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Anyone using OCAD?

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#1
Francis S.

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Is anyone using OCAD for map production, or as a conversion utility between Freehand or Illustrator and ArcMap? There was a short thread back in 2006, but not much since.

Although I haven't been able to test the demo, I've looked over their website and wondered if OCAD has Layers. How are Postscript fonts handled? Also, can you import an Illustrator file and georeference it? If importing an AI file, how is text handled?

Francis
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#2
patdunlavey

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Is anyone using OCAD for map production, or as a conversion utility between Freehand or Illustrator and ArcMap? There was a short thread back in 2006, but not much since.

Although I haven't been able to test the demo, I've looked over their website and wondered if OCAD has Layers. How are Postscript fonts handled? Also, can you import an Illustrator file and georeference it? If importing an AI file, how is text handled?

Francis

I've used OCAD, though not in a few years. It does not have layers in the same sense that Illustrator has layers. In OCAD, rendering sequence and modality (knockout or overprint - by color channel) is determined by a color table that you define. This is extremely powerful. Once you have defined your color table and your symbol library (all map elements in OCAD are instantiated from your symbol library, and every symbol is defined in terms of graphics in colors from the color table), you can achieve amazing control over the printed product.

I believe that the more recent versions of OCAD support PostScript fonts (it used to only support TrueType). However, all text on a map must be an instance of a symbol, which can limit your flexibility somewhat. (In the case of text, think of the symbol definition as a style definition, but without the ability to escape from the traits of the style definition.)

I don't think OCAD has anything that would help convert between FreeHand and Illustrator - I'm pretty sure about that. You can import and export Illustrator (last time I played with it, AI export was as bad or worse than ArcMap: everything decomposed into high-vertex-count vector artwork), but I don't think there's anything for FreeHand. In the lower cost version you can import and export DXF. It has some capabilities for working with coordinate systems which can be rotated and scaled (e.g. UTM) but not reprojected, and you can move map data around to fit your template and then export it in the map's coordinate system. The higher priced version is needed for shapefiile import and export, as well as geodata attribute awareness. I'm not sure if the higher-priced version has better georeference capability.

There's a group with a lot of OCAD users here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/O-Map/ where you could probably get better answers to your questions.
Pat Dunlavey
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#3
Lui

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I'm using an OCAD as my main mapping software, to be more precise as my primary symbolization program. It has some really powerfull symbolization capabilities like:
- one sided line symbols (border doesn't need to be closed - figure1),
- decent line symbolization (figure2)
- out of color definition color knockout (figure3)
OCAD poses powerfull export tool with EPS, AI (version 7, decent not perfect), TIF, DXF, shape, PDF, SVG and raster support. Export also support partitial, tiled, antialias, georeferenced,... map export.
OCAD also imports raster data as reference data (it has special transparency viewing mode) or as map content. Grayscale and B/W rasters can also be mapped to color from color library.
It is quite good for large cartography projects and it is capable to store very large maps. I have an OCAD file with more than 1000000 (with 40000 labels) objects.
Customizing one object is painfull because OCAD use strict symbology so each slightly different appearance has to have an adeqate symbol definition in symbol library. The good thing is that symbol library support freely customized tree-like structure.
Srtict symbology is also main reason why I'm using AI and InDesign as final step in map production. The other reason is lack of "eye candy" effects like drop shadow or glowing edges,...

Lui

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#4
Hans van der Maarel

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Sounds like something I need to check out :) How is text placement done? Manual as in Illustrator or are there ways to do this automatically?
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#5
Francis S.

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Thanks Pat, Lui and Hans.

My main interest in OCAD was to find a new platform to replace the aging (yet still amazingly useful and relevant) Freehand and avoid trying to draw print-ready maps in ArcView (with or without an Illustrator intervention). I wanted to be able to convert my scads of Freehand 9 docs via Illustrator and into OCAD intact. My maps are fairly simple in symbology and straightforward in structure. Many have Lens fills for export to multipage maps, of which Illustrator has no equivilant, but OCAD has a "Partial Export" ability.

I've been fooling with the demo of OCAD (Standard version only) for a few hours and have some observations and questions. From the OCAD brochure, website, feature lists and testimonials, it looks like a pretty good solution. But....

The ideal path from Freehand to OCAD does not currently exist. When I exported directly from Freehand as an Illustrator file (AI7), all of the vectors came through. In the instance when I resaved the file in Illustrator as AI7, all of the vectors came through, the type was mangled but there, even some text-bound-to-lines, and grouped items were messed up. Not pretty. AI9 was worse as only the area features came through. Obviously any Freehand styles were lost in the Illustrator conversion and nothing shows up in the OCAD symbols palette. The exports of the (wrecked) AI7 file were actually true to their display in OCAD (AI, EPS and PDF), so that's a plus.

So much for conversion of production maps into OCAD (at least until version ??).

However, much beautiful work has been done in OCAD, so maybe there is potential for new maps. Apparently IGN in France uses it a lot. There are issues though, always issues....

As Pat mentioned, it would seem as though Postscript fonts were supported because they came through the abovementioned exports without a warning, but what happens at the commercial press? Also, the Postscript fonts on my system didn't show up in the Text Symbol font menu. Hmmm.

Since the demo is Standard OCAD only I couldn't test any georeferencing capabilities. Didn't see any US State Plane systems, just UTM. Perhaps OCAD AG should make the Professional version available as a limited time demo with saving enabled. I'm not keen on spending $1200 on a software test. :blink:

As Pat also mentioned, the key to the layers is that they are built into the symbol definition. The stacking order is part of the symbol number, so 307.2 will stack above 306.1. For a map such as mine, I'll need a lot more layer definitions than my usual 50 or so! The symbol defintions are the heart of OCAD, providing a lot of control, even down to the preferred tool to draw them with. Want to draw a stream on the right layer? - just pick the right symbol and go. The drawback is, as Lui mentioned, that every variation in a symbol means making a new one (except that size can be changed on an individual basis). That'll slow you down until you get a library built (yes, you can load symbols from other documents, so there's your master doc).

I couldn't figure out how to use inches or any other measurement instead of millimeters on the paper space.

Undos appear to be limited to 10.

Keyboard shortcuts were for commands only, not tools.

Text is placed by either drawing a box (regular Text Symbol) or dragging or drawing a line (Line Text Symbol) and typing. I didn't see any automatic text placement. Couldn't find any baseline shift for text on a line. Text on a line needs to have a select-all command; one must go to the end of the line and backspace out and then type. OCAD doesn't strike me as the the kind of program where you can paste in some text boxes and then move it around easily.

So after this cursory inspection, for production I might be tempted by OCAD in a future release. There are some other cool features which maybe I'll try on a personal project.

Francis
Francis Stanton
Eagle Eye Maps

eagleeye@chorus.net
http://www.eagleeyemaps.com




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