October 17, 2008
GPS Point-of-Interest File Mashup
I've been wanting to try some sort of solution for creating a Point-of-Interest file (POI) for my Garmin Nuvi. The addresses in my POI file would be for those customers in our CRM that have projects I'm currently working on.
As you read this post, you may notice that I'm building upon several tricks and bits of functionality from earlier posts. After the jump, I'll walk through each component of the mashup. I won't be going into much technical detail since this is just taking existing pieces laid out earlier and throwing them together to make something cool.
Step 1: Store the Latitude and Longitude of Your Addresses
If your addresses already have latitude and longitude coordinates specified, then that's awesome and you may skip this step. However, if that's not the case, you may want to consider trying out this technique.
Step 2: Create a View that Contains the POI Information
What we'll do here is create a saved view in CRM that displays the data needed in the POI file. Generally, this would be the address name (Account name?) and the coordinates. Sometimes you can add other information, but the format is really dependent on your GPS device manufacturer. Check out the POI Factory for some cool stuff, including this page on Garmin POI formats (The official Garmin POI page is right here).
For my Nuvi, I'm going to create a 4-column CSV file with the following format:
longitude, latitude, name, comment.
The actual data fields I'll be using will all be from the Account entity. For the comments field, I'm going to use the phone number:
address1_longitude, address1_latitude, name, telephone1
This is a good opportunity for me to throw in some screenshots, since I rarely do so. I'm using the Advanced Find to create this view based on a view I already have that displays Accounts with Projects that have Project Tasks that are assigned to me. Here's my view criteria:
And here are my columns for the POI file:
I don't really care about the column widths or anything like that here since this view is really just for exporting.
Step 3: Export the View as a Text File
Almost all POI files are simple comma-delimited files. You can achieve the file export by utilizing this bit of functionality. Be warned that you have a potential issue to deal with: in a CSV file, you'll want to qualify your text values in case they contain commas. I normally can get around this by using another character to delimit the file, but in this case we have to use a comma. So we have to make sure our Text Export page we made earlier allows for qualifying text fields with quotes (""). You are on your own on that part.
Now, I've got my file and here's what it looks like (this is just an example):
-110.12345,44.98765,"ABC Test Company","555-829-8293"
Step 4: Load the POI File to Your GPS
The stuff you do for this part is very highly dependent on which GPS you have. For my GPS unit, I use the free POI Loader utility provided by Garmin. I'll pass on showing all the details of this, but the general procedure is this:
- Connect my GPS to the computer via USB cable.
- Open the POI Loader Application.
- Specify the GPS unit to update.
- Specify the POI file I want to load.
The POI Loader utility takes care of the rest of the work (really it just loads the file to a directory on the GPS unit).
So hopefully this gives you a good idea of utilizing several little tricks and applications to create your own little CRM mashup. Enjoy!