Advanced Techniques for Arranging Custom POIs


Advanced Techniques for Arranging Custom POIs.

Just to be clear, Custom POIs are .csv/.gpx files that have been "compiled" by Garmin's POI Loader into .gpi files and placed into the POI Folder on your device. Copying .csv/.gpx files to your device will not result in Custom POIs.

Note however, that the contents of .gpx files found anywhere on your device will - the first time they appear - be considered to be locations which you want to become Favorites/Saved Places and will be merged with the contents of your "current.gpx" file (which are not Custom POIs). Any .csv files found on your device are ignored.

When POI Loader is run, it must be pointed to a "Folder". This Folder can contain any number of POI files (.csv/.gpx files) as well as any number of first-level sub-folders containing "groupings" of POI Files up to a maximum of 32 POI File Sets. A POI File Set is defined as at least a .csv or a .gpx file and may also contain (1) a .bmp file (which would display a "Icon" for the POI) and/or (2) a .mp3 or a .wav file (which, under the right circumstances, will sound an "alert" for the POI).

Note that some older Garmin devices have built-in MP3 players and can use .mp3 files for "alerts". However, most newer Garmins must use .wav files for "alerts". Thus, it is recommended that everyone use .wav files for "alerts".

Also note that the names of each file in a POI File Set must contain the same "character string" to the left of the file extensions (.csv, .gpx, .bmp and .wav) for Icons and/or "alerts" to be correctly processed.

So far, we have learned that a .gpi file may contain any number of POI files. It may also contain any number of Categories. But note: if a .gpi file was compiled from both "files" and "folders" (Categories), then these files and folders will be sorted (in the display of Custom POIs) based on Garmin's alphabetical schema (which is not the same as Windows Explorer).

What this means is that your Custom POIs will not be shown to you with all the "folders" (Categories) first followed by all the files. The files and folders will be listed alphabetically and interspersed. Note that this is not what most of us would intend if we wanted to have "Categories".

So lets talk a bit more about "Categories". A Garmin FAQ has said


Custom POIs can be categorized by listing the data in folders and then sub-folders. This will make them display on the unit in a more organized and readable format.
To set the information in categories, list out the names of the folders to match the example below.

POI Folder (Main folder containing all below)
> Tourist Attractions (Sub folder in the POI folder) [containing]
>>>> Kansas.gpx, Texas.gpx, California.csv, Florida.csv
> Historical Sites (Sub folder in the POI folder) [containing]
>>>> KSHistory.gpx, TXHistory.gpx, CAHistory.gpx, FLHistory.csv
> Speed Alerts (Sub folder in the POI folder) [containing]
>>>> NorthSide.csv, SouthSide.csv, EastSide.gpx, WestSide.csv
Some units may support a couple of sub folders in the directory tree but it is not recommended to go further than one sub folder. Labeling the folders and files in this [manner] will categorize the Custom POIs and you can view them on the device.

Note: In Garmin's example above, what would appear in Custom POIs would be (alphabetical order based on "folders")
Historical Sites, followed by
Speed Alerts, followed by
Tourist Attractions.

Let us mention again POI Loader treats a "file" and a "folder" the same in Custom POIs. Either appears as a "Category". The difference is obvious only when you press the entry. If what you get is a listing of locations starting with the one closest to where the device is located, then you are looking a what was a "file" on your computer. If what you get after pressing the entry is a list of other entries, then you are looking at what was a "folder" on your computer.

You can use POI Loader to create multiple .gpi files on your device. The contents of those multiple .gpi files found in the POI folder of the device will be displayed starting with the .gpi file with the oldest time stamp. The contents of the .gpi file itself will be displayed alphabetically (as discussed above). Then the device will display the alphabetic arranged contents of the .gpi file with the next newer time stamp - and so on.

NOTE: the name of the folder to which you point POI Loader will not appear in Custom POIs. It only appears as the .gpi file name on the device.

If you used POI Loader to create a .gpi file on the device (call it MyPOIsetone), then the .gpi file time stamp will also be its creation date. If some time later you use POI Loader to add another .gpi file to the device (call it MyPOIsettwo), then it will have a creation date equal to the date it was added - which will be more recent than MyPOIsetone.

However, if you "move" these .gpi files from the POI folder on your device to a folder on your computer, and then "copy" these .gpi files back to the POI folder on your device, the "time stamp" the device will subsequently use for displaying ie. sorting) the .gpi files will be based on the order in which the files were copied back to the device (from first copied to last copied)
(thanks to dferron for pointing out this technique).

Thus, you can manipulate the order that Categories appear on your device without having to use POI Loader to re-compile all of your desired POIs every time you make some change.

Perhaps an example will make this clearer.

Suppose you have a standard set of POIs loaded on your device with three Categories to make it easy for you to find particular POIs. Let's say that these Categories are "Food" "Lodging" and "Stores" and they were generated because they were three sub-folders of a "MyPOIs" Folder. When you originally ran POI Loader and pointed it to the "MyPOIs" folder on your computer, POI Loader created a file on your device called "MyPOIs.gpi".

However, let's say you are about to go on a vacation and have some new POIs that you would like to appear in a Category named "Vacation" and you would like a new Category called "Vacation" to appear first in the Custom POI listing. What is the way to do this?

You could fool around with your "MyPOIs" folder by putting in a new sub-folder called "#Vacation" (which would force it to sort to be the first "folder" alphabetically). Then, when you did another run of POI Loader and "replaced" the "MYPOIs.gpi" file, the "Categories" would appear as "#Vacation", "Food", "Lodging" and "Stores".

However, when vacation is over, you no longer want those particular POIs to appear on your device, so you would have to remove the "#Vacation" sub-folder from the "MyPOIs" folder and do another run of POI Loader.

An alternative(and to my way of thinking easier) approach would be to create a "MyVacation" folder on your computer with a sub-folder called "Vacation" and a .csv "file" containing the location of the place where you will be staying. In sub-folder, you would put the desired POI files for attractions ("Vacation Attractions"), places to eat that have been recommended to you ("Vacation Dining"), etc. Then, you would do a run of POI Loader and add a "MyVacation.gpi" file to your device.

OK - you are wondering why I suggested that you have the "place where you will be staying" as a separate file. Well the reason is that you cannot create a .gpi file that will display only one "category" - where category is a grouping of other files. So, assuming I would stay at a Hampton, I would have a file called "!Hampton" so that it would sort before "Vacation Attractions" and "Vacation Dining".

When you now look at the Custom POIs on your device, you will find that they display in the order "Food", "Lodging", "Stores", "!Hampton", "Vacation Attractions" and "Vacation Dining". (but those "Vacation" entries may be on the second screen so you would have to scroll down to see them). You wanted them to appear near the top.

But, all is not lost. Having verified that a "Vacation" category was successfully loaded, you would attach the device to the computer and "move" the MyPOIs.gpi" file and the "MyVacation.gpi" file to your computer. When you then "copy" the .gpi files back to the device in the POI folder in the order "MyVacation.gpi" first and "MyPOIs" second, they will now display in the order "!Hampton", "Vacation Attractions", "Vacation Dining", "Food", "Lodging", and "Stores".

After vacation is over, simply attach the device to your computer, go into its POI folder and delete the "MyVacation.gpi" and the device will be like it was before vacation.