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Illustrator vs ArcMap - and a project from hell

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#1
frax

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A small project that I am working on now is stretching out into a nightmare phase now - I just need to complain a bit about it... Not that it is that bad, and I will get paid for the time I put into it, but there are more fun things to do than to watch Illy save a file (for a number of minutes) and it affects my scheduling of other projects....

Anyways - I was subcontracted (so I never dealt with the real client directly) to prepare a set of maps, and my contractor provided the GIS data. I took a number of decisions to make the data display on the map properly - including generalizations. I was tasked to prepare a set of small-scale maps for print publishing.

I prepared the data in ArcMap, and then moved to Illy for the finishing.

The problem now has been that more and more data has floated in as time passed, and I have had to update the maps - and the process of moving and matching up the data in Illy again and again is pretty dull.

But the worst is that the "real client" has asked me to prepare the maps with the actual full data, without any generalizations at all, especially the coastlines for these maps (which cover a huge chunk of the Northern Hemisphere) - and these coastlines are 1:250.000 or something (probably from World Vector Shoreline).

So the work in Illustrator goes really slowly, and it is frustrating to wait for simple operations to finish - and saving/exporting takes forever. I find these 3-15 minutes of dead time really annoying - you can't really do anything useful in that time, if you start doing something meaningful while waiting, then it just is hard to turn back to the real work.

What I should have done from the start - and I might do now, depending on how long this stretches out - is to do all the work in ArcMap, especially since the client doesn't appreciate any "nice" finishing and trimmings in Illy...
Hugo Ahlenius
Nordpil - custom maps and GIS
http://nordpil.com/
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#2
François Goulet

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Sometimes it just feels good to complain ;)

I can't count how many times I had to go back in projects because of specific (and especially new) clients needs... Now, I stay in ArcMap as long as I can just because of that.

We are with you!

Good luck!

#3
James Hines

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Do projects that you have the ability to do within the scope of what the client wants. Do not use any tools you don't have to, if the client does not respect graphic design work then don't do the work in drawing packages. Give him what is requested & within your ability. If there are problems with the work & you have done the work correctly, he still owes you, & ultimately it's his head on the stake.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#4
rudy

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What was the original advantage of moving the map over to Illustrator?

#5
Charles Syrett

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Hugo, you've positioned yourself as "custom maps and GIS". From the looks of things, your "project from hell" is actually a GIS project -- since the client is more interested in what data is loaded than in clearly communicating through a custom designed map. Somehow we have to be clear at the outset which of our projects is which! Realistically, we can't expect our clients to understand the difference. All too often, we find out too late what our clients really want.... :huh:

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#6
Matthew Hampton

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Best of luck Hugo! I know that twiddling thumbs while waiting for files to open and save can get quite overbearing.

I would suggest getting a small pet of some sort that you could play with to fulfill the time! ^_^

It's especially frustrating to apply a high level of carto-finishing to a map-in-progress when the client is just looking for a data dump!

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#7
ELeFevre

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Yep, with foggy projects it's best stay as close to the GIS as possible until everything is well defined.



#8
frax

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The big part of the problem here is that I have not been dealing with the real client, and my client (the middle person) did not communicate clearly to me (or didn't ask the right questions) from the start.

Rudy - the advantage in moving it to Illy was that I could put together a really nice looking map (which I did, the first version - which is now an outtake). That map is not all wasted - I can use it as a portfolio piece...

When waiting for things to load/save/process - I find the 1-15 minute breaks really hard. If it is longer then one can start something else. It is tempting to do some outlook/web stuff at the same time, but then you might extend the time (due to the computer swapping things in and out) and loose focus. I have found the best is to sift through those old issues of ArcUser lying around, or clean the desk...
Hugo Ahlenius
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#9
kay

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The big part of the problem here is that I have not been dealing with the real client, and my client (the middle person) did not communicate clearly to me (or didn't ask the right questions) from the start.


Hi. I am sorry to hear that you are having one of "cartographer's bad days".... I understand your situation... When I had the similar situation as yours, my client did not understand how hard to make maps.... and they asked me to do something they asked me not to do... so confusing... Now you have 2 clients to deal with... I can see that that makes your job difficult.... :(


Rudy - the advantage in moving it to Illy was that I could put together a really nice looking map (which I did, the first version - which is now an outtake). That map is not all wasted - I can use it as a portfolio piece...


I agree... when you finish making a map and take a look at the completed version, don't you feel so proud of yourself?? It feels so good, eh!! :)


When waiting for things to load/save/process - I find the 1-15 minute breaks really hard. If it is longer then one can start something else. It is tempting to do some outlook/web stuff at the same time, but then you might extend the time (due to the computer swapping things in and out) and loose focus. I have found the best is to sift through those old issues of ArcUser lying around, or clean the desk...


The time waiting for load/save/process.... Like you say.. what I do is... 1) clean the desk, 2) check e-mails, 3) make a cup of coffee, 4) stretch! and 5) relax... :)



Good luck on your mapping project!!
-Kay

#10
frax

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Actually, this project just got easier again... This super high-res coastline was a misunderstanding, instead of full 1:250k coastlines, they want 1:10 mill. This was a misunderstanding by my "middle" client, and would probably not have happened if I talked to the end client directly... It is too late for this project now, but next time I should insist on communicating directly with that person
Hugo Ahlenius
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#11
Gretchen Peterson

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That's great that your client switch back to the smaller scale data for the coastline but not great that you wasted time dealing with the 1:250k data. As far as the 10-15 minute waits go, I get those sometimes when doing analytical tasks in GIS. I run three computers. A super-high end machine with Windows and ArcGIS, a medium machine on which I run Ubuntu and a stack of open source GIS software, and my laptop with another instance of ArcGIS. In this way I've got another machine to go to while the main task is crunching away. At least I can surf the web and do my email during those times! Of course if you could run everything in the cloud then you could have an infinite number of machines to switch back and forth between.

#12
jerseysbest

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Yep, with foggy projects it's best stay as close to the GIS as possible until everything is well defined.


I've learned my lesson...

#13
frax

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Looks like I am able to finalise it now, knock on wood - so that I can send the invoice and move on... But I have thought so earlier in this project - and there is always something that needs to be revised...
Hugo Ahlenius
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#14
Greg

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Unless the product is a zoomable digital map, I can't see the purpose of using such high resolution (1:250k) data for the coastline. you would end up losing the detail in your print anyway!

I actually just finished a job for a client, I spent a few days digitizing an urban area, and making it look pretty in Illustrator. The client ended up asking me "Can you make it look like it was drawn in AutoCAD?"

*Sigh*

I kept the nice Illustrator version for my portfolio.. and they seemed very pleased with the horrendous "AutoCAD" version.

I think any kind of 'designer' has to deal with issues like this on a day-to-day basis. I have learned to shrug it off, put my opinions aside, and produce whatever the client tells me to!
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#15
François Goulet

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I think any kind of 'designer' has to deal with issues like this on a day-to-day basis. I have learned to shrug it off, put my opinions aside, and produce whatever the client tells me to!


As long as he's paying for... ;)




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