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I was asked in another forum for comments on OCAD. Though I have some experience with AutoCad and Arcview 3.1, I haven't used the usual programs used for cartography ( Illustrator, Photoshop, Coreldraw etc.) so it's hard to know where to begin. So, though I can't directly compare OCAD, here are some thoughts based on my experience... (and no... I'm not a shareholder ;) )

OCAD was originally developed as a vector drawing tool for tracing scanned images primarily for making orienteering maps and has progressed from there. The important point about OCAD I think, would be that it is primarily a symbol based vector drawing program, so though you can open raster images in the background, with some control over visible layers, their transparency and intensity, you can't directly edit pixels.

You can easily import georeferenced data and convert the data to symbols, but the ease of drawing and editing as well as the symbol creation/editing capabilies are what I would consider it's biggest strengths. There are so many other features including database connections and the ability to publish Internet maps, that I'd recommend looking at the Version8 Demo. The Demo is quite functional (mostly number of map objects and import/export limitations) and the menu should give a pretty good idea of what OCADs capabilities are. I'd be happy to answer any questions if I can.

I'll upload a couple maps/ links to maps I've produced in OCAD. Note that any raster images, hillshade etc. were edited elsewhere (usually Manifold) and opened as background images in OCAD.


My paintings (...and no, my Avatar is Vera by Fredrick Varley)



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thanks! Sounds interesting, but I am quite happy with my ArcMap / Illustrator combo for the time being... !
Hugo Ahlenius
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Well I'm using OCAD for about six years (OCAD6) for map production. With OCAD we produced a National topographic map at scale 1:50000. The best features of OCAD as chubbers already mentioned is symbology based editing. In OCAD every feature of the map (except raster) has to be defined in symbol library. Symbol library contains area (includes also boundary symbolization), line (curves), point, rectangle, text and line (curved) text symbols. Symbolization capabilities are second to none. In line symbol definition we can include point symbols and framing option, lines weight can be decresed ,... Text symbolization is also very powerfull. Text can be framed by rectangle, line around fonts and by shadow like shape.
One of very interesting features is export of vector data epecially in *.shp format. All features are exported with symbol number field that correspond to symbol number in symbol library (very usefull for resymbolization). Point features are exported with orientation (angle) datafield, curves are exported with polylines that mimics look of curves.
Relations between symbols are based on color order. This is a bit odd and also limiting but when you understand the priciple it is very intuitive. If we want to have a mask in a bridge (line) symbol that masks underlying road symbol with black double line and white fill, we have to use two white and black colours.
There is one very impressive feature: database based feature symbolization. If we import a GIS data all attributes are imported. With a query we can append symbols to features. The query set can also be saved and reused.
Raster support is not so good as in Adobe Illustrator, but raster (bitmap) can be assign to a any color in color library and can be masked by features. Of course georeferenced rasters are supported.
Oh, I forgot to mention: in OCAD you can work in real coordinate system or in paper space.

What I miss in OCAD:
- some kind of layer hierarchy
- transparency (ups OCAD 9 beta has this one)
- a little bit more flexible database managment
- some kind of scripting capability (grid generation,...)
- a good share option:-))

Oh I guess I owe a link to OCAD hompage.


Hans van der Maarel

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I remember looking at their booth at Intergeo last year. I must say the maps there were very impressive. I hope they'll be there again this year.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

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