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can you recommend GIS software?

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#1
Craig

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I have worked in world atlas editorial for the past 14 years, but in recent years I have been working as a freelancer. Most of my work is small scale mapping (typical atlas cartography and editorial), but I want to move beyond that and begin using data in GIS format.

My problem is that I have a limted budget, not much practical knowledge about GIS applications, and I have no specific jobs in mind! Can anyone recommend a free or cheap application that can open GIS files (.shp, etc) and allow me to work on the data, and then export it to Illustrator?

Is there a piece of GIS software that can open a map drawn in Illustrator and convert it to editable GIS data (assuming certain parameters are known)?

Sorry to be so thick, but my experience is limited to editorial and producing maps using Freehand and Illustrator. I realise that I may be asking a lot of a free or cheap application, but I just want to get started and get a taste of what might be involved.

Thanks in advance

Craig

#2
Nick Springer

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Craig,

There are some past discussions here that might help.

There was a long thread here about Manifold GIS which most of us feel is a good GIS system for around $265. It will accept just about any GIS file format, and exports to Illustrator very nicely.

The Manifold thread also begind to address a bit about the difficulties of going from Illustrator to GIS since there is really no geodata associated with the vectors. This other thread was specifically about moving from Illustrator/Freehand to GIS.

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#3
woneil

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Is there a piece of GIS software that can open a map drawn in Illustrator and convert it to editable GIS data (assuming certain parameters are known)?


Are you using a Windows, Mac, or Linux platform? Your options will vary accordingly. Manifold has made a very favorable impression regarding capability for the price on most of those who have tried it, as Nick says. But Windows is its native platform, and running it on anything else is likely to take some trouble.

If you are as cheap as I am (my ancestry is really mostly Scots!) you might want to look at the thread I started on Mapping on the cheap, devoted primarily to the search for freeware GIS. There are a remarkable number of possibilities along these lines. The one which seems to suit my needs best is SAGA GIS. The present version has Windows as its only native platform, but version 2, presently in beta, is planned to be multi-platform, with Mac and Linux versions.

If you are a Mac or Linux person you might also look at GMT.

SAGA GIS is a raster/grid system first with vector capabilities added, and it lacks a database system (which is necessary for powerful vector GIS). But it seems likely to serve most new-guy needs very well -- a good value for the money!
Will O'Neil
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http://analysis.williamdoneil.com/w.d.oneil@pobox.com

#4
Kartograph

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I find

Global Mapper


a very useful and easy to use product. There is a trial version.

#5
Craig

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Thanks for all the suggestions, and links to past threads. There's loads of ideas for me to chew over. I've tried some of the free applications, but as yet have not found them to be suitable for my needs; none of them seem to export to Illustrator, but that might just be because I haven't found the method yet. Manifold does sound like the most promising option.

Craig

#6
ELeFevre

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Manifold does sound like the most promising option.


For the price it is difficult to beat (unless you go with a freebie). Plus, sooner or later you are probably going to want more capabilities and Manifold is full of them... and yes, the export to Illustrator is pain-free and the results are good. It's also great that there is fairly large user community in case you have any questions. I don't regret spending the money. Erin



#7
Martin Gamache

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Craig,

If the only thing about the other apps you are missing is AI export, a roundabout way to get GIS output into illustrator export is to create a PDF using Adobe Acrobat or something like Ghostwriter. You essentially print your file to a PDF and can then use Illustrator to open that file and edit it. It requires some planning and tinkering with the file but is a workable solution, especially for low volume output.

mg

#8
gregsd

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Craig,

You might want to have a look at MapMaker - it'll import OS data, which might be import to you? Not sure about the export into Illustrator format though. They have a free version that you could try out first before forking out £225 + vat for the full version.

Greg


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