Posts Tagged ‘illustrator’

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:

What Illustrator CS5 means for cartographers

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: I’ve been using CS5 for a while now and I think you’ll like it as much as I do. This release is focused on making existing work flows easier, faster, and more enjoyable. Check out the official promo at Adobe. Mordy has a great screencast showing off some of these features, as well.]

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Joining lines

  • Freehand-style line joining! No longer required to select endpoints of two line, it just works with 2 or more lines selected. Did I mention it works on more than 2 lines at once? Super smart, huge time saver.
  • Caveat: if you are looking for very complicated GIS-style (angle, gap, etc) line joining, you’ll still need to use an advanced plugin. This one will work 90% of the time.

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Select behind

  • Like Freehand and InDesign
  • Quibble: Doesn’t work on strokes, only on fill

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Symbols

  • Now can have layers! This will allow us to work around many long standing sublayer bugs.
  • Can have masks and not selectable beyond the mask (if content is not visible, it is not selectable)
  • Bounding box no longer includes guides
  • Selection based on content, not bounding box
  • Actually use the registration point
  • Can transform symbols with respect to the registration point.
  • 9-slice scaling now works, have guides for them (important for preserving the shape of corners when scaled)
  • Breaking link to symbol preserves symbol sublayers
  • Can align the symbol content to the pixel grid (for pretty web output)
  • Quibble: Before you could register via the bounding box (using preview bounds). Now you can’t. Instead, set a key object and then use 0 as the offset and use the distribute space button.

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Strokes

  • Variable width (think tapered streams, see screenshot below)
  • Better corner control (miter, see screenshot below)
  • Better dashing (including centering dashes on corners, see screenshot below)
  • Better arrowheads (registered to the tip of the line or beyond the tip of the line)
  • Setup width profiles (even on calligraphic brushes and pattern brushes)
  • Segmented art brushes (similar to 9-slice scaling for symbols, no longer distorted shapes)

Fills

  • Pattern fill now stable between artboards (they don’t shift)

screen-shot-2010-04-12-at-110114-pm

Pixel Perfect Drawing

  • Get your artwork to the web with crisp, on pixel lines rather than grey anti-aliased crap.
  • Also Flash- and Photoshop-style text anti-alias settings
  • See pixel grid on zoom in
  • Quibble: only works at 100% 72 ppi. If you scale up your artwork to get it on the web via Save For Web, this will not work for you. You must scale it up before exporting.

Draw behind mode

  • Or in front or inside, like Flash.
  • Useful for cartoonists, especially.

Flash (FXG) exchange format

  • Better round tripping of graphics to Flash for interactive graphics
  • Made for working with Flash Catalyst

screen-shot-2010-04-12-at-110420-pm screen-shot-2010-04-12-at-110446-pm

Artboards

  • Can now be named!
  • Easier to reorder, delete empty artboards
  • Can rearrange artboards automatically.

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Rulers

  • Now measure Y down rather than up
  • Measure per artboard and globally.
  • Paste in same “relative” place across multiple artboards at once
  • Makes consistent with Photoshop, Flash, InDesign and most other design apps
  • For us programmers, the true mathematical Y measures up is still there, though

screen-shot-2010-04-12-at-110817-pm

Shape builder

  • Making a map icon? You’ll find Shape Builder way more intuitive to use than the Pathfinder panel buttons
  • Just click and drag between part, kinda like Live Paint.

Resolution independent effects

  • Now changing the document raster effects resolution (or scaling the object up and down will NOT change the actual effect spread)
  • This is important for “design once, distribute in web, print, etc”

Other stuff

  • Bristle brush is very cool for artists
  • New perspective grid for axiametric drawing
  • Gradient mesh now allows transparency in nodes

Map of big snow storm in DC (Kelso via Wash Post)

Monday, February 8th, 2010

webpromofeb6

I’m still digging out from the big storm this weekend in Washington, DC. I received 24″ at my house, ranged from 14″ to over 30″ in the metro area with heaviest around Columbia, Maryland. I worked during the storm and Laris and I tallied the NWS weather spotter reports of snowfall and used the GIS to krig the a map of average depth from about 50 points (which had to be filtered to remove expired values). Then used Illustrator’s Live Trace functionality to vectorize. Preview above (for the local home page promo which didn’t have room for legend, so directly labeled the contours), full graphic below with explainer of how the storm happened (with Laura and Larry).

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Manage Projects with GridIron Flow for Adobe Creative Suite

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

[Editor's note: Their screencast is impressive. Background app that tracks file time usage for billing and how your files are related to each other (what's placed where) and can search inside documents for layer names, etc). Sounds like a version of Adobe Bridge that's actually useful!]

Republished from the company’s website.

Be totally organized without organizing anything.

Flow is the world’s first Visual Workflow Manager, built from the ground up to keep creative professionals streamlined and informed. Flow gives you a total understanding of your project, visually and intuitively. In one simple interface, you’ll see all your project files, how they’re related to each other, and where they’re located – on a local drive, on a network volume, even on a DVD you burned a few months ago.

This new birds-eye-view of your project gives you instant access to any file you need—and any version of that file, even if you’ve overwritten it while making changes. Flow even alerts you if you try to modify or delete a file that you shouldn’t. Bottom line: no more lost files, no more accidents, and no more all-nighters. You’ll find yourself delivering everything right the first time—without doing anything different.

John Nack, Principal Product Manager for Adobe Photoshop, calls Flow “one of the slickest, most potentially transformative applications I’ve seen in years.” Could it transform the way you work? Check out Flow’s features to find out.

Watch their video or get the demo . . .

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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.

A Magic Wand for Selecting Text in Adobe Illustrator – 11e (KELSO)

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

[Editor’s note: The beta had expired; this is purely an extension of the testing period to November 2010. No new features. I’ve been caught up in Natural Earth the last year and will return to the project at a date uncertain.]

I have been developing a plugin / script for Adobe Illustrator to make it easier to select type in Illustrator by attributes like font family, style, size, and fill color. I hope to release this as a commercial plugin for designers and cartographers at some point. If you would like to beta test this plugin for me, please send me an email at nathaniel@kelsocartography.com or…

Download version 11e of Find and Replace Fonts Script (1.6m). Good thru November 2010.

More information on this script available in this March 2009 post.

FXG: Illustrator and Dreamweaver Integration!?

Friday, October 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: I've known about the FXG format for exchanging content between Illustrator and Flash via Flash Catalyst for a while now but have never been excited about it until seeing this video from Adobe's MAX Sneaks session last week. It previews how FXG might one day (CS5?) allow live data binding (read automatically updating charting, etc) based on a design mocked up in Illustrator but deployed via Dreamweaver as HTML 5 (and iPhone compatible) or Flash via SWF.]

Republished from Mordy’s Real World Illustrator blog.
Another take at: //commentedout and video source at YouTube.

So take a look at this video that someone captured from this year’s Adobe MAX Sneaks session — a demo of technology showing integration between Illustrator and Dreamweaver. If it isn’t clear in the video clip below what is happening, I’ll spell it out for you: He starts by taking art drawn in Illustrator and copies it to the clipboard. Then he goes into Dreamweaver, selects a DIV and chooses a function called Smart Paste. Dreamweaver then pastes an FXG conversion of the Illustrator art directly into the page. If you aren’t familiar with FXG, it’s basically a better SVG (you can get more information on the open source FXG spec here). In other words, you draw in Illustrator, copy and paste into Dreamweaver (which converts it to code), and the art displays as vector art in a web browser. What’s more, the engineer proceed to actually bind XML data to the chart.

As I mentioned, I think this is probably something that is way way off in the future, but it’s still quite incredible. Maybe there’s some hope for us all, after all :)

Continue reading at Mordy’s Real World Illustrator . . .

read-write mapping: NACIS Conference Keynote by Michal Migurski of Stamen Design

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

[Editor's note: I'm just getting back from the annual NACIS conference and decompressing from backpacking, family and friends in the Golden State. Our great keynote speaker this year was Michal Migurski of Stamen Design who talked up the OpenStreetMap project. Mike has also been kind enough to help out with the Natural Earth Data site which will go live in another couple weeks once Tom and I have polished the data. Without further ado, the keynote...]

Republished from tecznotes.

[clip] I used the opportunity to talk about the fascinating OpenStreetMap project, specifically the ways in which it’s useful to a cartography audience and how that audience could benefit the project. This last thing in particular is what I closed with: I think the online face of OSM’s rendered tiles could use serious input from the NACIS community, particularly at the kinds of medium scales where the highly-detailed data blurs into “features”. Much of this happens by-hand in tools like Adobe Illustrator from what I can tell, a very different workflow from the industrial automation offered by my favorite stand-by, Mapnik.

This is a talk about a new awareness of maps and geography, and a change in attitudes toward maps.

I’m going start with a small detour here to tell you about an online phenomenon that’s going on four or so years now, called Unboxing. Unboxing is a kind of geek striptease, described in one site’s tagline as a “vicarious thrill from opening new gear”.

Unboxing is a response to the meticulous packaging of modern electronics gear, most notably Apple’s range of iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers – careful design is invested in the packaging, and careful appreciation is invested in its removal.

Why unboxing? Two aspects of the trend seem relevant here.

First, it’s a new kind of visibility into the fan club culture around popular electronics, allowing users to elevate their own appreciation of a mass-market good into a social experience. I remember bicycling past the Apple Store and the Cingular store on San Francisco’s Market St. on the day the iPhone was released. There were enormous lines in front of each, and as customers picked up their new iPhones they’d walk out the door, break into a jog, and high-five the remainder of the line. The division between fan and star here evaporates.

Second, the delivery mechanism for this fan-produced culture tends to be online sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Both are examples of the phenomenon of the “Read Write Web”, the now-familiar pattern of web-based communities formed around the creation and sharing of social objects like photos and videos.

One effect of these online communities is a new and durable awareness of the process behind creative production. Pages on Flickr or YouTube follow a pattern you’re probably familiar with: title in the upper-left, main “thing” just below that, and to the right at the same level of importance, the person who made it for you. Responsibility and provenance along with all the messiness and point-of-view are built-in assumptions.

In the world of text, we see this same pattern on Wikipedia.

This is the History Flow project from Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas at IBM, which shows edits to a single Wikipedia article over time as threads and contributions from a group of editors.

Like this one, each article has been beaten into shape over time by a group of people following loose rules of cooperation, so each page has an associated “Talk” page where you can peek into the arguments and negotiations connected to the particular set of facts represented there. You can see the sausage being made. You can also cause the sausage to be made, as we saw with Stephen Colbert’s parody of consensual reality he called “wikiality” and used to make occasional, abusive, hilarious forays into Wikipedia.

This is where we segue into geography.

Around 2004 or so, UK developer Steve Coast started a project called OpenStreetMap, the Wiki world map. Steve was connecting a few emerging threads: the falling cost of GPS hardware since it was made available for civilian use in 1996, the dismal copyright layer wrapped around Ordnance Survey maps, and the lack of a viable crappy-but-free alternative in the UK. It’s hard to overstate how crazy this idea was at the time; everyone knows that collecting worldwide geographic data at the street level is a massive undertaking, out of reach of an enthusiast community like the OSM of the time.

What was the state of online mapping at the time? Not terrible, but not great.

Continue reading at tecznotes  . . .

Freehand + Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
UPDATE: Adobe has released a non-activation registration file to address Warning 1 below. Read more »

[Editor's note: Cartographers still migrating to Illustrator from Freehand MX should be wary of upgrading to the new Mac OS as it breaks your Freehand install due to the licensing restrictions the app uses on startup. There is a workaround, but only if you have a volume (company) license code. Thanks Curt!]

Republished from Adobe User-to-User Forum.

I had been unable to replicate the success of others which was quite frustrating but I finally got everything working and wanted to post my solution.  I think it either comes down to lack of complete details in the posted instructions, here is how I was able to get it working properly:
  • Step 1: Delete your local installation of Freehand.  This *includes* the /Library/Application Support/Macromedia directory (well, place it on the desktop)
  • Step 2: Reinstall Freehand. VERY IMPORTANT—DO NOT RUN FREEHAND AFTER INSTALL OR PROCEDURE WILL FAIL
  • Step 3: Recreate the Macromedia directory
  • Step 4: Place your “FreeHand MXa Registration” file back into the newly created Macromedia directory
  • Step 5: Run Freehand

For whatever reason, this was the only way I was capable of repairing my licensed copy of Freehand. Simply updating the “FreeHand MXa Registration” file or installing a new copy ofFreehand *without* first removing the Macromedia directory did nothing to help my situation.

A couple of things you should be aware of:

  • Warning 1: You may need a serial number which starts with WPD700…
    [Editor: WPD700 serial numbers are volume (corporate) licenses, your personal license will likely not work.]

UPDATE: Adobe has released a non-activation registration file to address this. Read more »

  • Warning 2: If you had other registration information for Flash, Fireworks etc, you can safely move those back into the Macromedia directory.
Continue the discussion at the Adobe Forums . . .