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newbie wants to create maps with roads and political district boundaries overlaid

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#1
neobadger

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Hi – I’m a newbie to computer mapping, first need to be pointed in the right direction (or bearing?). I want to overlay roads, political boundaries, cities/towns, and zipcodes . I then want to input points with attributes at specific locations defined by street address or fire number or rural address. I don’t know if I’m using the correct terminology, but I hope someone can advise where/who to go to next. Thanks a lot!

#2
frax

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Let us know what you have tried, and what you need to get out of it (what quality?). Could Google Earth be a decent solution?


Hugo Ahlenius
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#3
ProMapper

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What type of map you want? Is it a web based solution or a static map which you want to print later?

 

The answer to the question above will decide your course of action. For web based mapping you can use any of the APIs, Google maps API, OpenLayers API and so on. The basic requirement is that you must be a programmer as all these APIs use quite a bit of javascript and php also if you want to access databases and stuff.

 

The second answer would take you into the world of GIS cartography and you would need software to do the stuff. Since you want to import geographic data in the maps, then there are lot of options. You want more graphics and less of GIS stuff, then you could probably go for Illustrator with Avenza Mapublisher plugin. You can get trial versions of both the software. If you want more GIS analysis then go for hard core GIS software; say ESRI ArcGIS, or MapInfo may be. So it all depends what you want to achieve in the end.

 

Cartography which was earlier a niche field has been relegated to playing second or may be third fiddle to GIS. There are lot of automated solutions available which make cartography a set of rules, rather than the fine art it was. Anyway, welcome to the world of maps and all the very best.

 

Anu

http://www.mapsandlocations.com



#4
neobadger

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Thanks to both of you for responding. By newbie I meant I’m not using any geo software yet – so, I haven’t tried anything. I don’t need much power – can’t forsee 3-d or the need for hi resolution. (1.0m is plenty fine). What I do want is easy, seamless overlay of roads and streets, political districts, zip codes, etc. and the ability to insert entities at defined locations. Then I want to inquire about and manipulate the map. For instance, who is in zipcode 60630, or what parcels of land lie along a stretch of Interstate 94. I hope this isn’t too vague, or imprecisely worded. I did look at google earth and it seems like it would work for me. But the gobbledygook on the google site doesn’t give answers I can understand.

#5
David Medeiros

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neobadger,

 

You might give Quantum GIS (Q-GIS) a try. It's free and multi platform (PC and Mac). You can do pretty much everything you asked for in it. If you've never used a GIS or GIS data you may need to find a good tutorial nad check thier user forum for help. But it's pretty straightforward once you get in there.

 

http://www.qgis.org/


GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#6
neobadger

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David,
many thanks for guiding me to QGIS.  I perused
their site until my eyeballs glazed over. I’m running my PC on Windows XP,
300gb, 3 ghz. Would you be kind enough to give me a sanity check? Are the
following good assumptions?:



For
the uses I described in my last post, I could be ready to go by downloading
QGIS and perhaps other freeware plus some c++ and GIS learning. (I’ve been
using AutoCad for years, and got an intro to c++)



The
following  files are public domain and available on line. And they can be
inserted into QGIS and, with some coordinate transferring algorithms, fit as
layers into one file: landforms of a single U.S. state (land, lakes, islands,
rivers); streets, roads, highways in that state; every jurisdictional
(legislative, judicial, municipal) zone in that state; property plats (perhaps
for each county).



Imported
zones can have colors reassigned manually or automatically. Labels and
attributes can be added to imported zones.



I
would initially interpret and use the map by looking at the display and writing down
names/addresses – but there are some programmable options available if the
amount of data got very large.



Can
I do all of this? Are there any speed bumps or roadblocks? I hope I got the terminology
right.



Thanks
again! 



 



#7
Dennis McClendon

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We can be more helpful if you can tell us a little more about where you are and what you hope to use the map for.  Reading between the lines, I might guess that you are in the rural Midwest and hoping to use the map for emergency dispatch.  If so, you may find your biggest problem is getting quality GIS data, at least at a useful scale and level of detail.  Unless your county has centerline files for its roads, you may have to create those.  Same with address points.  Cadastral (property ownership) data may be proprietary, or simply not available in digital form.  Some states, particularly Illinois, have a dearth of publicly available data.  


Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#8
Spencer

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Give Google Fusion Tables a try. Basically a spreadsheet to house data and spatial information. A subsequent map can be overlaid with various layers (maximum of five the last time I knew) and made toggle able. The points you are speaking of can be made interactive. The whole thing can be upgraded as well.

 

Fusion Tables have changed a little bit since I last was able to work with them, but it can be done. Here is a simple example of how the Fusion Tables used to work. http://strowbridge.h...ectspring2.html Notice that the layers will draw in the order of the last layer clicked.

 

I just now realized that the lines are clickable, but they only show the geometry of the lines. This information can be set up within the Fusion Table dialogue and your Google Drive.

 

I also like MAPublisher. Their tutorial is very good, but you have to have Illustrator, of course.



#9
neobadger

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Thanks for the suggestion to use QGIS. It’s amazingly accessible. Now I’ve run into some speed bumps. Can someone give some advice? I have put together a 4-layer state map with political boundaries, and want to add some layers. First, I want to add highways and streets. What is the best web source and the best method. Free is best but inexpensive would work.. Will I have an issue matching the projections so the layers will align properly? Will this be an issue for imported files in general? If so, how is the alignment done? I have a large excel file containing names and street addresses. Can someone recommend the most efficient way to create a layer with points corresponding to the addresses (and of course the attributes derived from its line in the excel file) And I’ve been trying to make it possible to view the bounded areas of two layers at once. But, when I make the fill of the top layer transparent, the boundary lines disappear. Is there a way to work around this problem?




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