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Thread: Mapping Software Recommednation

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      Frankl is offline
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    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.

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      Frankl is offline
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    The attachment doesn't seem to be working. Let's try this again. Mapping Software Recommednation-untitled-2.jpg

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      Frankl is offline
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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.

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      Hai-Etlik is offline
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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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      Frankl is offline
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    Thank you so much for the help. That makes a lot of sense, Open Data Commons seems like a great option for simple screen shots without copyright issues. According to the licensing, (if I'm not mistaken) if I pay the $5 a month for the business google maps I'm allowed to use screenshots in business related whatever for up to 5000 prints which is way less than I need. I had no idea that tracing was off limits though.

    As far as everything else, maybe I'm just making it more complicated than it is, but those seem like quite a few steps for what I need. In the example I attached, I assumed (maybe incorrectly?) that those guys must be using something pretty simple where they just plug in the address for the area, size it up, and paste in the icons. Maybe copy the screenshot into a vector graphics software to finish up the icons. Most of the maps I'm doing will literally be used to get people to worksite and then tossed at the end of the day. Speed is the key, since they are onto a new location almost every day. So while I'd obviously prefer them to look decent, the time is by far the prioritiy and the fewer steps the better. I'd love to know what they are using, or something that might perform the same function.

    Topological is great to know. Something new every day haha. I actually found a more specific example of what I'm looking for here: Add Driving Directions to Web & Mobile Applications with Bing Maps According to this site MSN maps before it became Bing maps used to allow you to easily make these "back of napkin" line maps, but its obviously completely stripped from their new site. I would seriously pay a few hundred for a program that could allow me just plug in two addressed and get an automated map like the ones shown in the link (and heck, if it could not look like 2002 even better). It would seriously save me dozens of hours a week. I've been using illustrator to create the stick topolographic direction maps and it's like pulling teeth because of the massive time suck.

    Thanks in advance!

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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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      Frankl is offline
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    I just wanted to follow up and make sure my question doesn't get lost. Any suggestions on a less painful way to get the back of napkin maps shown in the link above without having to hand craft them individually?

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      Azelor is online now
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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 ?

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      Frankl is offline
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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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      Hai-Etlik is offline
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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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