Giving Your Shapefile Features Friendlier Titles

If you load a Shapefile into Mappt that has a “Name”, “Title”, “Label” or “ID” attribute, Mappt will take a best guess at using one of those as each feature’s title in the layer list. This allows you to assign meaningful titles to your features, rather than the standard Polygon 0, Polygon 1, etc.

As an example, let’s load a Shapefile where I have stripped out all of the attributes. You will see that Mappt titles the loaded features by the feature type (in this case, polygons) and the order they appeared in the file, which is not very helpful at all:

Screenshot of polygons named by their order in a shapefile.

Polygon 1 and Polygon 5 are having a fling, but don’t tell Polygon 6.

Restoring the attributes in the Shapefile, we can see that one of the attributes contains a nice name that would help identify the features, and is conveniently called “NAME”, so we don’t need to make any modifications to the Shapefile:

Screenshot showing a Shapefile with a title attribute

The NAME key in this Shapefile will be used to title the features.

Importing the Shapefile results in a feature list that is much easier to work with:

Screenshot showing features titled by attribute.

Naming your features makes them much easier to work with.

Shapefiles with a reasonable quality of attribute data will often contain a key suitable for titling the features, as demonstrated here with the NAME key, so this has proven to be an effective way to title features without requiring user intervention.


Mappt v2.0.0.9 Now Available

Version has been released!  This version contains a few bug fixes and improvements and brings with a it new licensing model.

You can download the latest version of Mappt from the Google Play store:


Read on to find out more about this version!

Features Now Display Their Styling

The layer list now shows the styling applied to a particular item, making it easier to pair the listed features with their visual representations on the map.

This works well when combined with our Thematic Mapping tool (previously known as Classifications), as can be seen in the following image, which shows geographical areas styled by their area.

Screenshot showing feature style indicators.

The colouring used in the icons on the left matches the styling used in the rendered features on the right.

The New Tier-Based Licensing Model

Given the volume of functionality that we have added over the past year-and-a-bit, as well as the exciting upcoming features on our roadmap, we have decided to split the Mappt licensing model into a tier-based model.

A tiered model allows you to choose the level of functionality in Mappt that you need.  The tiers, and their features, are listed below.

Mappt Features by Licence Tiers

Bug Fixes

As always, we tweaked a few things here and there and fixed more bugs than we introduced: net result positive.

Our unrelated simian picture for this post is whatever this thing is:

Lar Gibbon

It’s an unhappy gibbon, apparently.


Mappt and YES Network Join Forces

Mappt is pleased to announce that we have joined forces with YES Network members to innovate how geomapping information (geodata) can be better used and managed while in the field.

yes logo

YES Network is an international association of early-career geoscientists. Most are primarily under the age of 35, and are from universities, geoscience organizations and companies from across the world.

Titled ‘The Mappt Agile Geodata Competition’, it aims to show how information can better inform, improve efficiencies, or be used in interesting ways by Geo-Professionals while in the field. Using GIS data while in a disconnected environment can prove challenging to both work with, and manage efficiently without having to rely on rolled up maps. The competition is looking for innovative uses of the functionality within Mappt to improve geodata management while in the field.

This competition runs until the end of July 2014 and all members of YES Network are eligible to enter. For more information on this competition read through the announcement here.

For more information on YES Network visit their site at:

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Mappt ECW and JP2 Support Demonstrated at HxGN Live

Would you like to see offline mobile imagery support for Mappt? You’re not the only one. Offline mobile imagery support, specifically ECW, is one of the most commonly requested features by many of our users.

Taking up the call, Mappt recently engaged with Hexagon Geospatial to prototype their new ECW/JP2 SDK for mobile platforms. This development is still in beta mode although an early version of Mappt was demonstrated at HxGN Live (Las Vegas, Nevada, from 2 – 5 June, 2014) in front of thousands of delegates.

Stage presentation at HxGN Live

Mappt with offline ECW and JP2 support will enable users to simply load and have imagery for their areas of interest at their fingertips while in the field. Using your own imagery as a core reference point, this allows you to ensure the data you are collecting reflects the surroundings you are in accurately.

We are excited to be working with Hexagon Geospatial in embedding ECW/JP2 support into Mappt. Expect this support to be released in early July 2014. For more information about Mappt visit our product site at

For more details on HxGN Live, see the website.

For more information on the Enhanced Compression Wavelet (ECW) file format, see here.

GPS Tips and Tricks in Mappt for Android

One of the most-used features in Mappt is the ability to capture location data from internal or external GPS devices. With Mappt, users can record their movements throughout an area, turning this GPS-captured information into features.  These features can then be manipulated and annotated, then ultimately exported as Shapefile or KML, to be sent via email or uploaded to cloud-based technologies.

Based on the feedback we’ve received from Mappt users “in the field,” we’ve decided to highlight some tips and tricks when working with the GPS functionality in Mappt.

Image of a Baboon Sitting on a Cliff

Clearly lost, this baboon ponders the power of Mappt’s GPS capabilities.

Tip #1: “Walking Out” an Area

Did you know that, when you are in “polygon drawing mode” or “line drawing mode,” you can drop a new vertex at your current location? This is handy for “walking out” an area when you are in the field.  In the image below, I took a casual stroll around a sand pit, adding vertices at my current GPS location to a polygon as I went.

Partially-drawn polygon being mapped from the user's movements.

A partially-drawn boundary of the sand pit, using points dropped at my GPS position.

The resulting polygon is a bit messy, being subject to GPS inaccuracies, but could easily be tidied up within Mappt, or exported and tidied up on a desktop machine.

Polygon Created by "Walking Out" the Boundary

The completed polygon.

This minor feature provides a range of applications, from mapping boundaries as demonstrated above, to measuring paths or areas, to simply logging landmarks as markers on a map.

Tip #2: Take a Break on Large Trips

Mappt is capable of handling captured GPS paths with tens of thousands of vertices, but eventually performance will degrade under such weight.  We recommend pausing, saving then restarting the GPS tracker every hour or so, which will split your path into smaller segments.  These can later be stitched back together if necessary.  This will also allow you to hide unimportant segments using the visibility toggle button, which reduces the workload on Mappt and promotes responsiveness.

Screenshot of a segment of a captured GPS path with over 7000 points

Mappt will remain responsive, even when working with captured GPS paths with thousands of points

The rate of vertex collection will depend on several factors, such as speed and overall GPS activity, so you may want to experiment with the amount of time between saves.

Tip #3: Ditch the GPS and Use High-Res Imagery For Increased Accuracy

This tip may seem a bit out of place in a blog post about GPS tips, but it all falls under the category of georeferencing features in Mappt.  If you have high-res and accurately-georeferenced imagery of your remote location loaded into Mappt, you can use visual inspection of your surroundings to accurately place features on to the map. For example, you could determine your location by picking a nearby tree or rock formation and finding it in your offline imagery loaded into Mappt.  You can then be sure that a feature placed at that location in Mappt will have reasonable geospatial accuracy (as long as the georeferencing of the imagery is accurate!).

Tip #4: Mappt Will Continue to Capture GPS Data in the Background

As long as you leave the GPS tracking enabled within Mappt, it will continue to capture GPS data, even if you minimise or switch to another app.

Screenshot of the Mappt Background Service notification area item

Mappt will put an item in the Notification Area to let you know it is capturing GPS data.

Note that if you exit Mappt from within the menu (Menu -> Exit Mappt), Mappt will shut down the GPS and stop capturing points before it exits.


Visually Classifying Your Maps by Attributes

Tired of staring at the same, drab, mess of lines and polygons? Having trouble finding the shapes you want? Mappt now has support for Thematic mapping, allowing you to style your features according to the numeric or text values in the layer’s attributes.

Here we have some geological zones. As is typical with datasets, it’s not very pretty to look at. Worse, we can’t really tell much by just glancing at it!


Looking at the attributes defined in the layer, we can see there is an AREA key defined.

The list of attribute values for one of the zones.

The list of attribute values for one of the zones.

Let’s say we want to easily see the zones with the smallest areas. To do this, we open the layer’s properties, then navigate to the Classifications tab. Here, we can specify how we want to classify the data. In this case, we want to find highlight the features with the smallest AREA attribute value. Let’s do some experimenting!

First, we’ll try to classify the AREA by “Distinct Values”, which will give us a class for every unique AREA value in the layer.

The Classifications screen, showing how to classify by Distinct Value.

The Classifications screen, showing how to classify by Distinct Value.

When we hit Apply, the classes are generated, and we are taken to the Class Styles tab, which shows the styling applied to each of the determined classes. In the screenshot below, we can see that there were quite a few unique values, so much so that we haven’t really achieved anything by classifying them!  Perhaps Distinct Values wasn’t such a great choice!

There are too many classes to fiddle with. We can see that classifying a numeric attribute by Distinct Value was a bad idea!

There are too many classes to fiddle with. We can see that classifying a numeric attribute by Distinct Value was a bad idea!

Let’s try again, this time using “Equal Intervals”, which instructs Mappt to classify the features into x number of classes, with x being chosen by us. So, let’s try Equal Intervals.

Let’s try that again, this time with Equal Intervals.

Let’s try that again, this time with Equal Intervals.

This will give us 5 nice classes, evenly spread across the range of values found in the AREA attribute of the features in the layer.  We can apply styling to each class, as seen in the screenshot below, where I have used the colour blue to denote the lowest-range class, and yellow for the rest.  Also note that Mappt shows us the range of each class, as well as how many feature are in it, which is handy when fine-tuning your classification parameters.

Highlighting the lower-fifth zones by area in blue.

Highlighting the lower-fifth zones by area in blue.

Closing the layer properties dialog, we can see the styling has been applied to the map. Because of the settings we choose, we have effectively highlighted, in blue, the zones that are in the lower 20% of overall zone sizes.

The smallest fifth of the zones, by area, can now easily be seen!

The smallest fifth of the zones, by area, can now easily be seen!

Using another example, here I have taken a dataset of the world’s volcanoes and classified them by elevation, using Manual Breaks defined at -4000, -2000, 0, 2000 and 4000 feet, allowing me to see which volcanoes are the highest, with increasing blue being below sea level, and increasing red being above sea level.

edit mappt layer

On the map, we can easily see which volcanoes are above or below sea level, as well as how far above or below, simply from their colour.


One last example shows the path of hurricanes in the Atlantic, coloured by wind speed, with redder being faster.


So in summary:

Thematic Mapping: Mappt, pretty.

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Mappt v1.4.3.7 Now Available

Merry Christmas from the Mappt team!  We are pleased to announce the release of version of Mappt for Android.

You can download the latest version of Mappt from the Google Play store:



Read below for the new features in this version!

Thematic Mapping

 Mappt now has the ability to style your features according to their attribute data, making it far easier to distinguish things at a glance!

We have written a detailed blog post about it, here.  Or, if you’d rather see it in action here, in this very page, behold!

Hawaiian volcanoes, coloured according to elevation!

Hawaiian volcanoes, coloured according to elevation!

Mappt now attempts to determine feature names when importing shapefiles.

When importing data from shapefile, we have taught Mappt to guess the names of features from the attributes.  We’ve had a pretty good success rate with this quick fix, testing it against public and private datasets.  Who’s a good good boy!

Bug Fixes

Yep, it's the same picture as last time.  I can't stop staring at it.

Yep, it’s the same picture as last time.  I can’t stop staring at it.

As always, we have squashed a few bugs in this release.

Top 3 Tablets for using Mappt

When using Mappt in the field there are two main requirements.

1: Mappt

2: Awesome Android tablet

Mappt we can provide, but you will have to take care of the Tablet part. This is in fact the harder of the two tasks as there are hundreds of Android tablets to choose from. If you are like most people they will all look pretty similar so in the end it will come down to price. The cost of the device is a major factor in it being selected, but you should take a good close look before you buy. In this article we will try to aid you in this task. To select a tablet not only on it’s looks or price but also by the many other factors such as available accessories, stability, size, weight and most importantly durability for field use.

Tablet 1

Nexus 7 (gen 2)

The Nexus 7 is the third Android tablet in the Nexus line and co-developed by Google and ASUS. It’s a very powerful small form tablet with a lot of accessories.


The New Google / ASUS Nexus 7 gen 2

Tablet 2

Sony Xperia Z

In February 2013 SONY unveiled it’s new tablet the Xperia Tablet Z. A 10 inch tablet that is light, weighing just under half a kilogram and less than 7mm thick.  It’s the worlds thinnest 10 inch tablet not to mention it’s IP55 and IP57 (Ingress Protection) rating making it dust proof, scratch resistant and water proof up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

The Xperia Tablet Z's ports are all well covered and protected against dust and water ingress.

The Xperia Tablet Z’s ports are all well covered and protected against dust and water ingress.

Tablet 3

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1

Our final contender is the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1. The ultimate field partner. It’s Military spec all weather proof at IP65 and drop proof at 4 feet making it virtually indestructible as far as tablets are concerned. Unfortunately this is also reflected in the price tag.


All ports are covered and locked away from the elements making this tablet an impregnable bunker.

Below is a table that compares the three tablets as well as a short review based on Mappt use.

Top three Mappt Field Companion Android Tablets, and why.

Top three Mappt Field Companion Android Tablets, and why.

The Mappt Advantage

Nexus 7 gen 2 (4G LTE)

Being the lightest of the three tablets this is in itself a big advantage. Not to mention that it’s fast, powerful and has a highrez display with very good battery life.The price is also very enticing, although you will need to get some very necessary accessories, such as a tough case, matte screen protector, car charger, etc.

Using Mappt on this tablet you are able to conduct all your usual tasks at a very acceptable speed, even with the smaller form factor. This is actually one of its biggest advantages.

An excellent compact Mappt companion that won’t hurt your pocket and fits right in it.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z  (4G + WIFI 16gig)

The new Sony Xperia tablet Z has taken the world by storm with its very durable shell, water proof for 30 minutes, dust proof and only 6.9mm thin. A very well rounded tablet with plenty of available accessories, not that you would need any to start off except perhaps a car charger. Perfect as a Mappt companion.

Mappt moves very fast on this device. Information loads lightning fast on the 4G LTE or WIFI. Navigation is a breeze with the clean shatterproof, sensitive, matte screen. Only down side is that it’s a little hard to see the screen in a well sun lit environment. This may be a big issue for some scenarios.

A very well priced and durable tablet. Perfect for almost all you every day Mappt field use.

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1

If you ignore the huge price tag on this beast then this is hands down the tablet you want with you in the field. Its military spec hardware and case make it literary indestructible (figuratively). You can drop this guy from a height of 2 metres into an ice filled lake and have it sit on the mud lake floor (shallow lake), pick it up moments later and continue working on it.

Mappt works very well on this device even though it runs Android version 4. It has powerful 4G and WIFI connections and a GPS that will never fail. This tablet also comes with a stylus which can help when in the field, so you don’t have to get dirty hands on the screen and have to continuously wipe it.

What it falls short on, which are not vital for Mappt field use, are the cameras and lack of ultra highres display. Also be aware that buying accessories for the Toughpad FZ-A1 will also set you back a bit, as most of the accessories match the higher price of the device.

A tablet for very serious Mappt users who perhaps plan to trek into the caldera of an active volcano.