Java CLDC Android iPhone Linux PDA Windows PC Linux PC
gvSIG Mobile Yes Yes(WM 2003/5/6) No No No Yes OpenMoko, Maemo Yes (W 2000/XP) Yes
gvSIG Mini Yes Yes(JVM) Yes Yes (Android 1.5 - 2.2) No No No No
Enebro Yes Yes (WM 2003/5/6) No No No No Yes (W 2000/XP) Yes (Guadalinex v.3.0.1)
ArcPad No Yes (WM 2003/5/6) No No No No Yes No
TangoGPS Yes No No No No Yes No Yes
FoxtrotGPS Yes No No No No Yes No Yes

Feature Comparison


Feature gvSIG Mobile 1.0 alpha gvSIG Mobile 0.3 Enebro tangoGPS / FoxtrotGPS ArcPad gvSIG Mini Layar
Multilayer Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Multiple coordinate systems Yes Yes No No Yes
— Simple Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
— Scale Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
— Labeling Yes No No No Yes No
— Range Yes Yes No No Yes No
— Unique value Yes No No No Yes No
Hyperlink No No Yes No Yes No
Find by attributes Yes Yes No No Yes
Offline support
— shapefiles Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
— GML Yes Yes No No No No
— KML Yes Yes No No No No
— GPX Yes No Yes No No
— ECW Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
— MrSid No No Yes No Yes No
— Jpeg2000 No No No No Yes No
— tiles No No No Yes No Yes
Online support
— WMS Yes Yes No No No Yes
— WFS Yes No No No No No
— WFS-T No No No No No No
— tiles No No No Yes No Yes
— ArcIMS No No No No Yes No
— Satellite information Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
— External GPS support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
— GPS aided editing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
— tracklog storage Yes Yes Yes Yes No
— waypoint storage Yes Yes Yes Yes No
— Real-Time DGPS No No No Yes Yes No
— Vertex point averaging Yes No No Yes
— Geometry editing Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
— New layers creation No No No No No
— Alphanumeric editing Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
— Custom Forms Yes Yes No No Yes No
— Attribute table editing Yes No No No Yes No
— Split and union No No No No Yes No
— Sketch No No No Yes No
— Snapping Yes No No No Yes No
— Export Yes No No No No
Extensibility through plugins Yes No No Yes No
Custom toolbars No No No No Yes No
Ease to use Medium Medium Medium Easy Easy Easy
Ease to install Hard Medium Easy Easy Easy Easy
Spread (google search results number) 35.500 35.500 12.200 18.200 + 6.180 147.000 3.970 2.200.000
Documentation Available Available Available
Camera support No No No No Yes No
Rangefinder support No No No No Yes No
Code language J2ME CDC PP J2ME CDC PP C++ Java VB Android + Midp2

Perfomance Comparison

Used Datasets

For testing the perfomance of the applications, OSGeo available datasets for FOSS4G 2010 have been used. Shapefiles fo several sizes have been loaded on a PDA for vectorial comparison.

For raster comparison, an official ortophotograph coming from the Spanish National Mapping Agency (CNIG - Centro Nacional de Información Geográfica) of Barcelona area has been downloaded in ECW format. This image has also been clipped to two image sizes. GDAL utilities has been used for clipping and resampling.

The layers used for the speed perfomance test have been these ones:

Datasource Geometry Type Number of Features Category Size
Vectorial Layers
point-layers-for-geometry.shp Point 265 Small 241 KB
motorway.shp Polyline 79 Small 106 KB
settlement.shp Polygon 257 Small 152 KB
ramp.shp Polyline 635 Medium 334 KB
industry.shp Polygon 5070 Large 1,34 MB
contour.shp Polyline 3429 Large 12,8 MB
Raster Layers
bcn_recorte_5000.ecw Raster (ECW) 5000 x 5000 px Medium 7,5 MB
bcn_recorte.ecw Raster (ECW) 14273 x 21693 px Large 82,9 MB

Designed Tests


The heterogeneity of platforms and products makes it difficult to desing a common test for all the products. A common test have been designed for Windows Mobile platform, the most powerful in terms of GIS features so far.

The formats supported by the different products are not homogeneous. For instance, only gvSIG Mobile can load vetorial formats other than SHP (GML, KML, ...). On the other hand, gvSIG Mobile only supports ECW as wavelet raster formats, and not MrSID or JPEG 2000. So only common tests have been made in order to get the differences.

Access to remote services hasn't been compared, as ArcPad only accesses ArcIMS/ArcGIS servers, and not standardized ones (WMS, WFS, ...).

Note: As of today, we haven't been able to load a ECW in ArcPad, although it supports this format. (Maybe ArcPad doesn't like GDAL ECW clipping or resampling results).

Speed tests have been made in the same PDA. All of them have been made with no other application running on the PDA. Datasets have been read from the storage card.

Time measurement

The binaries have been used in a PDA to measure the results. The times have been taken manually with a stopwatch. In order to minimize the human error, all the measurements have been taken at least 3 times, and an average have been made. 0,2 seconds have been substracted to all measured times, for removing human response time effects.

Some of the measurements are too fast to be measured by a manual action with a stopwatch. So all measures under 0,2 seconds have been homogenized to 0,2 seconds, with the understanding that it's fast enough to not perceive a delay from the point of view of the user.

Speed test cases

For the three Windows Mobile GIS products (gvSIG Mobile, enebro and ArcPad), the following test have been performed:

  • Vectorial support:
    • Adding a new SHP layer.
    • Zooming by rectangle to a small area.
    • Panning when in the small area.
    • Fit all (zoom to extent).
  • Raster support:
    • Adding a new raster layer.
    • Zooming by rectangle to a small area.
    • Panning when in the small area.
    • Fit all (zoom to extent).

These tests have been executed for every layer.

Device details

The device used for testing has been this one:

  • Model: Acer S200.
  • Processor: Qualcomm QSD8250, running at 1 GHz.
  • SDRAM: 256 MB.
  • ROM: 512 KB.
  • Screen: 480x800 pixels.

Perfomance Results

Perfomance results have been grouped in 3 categories:

  • Low and medium sized vectorial tests. These tests have shown very fast time response.
  • Large sized vectorial tests. Due to slow time responses, a different group has been made to not share a common scale time with low and medium tests.
  • Raster tests.

Low & medium vectorial speed tests

A chart with the response times is displayed below:

Large vectorial speed tests

A chart with the response times is displayed below:

Raster speed tests

A chart with the response times is displayed below:

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