Choosing the Right Cartography Tool

Events & Press, Ortelius

In her recently released cartography textbook, Principles of Map Design (2010), Dr. Judith A Tyner provides a balanced discussion of the considerations regarding cartography software selection. Given that the needs of every user are unique, this is a valuable contribution for those considering which tools to use. As relatively new cartography software, we’re also thrilled to see Ortelius included in the review. Here is an excerpt from the book:

How Will It Be Produced?

“The principles of design apply whether the map is drawn with pen and ink or a sophisticated computer, but one should have an idea of how the map will be made at the beginning.

Software for computer-produced maps is of four types: GIS, illustration/presentation, CADD (computer-assisted design and drafting), mapping, or some combination of these. GIS software is a powerful analytical tool with map presentation capabilities. With GIS, data can be linked to places and calculations can be made. As of this writing there are some design limitations and some types of symbol that are difficult or impossible to create using GIS. These problems will be solved at some point. By the same token, some symbols that are easy to produce with GIS cannot easily be created manually or with presentation software. Presentation or illustration software, such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, is used by graphic artists and allows for highly creative products. However, such software does not allow analysis, calculation, or linking data to locations automatically. If these capabilities are not needed, a presentation program can be a good choice. Like illustration programs, CADD doesn’t allow for analysis. There are some mapping programs, such as Microsoft MapPoint, that have limited GIS capability and allow some simple analysis and creation of maps, but do not allow much flexibility in map design and composition. Some recent mapping programs, such as Ortelius and MapPublisher, combine GIS and design (Figure 2.9). If one is using a dedicated GIS, combining it with a presentation program usually allows for the best analysis and presentation product” (p.26, emphasis added).

Principles of Map Design offers an authoritative, reader-friendly introduction of the core principles of good map design that apply regardless of the production methods or technical approach. The book addresses the crucial questions that arise at each step of map making: Who is the audience? What is the purpose of the map? Where and how will it be used?

Available through Amazon and Guilford Press.

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