We often get asked; “how can we get our forest maps onto our mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets” As expected there are many ways to do this, but in this article I thought it was worth covering one of the simplest. This being to simply stop pressing the print button and take that PDF map with you directly on your device and simply just view and navigate. This is using an innovative app called PDF Maps by Avenza. This app is available on iOS, Android and has just been released on Windows Phone in beta format, so will soon be available for all Windows Phone users as well.

Almost all PDF maps created directly from GIS software are geospatially encoded with their location data. This means all you need to do is open any map provided from software like ArcGIS or GeoMaster and using the GPS and compass in the device will orientate the map and locate your position.


Figure 1 Look and feel of PDF Maps on Android (from Avenza Website and Google App Store)

Now just email your PDF map or copy it to your phone or tablet. Opening it in PDF Maps app will mean you will immediately have a map ready to navigate with. Simply turn on the GPS in the device and you can locate yourself on the map, collect waypoints and tracks, measure areas and distances, take photo’s and have them linked to the waypoint where you took them. A full list of features is available from the Avenza website. Then sharing these is easy, as you can just email / export all this additional GPS notes, photos and tracks for viewing and use in other applications.

033015_0039_makeyourpap2Figure 2 PDF map exported from GeoMaster and displayed in PDF Maps app (Android and Windows Phone).

033015_0039_makeyourpap3Figure 3 Collecting Waypoints in PDF Maps, Adding a Photo, Measuring Area.


Figure 4 Exporting data

So any map exported from forest information systems like GeoMaster, can quickly be used on your tablet or smartphone without any changes or complex processes. Sure there are more complex methods of publishing to devices, but this method is one we all can use immediately without any changes to what we do now. Save some paper and try it out.   The app is free for non-commercial use (personal use, such as personal travel and recreation), for any commercial, government and academic use there is a small annual per device license fee, which starts at US$49 per device and drops from there on a per device basis as more devices are added to a fleet.

Get your forest and harvest contractors using this now!

Just create your harvest plans in GeoMaster harvest manager, export the map to PDF with a single click from the GeoMaster toolbar; then email it to your harvest contractor. He can just head out and walk the block with your smartphone, or tablet. Why not get them to mark up the map in PDF Maps, or even better walk and record a track file of the harvested area, and they can simply email it to you. They can also measure area harvested themselves or distance back to the tail-hold themselves directly from the map on their tablet or phone. They might even start to make notes on the maps and share them for the other staff onsite.

This is good first step to taking your maps mobile.


  • Print your maps to A0 or A1 templates instead of A4 as means you can fit more content in a single map, and allows you to zoom in and around easily.
  • The software also works with GeoTIFFs. These are available for all our NZ Topo 50 Maps so you can have endless map data on your smartphone and tablet devices.
  • Do yourself a favor and pick up a portable battery pack and cable to stick in your field vest or backpack. Look into something like a LimeFuel Rugged or a Anker Astro. These battery chargers can recharge a typical smart phone several times before having to be recharged themselves. Using GPS constantly can definitely drain your mobile device battery and you’ll want to have plenty of power with you to stay productive in the field (Useful tips from David Goodwin, Southern Fire Exchange).
  • Have a look at this quick tips sheet from the Southern Fire Exchange, USA (source link here, or Maps_SouthernFireExchange_2014-3.pdf

If you would like help getting this working, feel free to touch base with our team here at Interpine. Contact cloud support: cloud@interpine.co.nz