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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

1. I want to delineate watersheds. Will MapWindow help me do this?

MapWindow itself is a generic programmable GIS and does not include built in functionality for delieating watersheds. However, the TAUDEM plug-in by David Tarboton at Utah State University does delinieate watersheds using MapWindow.

2. Does MapWindow include any models? What happened to the TMDL Toolkit?

MapWindow grew, in part, out of a project that was developing a "TMDL Toolkit" for watershed modeling and water quality analysis. It was in the development of the TMDL Toolkit that a need for a MapWindow-type product was encountered. MapWindow is not a replacement for the TMDL Toolkit, but is a platform that modeling can be built upon. The evolution of the TMDL Toolkit itself is now best seen in the WRIA-1 Watershed Decision Support System.

3. Does MapWindow include or require the licensing of any ESRI products?

No. MapWindow does not include any ESRI software or code, and does not require the end user to purchase or license any ESRI products for it to work.

4. I don't have any shapefiles or other data yet. Can I create them in MapWindow?

You can build/create/edit shapefiles code using the MapWinGIS ActiveX control, or through the plug-in developer interface. You can also use the shapefile editor plug-in that comes with the MapWindow application to build and edit shapefiles in MapWindow.

5. Where can I get data for use with MapWindow?

MapWindow can use most standard GIS data formats including shapefiles (.shp) and ASCII grid files (.asc). Data in these formats can be downloaded from many Internet sites including GIS Data Depot (, USEPA (, USGS ( and many others. MapWindow can also handle multiple standard image formats incluing GIF, TIFF, JPEG, and BMP.

6. Is there any technical support available for this product? Is there a customer support phone center?

The free MapWindow application does not come with any particular support beyond our web site. However, we have a very dedicated team of developers from around the world who are happy to help. Post your question on our forums at and chances are very good that you'll get a fast response that answers your questions.

7. Can I hire you to help develop a custom applications?

Absolutely! And if we can't help you we can help you identify other individuals and companies using MapWindow who can help you.

8. If I develop a custom application with MapWindow, what redistribution costs are associated with the license?

MapWindow is Open Source under the Mozilla Public License. As such, there is no cost to redistribute the software.

9. I get an error message. It says "A required .DLL file, MSCOREE.DLL, was not found." What do I do?

It's very likely that you haven't installed the Microsoft .NET Framework, which is required. You can download the latest .NET Framework package from Microsoft for free, or download the complete MapWindow installer from our web site, which also includes it.

10. I think I found a bug. What can I do?

Please submit a bug report to our BugZilla System at If possible, please upload or provide a link to an example peice of data that will cause the problem to occur.

If you have programming skill, MapWindow is after all Open-Source.... we'd love it if you could dig in and fix it! See our code acess page:

MapWindow ActiveX Control and API

1. How does MapWindow compare to ESRI MapObjects?

The core MapWindow ActiveX control, MapWinGIS.ocx, is similar to MapObjects in that it is an embeddable ActiveX control that provides mapping capabilities to a custom application. The key differences are: MapWindow includes a full programming API that gives you access to the underlying data structure of shapefiles (e.g. you can Get or Set the values of Shapefile.Shape(i).Point(j).X and ...Y). MapWindow allows you to modify the underlying shapefile data while it is loaded in the Map, a Map.Refresh call just updates the display with the new data. MapWindow supports the display of Grids.

2. Does the MapWindow ActiveX component work in my programming language?

The MapWindow ActiveX mapping component and API were built in Microsoft Visual C++ and compiled using the version 7 compiler. Because of this, the component should work in any programming language that supports ActiveX. We have used it in Visual C++, C#, Visual Basic 6, and Visual Basic .NET, and intend to post sample projects using each of these languages. We have not tried it in Delphi, Excel, Access, Internet Explorer or other programs that support ActiveX, and would welcome any success (or failure) stories that individuals may have to share.

3. Can MapWindow perform calculations on shapes and/or grids?

The MapWindowGIS.ocx component comes with built-in utilities to perform some calculations, such as shape intersections. The API provides functions to make it simple to calculate additional formulas based on shape and grid data. Therefore, any calculation you wish to perform on a shape or grid may be done through a plug-in to MapWindow which you may easily and quickly write with any RAD (Rapid Application Development) tool supporting ActiveX, such as Visual Basic.

MapWindow Application and Plug-in Development

1. How does the MapWindow application compare to ArcView, GRASS, MapInfo, and other GIS systems?

The MapWindow application is not necessarily meant to be used by "GIS Analysts". Rather, it is a tool for engineers, programmers, and "GIS Tool Developers". Individuals who have the best success with MapWindow are those who want to build a custom plug-in and deliver it and some data to a third party--typically a third party who is not a GIS analyst. For example, you may have a project where you must deliver to the funding agency all of your spatial data. Instead of just giving them a CD of shapefiles, you could also give them a MapWindow application for viewing the shapefiles, including a custom plug-in that allows them to click on a shape and find out the number of toadstools in a given polygon, etc.

2. What languages can I use to build plug-ins to the MapWindow application?

The MapWindow application was built using a combination of different tools from Microsoft Visual Studio .NET including C++ , Visual Basic .NET, and C#. This allowed us to incorporate a much more powerful and simple plug-in interface. However, this also limits the languages in which plug-ins can be built to only .NET compatible languages. We have built plug-ins using each of the Microsoft .NET languages, and will be posting the source code for reference, but we have not attempted to build a plug-in using the latest version of Delphi which appears to support the .NET framework. If anyone does this and would like to share their story and possibly their source code, please let us know.

3. How do I get started creating a plug-in to MapWindow?

First, download and install the MapWindow core components. Create a new "Class Library" project in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET. Add a reference to MapWinGIS.ocx and to MapWinInterfaces.dll. Finally, Implement the MapWindow.Interfaces.IPlugin interface. You can also find sample code in the forums and in this system.

My question is not answered here. What do I do?

There are a few options. The option that will probably get the fastest result is to post your question on our forums at - if you'd like, you can then return to this page and use the Edit tab to append your question and answer to this list. Please leave this "My Question Isn't Answered" question as the last one.

The next option is to directly contact an administrator at and request that your question be added to this list.

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This page has been accessed 19,199 times. This page was last modified on 19 December 2005, at 22:55.