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#1
Guest_Anonymous_*

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Some of you use ArcGIS to do your cartography. Whether you use it for 90% and then use something like AI to finish the 10% or use it 100% is something that would be interesting to discuss. To clarify a little, please try to answer those questions below in order.

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.

#2
Martin Gamache

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Mike,

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.

#3
rudy

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Let's face it: as cartographers we won't be happy with GIS software until we can produce a high-end cartographic product in from start to finish without having to export it to a graphics program. On the other hand, when trying to finish work within a given timeframe, I, for one, tend to go with what I know works (i.e. graphics programs) instead of of beating my head against the software wall, trying to get ArcMap or Manifold to produce what I want. Perhaps if I was more patient . . . .

#4
Hans van der Maarel

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My preferred workflow is to use FME and/or Manifold to do any preprocessing needed on the data (FME for the parts that can be automated, Manifold for the things that need to be done interactively) Then export the data to shp or mid/mif and import it into MAPublisher for the cartographic part.

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.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#5
Claude

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fyi-i believe that Arc Map now comes with Mapplex built in.
Platts, a div. of McGraw-Hill
www.maps.platts.com


#6
Nick Springer

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I second Hans' posting for the most part, in that ARC is just to expensive for a small business, which most of us design cartographers are. Not only is it expensive to purchase once, but even the upgrades cost 2-3 times as much as the initial Manifold license (and the last upgrade was $50). Manifold so far has met all my GIS needs, including many things that ARC can't do with out more expensive add-ons.

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.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#7
Nick Springer

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Mike there is also this poll which may be of some use to you.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#8
Themarko

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Mike, I work for the government so we can afford ArcGIS, but there are some extensions we'd like that we can't justify the expense. But I do about 60/40 between ArcMap and Photoshop. Most stuff I do is done well by Arcmap, basic get it out production operation, but when I need artistry it's Photoshop. It was only at the User Conference Carto SIG that I found out that others use Illustrator, but I haven't tried it yet. Or I have only to find my knowledge base low and I went back to Photoshop to get stuff done.

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.

Mark

#9
ELeFevre

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I third Hans and Nicks post that Arc is much too expensive for a small business or someone who is just starting out fresh from the University. Of course in my academic courses everything was based on ESRI products. Now that those days are over (for now), I had to look elsewhere if I wanted to keep working on my own projects. Manifold to the rescue!

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.



#10
Martin Gamache

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fyi-i believe that Arc Map now comes with Mapplex built in.

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.

#11
Rick Dey

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Although I work for a large company (however the cartographic dept is tiny), budgets are always being tightened and software is always heavily scrutinized. The only reason I could justify the purchase of ArcMap was because of the huge discount we recieved through a special purchase as a member of IMTA. ArcInfo was never a consideration. All our map production is done within Illustrator, my lone copies of ArcMap and AutoCAD are solely for purposes of data manipulation. If we are using geocoded data it's then brought into Illustrator with MAPublisher. Our finished product is a printed map and it makes sense to use a publishing program for that purpose. With all I've read about Manifold both here and on their website I will probably be putting a copy into the budget for next year as opposed to attempting to upgrade ArcMap.
Rick Dey

#12
Matthew Hampton

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I think that ESRI should focus on data processing and let Adobe focus on the visual display of information. As such, spend some time ironing out the AI export - editable text export being on top of the list (fix the kerning problem please).

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... :P
__
Matthew Hampton
Metro Regional Services
Portland, Oregon

#13
Lori Martin

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I work in a government office that uses ArcGIS exclusively and am the sole Cartographic technician. I find ArcGIS to be terribly lacking in graphic capability. Making good utilitarian maps is possible, but it ends there. Recently, at the Canadian Cartographic Association conference, Edie Punt (if you know her Mike say hi from Lori King) gave a seminar on the Cartographic enhancements coming in 9.2. It is certainly a step in the right direction, but ESRI really hasn't addressed the graphics capability issue - they have dealt with representation, but not the map surround etc. I am very familiar with CorelDraw and try to use it when needed. I tend to run into plotting problems though. Needless to say, I am learning Illustrator and am hoping this will make a difference. In the meantime, I will have to be satisfied with "good utilitarian maps".
Lori Anne Martin,
St. Catharines, Ontario
Canada

#14
melon_mapper

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Hi all,

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.

John

#15
Martin Gamache

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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.

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.

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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