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Labeling engines: maplex vs. MapPublisher vs. manifold?

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#1
Ed Gage

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I've trolled through the various posts here and have gleaned some insights on the matter, but I thought it worth asking whether folks have specifically evaluated the quality of labeling using maplex vs. MapPublisher vs. manifold. I've got a basic Arcview 9.3 license, and the labeling engine is ok for my purposes so far, but I'm planning on doing more data intensive maps in the future and am wondering whether something like maplex is worth the significant cost. Considering AI is generally part of my workflow, I like the idea of MaPublisher, but I don't have a great sense of how it compares to something like Maplex. It sounds like new versions of MaPublisher and Manifold are coming out this quarter, so I'm probably better off waiting anyway, but I was interested in peoples experience with the available products on the market now. Thanks!

#2
Ted Florence

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I cannot speak on behalf of the other products but I can tell you that we at Avenza are hard at work on a new MAPublisher version that will support labeling with conflict resolution and with a rulebase system that is far superior to what MAPublisher currently offers.
Currently MAPublisher will ensure that all objects get labeled from attributes and offers a simple set of configurable rules but afterwards there is usually some fine tuning to do in order to address the conflicts of text on top of text. But then again, getting the text on the document is at least half the battle and this functionality is included in MAPublisher 7.6.
I have seen Maplex but know very little about it but from what I have seen it does offer conflict resolution. I have no idea of price or usability.
I know nothing of Manifold's text placement capabilities.
My suggestion is to give them all a try and see what works for you and falls within your budget. And of course, keep your eyes open for the MAPublisher label professional version later this year.
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#3
BEAVER

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I cannot speak on behalf of the other products but I can tell you that we at Avenza are hard at work on a new MAPublisher version that will support labeling with conflict resolution and with a rulebase system that is far superior to what MAPublisher currently offers.
Currently MAPublisher will ensure that all objects get labeled from attributes and offers a simple set of configurable rules but afterwards there is usually some fine tuning to do in order to address the conflicts of text on top of text. But then again, getting the text on the document is at least half the battle and this functionality is included in MAPublisher 7.6.
I have seen Maplex but know very little about it but from what I have seen it does offer conflict resolution. I have no idea of price or usability.
I know nothing of Manifold's text placement capabilities.
My suggestion is to give them all a try and see what works for you and falls within your budget. And of course, keep your eyes open for the MAPublisher label professional version later this year.
Ted

Ted. So the better labellings in Mapublisher will be an add-on and not included with a standard Mapublisher 8.0?

#4
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I've trolled through the various posts here and have gleaned some insights on the matter, but I thought it worth asking whether folks have specifically evaluated the quality of labeling using maplex vs. MapPublisher vs. manifold. I've got a basic Arcview 9.3 license, and the labeling engine is ok for my purposes so far, but I'm planning on doing more data intensive maps in the future and am wondering whether something like maplex is worth the significant cost. Considering AI is generally part of my workflow, I like the idea of MaPublisher, but I don't have a great sense of how it compares to something like Maplex. It sounds like new versions of MaPublisher and Manifold are coming out this quarter, so I'm probably better off waiting anyway, but I was interested in peoples experience with the available products on the market now. Thanks!


It would probably be more valuable to evaluate Arcmap and Illustrator at the business level rather than by their respective labeling capabilities. I'd start with questions like: Could you benefit from feature-linked annotations? How often is the data going to change? How soon do you need changes reflected in the map? How much time do you want to spend moving labels manually? Are you obsessive compulsive over label placement? Do you need geoprocessing power throughout the map-building process? et cetera.



#5
Unit Seven

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My Thoughts—New version of MAPublisher sounds really interesting and I look forward to hearing more when it's released but for the moment I think Maplex is the leader of the bunch for ability due to being rule based and having conflict resolution. Note I'm not in any way making a comment here on price or ease of use.

Maplex as Erin touched upon has feature linked Annotation which means you can build a map from a dataset and when the data updates (name change) the annotation will update. If you add or delete a feature an annotation will be added or deleated. If you go this route you probably want to set a QA in the anno so you can go through and 'accept' the placed anno. Maplex will place anno for features which conflict and these will be flagged as unplaced—it is a flick of an option to turn them on.

While many people prefer the fact MAPublisher works within Illustrator ArcMap has a good (not quite great ;) ) export to Illy—including the ability for curved text to come through intact on a curve.

Not sure about how MAPublisher indexes work. But you can get a very good result from ArcMap if you follow the correct procedures and logic. ArcMap Annotation can break text into multiple parts which can be curved, rotated and moved seperatly but are still held as a single piece of annotation which is grat for indexing—I pretty much always want to index the text not the feature. I guess this is getting more into the ESRI annotation class than the Maplex engine itself. Are you currently converting your labels to annotations and using annotation classes? If so Maplex works just like an extension of thew standard labeling engine.

I don't mean to push Maplex here but I am an everyday user and these these are just some plus' I see—have looked at MAPublisher briefly but due to us using our own nationwide dataset we decided Arc was the way we would go. As Ted has said give them all a go, look at the prices, work out how your projects will work and come back with more questions.
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#6
rudy

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Manifold's text placement capabilities are, at the moment, limited. As far as I know, it has little in the way to finesse text placement and conflict resolution. I'm surprised it is even on your list of options to consider for text placement.

I haven't really used MaPublisher and it has been a while since I've used Maplex (hopefully again soon) but I do know that if you are planning on churning out a lot of maps on a regular basis it is probably best to stick with one piece of software. Ten years ago I regularly exported ArcView files to a graphics program so that they could be made presentable. That is no longer necessary since ArcMap has a much broader range of cartographic tools at its disposal than before. If you can (and it sounds like you can since you've already got an Arc license) keep your files and your work in ArcGIS and send files out to Illustrator only for touvhups that you can't do in ArcMap. I'm not sure about the price but I'd recommend Maplex over an add-on to a different software package - fewer conversion issues, fewer steps, fewer problems.

But then, I suppose it depends alot of your production requirements . . . . do tell.

#7
James Hines

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Stay away from Manifold's text features, at best if you intend to import it into Illustrator any text that you use can only be a reference. Any text that you import from Manifold to Illustrator comes in as a graphic. Unfortunately if you use Arc it's possible to import the text as annotations rather then graphics.

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#8
Ed Gage

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Thanks for everyone's input. The reality is, at this point, I'd be hard-pressed justifying a big expenditure on any additional software license, given the near-term economic outlook. I'm sure Maplex does a great job, but it's not cheap. Given there is more basic functionality I lack (e.g. that found in the 3D analyst and spatial analyst extensions), I should just accept that a lot of manual label placement is in my future.
I'm still rather ignorant of what Manifold's capabilities really are; unfortunately, they do not offer demos. It certainly has its passionate advocates, and based on their marketing, I'm given the impression that you can even slice bread with the software. I may end up going that route for the raster analysis functionality I lack - even if it's half as powerful as Spatial Analyst, it'd still be a bargain at 1/5 the price. Anyhoo...
One thing that looks very cool in the upcoming MAPublisher release is the Flash functionality. Perhaps I'd be better off taking whats left in my 401k and investing in software :rolleyes:
Thanks again.

#9
mika

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Any text that you import from Manifold to Illustrator comes in as a graphic.


You can export text to illy as text. Just untick 'export as curve'. Apart from that using manifold for labeling requires lots of patience...
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#10
pghardy

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... I was interested in peoples experience with the available products on the market now. Thanks!

I have to admit to a bias here, as I was formerly the ESRI Product Manager for Maplex (and still work in the ESRI family). However I've studied Maplex for well over 10 years (before I joined ESRI), and I'm still impressed by it.

Here are a few of my personal thoughts on Maplex:
1) Label placement to cartographic quaility is a *very* difficult task to automate, and the devil is in the detail. Maplex has undergone continual development for over 15 years, and has a sizeable development team dedicated to maintaining and improving it.
2) The cost of Maplex fell dramatically when it became an extension to ArcGIS - and remember that it is included for free if you have an ArcInfo level licence for ArcGIS desktop.
3) Even at the original Maplex Standalone price (which I think was at least 10 times the current extension price), various companies made the case for buying it in order to save money on previous manual labelling workflows, so I don't think it is difficult to cost-justify it now if you are in a production environment with a fair amount of labelling.
4) If you've looked at Maplex in the past, it's undergone quite a lot of change over the last few releases, both 'under the hood' (re-engineering for scaleability, reliability and integration), and in terms of functionality (particularly lots of new capabilities in ArcGIS 9.3).
5) Being integrated into a leading GIS provides a wealth of valuable ancilliary capabilities, such as bulk conversion to feature-linked annotation, automatically building masks round labels for use in selective masking, etc.

Regards,
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Paul Hardy
ESRI Europe (phardy@esri.com)




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