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Real cost of producing a map


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#1
ajay

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Thanks for all the inputs. You all are right about different maps taking different amount of effort. So, let me give you a typical scenario that may help to standardize:

1. Create a custom 10 page (Letter size) biking map atlas of SF Bay area in the scale 1:20'000. Each map sheet will have a slight overlap. The base data (and routes) is already there, so no data capture is required, but it's 2 years old and needs to be updated. There are new styles and colors requirements for this custom atlas. There's a shaded relief (TIFF) and labeled UTM and geographic grid on each map sheet. Each map sheet features one "main" biking route - a tour - that get's highlighted (50 point red line) on that map sheet, while other routes appearing on this sheet are dotted Yellow 20 point. The delivery requirement is a composite CMYK PDF for each sheet.




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Has anyone done a real down to earth calculation of production time using tools like ArcGIS, Freehand or Illustrator? I mean like real per click time(cost) "zoom, pan, select, add, update, design and print". Are you willing to share that information?

I'm not interested in what price you charge in the end. I'm interested in the effort (time) than the cost at this point. How much time does a cartographer require to do each step of the work that leads to a product - get data, update data, put map styles, create map sheet, add grids and labels, etc.

We've done this analysis with some European map makers and were able to identify where repeated (and routine) tasks have added up to significant effort. I'd like to get a broader (more international) picture for my presentation at IMTA Americas conference in Washington DC.

Thanks

#2
Fran├žois Goulet

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There's too much things to consider: type of maps, quality of the data, scale, quantity of "information", labels, media, ...

I've done a lot of maps for prints from small 2"x3" locator maps to tabloid size thematic maps and it took me from 4 hours to 2 weeks to complete them. Each project is unique.

#3
David Medeiros

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I feel more or less the same way as Francois. It's just too difficult to break this down by individual action. You could probably make some general conclusions about time consumption and cost by work flow. But even then it can be a mixed bag depending on requirements. Take type setting for instance:

Between Illustrator (no MAPublisher) and ArcGIS, Arc will be much faster at labeling by feature than manually doing it in Illy, assuming the attributes are there to label on. If on the other hand you don't just need to auto label, but you need to label and adjust the labels (especially type on path) to best cartographic standards, you'll probably spend much more time in Arc than Illy getting it to look right. Same goes for a lot of other cartographic production steps, if it needs to be finessed at all, you may spend more time in Arc for often less than equal results. If it requires analysis, sorting and selecting by attribute etc. Arc is where you need to be doing that work. You'll find that many if not most cartographer here often use an Arc to Illy work flow that captures the best of each system for saving time and costs.

MAPublisher is a special case where I think for most production mapping that utilizes geo referenced source data you can probably get more done in less time with one package than by using an Arc to Illy approach.

Note: I'm using Illustrator as my example because that's what I use but I'm certain the above would apply to Freehand as well.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#4
Charles Syrett

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Note: I'm using Illustrator as my example because that's what I use but I'm certain the above would apply to Freehand as well.


Yes indeed -- what software you use isn't the point; it's what the project requires and what limitations the budget puts on it. You could use the metaphor of cooking a meal. "How long does each stage of preparation of a typical meal take?" Ask a gourmet cook, and you'll get one kind of answer. Ask a teenager who likes ordering pizza, and you'll get another.

So: If we can narrow the variables a little (e.g., stages of producing a city map with a specific level of detail, with a particular kind of street pattern, and with a given amount of detail) then maybe some estimating could be done; but even then, the quality of source material alone can throw everything off.

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

#5
ajay

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You guys are right. I've added a standard scenario in my discussion text to help standardize.
Thanks

#6
Davidtron

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It's important now and for future estimating and reporting that you keep some kind of records that report the actuals you face as well, especially when you are dealing with unique catered for projects. This way you can always look back at average times to undertake certain work, and pricing modules and then you can adjust this information for changes in technology or inflation, respectively.

The whole industry will experience new projects where still it becomes very difficult to lock down accurately estimates, the real aim here should be to reduce the risk of blowing out, or setting up alternative ways to do things should you meet the unknown. This especially becomes important when a change of technology is part of the scope of work.

#7
ajay

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I'm still curious to hear from all you experienced cartographers about how "my project" can be done using the technologies you guys are currently using, the production steps and (estimated) effort required. If you're already doing some kind of reporting, it shouldn't be a problem.
Cheers, Ajay

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