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Thread: Mapping Software Recommednation

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  1. #1

    Default Mapping Software Recommednation

    Hi,

    I have a part time job making site maps for big events. I'm looking for something that might allow me to easily make maps that looks like the screenshot attached.Attachment 62109 I'm not so concerned over the icons or look (I have my own along my own custom made PS icons) but I need to find a way to easily pull simplified maps that I can size correctly depending on the location. I've been using bad screenshots of google maps or bing maps which just isn't cutting it. Any recommendations on software?

    Sort of related; Does anyone know of software that can automatically create "stick map directions" or "Back of napkin" maps? I have no idea what the technical term is for this type, but conceptually, a directions map that has everything stripped except for the exact roads that are being driven on. Typically they are resized and compressed and not to scale. I'm having trouble finding an example but MSN maps actually had an option to create (poorly) back in the day.

  2. #2

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    The attachment doesn't seem to be working. Let's try this again. Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3

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    I also was able to locate a *poor* example of the Back of Napkin look. Add Driving Directions to Web & Mobile Applications with Bing Maps

    I know this is baby stuff compared to what you all do, but seriously, any help or direction anyone might have is seriously appreciated.

  4. #4
    Guild Expert Gracious Donor Hai-Etlik's Avatar
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    A map that only preserves connectedness and discards other details for clarity is a "topological map" (not to be confused with the more common "topographic map") Probably the most famous is the map of the London Underground.

    What you really need to worry about is data more than software. Tracing over Bing or Google maps is copyright infringement so what you need is a data source that is available under terms you can use. OpenStreetMap might work(Free to use under the Open Data Commons Open Database License), or you might also try the appropriate national mapping agency or municipal government.

    Working with raw geographic data once you've got it does require some specialized software. A desktop GIS can style and do at least the rudimentary page layout, which you can finish in a vector graphics editor. OpenStreetMap has an unusual data model that requires some adaptation to work in conventional GIS software. Some GISes have plugins to do that or you can find excerpts of OSM data adapted to the usual GIS model. You can also export styled sections of the OSM map in various styles rather more easily than you can with Google or Bing.

    If you want a GIS to play with, QuantumGIS is an Open Source desktop GIS you can download for free. The "Adobe" of GIS is called "Esri", and their "Photoshop" is "ArcGIS Desktop". Last I checked, it begins at 1,500 USD for the absolutely basic version and beyond that is "if you need to ask, you can't afford it" territory so they don't quote prices on their website. (For full disclosure, I work for a competitor of Esri, and we have some limited involvement in QuantumGIS.)

    For topological maps, ordinary vector graphics software is the way to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hai-Etlik View Post
    For topological maps, ordinary vector graphics software is the way to go.
    Going to second this and mention that I have used both MS Visio and Adobe Illustrator for maps like this before.

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    Guild Expert Azelor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Coen View Post
    Going to second this and mention that I have used both MS Visio and Adobe Illustrator for maps like this before.
    and Inkscape is the free version of Illustrator.

    What do you mean by hand crafting them ?

  7. #7

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    Even in illustrator I have to manually adjust whatever data I pull in to strip the unnecessary info, and reshape it to be a "non-proportional" map. I'm just curious if anything exists like (now long gone) MSN Maps 'Back of Napkin' stuff (there's a link above if you want to see exactly what I'm talking about) that you just plug in the two addresses and it does the rest for you.

    Even if that doesn't exist, If you have any recommendations on how to work more efficiently in Illustrator that would be fantastic.

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    Guild Expert Gracious Donor Hai-Etlik's Avatar
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    Go to OpenStreetMap, find the area you want, select "Share" from the toolbar on the right, pick SVG or PDF, change scale and bounding box if you want, "Download". Open the file in your vector graphics editor. This should be a lot easier than tracing a screenshot. The exported map is licensed under Creative Commons-Attribution-Share Alike, the raw information being presented is under the ODC ODBL (if you trace it or strip out all the styling and symbols, you should only need to follow the ODBL, not the CC license.)

    Using a GIS is much more fire and forget once you have it set up. If you use say the OpenStreetMap plugin for QGIS and set up your own symbology and print composer, then for any new map you can just grab the data for the area, apply the symbology you already created, run it though the existing composer, and have a finished map in, anywhere from a few minutes to a few seconds. As GIS workflows go, that's very basic, but it still takes a bit of learning to get to there from only knowing graphics software.

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    Guild Expert Gracious Donor Hai-Etlik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azelor View Post
    and Inkscape is the free version of Illustrator.

    What do you mean by hand crafting them ?
    Please don't refer to Inkscape as a "version of Illustrator". They do approximately the same thing (editing vector graphics) but are developed independently. Illustrator CS6 is a version of Illustrator.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hai-Etlik View Post
    Please don't refer to Inkscape as a "version of Illustrator". They do approximately the same thing (editing vector graphics) but are developed independently. Illustrator CS6 is a version of Illustrator.
    Especially considering Illustrator has a lot more tools and features than Inkscape. And the same could be said between Photoshop and GIMP (like for my uses, GIMP cannot make bevels at all, yet Illustrator and Photoshop can... and I always have bevels in my maps.)
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