OziExplorer is software specifically designed for off-road navigation; one of the first of its kind and arguably still one of the most popular and best. Unlike your typical consumer off-the-shelf units that include mapping, automatic routing and a slick user interface in a small, self-contained package (TomTom, NavMan and their ilk), OziExplorer doesn’t come with any usable maps and doesn’t do automatic routing. Whereas the self-contained units use vector mapping, which is based on a database of mathematical data representing roads that are drawn on the screen as needed, Ozi uses raster maps that are effectively pictures of actual maps that have beenĀ geo-referenced so that each pixel (dot) on the map can be accurately interpreted as a geographic location.

On the vector systems, you tell the unit where you want to go and it’ll work out the route to get there, but in Ozi you have to work that out yourself and create a route by joining dots known asĀ waypoints together. Theoretically you could use the former for off-road navigation, but that would require that the manufacturers include the data for all the off-road tracks, together with millions of Points of Interest (like “Craigs Hut” or “Mt Pinnibar”) that you could use to tell them where you want to go, in their databases – and they don’t. Your vector-based unit is about as useful as a street directory in the Simpson Desert, but OziExplorer allows you to see exactly where you are with the same detail as you see on a paper topographical map.

In this section I’ll be posting hints, tips, my screen design for OziExplorer for Android and maybe a utility or two. Call back occasionally to see what’s around!