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#1
burwelbo

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Has anyone done a comprehensive comparison between map output from GIS packages vs traditional graphics packages? I am from the GIS/Remote Sensing realm and have made some maps that I felt were good using ArcGIS. It seems most Cartographers use either Illustrator or Freehand for their work. I have used Photoshop and really like its raster manipulation capabilities. I am just wondering if its really worth the time and effort to learn these other packages. I know you have more control over things like text effects but it would be nice to have more information on the subject.

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Bruce Burwell
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#2
frax

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I think it is a little bit like: how do you want to communicate things and to whom? Is it just a map to be used internally at (institution) or something that should be used in a book made for the public - for instance. Looking at the pros/cons one should also think about will this be updated regularly?. Except for MapPublisher, the work flow is often a one-way street with several manual steps inbetween.

Oh, and don't take us regulars at this board as typical cartographers. Us in the Illustrator/Freehand crowd on this board maybe in the majority, at least among the regular posters here, but not if you go to San Diego in August for instance. But then, if you look at the annual ESRI map book, there are a lot of people using graphics programs for nice map output (the cream of ArcGIS users?)
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#3
ELeFevre

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In addition to Frax's comment, I think it also depends on whether or not you have used graphic design packages in the past for other types of graphical work. In my case, I got into graphic design before I knew anything about cartography or GIS. Exporting into a graphics package to finish the job is almost a natural process for me. I think this is probably the case for good number of cartographers who export from their GIS. Perhaps those that have a background in GIS only will design only in their GIS?

Overal (IMO) a good graphics package such as Illustrator offers more options in terms of design and printing options than most GIS packages.

I've never seen a comprehensive comparison but I have seen great maps that never went any further than the GIS. Check out the Map Gallery for examples.

Erin.



#4
Martin Gamache

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http://www.cartotalk...p?showtopic=493

Bruce,

In addition to many good comments on the advantages of working in a graphic design environment that were made in the above thread. I can say that when I worked for a large US city planning dept. in my previous job producing thousands of maps a yearfor both intenal and external uses, under tight time deadlines with a small team we did analyse our workflows and our use of various software packages to come up with a series of rules/criteria to decide how a map would be produced. I presented on this at my first NACIS conference in 2002. factors influencing that choice included volume, size, labelling density, map audience and time constraints. Our workflows were designed to maximise our staff's numbers and skills using various tools as appropriate.

Every individual cartographer and organisation producing maps needs to go through this same process and evaluate how much time and energy they want to spend creating maps and evaluate that against the final quality they require and decide if it meets their current needs. My guess is that current COTS GIS and RS packages meet the needs of most users. For some of us it does not , as a result we use other or additional tools either because we realise perceived or real advantages AND/OR our customers/clients recognize the quality it imparts to our work and demand it. As a result some GIS have also added graphic platform like tools (i.e. ESRI) because of the demand for it. Others have decided to offer export directly to graphic platforms(PCI geomatica's newests version will offer AI export). These companies are slowly responding to the demand for better tools, because that demand exists.

Ultimately we all make choices about what kind of map that we want to make and how we want to make them. We are also told by our employers/clients what kind of maps we are going to make and how we will make them. Our skills and cartographic vision determines the final looks of our maps and hopefully that doesnt get limited by our tools and we are honest enough with ourselves not to let it.

#5
Lori Martin

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Just thought I would add my two cents worth here...

Currently I produce maps in both ArcGIS and Illustrator. It depends what the map I am creating is going to be used for as to how I finish it. For instance, a caribou habitat study, to be used by our biologists, will be a good working map done in ArcGIS. The turn-around time for these maps is generally short, so they are created in ArcGIS.

I have created watershed and ecoregion maps for the entire province that are more presentation maps than working maps. Those were finished in Illustrator (now that I have my printing problem fixed). These maps take a bit more time to create, but I think the time spent is worthwhile.

On another thought... I am chair of the Canadian Cartographic Association Map Production and Technology Interest Group. Currently, we are putting together sessions for the 2006 annual conference. It will be in mid-June in conjuction with GeoTec in Ottawa. This could be a good session. Anyone want to form a panel and debate the issue?

Lori.
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#6
burwelbo

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I guess that is my question. Are you getting that superior results in a graphic design package over a traditional GIS package. Most comments I read say the same thing. When I want to do a quick map, GIS analysis or frequent map production I use a GIS. When I want to do exceptional cartographic output, I go to a graphics package. Does that statement hold water still? I see lots of exceptional maps done in Arc as well in Illustrator. I want someone to tell me why a graphics package is better. Remember, Arc now has Maplex and some good raster manipulation tools in its current package. Don't get me wrong, I really want to learn Illustrator but I waould also like to know the reason behind the effort and if someone has done some kind of review of the pros and cons of each. From what I have seen, I don't think you can use the "quality is better in a graphics package" argument.

#7
Dennis McClendon

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I'm still pretty clumsy with GIS, but I think one of the major differences is that graphics software gives you more direct manipulation of the output, because the metaphor for the user is directly moving and shaping objects just as we did with pen and ink. The GIS metaphor is much more like setting up rules for a report to be generated from a database. So many things that one might tweak if it were easy--by direct manipulation in a graphics program--seem to require burrowing into several levels of dialog boxes and then waiting to see the results. As a result, fewer things get tweaked in GIS than in graphics software.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#8
Martin Gamache

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Quoted from a post in the thread I directed you to:

"part of it is also simple mechanics like panning and zooming using quick intuitive keyboard shortcuts, anti-alias screen previews, color matching, font previews, color seperation previews, rasterizing controls, wacom pen table integration, bezier curves, etc. Fast, intuitive, efficient tools that allow you not to have to think about the tools or feel like you are fighting the computer. Good DTP software has got all those things, why fight with software that can't let you get into that flow moment."

There is a partial list of the main things that Illustrator and FH have over ArcMap and realistically until you have worked and become proficient with both paradigms it is going to be difficult to grasp it. In my opinion my results are superior when working within a DTP environment and working is more pleasant, which makes the day go by faster and allows me to get more work done because it is more efficient. Other's mileage may vary.
Using illustrator does not mean you are not using raster tools and Maplex within ARC (or other GIS or RS tools) to do rough labels positioning and image manipulations first. It is a question of picking and knowing how and when to use the best tool for the job.

#9
LenHoffman

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I work at the county government level and we mainly use ArcGIS for most of our products (mainly in house use) We have the current version and even though maplex is an added improvement to the previous versions. When it came time for us to create a product for publishing ( updated road map ) we decided to go with Illustrator w/ MaPublisher. IMO you have more functionality with Illustrator then you would initially expect. I had noticed that some of the raw data needed updating, (we normally use AutoCAD Map for our planimetric data) and although that is still how we maintain the bulk of our data I was able to use the illustrator to make the corrections (though minor as they where I found them to be faster than normal) when the correction was made, I then exported them data back to the original .dwg file. I know that you don't feel that the graphics argument holds water, but I have noticed that there are allot of aesthetic features you can create in Illustrator that you never would be able to do with ArcGIS.

This is only my 2cents though. :blink:

#10
Matthew Hampton

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I second what Martin says and also add that each paradigm has its strengths.

Using GIS software lets you interact with the data better, but Illustrator/Photoshop lets you interact with the display of the data in a better graphical environment.

If you are analyzing data use ESRI, if you are tyring to make the data speak use Adobe (this officially includes Freehand now).

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Matthew

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#11
pghardy

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The distiction between GIS software and graphics software will get more blurred as time passes, as GIS software gains graphics capabilities and graphics tools (perhaps with the aid of plug-ins) gain knowledge of geography.

ArcGIS 9.2 (about to go to beta) has major advances aimed specifically at avoiding the need to bail out of the GIS into a graphics package in order to produce a quality map.

For a description of the context and likely tools, see the papers given at the ICA conference last year:
http://campus.esri.c...y_Kressmann.pdf and http://campus.esri.c...icher_Briat.pdf.

I gave a demo of a development snapshot at the NACIS event in Salt Lake City.

There will always be cases where the best tool for the job means to start in a GIS and export/import to a graphics package, but I'm sure that in the future, a higher proportion of maps will be completed within the GIS.

In terms of numbers, GIS is already dominant - US Census created some 60 million different maps for the last census and its updates - no way could you do that in a graphics package!
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Paul Hardy
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#12
klawrence

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I see this was originally posted a few years ago and there have definitely been some advances in GIS software capabilities. I'm new to heading up a dept of GIS professionals and graphic designers, and I want to make the best use of everyone's skills; efficiency and consistency are key. I'd love to hear what others use as guidelines on map production in terms of software used, etc.

http://www.cartotalk...p?showtopic=493

Bruce,

In addition to many good comments on the advantages of working in a graphic design environment that were made in the above thread. I can say that when I worked for a large US city planning dept. in my previous job producing thousands of maps a yearfor both intenal and external uses, under tight time deadlines with a small team we did analyse our workflows and our use of various software packages to come up with a series of rules/criteria to decide how a map would be produced. I presented on this at my first NACIS conference in 2002. factors influencing that choice included volume, size, labelling density, map audience and time constraints. Our workflows were designed to maximise our staff's numbers and skills using various tools as appropriate.

Every individual cartographer and organisation producing maps needs to go through this same process and evaluate how much time and energy they want to spend creating maps and evaluate that against the final quality they require and decide if it meets their current needs. My guess is that current COTS GIS and RS packages meet the needs of most users. For some of us it does not , as a result we use other or additional tools either because we realise perceived or real advantages AND/OR our customers/clients recognize the quality it imparts to our work and demand it. As a result some GIS have also added graphic platform like tools (i.e. ESRI) because of the demand for it. Others have decided to offer export directly to graphic platforms(PCI geomatica's newests version will offer AI export). These companies are slowly responding to the demand for better tools, because that demand exists.

Ultimately we all make choices about what kind of map that we want to make and how we want to make them. We are also told by our employers/clients what kind of maps we are going to make and how we will make them. Our skills and cartographic vision determines the final looks of our maps and hopefully that doesnt get limited by our tools and we are honest enough with ourselves not to let it.






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