The Giant GPS Data Sharing Shootout

With Garmin switching to Bing maps (an obviously inferior product to Google’s maps), many of you are probably searching for an alternative. Never fear. There are tons of options available. I’ll use my own data for sites where I have accounts (or don’t require accounts), but in order to avoid creating dozens of extra accounts I’ll never use, I’ll choose someone else’s data for the others. I will save my ratings until the end.

1. Garmin Connect

This is the “old standby”. It used to be Motionbased until Garmin bought them out. Garmin lagged with feature additions for years during the migration and now that Garmin Connect was pretty stable and mature, Garmin caused an uproar by transitioning from Google Maps to Bing Maps.  Garmin added back Google Maps support (while keeping Bing Maps as an option, too) on 10/26/2011.

feature list

Garmin Connect’s embed (on 10/25/2012) appears to be pretty flaky on Google Chrome and on Firefox. Not sure what’s up, but it does seem to work a little better on MSIE. Might have to do with Google’s deal to supply Bing Maps awhile ago and partner up with Microsoft. I don’t see how I can recommend that. Only 17% of the traffic to my website uses MSIE. Chrome, Firefox, and Safari each range between 20-30% of the traffic on my site, which tells me a good bit about potential visitors. Namely, that they aren’t using MSIE. Bad, Garmin!

Impressions:

It works smoothly with a Garmin GPS. It has a respectable set of fitness analysis features. It’s not the best I’ve seen, but it’s not bad. The activity search feature works okay. The text-based search is pretty fussy because it assigns locations of an activity based on the nearest city of ANY size, even tiny ones you have never heard of. Searches that combine the map work a bit better. Bing maps are terrible. No topo view of any sort. Outdated satellite imagery. Lower resolution satellite imagery. The embedded map display is pretty small.

2. GPSies

This site doesn’t really have a features list so much. It’s a pretty basic site focused on data sharing. There are iphone and Windows Mobile apps available as well as a mobile website. Map view options include Open Street/Cycle Maps, Google, Microsoft (Bing), Yahoo, and Google Earth. The map screen is also pretty large. Lots of advanced search options, too. It can bring in pictures from Picasa or vids from YouTube. Import supports a variety of file formats.

Impressions:

Sharing functionality is pretty robust, but its reports for tracking fitness are pretty limited. The ability to choose between a variety of map types really lets the user choose how to display the track. While it can bring photos and stuff from Picasa, it doesn’t let you bring your own stuff in (say, a specific group of photos from your trip). It just shows material that other folks have geotagged that may or may not be relevant to your trip. The embedded map display is a good size and is visually attractive without a bunch of extra junk. GPSies.com does NOT require you to create an account in order to upload files.

3. Sanoodi

Tour

Sanoodi adds a more robust social layer onto GPS data sharing. There are groups that users may join to enable that social layer and users may comment on activities. The site integrates with flickr to show geotagged photos in the area of the track, but not necessarily specific photos related to the activity.

Activity Link

Impressions:

 

Sanoodi looks like a slick interface and it has nice social integration, but the flickr app doesn’t really add anything since it doesn’t show relevant photos. The site is also terribly slow to load. There’s a claimed embedding function, but I couldn’t manage to get the full embed code out of it. It only gave me part of the code I needed to embed a dynamic map, so I can’t really see how the embedding capability works (in either Firefox or Chrome). There are mobile apps available for Nokian, Apple, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile users. I don’t have a great impression because some basic functions don’t seem to work.

4. TrailRegistry

Strong focus on hiking and backpacking trails. Pretty basic site that allows you to upload a GPS file. No embedding function or social layers.

Activity Link

Impressions:

 

Super basic site with little functionality. Lets you see a map with elevation profile and really only has good coverage on a local basis. Yawn.

5. WikiWalki

A fairly simple GPS data sharing site. Lets you sketch a planned trip on the map and save it. This site doesn’t exactly have a listed set of features. It does let each activity have multiple tracks with alternate routes and such which many sites don’t offer.

WikiWalki’s embed code has broken.

Impressions:

This site is pretty simple. If all you want is to share GPS tracks, it’ll do. It seems to lack a lot of fitness tracking capability, though. The embedded maps are also really basic.

6. EveryTrail

This one also lacks a concise features list. What is it with sites skipping this information? It’d sure make comparing them easier. At any rate, map choices are limited to the basic Google Maps offerings (street, satellite, hybrid, and terrain). Robust trip report capability and good integration with Facebook and Twitter. Users may comment on activities. Photos may be chosen from your albums on flickr, Picasa, or YouTube. This is big, since the others I’ve mentioned before don’t let you choose the photos you display. The site also offers mobile apps for iPhone or Android.

Cypress Bend Resort


EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking in Louisiana

Impressions:

Slick embeddable map with slideshow of your photos. Unfortunately the map is small and not resize-able that I can find. This site has one of the most robust sharing interfaces out there. It’s still a bit light on fitness tracking.

7. MTBguru

features This site has a better summary statistics page for each activity since it’s a bit more fitness-focused. It has some trip reporting capabilities, too, and can add geotagged photos (though the site admin mistakenly uses the word “geocoded”). Those photos must be uploaded directly to the site, though. No integration with flickr or Picasa.

Impressions:

Good general contender. It’s “okay” in most categories, but I wouldn’t say it’s best at any one thing in particular. It offers a selection of Google Maps layers and others (OSM, MyTopo, MSR Topo) and it permits point data within a track for geotagged photos. Nice to see a simple site offer a good selection of features.

8. Trimble Outdoors

Trimble Outdoors also lacks a concise features list. It is a respectable all-around data sharing site. There isn’t any one particular activity focus for the site, and both Bicycling Magazine and Backpacker Magazine pull data off of the site to share. Trimble is probably better known for their professional gear, but Trimble Outdoors accepts data from consumer grade GPS hardware, and the site offers multiple apps on multiple cell phone platforms. The site has a social layer with groups and automatic publication to Facebook and a solid trip report editor.

Impressions:

Nice embeddable map with MyTopo data in addition to Google’s offerings. This is a good all-around sharing site with a little of everything. From trip reports to basic fitness tracking and support for dropping photos and videos onto the map.

9. RunningFreeOnline (formerly RunSaturday)

  And yet another sharing site without a features list. This one is a solid fitness tracking site with a social layer. There are groups, users may “boost” each other (cheer), and comment on each others’ activities. Yes, the site name has “Running” in it, but the site takes fitness activities of any sort. It has a robust planning tool and a lot of fitness tracking features. Its embeddable content is a bit different than other sites, though. It does not offer a dynamic Google Map. Users may select a static Google Maps thumbnail, static OpenStreetMap thumbnail, elevation profile thumbnail, or a 3D Google Earth player.

Impressions:

I like the fitness tracking features of the site. I’m not a big fan of the sharing options, however. I like a simple, but dynamic map available. The static maps don’t do it for me and besides, making use of them requires you to know a little coding. The one I used above required me to mess with adding iframe tags and doing some resizing of the iframe to display correctly. The static Google Maps image requires you to have a Google Maps API key (and I don’t remember mine) as well as toying with an iframe.

10. MapMyFitness

This one is a whole family of sites each with a different focus (running, biking, hiking, etc). It does at least have a features list. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll only cover MapMyRide since they are essentially all the same. This site has both free and premium services. Free accounts get lots of ads and junk, while a premium account will get rid of that stuff and add a few features. The site offers training plans, a robust social layer, and a map generator tool. The site provides embed code for many sizes of maps, and the sizes are editable. New Embed:

Impressions:

It’s a good tracking site, but the ads on the free version detract from using it. If you’re prepared to pay for a subscription, it’s a lot more usable without the ads in the way. If you like Google Map embedding and want it a specific way, then this site lets you embed how you like. Robust fitness tracking is a plus for those who want that sort of thing. Premium memberships can be pricey, though. I will point out (as was suggested to me) that the beta version of MapMyFitness is cleaner. Some features have been added – including the option to tag photos from flickr to display on the map. I am playing with that feature and it seems that photos need to be geotagged in addition…but it just might take time for them to appear in the photos pane. There’s still an ugly ad covering the route planning page that gets in the way, but it seems to be less trouble than the old site. It’s part of the tools pane, which can be minimized to the side of the screen. Overall I think the beta version of MapMyFitness is an improvement.

11. Training Peaks

features Training Peaks is first and foremost a fitness tracking site. This site lets you track your GPS-enabled workouts in addition to gym workouts and others. It’s also got a very robust diet tracking system. Sharing is really not a consideration, but it’s possible. Links are provided, but you’ve gotta make sense of them. There are free and paid subscriptions available. Paid subscriptions give you a lot more capability to view reports and statistics about your fitness and diet. Embedding isn’t possible, but you can link to an activity.

Impressions:

If your goals are first and foremost fitness-oriented, then you probably don’t mind that the sharing capability of Training Peaks is limited. It will send your workouts to Facebook if you set up the option. Nobody has better fitness and diet tracking capability.

12. Crankfire

features This is a New England local sharing site. It’s pretty all-inclusive. Share GPS data, photos, and a social experience. It has a pretty local focus, though. Activity Link

Impressions:

This is a good local source for data. There’s a great deal of data on the site, as well, so chances are if there’s a trail that permits mountain bikes, that trail has GPS data for it within the covered area. The embed code seems to be temporarily broken. I’ll post an example when the function gets fixed.

13. Geoladders

No features list. This one doesn’t specify a local area, but in effect its coverage is somewhat local. Seems it’s most commonly used in California, Arizona, and Israel though there is coverage elsewhere. Site’s focus is on “ladders” or leaderboards where users compete with each other for submitting rides. No embedding for activities elsewhere, and sharing just consists of sharing a link. Activity Link

Impressions:

The ladders concept is pretty cool. Minimal sharing capability is a bit of a downer, but the site does have a social layer allowing users to send each other messages. The ladders utility would be good motivation to compete with others, but the lack of other features just doesn’t get me interested.

14. Breadcrumbs

No features list, but another nice option. Major features include hierarchical data organization and an editor that lets you edit the actual track points of a file to eliminate bad points and such. Activity Link 06-12-2012 Update: I was contacted today by Cristoph from Breadcrumbs to let me know that they had updated their service.  They’ve got a feature list now (did they do that because they read my comments?  I don’t know, but thanks for providing it), so go ahead and check that out if you’re interested in the service.  They also now provide embed code.   This is the same activity linked above.

View Mad River Greenway-2010-9-9 by bobrich on Breadcrumbs Powered by Breadcrumbs: manage, edit and share GPS tracks for free.

Impressions:

This site takes a knock for a lack of an embed function, so the only sharing can be done via links. Data organization is solid, though. The 3d viewer is nice, but I prefer the 3d viewer on RunningFreeOnline.

06-12-2012 Update: The improvements to the site are a big step forward. A nice feature here is that when viewing one track, you will see waypoints on the map for other tracks nearby. There’s also a list of nearby tracks on the right pane, .gpx and Google Earth downloads, and an intuitive interface. With the updates, it’s a solid performer.

15. RideWithGPS

Bike-focused site. Especially seems to be focused on road biking because cuesheets are heavily used. Simple enough. Plan a ride, upload your data, then share your data any number of ways, print cue sheets.

Impressions:

Sometimes simple is better. This site does what it needs to do and does it well. The site has a well-defined niche. The embeddable maps are a good size and offer a route profile in addition to looking sharp. Only major knock would be its focus on road biking, and that’s a big one if you also want to share hikes, mountain bike rides, paddling trips, runs, and whatnot.

16. Shapelink

features
Here’s a site with a stronger fitness focus. Training and fitness diaries and a significant social layer built into the site with blogs, forums, friends, and more. GPS data uploads require a Gold level membership. Not much capability for sharing outside the site.

Impressions:

A lack of sharing capability rules it out for me. Also disappointing that you have to pay to do GPS uploads. It does have good training log functionality, though.

17. Strava

features plans
Cycling-focused site. Supports a number of smartphone applications in addition to standalone GPS receivers. Some social functionality which varies by plan.

Review on 10/26/2011

Impressions:

Can’t really share outside the site, since you must be a member to view activities. Another niche-driven site (cycling fitness, no sharing).

18. RunningAHEAD

Running fitness niche site. Route planning, limited sharing capability, generate reports.

Impressions:

If all you do is run, then this might be worth a look. It’ll share to Facebook and claims to offer stat scripts for your blog (not sure what those look like since functionality is very limited to nonregistered users).

19. Dailymile

Track your workouts with a GPS or smartphone app. Seems to have a running focus, but also will do cycling and triathlons. Tight integration with Facebook and Twitter. No embed.

Impressions:

Community-focused training site with a focus on motivation and competing with online friends. It’s simple and straightforward in that focus. If this is what you want, it’s a nice interface.

20. Sportietech

Another simple fitness tracking site. Some features still in development. Connects your workouts with Facebook. If all you want is to put your GPS-enabled workouts on Facebook, take a look at this site.

Impressions:

I don’t have much of an impression. This is a very simple site with the goal of putting your data on Facebook. They have some other features in development, though, that look to expand the usefulness of the site. Stay tuned.

21. BuckeyeOutdoors

features
Training log, workout plans, and diet log. Some degree of social tools, also. Must register to browse the site.

Impressions:

Not much. The site is pretty locked down unless you register. Based on the tour videos, it seems to have some social capability and a pretty extensive training and diet log. If you’re looking for this sort of thing, take a deeper look.

22. Endomondo

Real-time tracking of your training using a smartphone. Will also upload from your Garmin after your workout. Social functions well-integrated. Won’t let you browse the site without registering.

Impressions:

Again, not much. I’m not going to register for every GPS data sharing site out there just to see what it’s about. Let me at least explore the site a little before choosing to register.

23. Strands

Another training log site. This one does not focus on a single activity. Calendar, groups, routes, stats, goals, and events. The site offers an iPhone app, too. Virtual competition.

Activity Link

Impressions:

Robust social and virtual competition tools. Allows users to socialize over a particular route or group. Lack of embedding makes it tough to take data from the site and use it elsewhere.

The next few options don’t quite match with the previous options. They require you to have file hosting arranged already. You can, like me, pay for a web hosting service. Google’s documents service might work for some of them. These simply give you a way to visualize these files on a dynamic map.

1. Gmap4

This service is simple enough. You may have noticed me using it on this site on occasion. It works with .kml, .kmz, .gpx, and even .tpo files. I don’t know of another option to view a dynamic map online of a .tpo file since it’s a proprietary format in National Geographic Topo!. With .kml and .kmz files, you can see geotagged photos. Sizing is scalable however you want from full screen down to 400×400. It will use files stored on Google Sites or MyMaps in addition to files you host on your own. You do have to know a little about HTML (or at least follow the lengthy how-to document). You can choose from the standard Google Maps views in addition to MyTopo maps. There are no fitness tracking abilities, but it will show geotagged photos and videos and if you have experience with editing .kml files you have a lot of flexibility for what you display in the dialog boxes when you click a point.

Impressions:

For simple embedded map viewing, I really like this option. Most of the other services provide maps that are just too small to be useful. With this one, you can choose the exact dimensions to suit you. If you want fitness tracking, look elsewhere, though. If you can’t work in HTML code, look elsewhere. This code is not cut-and-paste like most others. There are a lot of options you must choose with this.

2. GPS Visualizer

features

GPS Visualizer is an online tool that does quite a lot. In addition to offering visualization capabilities, it also does a lot of file conversions. Displaying dynamic maps using this service is VERY code-intensive even compared to GMap4. The FAQ is absolutely necessary to pull it off.

Impressions:

GPS Visualizer is a very powerful and versatile tool. You need to be something of a power user to make good use of it, though. It’s pretty labor-intensive to get a dynamic map displayed with it, though. GMap4 is much simpler by comparison. It does allow you to generate some graphs of your data, though, which lets you do some basic fitness analysis without a third party sharing site.

3. XML Google Maps WordPress plugin

This is a pretty nifty plugin for WordPress sites specifically. It gives a lot of the options of the previous two options with less coding experience necessary. I used this plugin on my site for awhile, but removed it eventually (and which is why I will not be showing a map from it here). I ran into a significant limitation of the plugin at one point. It chokes on large files. Maybe you’re using 1sec recording to capture HR or cadence (or just a lot of map detail). Maybe you want to display some geotagged photos with a track. Either way, it’s easy to make a file too large to display on this plugin.

Impressions:

For basic users, this is a neat plugin. Due to the limitations on file size it has, people who tend to generate large GPS files should look elsewhere. It spits out some really cool charts in addition to the map, which I have not seen on a similar utility. GPS Visualizer requires you to generate each chart separately, but this plugin does it all with one little tidbit of code.

Rankings

I’ll provide my #1, #2, and #3 choices for the following categories: Map Choices, Sharing, Fitness Tracking, Database, Embeddable Content, and Overall. I’ll give each selection a short description why I chose it.

Map Choices

1. GPS Visualizer. By far, the most map options available.
2. GPSies. A solid honorable mention for the number of map options.
3. MTBGuru. Eight map choices of different sorts including a Google Earth view.

Sharing

1. Trimble Outdoors. This was a difficult selection since “sharing” involves a lot of things. I chose Trimble Outdoors because of its solid trip reports feature and the fact that Trimble Outdoors activities are used by multiple magazines.
2. MapMyFitness. I chose this one for an entirely different reason. The social layer on MapMyFitness sites is very robust with competitions, groups, and discussions.
3. Tie. DailyMile. Endomondo. Both integrate pretty seamlessly with Facebook and Twitter.

Fitness Tracking

1. Training Peaks. By far, Training Peaks is the best fitness tracking site. GPS-enabled activities as well as non-, diet tracking, workout planning and scheduling, detailed reports and statistics. If you want to micro-manage you fitness, this is the one.
2. RunningFreeOnline. I chose this one over MapMyFitness because it’s entirely free to use and it doesn’t bombard you with advertising. Ads are small and don’t detract from the use of the site. It has solid fitness tracking and planning functions.
3. BuckeyeOutdoors. Looks to be a pretty inclusive fitness tracking site including diet tracking. Poorer sharing capability than others, it seems.

Database

1. Garmin Connect. Looking for GPS data for a specific location? Search here first. Garmin Connect has Motionbased’s old database in addition to newer data. Searching can be a little clumsy until you figure out how the site works, though.
2. – I can’t quite determine – The rest of the contenders for Number 2 don’t exactly stand above and beyond each anyone else. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. GPSies, Trimble Outdoors, EveryTrail, MapMyFitness would probably each be better at certain times than the others.
3. See #2.

Embeddable Content

1. EveryTrail. The Flash-based dynamic map viewer with photo slideshow wins best embeddable content. Unfortunately, it’s small. It would be nice to have multiple sizing options. But the fact that you can specify pictures to bring in from Flickr or Picasa is win. It’s the only site that allows that option.
2. GPS Vizualizer. Even though it’s the most difficult to use, GPS Visualizer offers a great variety of embeddable content. The map view is only limited by your skills with code and your ability to follow directions. You can include geotagged photos and other content and you can also generate charts for your data to embed alongside your maps.
3. RideWithGPS. Inclusion of the elevation profile on the embeddable content list is pretty nice. Graphics are clean and attractive, but only offers standard Google Maps imagery.

Overall

1. Trimble Outdoors. Good maps, good sharing, good trip reports make this one my top overall pick.
2. MapMyFitness. This one was just off my list for fitness tracking just because of the ads, but it’s better for fitness than Trimble Outdoors. It’s otherwise a solid tracking website. It’s also good for sharing, especially because the social layer is well-integrated within the site. Its database is also pretty solid and it’s also just off my list for embeddable content because the size of embeddable maps is very selectable, but it does not include photos into the embeddable content. I’d rate the new beta version of this site higher for the earlier version. The ads are still irritating, but they’re less intrusive and still allow the site to be functional for free users.
3. EveryTrail. With the best embeddable content, it had to be high on this list. It’s not the best for fitness tracking, though.

Honorable Mention:

Considering how much I use GMap4, it’s hard for me to make a “best” list and not include it. No, it doesn’t track any of your fitness statistics for you. What it does do is offer an extremely flexible and easy-to-use map visualizer for embedding. It’s not remotely as cumbersome as GPS Visualizer (which has pretty similar functionality). It’s more elegant than that. If you track your fitness stats on your local computer and just want to share a map on your blog, then it’s a solid solution.

Updates:

Based on some comments below, I feel the need to add a few comments.

GPS Visualizer Atlas

First, I’ll address a new feature of a site I already covered. The GPS Visualizer Atlas. It’s similar to GMap4 in that GPS Visualizer will host the map processing if you will host the GPS file somewhere. It’s different than GMap4 in that you can select FAR more options.

You still need to know a little bit of coding, but not nearly as much as the GPS Visualizer tool I mentioned before. All you need to do is take the link output of the Atlas and form it into an iframe tag like this:

<iframe src="[linktomap]" width="600" height="600"></iframe>
where you would just replace [linktomap] with the link GPS Visualizer provides you.

Alternatively, you could place a link to the map (which will bring the map up in a full screen) like this:
Ride Map

I see a couple commenters have suggested I review the sites they’ve posted. I took a look at them, and they’re websites for smartphone app users ONLY. No .gpx file upload, no ability for us with standalone GPS receivers to use the sites. In addition, neither offers embedding as an option. I’m not reviewing smartphone apps on this page. Nor do I intend to write a similar post about them. Too many come and go too fast. Rapid updates change feature lists. There are too many smartphone platforms for one average guy like me to cover. Think about it- iOS, Android, Palm, Nokian, Windows. Different versions of each OS have different capabilities and each phone has different capabilities. Just within the iOS there’s 3 entirely different devices one could use in one way or another.

Suggestion to future commenters – please don’t ask me to review your favorite smartphone app unless it accepts GPS data from standalone GPS receivers, too.

10 comments to The Giant GPS Data Sharing Shootout

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