That looks like a GIS map

I was talking about web cartography with a client today and he was saying how he can tell any map made with GIS in a couple seconds. While he did admit that he has been fooled quite a bit, he was still disappointed that there really hasn’t been mainstream improvements to quality of maps. I think he’s a little blinded by the average ArcMap document produced as most of them look alike because many GIS professionals seem to just be happy with the default symbology (or just don’t know how to take advantage of Cartographic Representations). Now this is somewhat unfair to ESRI as most desktop GIS clients seem to fall into these faults.

OK, but why is this a problem? Tonight, while watching ASU fall apart against Fresno State in College Baseball, a couple of us came up with some ideas:

  • We all graduated 1995 and earlier and we all had many cartography classes in college. Do today’s GIS students not get traditional cartographic education?
  • The ease of desktop GIS clients has made “hacking” cartography elements unnecessary. The default symbology is good enough and there is no need to spend time tweaking lines, points, or polygons.
  • Users of the maps (be it clients, project managers, creators) don’t value cartography. The savings of quickly producing a map outweighs excellent cartography.
  • The phrase, “Good enough for government work” is used way too frequently in GIS shops.

What do you think? We all see amazing cartography and some of it is very easy to produce. Why can’t we be blowing people’s minds anymore? There are tons of great books out there to help.

Bad Maps

Just being better than a Disney map shouldn’t be enough



My hat is off to everyone who had to work within the BIM (Building Information Modeling) space on a daily basis. Talk about using tools that aren’t refined enough (and this is coming from someone who has worked with GIS applications for 15+ years). It was painful hearing about how many hoops folks have to jump through with BIM and how it affects their workflows (not in a good way).

It has been clear to me with all the emails I’ve received from folks wanting to know more about how I’m approaching BIM and GIS, that there is great interest in the subject. Just about everyone of my clients I’ve talked to about the move to the new company has mentioned BIM as something they want to or are being required to get involved with. I’ll make it my goal in the next year or so to keep everyone informed about how things are going and what I’ve learned about working with BIM and GIS.

I’ve just gotten Revit installed on my desktop and as soon as we can square the ArcGIS Desktop licenses we’ll start working on workflows and interoperability.


We don’t need gatekeepers between BIM and GIS


Acrobat Maps, Email and GeoWeb 2008 Conference

I guess the “big” news today was the Acrobat 9 “maps” feature. All Points Blog and Fantom Planet both cover the news in their own unique style. Since ArcGIS 9.3 will support the new PDF maps (with a patch of course) I suspect that this will be very popular, at least in our circles. Just last week I was watching someone take a ruler and put it up to their computer screen to measure distance. Hopefully with Acrobat 9 we won’t have to see this anymore. The bonus part of Adobe putting this in is that the free Adobe Reader supports the mapping features and will hopefully mean that it will be adopted quicker than GeoPDF has.

Now I wonder if this goes with the rumor that I’ve heard that ArcGIS Desktop will support reading of PDF files in the near future.

Also, as many of you know my first day at RSP Architects was today. The best way to get a hold of me via email moving forward will be at this email address.

Lastly, I’m going to be going to the GeoWeb 2008 Conference in July and be on a Spark Panel Session moderated by Geoff Zeiss called “National Critical Infrastructure Data Models: Implications for Local Government and Utilities”. Now if that title doesn’t get you excited, I’m not sure you are alive. Seriously though, I’m looking forward to GeoWeb 2008 as the CAD-BIM papers are right up my alley these days.