GeoTIFF conversion to ECW/JP2 for use with Mappt

geotiff of satellite imagery shown over google earth map data

Satellite imagery and various forms of map data are commonly stored in GeoTIFF formats.

Which is your favourite Map data format? GeoTIFF, JP2, ECW? Is there any you can’t use in your current circumstances?

It is likely that you may have handled a variety of different GIS data formats throughout your career. Perhaps your company is migrating to a new software provider or changing their data management protocol. Or maybe you’ve just received a set of map data from an external source that’s in a different format to what you’re used to. For whatever reason, converting map data to different file formats is a regular activity in the life of a GIS professional.

Mappt is a mobile field mapping solution that allows you to utilise a great degree of flexibility in the types of contextual data that can be displayed. Map imagery data can be brought in to Mappt in either JP2 or ECW format. These formats bring a lot of advantages in their compressed file sizes and tiling features, which make it much easier to load imagery in smaller tiles for offline mapping. It is also possible to load very large, detailed maps in this format within Mappt, up to 1 gigapixel and beyond for Mappt PRO users. This grants the ability to view high resolution imagery even whilst using Mappt completely offline!

Given the popularity of GeoTIFF as a GIS data format, we decided to write a guide detailing how to convert these files to either ECW or JP2 file formats for the best use of Mappt.

Data conversion programs

In order to convert GIS files, special programs are usually required for new GIS formats to be written. A number of software programs are available to do so, and it is likely that your workplace will have access to at least one of them. For this guide, we will be using Global Mapper, which is a very useful and affordable program suitable to complete the file conversion.



The first step here is to run Global Mapper and click on the folder icon to load your GeoTIFF data. Before this stage you should also check the projection of the data is correct for your workplace requirements. If it is not correct, change it in your regular GIS program beforehand.

Converting GeoTIFF data for Mappt

Once you have loaded the data in to Global Mapper, simply click File -> Export -> Export Raster/Image Format to begin the conversion process. A pop up will ask you to select a file type from a drop-down menu. It is here that you can select ECW, JP2 or otherwise depending on your requirements. Once selected, clicking OK will bring up the window shown below.



In this window you can toggle the compression ratio, which will determine the final file size. For example, a lower ratio. eg 5:1 will result in a larger file than a ratio of 20:1. You can also select the metadata file formats to generate in this window, to match the program(s) you will be loading the data into following conversion. Everything else can stay at their defaults.

If you wish to clip the data at all, you can click on the ‘Export Bounds’ tab at the top of the window. Here you can click ‘Bounding Box’ to draw a custom box around the data you want included in the output.

Lastly, click OK to complete the conversion process and the program will ask you to specify a file name and location for the output.

Loading Imagery in Mappt

Once the above is completed, you will have your new data format saved on your drive and ready to load in to Mappt! To do this, you just need to send the data to your Android tablet running Mappt. You can do this via your preferred method (Email, Google Drive etc) and load it into your tablet’s filesystem. From here, follow the directions below within Mappt to load your data.

loadmappt loadecw


Now you should be equipped to convert and load imagery data into Mappt for your mobile mapping needs. Also remember that support is always available if you have needs beyond this tutorial. No question is a silly question when it comes to GIS! You can reach out any time at info@takor.com.au with any queries.

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Mappt & QGIS Workflow: Using Drones to Enrich Field Assessments

DEM Dubai Airport Satellite Imagery Digital Surface Map orthomosaic sentinel 2 multispectral bands satellite imaging corporation

When it comes to fieldwork, the best outcome (aside from zero injuries) is to return having collected as much high-quality data as possible. We all want to ensure our project goals are reached successfully, so using a wide variety of relevant data to address the project criteria is a good strategy. An example of this is producing high resolution Digital Surface Maps (DSMs) using drones to complement field surveys conducted on-foot. These DSMs can provide additional information such as elevation, NDVI indices and more to complement the field survey data. 

DEM Dubai Airport Satellite Imagery Digital Surface Map orthomosaic sentinel 2 multispectral bands satellite imaging corporation

Digital Surface Map of Dubai International Airport by Sat Imaging Corp.

The workflow below describes the process for creating a DSM with QGIS to produce a data-rich field map, which complements field survey operations conducted using Mappt.

The Mappt team conducted a field survey at Kensington Bushland, in which we collected a range of points to characterise the local vegetation using Mappt.

Kensington Bushland, City of Victoria Park, walk leisure recreation natural park for

Kensington Bushland, City of Victoria Park

Each survey point contained a range of attributes for the field worker to fill out on location, including plant species, condition, time, % coverage etc. We created the attribute form using Mappt’s handy drop-down feature to collect all the field data. This was of course put together and pre-loaded prior to heading out into the field, like the intelligent and efficient field workers we are 🙂

(Click HERE for a free copy of our Ultimate Field Checklist)

Of most interest for this assessment was the species and condition of vegetation at the field site. The project goal was to explore trends that may explain any gradients in the species structure, coverage and/or condition. We collected additional drone imagery over the survey area, which was used to provide valuable complementary information on the vegetation community.


Now that we’ve returned from the field in good spirits and relatively unscathed, it’s time to begin our workflow process for the field survey!

Loading Mappt data into QGIS

First, we want to export the survey data collected using Mappt and bring it into QGIS. To do this, we want to navigate to the saved project file within Mappt and then click the export icon. We then want to select all layers, choose the GeoJSON format for QGIS, then choose to export to external apps, lastly selecting Google Drive as the export location. (See below)

Mappt user interface field mapping collecting georeferenced images for vegetation assessment screenshot_20190605-110141

That’s it, put down the tablets people! You’ve successfully collected and exported your field data from Mappt. Pretty easy right?

Now we want to move over to our desktop computer and load the Mappt data in for further processing in QGIS. Open up a new project in QGIS and check that the CRS projection is set to WGS 84 (under Project > Properties).

Next, add Google Satellite as a base layer for your project (click on the Web > QuickMapServices > Search QMS, then click on Google Satellite in the window that opens in the bottom-right).


Click this icon to Import the Mappt data from Google Drive into QGIS through the Data Source Manager.



Now double-click on the Vector file in the Layer Window to make any style changes desired. For my data, I have characterised survey points into species type and given them different colours. I also filled in the polygon for the reserve area, and indicated my survey entry and exit points with coloured lines.


Now you’ve got your Mappt survey data looking schmick in QGIS, it’s time to bring in the drone images to create a DSM overlay! First, we will need to combine all the photos from your drone together into the one orthomosaic (to rule them all).

Creating a Digital Surface Map using Drone Deploy

Go to http://dronedeploy.com and create an account if this is your first time using it. Then simply upload all your images into the window and drone deploy will create an orthomosaic for you! You can change the processing time by toggling the speed vs quality bar under the ‘Advanced’ tab. Click ‘Upload Images’ to begin the process.

It might be time for a tea break now, as this does take a while.

drone deploy mapping software online orthomosaic creator drone imagery

Once the map has finished processing, you have the option to export the orthomosaic as a natural colour GeoTIFF, as well as NDVI index and Elevation map. Export any that you want and ensure they are GeoTIFFs.

Now, we want to bring QGIS back up and load in the files, once again using the Data Source Manager.

raster-icon Click this icon within Data Source Manager to load the GeoTIFFs as raster files.

Again, we can change the opacity and style of each layer to get the desired style. For my orthomosaic, I chose to reduce the opacity of the natural colour layer so that the elevation can be seen.


There are some interesting features of the elevation that seem to overlap with some patterns in the vegetation structure! We should create a map to show the boss.

Creating a map in QGIS including Mappt survey data and DSM data

print-layout-icon To do this, we want to click on the Print Layout icon in QGIS.

This opens a blank page from which we can begin to draw our map.

addmap-iconIn the Composition Window that’s just opened, click the ‘Add Map’ icon.

Then click and drag an area over the canvas in the window to produce a map. The map produced is based on the view in your main QGIS window, so you may need to do some final style tweaks to finalise the image.

map-icons You can then add a Title, Legend and Scale bar to your map using their respective icons.

You can customise all of these to your liking by clicking on the feature then using the ‘Item Properties’ window on the right to adjust the information displayed.

imageicon Next, add a North Arrow by first clicking on the ‘Add Image’ icon.

Then, navigate over to the ‘Item Properties’ window and click on the ‘Search Directories’ drop down. Here you will find a number of images that are suitable as a North Arrow.

Lastly, click on the map itself and navigate through the item properties until you find the ‘Grids’ drop down (See below). Click on the green plus icon to add a grid, then click Modify Grid to set the scale. Once your grid is displayed nicely, lastly change the frame style to ‘Zebra’ and then close out.


Voila! Your map is now complete for reporting. For my data I’ve found a pattern between increasing elevation on my DSM, and abundance of Banksia menziesii. Neat!

QGIS map of kensington bushland created using mappt and drones to produce digital surface map and vegetation survey data

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Mappt On Your Laptop.

How to experience Mappt on your laptop/desktop using Bluestacks.

Running Mappt on Windows using the Bluestacks Android emulator

Running Mappt on Windows using the Bluestacks Android emulator

We’re often asked, ‘Can Mappt run on my desktop?’.  Generally no, unless you use a Google Chromebook or another laptop using Android as your OS.  But to our gaming and other users who want the best of both worlds, Android games/apps running on a Window’s PC, there’s Bluestacks 4, an Android emulator.

Bluestacks installs as a desktop application on to which you can install Android apps from the Google Play Store.

The Bluestacks Android Emulator for Windows

The Bluestacks Android Emulator for Windows

We found that Mappt installs easily on Bluestacks and your existing Mappt license key can be used here too (though you may have to enter it each time you restart Bluestacks).  Bluestacks should appear and function much like the OS on your Android device.  Note that many laptops do not have an onboard GPS.  While Bluestacks does make use of your laptop/desktop’s positional information, the position is likely gained via wifi or other positional sources.  *We have not tested Bluestacks in the field for positional accuracy.  You may want to add accessory apps like a file browser to make finding files within Android easier.  Moving files on and off Bluestacks is achieved using the Media Manager app (found under More Apps on Bluestacks v4).

Bluestacks Media Manager

Bluestacks Media Manager

The Bluestacks Media Manager for importing files to Bluestacks

The Bluestacks Media Manager for importing files to Bluestacks

In short, the tool brings files from your Win OS to Bluestacks.  You can use the Import/Export to Windows tool to bring files across.  This launches a Windows Explorer window where you choose files for import/export.

Browsing for zipped shape file

Browsing for zipped shape file

Zip file imported to Bluestacks

Zip file imported to Bluestacks

Here we’ve brought across tracks.zip, a zip file containing all files relevant to a shape file.  *When importing shape files to Mappt, we recommend zipping them prior to the transfer and upload to Mappt.  Mappt has the capacity to unzip the contents on upload.  By default Bluestacks drops the file into /root/storage/emulated/0/DCIM/SharedFolder.

Browsing for files on Mappt

Browsing for files on Mappt


From Mappt choose to load a shape file from the filesystem and choose the relevant zip file.

Tracks loaded to Mappt

Tracks loaded to Mappt

Unloading data created within Mappt in Bluestacks also uses the Media Manager.  On unloading the Media Manager will let you copy files to any directory on the Windows OS.


If you would like to know more about using Mappt as an efficient and robust field inspection utility, please contact us at: support@mappt.com.au

Try Mappt today by downloading it from the Google Play Store


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External GPS sources for Mappt Part 2: Mapping in the Field with RTK GNSS (survey-grade GPS)

In our last post we covered how to configure your tablet or phone to receive an external GPS signal via Bluetooth.  Here we share our experience of linking up Mappt with survey-grade RTK GNSS (Real Time Kinematic Global Navigation Satellite System) to achieve centimetre-level positional accuracy.


Utilising RTK GNSS and Mappt for centimetre-level positional accuracy

Utilising RTK GNSS and Mappt for centimetre-level positional accuracy

Achieving Survey-Grade Positional Accuracy with Mappt

Joe user asks, “Hey how can I achieve high positional accuracy with Mappt?

The short answer is, “Bluetooth to an RTK GNSS to achieve centimetre level accuracy“.

What’s GNSS?

GNSS, is the collective term for all satellite positioning systems which includes GPS (USA), BeiDou (China), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (Europe), IRNSS (India), and QZSS (Japan).  Phones, tablets, and survey-grade systems use satellites from multiple positioning systems, thus we’re referring to these systems as GNSS (rather than GPS).

The Benefits of Using Mappt in conjunction with RTK GNSS

Mappt’s flexibility and onboard functionality helps users achieve the full benefits of high accuracy RTK GNSS while in the field.  For example when using Mappt in conjunction with RTK GNSS, users have in-field access to these mapping tools;

  • Locate and save point features with unlimited attributes
  • Thematic Mapping gives users the ability to colour code mapped information while in the field
  • Layering of data types to achieve hierarchal data structure and visualisation
  • Interactive functionality (exclusion & inclusion zone warnings) improving field safety
  • The ability to display web-based aerial/satellite imagery and other GIS information such as WMS, WMTS, & WFS
    • With a data connection, this data is continuously updated as you move to new areas
  • Offline display of high resolution aerial and satellite images (ECW, JP2)
  • Multi-user data capture & updates using MapptAir.


In our previous post we detailed how to configure your mobile device to receive location information via Bluetooth.  Thanks to Mangoesmapping and Ascon Surveys both for their technical support and equipment (on loan) used to complete our trial.  We found the Emlid Reach RS RTK GNSS units (available from Mangoesmapping) suitable for this trial.

Our Field Experience

The following data was acquired in less than one hour (including setup and pack down of the RTK base unit and survey pole mounted rover unit).  Data collection in this small urban bushland was on-the-fly as point types were added as deemed necessary.  Points types collected included kerb locations, footpath limits and walking tracks.  Point types were added to our field form as necessary thus the list of point types was added to as new elements were observed.  *To save time, a dropdown list of point ID’s can be created prior to leaving for the site.  In the limited time spent onsite, three point IDs were all that was necessary.  We also utilised the geotracking utility to map in the trails crossing the site as well as to create a geofenced area at the park’s centre.  Lastly we tested Mappt’s geofence alerts feature by entering and exiting our geofenced area.  Have a look at this video showing how it works.

Mappt mobile GIS data gathering using RTK GNSS at Signal Hill, Belmont, WA

Mappt mobile GIS data gathering using RTK GNSS at Signal Hill, Belmont, WA

What we took away from the experience.

It was a simple step to download all data gathered to shape files and import them into QGIS.  We mapped in such features as the back of kerb, footpath limits, and bush tracks.  RTK GNSS units have the ability to validate/qualify positional information with an audible “Fixed” to indicate that positional information is within your specified accuracy.  Likewise when the positional information is below spec an audio warning “Float” will alert users that possibly more time at that location is needed to gain a fixed position or that trees or buildings are hampering satellite reception.  Our recommendation is to have this activated on your RTK GNSS receivers to eliminate collecting data of low positional uncertainty (occurs in areas of high tree cover and when adjacent to tall buildings) .

QGIS map showing GIS data gathered using RTK GNSS and Mappt

QGIS map showing GIS data gathered using RTK GNSS and Mappt


External GPS sources for Mappt. Part 1: Configuration

gis_manAre you looking to improve your positional accuracy in Mappt?  

Connecting to an external Bluetooth GPS can help!

We’re often asked about improving the positional accuracy information used by Mappt.  As you may know, Mappt uses the onboard GPS from your mobile phone/tablet.  While the on-board GPS accuracy may be sufficient for some types of mapping, others require higher accuracy.  To achieve this Mappt can utilise an external Bluetooth GPS feed.  GPS devices capable of streaming positional information via Bluetooth in the NMEA format are suitable for Mappt.

As phones and tablets are designed to utilise their own integral GPS hardware, Mappt users will need to utilise a third-party application to incorporate an external Bluetooth GPS feed.  These external Bluetooth GPS streams serve to oreplace the internal GPS service to thus provide higher positional accuracy.  Android refers to these apps as Mock Location Providers since app developers often need a GPS feed for coding and testing.  One Bluetooth streaming app compatible with Mappt is Bluetooth GPS (on Google Play).


Bluetooth GPS is available on the Google Play Store

After installing Bluetooth GPS it’s necessary to enable Developer Options, accessed via the Settings on your device.  Developer Options can be enabled by first finding the Build Number (for our device* it’s under Settings-About Tablet-Software Information) and tapping Build Number seven times.  A notification will appear to inform you that Developer Options have been enabled.  Afterwards in Developer Options (Settings-Developer Options-Debugging), users need to select Bluetooth GPS as the Mock Location Provider.

Link to Youtube Video: Settings to Enable Bluetooth

Settings to Enable Bluetooth GPS for Mappt

Then connect to the external device via Bluetooth and start Bluetooth GPS on the tablet.  From the Select Paired GPS device and connect list, choose the device and tap CONNECT.  The screen will be updated with new location parameters.  You’re now receiving location information via Bluetooth! Check out this video showing how to enable an external Bluetooth GPS for Mappt

* The configuration can vary depending on your tablet or phone.




The Ultimate Fieldwork Preparation Checklist

How to successfully conduct a fieldwork expedition and enjoy yourself along the way.

This simple checklist provides a tool to ensure researchers, geologists, scientists or explorers are fully prepared for their journey.

We’ve also included some helpful tips and suggestions for an enjoyable expedition.

The Ultimate Fieldwork Preparation Checklist – Click Here to Download Free PDF