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Alternative Cartographic Software

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I am looking for an alternative software product for cartography other than ArcGIS and Adobe Illustrator. The graphic quality in ArcGIS outputs is substantially poor when compared to outputs in illustrator, yet illustrator is not a true cartographic software package. Any open source? Any extensions to ArcGIS or Illustrator that would enhance performance? Read a couple referrals to MAPublisher in other forums, yet this package is too expensive ($2000+). Thanks for any help you are able to provide.

James Hines

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    James Anthony Hines

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I just checked the price of a new MAPublisher license & if you have a day job you should be able to afford the $1451.64. It's a lot of money if you do not have a job; but if you do no problem. I'll admit it's up a little higher from the $1250 awhile back but I think I can understand when Avenza tried to sell a separate license for geodatabase functionality separately. Well thank-god we all have import functionality in a regular MAPublisher license & because of this I say the cost of the slightly more expensive license is worth it.

You have to consider if your going to freelance you have to spend a little to get more. If you buy Illustrator + MAPublisher & use open source GIS the cost will be kept under $2500. That is pretty cheap. So bite the bullet & enjoy the extra income you shall receive.

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For vector part of my maps I'm using OCAD software. Powerfull and interesting color management and very strict symbology. Also a lot od output options. And some really advance features like XML scripting.



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Bear in mind also that as a cartographer you will not be operating in a vacuum. If you are creating maps within the context of geographic analysis, you'll need to be able to at least access ESRI-formatted data. If you are working in the realm of print production, you will find yourself jumping through hoops to not use Illustrator and potentially the whole Adobe Suite... they are the industry standard. I'm afraid that despite the drawbacks, working back and forth one way or the other is how most of us end up working, unless we are able to carve out a niche for ourselves where there is little back and forth with either publishers or GIS folks.

Nat Case

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