Frequently Asked Questions -- General

Master FAQ Index

Just what are GPSy XTM and GPSy Pro X TM?

GPSy XTM is our GPS communications and mapping software program for the MacOS. GPSy X was designed to be the most compatible GPS program on any platform and we have yet to see software that supports more GPS units; communications protocols; and map file formats. We see GPSy X's role as providing a link between disparate GPS units and GIS/Mapping software on the Macintosh while also bundling its own suite of GIS/mapping functions such as scanned maps and various data transfer protocols. For a full list of features, see our features page.

GPSy Pro XTM is the enhanced version of GPSy X and was designed for boaters and people who work with large or complex map data. GPSy Pro X adds BSB nautical chart support, higher precision calibrations, better printing and display support. For more info on Pro, see our GPSy Pro X information page.

Combined, GPSy X and GPSy Pro Xhave the broadest and most robust GPS support of any software package on any platform. We support the industry standard NMEA-0183 protocol as well as the NMEA-0182 and the Rockwell NavCore binary protocols and with GPSy X 3.0 we've added the Rockwell Zodiac Binary Protocol, Sony IPS Protocol, Trimble (TSIP) Protocol, and Garmin Real Time Protocol. For data transfers of waypoints, routes, and so forth, we've always supported the Garmin protocol and we're happy to announce that the latest GPSy X releases support the Magellan data transfer protocol as well as Eagle/Lowrance Software Interface (LSI-100) for waypoint transfers.With the Mac OS X version, we've also added support for Bluetooth GPS units that register themselves as serial devices.

In recent releases of GPSyX and GPSy Pro X , we've also added support for various internet map databases such as Google Maps, MapBlast, MapFanWeb (Japan), MapsOnUs, StreetMap (UK), and Census Bureau TIGER.

GPSy X and GPSy Pro Xshare a standard AppleEvent API allowing other programs to poll or pull GPS data, making it simple to integrate into GIS solutions. We are talking with other GIS/Mapping vendors who want a standard GPS interface (such as the current AppleEvent API) so that they don't have to go to the headache of parsing NMEA sentences themselves and who would like to support the broadest array of GPS devices possible. We're happy to announce several such strategic alliances with third party vendors, please see our "third party solutions page".

And yes, GPSyTM is pronounced "gypsy" as in the travelling nomads of Europe (who most probably would have traded their crystal balls for a nice twelve-channel parallel GPS unit...). GPSy and GPSy.COM are registered federal trademarks in the United States. GPSy Pro and GPSyLink are trademarks.

Now that GPSy Pro X is out, will you neglect GPSy XTM?

Many companies, whose names shall not be mentioned, have a habit of neglecting their consumer level products once they release a more expensive 'pro' level product. We're happy to say that we're not joining their ranks.

Development on both GPSy X and GPSy Pro X operate in parallel fashion. GPSy Pro X is a super-set of GPSy X code and new features from Pro often filter down into GPSy X; while bug-fixes for GPSy X make their way into the Pro code as well. For example, when GPSy 3.20 was released later in October, it inherited the TFW Zone/Datum dialog panel as well as German Grid support from GPSy Pro.

We hope to continue releasing GPSy X on a regular basis with free upgrades, where possible. GPSyX is our foundational consumer-level product and it would be suicide for us to neglect it in any way. New and more complex features will continue to be added to GPSy Pro X , but we will try to filter them down to GPSy X when we feel that they are both important to the consumer-base and not overly complex.

If you have any questions or comments concerning the relationship between the two products, please contact our technical support deparment.

Will we port GPSyTM to other platforms?

Windows: A frequently asked question is whether we will port GPSy TM to the Windows environments. We're very happy being registered developers on the Macintosh platform. The development environment (CodeWarrior Pro) is easy to use and we like the fact that we can make assumptions about our client's machines -- i.e, more time developing new features and less time worrying about IRQ conflicts. We also do not like the idea of having to develop separate versions for Windows 95; 98; CE; 2000; XP; and NT if we wish to take advantage of these systems. And MFC (Microsoft Foundation Classes) is truly, truly horrible.

	As an anecdote, the chief programmer was asked to help fix a friend's IBM
	ThinkPad. The owner was trying to hook up an external modem, but nothing we
	could do in Windows could get the modem or serial port to get recognized. IRQs
	were checked, DMA conflicts were scrutinized, nothing.
	After a few hours of trying different options, it turns out that a BIOS app
	stuck in a wayward folder must be used to turn on the external serial port, which
	is turned off by default. But doing this also necessitates turning off the IRDA
	(infrared) port which shares the same IRQ. Since the user never managed to get
	IRDA printing or file sharing working, it wasn't a big loss, however.

It's estimated that each hour of technical support costs over a $100 per hour for software companies. The number of problems that occur on Wintel machines is so large that even given the larger Windows market, we would have to raise the mark-up to break even (note that the more copies sold, the higher the technical support costs). We note that equivalent GPS software on the PC is considerably more expensive than GPSy.

We are convinced Macintosh users are more faithful customers and they are definitely less of a support nightmare. There are already several excellent GPS software products available for the PC, so the open market of the Macintosh is welcome from this perspective.

However, if we port GPSy TM to the Yellow Box/Rhapsody; it may be able to run under YellowBox/Windows NT. This is not a product announcement, just a comment.

As an aside, do you know how terrible Microsoft's serial driver for Windows/Win95/WinNT is? It has trouble keeping up with GPS units speaking at 9600 bps or higher unless you are running on a Pentium class machine! Sheesh, even a Mac SE/30 released in 1988 can run keep up with units speaking at 38,400 with no need for flow control or errors caused by serial port overruns.

Newton:We are all greatly saddened by the demise of the Newton platform since of all of the handheld PDA devices (WinCE/Pilot/etc.), we believed it held the most potential and was the most revolutionary. Sigh... There are still plenty of fine (albeit expensive) products for the Newton already, so please check them out. GPSy clients who are also Newton users suggest that you only purchase from vendors willing to give you a money back guarantee since the price/performance of some products are suspect.

Palm OS: There are some great Pilot GPS clients, however, on our "competitors" page, that are making us reconsider our attitude. In particular, we think the Palm might be a good platform for a miniature GIS calculator (GPSy Calc). Keep tuned for details.

Linux: We are extremely interested in a Linux port. With the emergence of the MetroWerks compiler for Linux, it's now slowly becoming a feasible options. The only major stinker is that we're majorly entwined in QuickTime code (one of the reasons why GPSy/Mac is so blazingly fast); and Apple has not announced any plans for QT/Linux. You can be sure that we are carefully monitoring the situation as Linux emerges as a serious platform for desktops.

Java: If VirtualJavaMachines develop a robust, standard API for accessing serial ports, we might be interested. But Java is just too hazy a standard for us to consider real development options at this moment.

Where's my license key? I sent in my order hours ago!

All of our order processing is handled through Kagi Systems. If you used their secure web site to place the order, you can expect a registration key from Kagi usually within 48 hours. This is the most rapid way to get your license key.

Post mail and fax orders through Kagi take at least 5-10 business days depending on the purchase method. Postal mail checks take the longest since Kagi needs to wait until the check clears before sending you the key. You should check Kagi's FAQ page on how long Kagi takes to process orders.

If you haven't received your license key in what you believe to be an inordinate amount of time, please contact our order support staff ( ). Please include any relevant information such as when you placed your order and so forth. If Kagi sent you a receipt but not the license key, please include the e-mail receipt with your inquiry. The most common cause of users not receiving their license keys is mis-typed e-mail addresses. We get at least 1-2 bounces a month because of mistyped e-mail addresses and there is very little we can do to track people down in these cases. Please e-mail us your correct e-mail address.

Currently, the only way to purchase data cables is through the Internet. We are mainly a software authoring house and data cables are an interim solution. We'd like the ability to discontinue data cable sales when other solutions arise (such as a major vendor providing quality cables). If you would like to purchase a data cable through the postal mail service, please e-mail and we can send you our postal mailing address for checks and money orders.

Why don't you offer telephone technical support or ordering?

We currently offer free and unlimited technical support via e-mail and online and offline ordering through all major credit cards and bank checks. However, we still don't have phone tech support and phone ordering, why?

The Macintosh GPS market is still very small. Although we command the majority market share, we still must trim costs to remain a viable enterprise. The most expensive costs to running a business are usually personnel and buildings/maintenance. If we offered technical support, we would need to maintain someone full-time to staff the phones as well as disallowing our ability to keep our emphasis where it counts -- developing the best GPS/GIS software on the planet.

We hope to be able to offer phone technical support and ordering in the future. We appreciate your understanding of the situation.

Adobe Acrobat keeps asking me for a password for the documentation

Global Mapping Systems distributes the user documentation for GPSy in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. If Acrobat asks you for a password when opening the PDF file, this is usually because:

Be sure to download and use Acrobat Reader. We use Acrobat files because they: 1) retain all formatting features; 2) are easy to print; 3) and have a "weblink" features which links the document back into my web site.

Can I order a physical/printed copy of the manual or floppy? I hate Adobe Acrobat PDFs and FTP transfers.

Major releases of GPSyTM are issued about once every quarter and minor releases even more often. It's very difficult for us to keep any stock of manuals or disks since they quickly go out of date. We wish to maintain a high level of quality in our productions and Adobe Acrobat PDF seems to be the ideal product for doing so since it allows a high precision layout with advanced hyperlinks both internally and externally.

We apologize for the problems caused by our obstinance in remaining on the cutting edge. However, since the US government seems bent on publishing all of their documents now on PDF (see the IRS, USGS, US Coast Guard and other sites), we don't feel that we are too far out on a unsupported limb. People who definitely need a printed manual or CD-ROM can contact our order department ( ) for assistance.

We often receive the suggestion that we should publish our manuals on the public portion of our web site, so that they can be downloaded freely along with the demo version of our software. While we do allow free downloads of an abridged version of the manual (basically the first chapter and some appendices), our main concern is that there is considerable intellectual property in our manual. It goes into greater depth on how the Global Positioning Systems works than most others and also details some of the mechanisms that GPSy uses that we feel would better be restricted to our paying customers. We apologize for the inconvenience.

We don't offer a floppy distribution, although you can now buy GPSy on CD-ROM. Floppies are very expensive to duplicate in large quantities and GPSy / GPSy Pro no longer fit on a single floppy. We suggest downloading from the internet, which is free and easy.

GPS Technology

For TidBits 388, I wrote an overview of GPS technology and review of GPS units on the market. Please also see our GPS Resource Library web page which contains FAQs on the Global Positioning System.

Can GPSy handle conversions from TDs?

Some customers have mentioned that they have literally thousand of LORAN TD format waypoints and are searching for some solution to convert them to geographic coodinates (latitude/longitude). Unfortunately, GPSy does not have a TD->lat/lon converter in it, nor have we seen any such software for the Macintosh or DOS/WIN platforms.

The Magellan 3000XL allows use of TDs, but other than from that, we haven't seen any conversions. TDs are so inaccurate and maintaining a database so difficult that we doubt anyone would go to the trouble an expense these days -- it might be better to use the Magellan to enter the waypoints in TDs, and then ask it to display them in lat/lons (or use GPSy to download it back in lat/lon).

Can GPSy calculate tidal information or moon phases?

GPSy itself cannot calculate tides or moon phases; but two great shareware applications on the GPSy /GPSy Pro companion CD-ROM can. Tide Stamp 2.0 calculates tides for most major global areas and is freeware. HourWorld calculates moon and solar phases as well as time zones for the entire world.

Download these programs off the internet or purchase our companion CD-ROMs for the latest versions.

What's the point of Internet Map Servers with mobile GPS units?

The concept of using Internet Map Servers in real-time with a mobile GPS unit and laptop doesn't make sense unless you realize that it's more than possible to bring the Internet along with you.

There are several ways of accomplishing this:

Another cool use of your laptop + wireless internet + GPS unit is to "broadcast" your current GPS position as a real-time updating map page. Set GPSy to record your current location to a "HTML web file", using Personal Web Sharing (in System 8 and with IE4.0), you can "publish" your location on the internet. This feature was originally written to solicity interest from a Metropolitan Transportation Agency who wanted to be able to monitor all of their city buses in real-time. GPSy + Ricochet was the proposed solution in this case (the bid never materialized due to lack of funds on the city's part).

Of course, even if you don't have a laptop and wireless modem, you can always put your GPS unit in "simulator" mode and ask it to "trackback" or "playback" your recorded track files or view your tracks transposed onto map files. See your user manual for details.

Why does the "n" for the location display update twice as fast as the "n" for the altitude in the Static Position panel?

Static Position Panel:

GPSy re-calculates the average position, altitude, and DOP every time that data is transmitted to the unit. Many GPS units transmit multiple sentences in each NMEA "paragraph" (or cycle) and often information is duplicated. As you can see from the NMEA sentence info, the location data is transmitted in several sentences (GGA, RMC, GLL) while altitude and DOP data is only transmitted in fewer. As it turns out, location information is often transmitted twice while altitude/DOP is only transmitted once. This is why the "n" for location updates much faster than the other two.

Why do GPSy and my GPS unit disagree slightly about how fast I'm going, how far I need to travel to the next waypoint, or my altitude?

GPSy automatically converts all distance/speed units to your preferred units (set in the Display Preferences panel). However, since the GPS unit may introduce rounding errors when sending the NMEA sentence to the computer, you may not see exactly the same data on the GPS screen as GPSy. For example, when a Magellan GPS unit displays an altitude of 42 feet on its LCD display, it sends an altitude of 14.0 meters to GPSy via NMEA. When GPSy recalculates 14.0 meters into feet, it comes out to a different altitude than the original. Usually these rounding errors are minimal and are due to the NMEA sentence not having the full resolution of either GPSy or the NMEA device. All GPSy conversions are done using 6 digits of precision in the conversion factor and standard C double precision floating point.

Miscellaneous Questions

Does GPSyTM have copy protection?
No, the license key is the only copy protection. Copies without a valid license key only receive data for 15 minutes and data uploads are disabled.
DeLorme Licensing Fine Print
GPSy's ® use of the Street Atlas ® database is used under license from DeLorme Mapping, Inc. All support issues relevant to the use of these productions in conjunction with GPSy should be directed to GPSy Technical Support
Global Hegemony?
Yes, a planned winter release will take over the world before Bill Gates does.


Copyright (C) 1997-2007 by Global Mapping Systems and Karen Nakamura. All rights reserved. GPSy® and GPSy.COM® are registered trademarks and GPSy ProTM and GPSyLinkTM are trademarks of Karen Nakamura. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Mention of a third-party's product does not represent endorsement of or by that product.

This page was last updated on 2 July 2003. We've had [N/A] hits since we relocated on March 27th, 1997.