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Graphics Tablets

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I am running into problems creating features in ArcGIS 10 using freehand tool and a mouse. Therefore looking into purchasing a graphics tablet. A bit of web surfing seems to indicate that the Wacom Intuous pro might be a good choice. If you have experience creating features freehand in ArcGIS 10 using a graphics tablet would you kindly weigh-in on this. What has your experience been like ? and what would you recommend for hardware that plays well with Arc? I don't believe I want to go whole-hog into a tablet GIS, I like my mouse and pc workstation, I just need a supplemental tool for cartographic production. Thanks for your input!




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At work, I have a Wacom Cintiq 24HD. It's worth every dollar we paid for it (its expensive.) It's like having a second monitor that you can draw on; it replaced one of my 24" monitors.


It works well enough with any program, after some tweaking. Mine has the programmable buttons and ring on both sides. If you want to use them, you'll spend a lot of time fiddling with the settings to get them like you want it. It's nice to be able to hold a button to pan around the map (basically a button is mapped to the "C" key.) The programmable buttons work good in any program that you can set shortcut keys for. In Illustrator, the pan is a tool, so once you hit the button on the tablet, you stay in pan mode until you switch to another tool, so its a bit different switching between ArcGIS and Illustrator. In ArcGIS you only have Pan while the button is depressed, and it returns to whatever you were doing when you let go.


Only problems I really have, both in ArcGIS, are that sometimes it thinks I'm using the eraser end when I'm not and trying to do a long click on something always brings up the right click context menu, and I haven't figured out how to stop that from happening. Also, there is a window that pops up to allow you to write with the pen, and it will digitize it, for text entry. That works ok, but the window sometimes ends up in the way.


I've found that, particularly in ArcMap, I like to create custom toolboxes for what I am doing, and place those closer to my work. Trying to reach up to the upper left corner on my desk is still a bit of a stretch.


I still don't know where to put my keyboard. Right now its in front of the tablet. It's not ideal, but I haven't gotten the hang of using the onscreen popup keyboard/text entry dialog yet.


Now, for actual digitizing, it seems to still work best to use the pen and click points around the map. I thought I would switch to stream digitizing, and I could just trace something like a lake. To some extent you can, but either you end up with wayyyy too many vertices, or if you set it to group points together, there is a significant pause very often, as ArcMap processes it in the background. Of course, you run into things like trying to pan while digitizing too. I found that for most things I do, using the old fashioned click for each vertex was still the way to go. And with the pen, that is super fast! I can draw building structures in no time. I hit 3 points, and then tap the button that is programmed for "Square and Finish" and then pan to the next.


The best thing though, about it, is I was beginning to have pains in my hand from digitizing with the mouse so much. The pen, for me, eliminates that.


I'll answer any more questions you have as best I can.



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I concur about the Wacom Cintiq 24HD. I mostly draw my maps with Illustrator, it's very nice to be able to draw with the pencil tool instead of the pen tool :)

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