Using ArcGIS ...
Posted 12 August 2005 - 11:36 AM
What is your main cartographic software(s)?
What is your split between the products (in percent)?
Why do you need another product to finish the project?
What is ArcGIS lacking?
What do you think the software needs?
What could be improved?
Any other comments?
Here is a product update from DirectionsMag: http://www.direction...?article_id=927
There was a cartographers special interest group meeting at the ESRI User Conference discussing these same issues and more. Discuss your problems/concerns here.
Posted 12 August 2005 - 12:56 PM
First off excuse me if this sounds cynical and like a rant.
The one thing that was supposed to be incorporated into new versions of ArcMap (9.X) was the maplex labelling engine, and it was not. Maplex is still a very expensive add-on and I really wish that ESRI had followed through on its statement that Maplex would be incorporated into basic ARCMAP.
Good labelling should not be optional or an expensive add-on!
As far as talking, we've had a software roundtable at NACIS for at least the last two years with most of the ESRI cart team present so I think ESRI has a good idea what is needed, Aileen, Charlie & others have been around long enough to know what us cartographers want...reliable production quality tools. Whether J.D. and company decide their ideas and suggestions are worth develloping, implementing and more importantly being made a part of standard ARCMAP rather than yet another expensive add-on remains to be seen. We had to wait until the new generation (ARC MAP 8.X) for a reliable illustrator export. How long was that...10 years? Manifold put one together within a year after I started bugging them about it.
The better question is when will better cart tools be profitable for ESRI?
For now my hopes lie with Manifold they have shown themselves to be more responsive. I use their software for roughly 75% of my GIS needs with ARCmap (but mostly Ianko's plug-ins) supplementing the rest. All my maps get exported and finished in Illustrator or FH.
Posted 12 August 2005 - 01:12 PM
Posted 12 August 2005 - 02:22 PM
For me personally, running a small business, ESRI software is simply not an option in terms of pricing. On top of that, the preferred workflow that I outlined suits my needs just fine.
Just my 2 cents. I never worked that much with any ESRI product (well, except PC Arc/Info in college) so I can't really say whether ArcGIS would or would not work for me.
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Posted 12 August 2005 - 02:51 PM
Posted 12 August 2005 - 06:54 PM
I also agree that I only use GIS to gather, select, and project data, but I do 80-90% of the work in Illustrator and Photoshop. I really don't even use MapPublisher much (I have but I find it a bit frustrating - I'm set in my ways and it slows me down because I don't know it).
Sorry, if this too is a rant, but it's aimed not just at ESRI, but also at other big software companies like Adobe and Microsoft who still maintain the need to charge high prices for their products.
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Posted 12 August 2005 - 08:41 PM
I recently switched from 3.2 to 9.1 and it was frustrating! But now I can appreciate just how much better 9.1 is, transparencies rock!
There are some problems though. One is that I've had more than a few unannounced crashes and lost a lot of work, so stability is an issue (I can remember when 2.X did the same thing). Two, licensing, to make my program grow I need to teach Arcgis but I can't teach a 14 person class with 2 floating licenses. I can squeeze one class in with 30 day demo software, but how do I grow my user base, and therefore your user/buyer base within the licensing system as it stands? Perhaps there's some teaching loophole that I'm currently unaware.
Anyway, it's a very good product and we use it a LOT and have quite a few users outside the GIS division. 9.1 is good enough that I can teach non GIS folks to use it and grow our program. It could use more artistic tools.
Posted 13 August 2005 - 12:14 AM
I've been using Manifold for the past few days and so far I'm more than super impressed. I would really like to keep learning ESRI's products, but I really don't see how I can, unless of course, someone pays me to do so. It's become clear that my career is not dependant on ESRI software. I can survive without them.
I spend about 20% of my time preparing data in a GIS. Most of my time is spent in Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Flash, and Photoshop. As I become more proficient in Manifold, this will change.
Posted 13 August 2005 - 03:45 AM
I think arc info now comes with Maplex built in as of this latest release. Arcmap certainly doesn't, and arc info is $$$$. I dont know what percentage of ESRI customers making maps use Arc info vs. Arc Map, but my point is that good labelling tools should be standard to all the packages not just some expensive add-on. I love hand placing labels as much as the next person (LOL) but I really wish I could afford to buy Maplex and then the maintenance cost for it. I'm a little sensitive as I just wrote a bunch of checks for my yearly maintenance costs...It doesnt feel like I got a whole lot for my money this year.
fyi-i believe that Arc Map now comes with Mapplex built in.
Posted 13 August 2005 - 08:21 PM
Posted 14 August 2005 - 01:35 AM
I really appreciate the direction ESRI has taken with respect to cartographics tools in ArcGIS but creating "raster basemaps" and "vector map finishing" using the Adobe tools (Photoshop and Illustrator respectively) in a Macintosh environment allow for greater freedom, artistry, and color control. These elements are important facets relating to the visual display of information and should be used in an environment that is purely graphical - not as an add package to a geoprocessing engine.
Frankly, I am impressed with the cartographic direction coming in 9.2 but if you really want me to use ArcGIS from map conception to press production let me use Photoshop and Illustrator as seamless extensions to ArcGIS.
At the very least develop some artistic scripts to use in Spatial Analyst that are similar to the many layer blending options in Photoshop - perhaps you could hire Nighbert (transparency was just a baby step).
I honestly think you should rewrite the whole graphics engine for 9.3...
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Posted 15 August 2005 - 01:20 PM
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Posted 16 August 2005 - 04:56 PM
In my version of ArcGIS 9.1 mapplex is included (i believe you need the full arcinfo license not just arcview or arceditor license). Maplex does seem to do a good job than the default. I liked the control you could get with annotation in arcplot though.
Like most of you, I get my preliminary data put together and then export it to Illustrator to finish. The biggest problem I have had is some of my vector data being merged with the raster data sets. ESRI mentioned the solution of just leaving the layer the way it is and set the transparancy and special symbols to illustrator.
Posted 16 August 2005 - 05:29 PM
The easy way to deal with this is to export your vector layers separately and leave all your transparency and weird fills (such as hatchures or vegetation fills) off to rebuild in illustrator as needed. If you have a raster background export it separately and just place it into your illustrator file. Following these steps will prevent any objects getting raterized.
The biggest problem I have had is some of my vector data being merged with the raster data sets. ESRI mentioned the solution of just leaving the layer the way it is and set the transparancy and special symbols to illustrator.
You also confirmed my experience I only have a license for the Arcview module of ArcGIS 9.1 so no Maplex.
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