OpenFietsMap is a cycling map for Garmin GPS units, based on OpenStreetMap. I have used it on my latest long trip (from France to Slovenia) and it is clearly the best cycling map I have used so far. In this post I review its main features and my tweaks to make it even better.
First, OpenFietsMap is based on OpenStreetMap, a map curated collaboratively by its users and released under an open license. I find it amazing that, in a lot of places in Western Europe at least, this map is actually more detailed and up to date than any other digital map I know of. This project is not so well known to the general public and deserves much more attention. (As a side note, when trying to advocate for free software, open data or related stakes, I think this is a good example to keep in mind, as the quality generated by this openness is very easy to visualize.)
Many different maps can be rendered from OpenStreetMap's data -
OpenFietsMap is just one of them. Some of them can be viewed online -
either from openstreetmap.org or
from third-parties - but not OpenFietsMap, as it is rendered
specifically for Garmin devices. It comes as a collection of
files which cover specific regions of the world. Fortunately you do
not need to use Garmin's own proprietary software to view them on a
QMapShack can be
OpenStreetMap includes a lot of information about bike routing, which is best displayed online with OpenCycleMap (also available on OpenStreetMap as a layer). For instance, it is possible to specify that streets are one-way for motorists but not for cyclists, or that there is a bike lane on a particular side of the street. Many bike routes are mapped: for instance, the UK's National Cycle Network (NCN) is fully imported in OpenStreetMap.
Tweak: highlighting water sources
My happiness on a bike depends on a lot of factors, but a very important one is how full my water bottles are. Depending on the area, it's not always clear how easy it will be to refill when I am running low. Luckily, OpenStreetMap is also a huge database of drinkable water sources (you can even query it manually, for instance to display the public water taps around Ljubljana). Unfortunately, OpenFietsMap displays them with a tiny icon that is barely noticeable, while the map is often crippled with symbols that I find much less useful: benches and fences are particularly annoying, for instance. So I needed a way to edit the map's key.
The sad thing about Garmin is that the file format of their maps is
proprietary. There has been some efforts to reverse engineer it, but
all the tools I have seen look rather fiddly. Map keys are stored in
.typ files and I have not been able to find any free editor for
that, so I eventally bought a copy of
TYPwiz 4 which runs fine with
So, in short, here is how to change a particular icon:
- Extract the
.typfile from the
.imgfile with TYPwiz
- Open the
.typfile with TYPwiz, edit the icon, save the new
- Copy the
.imgfile and update its typ with GMapTool. On Linux you can do that with
./gmt -w -x improved.typ gmapsupp.img.
Here is what it looks like (as rendered in GMapShack - the result looks much nicer on my Garmin):
You can download the improved typ file and use it on other OpenFietsMaps.
Changing the size of the icon is useful, but I would like to do better:
making sure these water taps are displayed at broader zoom levels.
This setting is not controlled by the
.typ file but by the
style files controlling the translation from OpenStreetMap to Garmin.
That means I would have to recompile the whole map. I will follow up
on this post if I find the time to do that.