Creating custom offline maps for Android gets a little easier

Open source offline map tool for Android

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To realize the full potential of location-based smartphone apps, they should be built to support offline mode and original map graphics. Creating a custom offline map is the best choice. We were faced with this challenge as well, and the solution we came up with was creating a separate library for this purpose. That is how I developed the mAppWidget code library.

We recently decided to open source it, and now mAppWidget is available to anyone in need of a mobile custom offline map solution.

How is it different?

Originally created for rapid design and integration of custom maps, mAppWidget uses graphics technique that generates a larger map by re­using smaller images (tiles). This approach saves RAM and increases real-­time performance, which is especially important on mobile devices. Zooming into images is not limited by the resolution of the input map image. Beyond the maximum zoom level of the image, the library uses digital zoom. At the same time, mAppWidget is more than just a tile engine. In brief, it allows map calibration using GPS for displaying the user's location in an easy way.

Why create own tiles?

Having your own tiles allows you to use any image as a map (e.g. resort maps, amusement parks, etc.) in a way that provides more opportunities for custom design. This is definitely an advantage when you need to show specific, detailed, or temporary objects on the map, such as locations of rides in an amusement park, or would like the map design to be in line with the app’s look and feel.

Why open source?

At Lembergwe are passionate about the things we do. I often find myself and my colleagues working in knowledge hubs with tips, tricks, and prototypes that evolve into such projects as the mAppWidget, Drupal modules, and other open source projects. Why not share these with the community as a useful giveaway? That's what we've decided for ourselves through publishing articles on our blog and open sourcing the code.

Besides, we’re using many great open­ source solutions, so open sourcing some of our own work means giving something back as well. That's what it is all about.

You might like mAppWidget if...

You're an Android developer or app owner. The main purpose of the library is to cut time, and thus reduce the cost, of developing offline maps.

The mAppWidget is mainly used in travel and hospitality industries, in settings such as private resorts, ski resorts, outdoor events, city guide apps, and national parks, where mapping/location tracking solution is needed, but internet connection is not always available.

Get involved with mAppWidget

To learn more about the mAppWidget and download the code, visit its page on GitHub.​ There is also a mAppWidget demo available for download on Google Play.​ For more information on how to use the code library and find answers to frequently asked questions, check out the user guide.

What's next?

As new technologies and approaches emerge, I would like to keep enhancing the mAppWidget. At the moment, we are focused on other open source projects in the pipeline, such as the DrupalCon iOS and Android application, and a couple of Drupal modules, so stay tuned for the updates. Meanwhile, everyone is welcome to enhance the mAppWidget and make their own contributions to open source.

About the author

Dmytro Baryskyy - Co-founder and CTO at Smart Atoms, start-up that produces smart gadgets. Our first one is LaMetric – smart display that tracks what is important to you. Co-founder and CTO at Recordense, start-up that is focused on recording audio and helps you extract only important information fast. Total IT experience is over 7 years. Had been working as a C++ engineer for almost 2 years and work as an Android software engineer for more than 4 years at Lemberg Solutions, mobile & Drupal development...