Posts Tagged ‘geopdf’

Review of Avenza’s PDF Maps app for iPhone and iPad

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

openwith processing maptools

This app gets the job done: PDF Maps introduces a strongly played set of basic features and later versions promise to add more advanced features like layer visibility and feature attribute query. Professional cartographers can use the app to deliver custom cartography maps that leverage GPS to locate the map-reading customer with the magic blue dot. It’s certainly not an ArcPad, but it works on the iPad and you’ll find it fun to use (and the app price is right).

I quite enjoy Avenza’s new free PDF Maps iOS app, free and available now on the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad. I’ve been testing it for several months using both the beta and  final release versions. I’ve used the app in my neighborhood, on a cross country road trip, and we’ve been using it to ground truth maps at at my day job. I’ve created my own GeoPDFs and used those from USGS and Avenza.

Besides myself, I setup two non-cartographers with an iPad (3g  with gps) and several GeoPDFs depicting neighborhood-level street maps to field check in the Washington DC metro area. They were amazed at how easy it was to locate themselves on the map and make notes by dropping markers they bring back to the office for me to review. Because these particular maps include street labels, they don’t need to switch back and forth to Apple’s provided Google Maps app as they navigate.

The inaugural version is iOS only but the company has had requests for Android, Symbian, Blackberry and even Windows 7 Mobile. Expect an Android version next. Future iterations of the app may introduce a two-tiered, free-basic feature and pay advanced feature parellel versions, which seems reasonable to me. I’m also excited to see if a white-label version becomes available (much like the Flash SWF export out of Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator) that cartographers can use to brand the experience and pre-bundle their maps.

PDF Maps offers the following capabilities:
  • View and load your own custom cartography maps and view them with GPS location
  • Supports both Adobe/ESRI geospatial PDF maps and TerraGo/USGS GeoPDF® files.
  • Access and interact with saved maps without the need for a live network connection
  • Standard GSP app features: Plot way-points, enter attribute data and notes, measure distances and areas
  • Standard iOS interface: Quickly view, zoom and pan maps using gestures (pinch, drag and flick, double tap)
  • HD version for iPad same app as the basic version for iPhone, slightly reworked interface
  • Does not currently support waypoint export, a key feature
  • Does not currently support import of KML and GPX files

To create a GeoPDF, you’ll need ArcGIS 9.3.1+ to export from ArcMap with preserve coordinate system checked. Or use Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator (version 8.2+). You can also download thousands of GeoPDFs from USGS. Even though the USGS files use the TerraGo GeoPDF format specification (versus Adobe + ESRI’s), it will open and render in PDF Maps.app. Avenza also offers dozens of sample GeoPDFs linked from within the app to get you started (click Maps, then +, then From Avenza PDF Maps Library and browse the list).

Adding maps is as simple as dragging them to iTunes or attaching to an email (making it easy to send map updates to your field checker). Clicking on a PDF link on the iPhone or iPad now prompts to open in the app, as seen in the first screenshot above . Once opened in the PDF Maps app, it will take a few seconds to minutes to render, second screenshot above. Once open, several tools are available, the most important of which is simply the “locate me” triangle button on the map map view.

Even though it’s all about the PDF map you’re looking at, the app makes it convenient to open the same view in Maps.app to see Google’s version of reality for cross checking, especially using the satellite map tiles there. This is possible for both the current map view using the tools menu, and to open a specific waypoint marker after clicking it’s location field.

I’ve loaded PDFs with the app that are more than 10 mb of vectors and performance has been good. When the map first loads it will process and prepare several zoom levels of precached tiles. This will make panning and zooming faster during actual map use and is worth the wait.

During precache rendering, you can still use the map, but the parts that will still be loading will be fuzzy for a while. Very large maps (larger than 20 mb, or more than 2000 sq. inches) are slower to render in this version (hey, it’s a mobile phone). For larger areas, I’ve been splitting the exported map into separate files. When multiple maps loaded in, there is a Maps table of contents listing.

I found a couple continuing quirks with the app and one major missing feature. The app really needs to export the map’s waypoints as CSV, KML, and GPX as an email attachment. I wish repositioning an existing pin was easier. The hit areas on some buttons is small, making it hard to use in a moving car. Sometimes it’s nice to have multiple marker icon labels open, but sometimes that is odd. At any rate, there’s no way to close them all en mass.

Quick and dirty test GeoPDF files:
(using Natural Earth, US Census, and other draft data)

Note: Because of USGS website quirks, it is not possible to directly download a USGS GeoPDF onto your iPhone/iPad in the field. The website doesn’t render properly (something about IE and cookies), and the resulting download file is ZIP format rather than PDF. Not sure why, since the PDF should already be optimized for file size (there’s only a 1.5% file size savings between ZIP and PDF in the Washington D.C. West quad sheet).

Check out more screenshots:

MAPublisher 8.2 Released with GeoPDF, KML + Spatial Database Support (Avenza)

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

mp82

[Editor's note: Expression Builder gets a needed upgrade, too, and the web map authoring tool's new features deserve a second look. The ESRI GeoDB support (Windows only for now) comes with a $349 upgrade price tag for existing maintenance customers. I'd like to see scripting (recordable with Illustrator actions) in their next release, and a method to export cut map tiles for mashups.]

Republished from Avenza (1, 2, 3).

Avenza Systems Inc., producers of MAPublisher cartographic software for Adobe Illustrator and Geographic Imager spatial tools for Adobe Photoshop is pleased to announce the release of MAPublisher 8.2 for Adobe Illustrator. MAPublisher 8.2 is the latest version of this powerful mapmaking software used to produce high quality maps from GIS data for both print and electronic distribution and now offers support for both creating geospatial PDF files from within Adobe Creative Suite and importing GIS map data directly from ESRI geodatabases.

MAPublisher 8.2 for Adobe Illustrator is a full product upgrade that is free of charge to all current MAPublisher Maintenance Program subscribers and replaces the current shipping version of MAPublisher, version 8.1, for all new customers using Adobe Illustrator CS3 and/or CS4.

“MAPublisher 8.2 is another major advance for this powerful and widely used cartographic and map-design platform,” said Ted Florence, President of Avenza, “MAPublisher now offers the first and only solution for creating geospatial PDF files from within Adobe Creative Suite and with the inclusion of import support for ESRI geodatabases offers a truly comprehensive map design and publishing solution.” he added.

MAPublisher 8.2 includes all the significant functionality introduced in earlier releases of MAPublisher as well as the following new features and enhancements.

New Features of MAPublisher 8.2 for Adobe Illustrator

  • Export to Geospatial PDF with optional retention of attributes and referencing for re-import to Illustrator
  • Support for the new MAPublisher spatial database import system for ESRI geodatabases (additional license required. Windows only)
  • Upgraded functionality for the MAPublisher LabelPro collision-free rule-based labeling system (additional license required)
  • Dozens of improvements & enhancements for the MAP Web Author Tool for automatic creation of interactive Flash maps
  • New MAP Measurement tool for measuring lengths, perimeters and areas in page or map units
  • Import and export of KMZ files
  • Enhanced grid and graticule functionality with a number of new features including full support for rotated MAP Views
  • New functionality to create attributes for text objects from corresponding map features
  • New functionality to create a map index using additional feature attributes
  • Enhanced Expression Builder with recently used list and many new functions
  • Enhanced Preferences options includes dozens of new customizable items for most MAPublisher functions
  • Upgraded MAP View panels with new functionality
  • Various other user interface improvements and performance enhancements to improve usability

Features of the MAPublisher Geospatial PDF Exporter

The MAPublisher Geospatial PDF exporter offers the ability to generate Adobe Acrobat PDF files that contain all the cosmetic features of the completed Adobe Illustrator map document as well as all the GIS data attributes and co-ordinate information of the original GIS data files, such that within Adobe Acrobat the following functionality can be performed without the aid of any special tools, plugins or other special extensions to Adobe Acrobat.

  • View map locations in various coordinate systems including decimal degrees, DMS, Military Grid and more.
  • Find a location in a map and mark it with a comment
  • Measure distances on a map using real-world units (miles, kilometers, feet, etc.)
  • Reveal the attributes of map features by clicking on the feature within the map document
  • Search by map attribute values to reveal all map features that satisfy the query
  • Option to retain attributes and georeferencing for re-import to Illustrator/MAPublisher

Features of the MAPublisher spatial database importer

  • Direct import from ESRI Personal Geodatabase (requires ArcGIS license)
  • Direct import from ESRI File Geodatabase (requires ArcGIS license)
  • Direct import from ArcSDE servers (requires ArcGIS or ArcReader license)
  • Support for point, line, polygon and Bezier curve geometries
  • Support for Annotations
  • SQL attribute query support executed on import to enable import of specific features only
  • Spatial filter executed on data import to enable selective importation based on defined data extents
  • Support for subtypes and domains during import

The MAPublisher spatial database importer for Illustrator is available as an add-on option for MAPublisher 8.2, for Windows only, for US$599. MAPublisher users with active MAPublisher maintenance may purchase the MAPublisher spatial database importer for only US$349. New MAPublisher 8.2 licenses including MAPublisher spatial database functionality are US$1549. Academic, floating license and volume pricing is available. Prices include 1 year of maintenance. Full details are available at www.avenza.com.

More about MAPublisher for Illustrator

MAPublisher for Illustrator is powerful map production software for creating cartographic-quality maps from GIS data. Developed as a suite of plug-ins for Adobe Illustrator, MAPublisher leverages the superior graphics capabilities of this graphics design software for working with GIS data and producing high-quality maps with efficiency.

MAPublisher 8.2 for Illustrator is available free of charge to all MAPublisher for Illustrator customers with a valid maintenance subscription and as an upgrade for non-maintenance members at US$549. New licenses are US$1249. Academic, floating and volume pricing is available. Prices include 1 year of maintenance. Full details are available at www.avenza.com/mapublisher.