MapInfo Professional 9.5 Released
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MapInfo Professional 9.5 Released

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Industry News
MapInfo Professional 9.5 Released

By Susan Smith

This month Pitney Bowes MapInfo announced the release of MapInfo Professional 9.5 at the company’s user conference in Las Vegas. MapInfo Professional 9.5 is the latest version of the company’s flagship business mapping software, complete with three major improvements that customers had asked for.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
MapInfo Professional v9.5 adds 40 new CAD data creation and editing tools
MapInfo product manager, Moshe Binyamin, outlined what those improvements are and how they came about. Before embarking on development of v.9.5, Binyamin said MapInfo formed a series of focus groups conducted with customers worldwide to find out what areas they would like to see focused on. The areas they chose were: improved precise data creation, improved map cartographic quality and improved productivity by improving the ease of use of the product.

Product development is heavily influenced by what customers want embodied in the product, but also must take into account the direction of the industry. In the case of v.9.5 it would seem that the two directions merged into “themes” that carried the development forward.

Major themes in v 9.5 include:
• Ease of use
• Better looking maps
• Data creation and editing tools
• Enhanced data access
• Expanded programmability to .NET and
• Enhanced deployment


“Our release has always had major themes and underneath each theme we basically introduce a series of capabilities to support the themes,” explained Binyamin. “For example, we’ve introduced a theme called ‘better looking maps’ that falls into the category of cartographic quality. It’s not just the map that’s better looking that helps customers but when they produce the map and give it to their managers. If it’s more aesthetically pleasing, it’s easier to read the map and therefore understand the message the map is trying to convey.”

Being able to articulate maps then led to the ability to create more precise data by using CAD creation tools, 40 of which have been implemented in the latest release.

Another theme is ease of use or productivity. “We did a survey of users to find out how they interacted with the product. Where do they spend most of their time?” Binyamin said. “In response we found opportunities to improve the application’s responsiveness or ways that we can anticipate their next step.”

Improvements made in each one of these “themes” or categories are as follows:

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MapInfo Professional v9.5 adds improved automatic labeling, map smoothing and translucency
Ease of use

“We found that customers spend 70 to 80% of their time inside the application with the map and with different layers,” said Binyamin. “We found out a map is constructed from many layers, maybe more than 15. You’ve got regions, lines, points of interest, etc. that can make a map pretty detailed, but at same time, customers do not always remember the name of the layer the information is coming from. Sometimes they need to edit that layer. What we allowed in this release is that as long as a customer can click on any one of the layers or any one of the objects on the map, they can now view the entire layer on which they clicked. Also, as soon as you click on an object on the map, the layer is placed in bold so that you can quickly find it. We’ve also added grid controls to tasks like picking the same color pattern icons or bitmap to represent different things on a map. Every icon has an address that can be documented, and users can tell somebody what address or number they used for fonts, colors, etc. so the other person can also use it to maintain consistency.”

Better looking maps

In this area, MapInfo Professional 9.5 improved labels. “In 9.0 we added ability to curve labels along linear objects like streets. In 9.5 we’ve extended that capability in two ways. One easily labels points of interest that are sometimes very close to each other or on the same point. 9.5 has one setting to say, try alternate locations and you’ll see up to 9 different locations and labels using that setting.” The same capability works for centroids, i.e., central points for linear objects like lines like counties and zips.

Another addition in this area are translucent region areas and also translucent labels. These were created because customers need to build maps in ways outside the typical hierarchical way of creating maps. They needed the ability to highlight a region area but also to be able to see through it. 9.5 shipping right now has all the elements of this feature but the translucent maps is not yet active, and will be activated with the November release.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
MapInfo Professional v9.5 adds improved automatic labeling, map smoothing and translucency
Data creation and editing tools

In the area of data editing, customers of MapInfo Professional are varied in their vertical focus, according to Binyamin. They range from working in design departments in the public sector, to real estate management to telecommunications. What they have in common is that they want to document or create precise objects on the maps, i.e. fiber lines, cadastre mapping, parcel mapping, road, rail, transport network data.

“We partnered with AGIS, a German company, a long time partner of MapInfo that has been operating in the precise data management field for over a decade,” said Binyamin. MapInfo OEM’d their CAD package and are shipping it free with every copy of MapInfo Professional. Included in that package are 40 new tools for precise data creation such as tools that have the ability to create a circle using three GPS points, which could be used to document a roundabout. You can then bring this information back to MapInfo and ask it to reconstruct a circle based on those three points. The CAD package also includes tools to automatically calculate angles, to draw lines by distance, to move objects at a precise distance, CAD operations that can all be done within MapInfo Pro.

Enhanced data access

Before doing any geographical analysis, users must be able to display and work with data. MapInfo Professional 9.5 supports both Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Oracle 11g. Microsoft’s entry this year into the spatial data management market with the release of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 offers an alternative for greater IT support. How does this release impact MapInfo 9.5 customers? “If MapInfo 9.5 users have spatial data in SQL Server 2008 they will be able to access that data directly and display and analyze it in MapInfo Pro,” Binyamin explained.

In Oracle 11g annotation text is introduced, which is text with geography attached to it. MapInfo Pro will be able to access an open layer, i.e., an annotation text layer that is stored in Oracle 11g.

“The benefits for our customers is that SQL Server offers an affordable way of putting enterprise assets inside a database including spatial data, and obviously using MapInfo Pro our customers can take advantage of that data in that repository,” Binyamin noted. “With Oracle a lot of users are using other planning software such as Intergraph and Autodesk as well. If they’re able to store annotation data in Oracle, we’ll be able to directly read that data using MapInfo Pro.”

At the request of mostly European customers, MapInfo Professional 9.5 provides access to Open Geospatial Consortium’s Web Feature Service – with support for Transactions (WFS-T), which allows users to download vector data, make edits and save it back to the server. “We are starting to see more U.S. customers adopting that standard,” Binyamin said. “As long as your server is WFS-T compliant MapInfo will work with that server using the WFS-T standard allowing you to edit your data using a common standard regardless of proprietary formats.”

Expanded programmability to .NET

Programmability in 9.0 allows customers to download MapBasic, MapInfo Pro’s programming language, for free, if they want to automate or customize MapInfo Pro. The expanded programmability options to .NET in 9.5 allow you to design dialogs or the user interface in Visual Studio and easily bring those into MapInfo Pro. This allows users to create more .NET capability inside MapInfo Pro.

Enhanced deployment

Enhanced work group deployment allows multiple users to share their customizable templates of icons, etc. to produce consistent maps or other products.

Top News of the Week

GE Energy announced plans to acquire MapFrame of Dallas, Texas, a leading provider of mobile mapping and field automation technologies. GE Energy and MapFrame shareholders have signed a purchase agreement authorizing the acquisition. Subject to customary closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close at the end of June. MapFrame serves nearly 30 major utilities throughout North America, with 35,000 end users.

Tele Atlas unveiled Tele Atlas MultiNav, the company's newest digital map platform that is designed to allow navigation application developers even greater speed and flexibility for building next generation mapping applications. Available immediately, MultiNav features all of the benefits of Tele Atlas' rich digital map database, delivered with a smaller data footprint to help decrease time-to-market, enable developers to spend less time in the development process and allow a smaller run-time format for their innovative applications for a competitive advantage. Tele Atlas' comprehensive map content spans across 27.2 million kilometers in more than 70 countries, to the front doors of 1.9 billion people around the world.

Pitney Bowes MapInfo announced the release of MapInfo Professional 9.5, the latest version of the company’s flagship application for business mapping and analysis. The new version offers additional data editing and creation tools, supports Oracle® Database 11g and Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and provides workgroup enablement features for greater IT support

TomTom and Tele Atlas bring the ideal of having fully up-to-date maps closer than ever before. TomTom announced that it is providing all Map Share feedback to Tele Atlas. After extensive verification of these millions of customer suggestions, the results will be made available in map releases to all Tele Atlas partners as early as Q4 2008.

Map Share enables TomTom's 20 million customers to contribute to the creation, maintenance and improvement of digital maps instantly on their devices and benefit from the contributions of others. This helps ensure that drivers always have the most accurate and up-to-date maps available in the mapping and navigation industry. Millions of map improvements have been contributed by TomTom's customers since the launch of the Map Share service in July 2007.

Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances

IFS,
the global enterprise applications company and a global supplier of enterprise asset management solutions for utilities, announced its established relationship with ESRI. By combining the capabilities of the two corporations, utility companies will be able to improve efficiency and reduce costs in asset management, while improving customer service levels.

Blue Marble Geographics announced the establishment of a business partnership with GeoDesign International, a GIS services firm located in Lorena, SP, Brazil. Blue Marble’s geospatial data manipulation and conversion solutions are used worldwide by thousands of GIS analysts at software companies, universities, oil and gas companies, civil engineering, surveying, technology, enterprise GIS groups, government and military organizations.

NAVTEQ has collaborated with Radio Shack Mexico, a consumer electronics specialty retailer of wireless communications and electronic parts, to provide GPS Zones in ten retail stores in Mexico City and the surrounding area with the potential for continued expansion before the end of 2008.

Announcements

Safe Software, the leader in spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) is helping organizations involved in the INSPIRE spatial data infrastructure (SDI) initiative overcome two critical challenges: semantic translation and data sharing.

The Munich University of Technology (TUM) and the University of Zurich (ETH) are working with con terra, Safe Software’s partner in Germany, who is involved with the INSPIRE specification process for metadata and network services. The Universities are using Safe Software’s spatial ETL solution FME in their research to find a generic way for the Cadastral Agencies of Germany and Switzerland to harmonize their spatial data, while taking into account the specifications of the INSPIRE initiative.

China TransInfo Technology Corp., provider of public transportation information systems technology and comprehensive solutions in the People's Republic of China ("PRC"), announced that it has joined the Wenchuan Earthquake Enterprise Rescue Alliance ("ESRI Earthquake Alliance"), which is headed by the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc ("ESRI"), by providing free GIS services and products to the Sichuan earthquake relief effort. ESRI is the largest Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and software developer and supplier in the world.

NAVTEQ reminds drivers to update their GPS navigation systems to prepare for the summer driving season. Many drivers using older systems experience frustration when their GPS navigation system doesn't know about that new interstate exit or one-way street change. Map updates are ideal to address this concern.

The Carbon Project announced it has attained Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft Partner Program with competencies in ISV/Software Solutions. This certification recognizes the expertise of the company, its impact in the technology marketplace and its ability to meet customer needs.

New Products

ArcPad 7.1.1 and ArcPad Application Builder 7.1.1, the latest versions of ESRI's mobile geographic information system (GIS) software for field mapping and data collection, have been released. New improvements in ArcPad 7.1.1 enhance the user experience by increasing productivity and ease of use in the field.

Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) new SurveyMaster software is a complete survey software solution to manage job site and surveying data efficiently, while providing a deliverable print or plot. Designed by surveyors, it provides the user with legal, annotation, adjustment and CAD drafting tools in one product.

NAVTEQ has announced release of navigable map coverage in Indonesia. The initial NAVTEQ map of Indonesia includes over 250,000 km of road network. The greater Jakarta coverage includes areas of NAVTEQ's highest coverage level, inclusion and verification of up to 260 road attributes. NAVTEQ provides up to 260 road attributes in its maps, and uses geographic analysts to verify them for accuracy, enabling customers to develop turn-by-turn navigation guidance. With the third largest concentration of mobile telecommunication devices in the Asia Pacific region, opportunity for carriers and hand-set manufacturers, to develop navigation and location-based services in Indonesia is growing.

Overwatch Geospatial Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced the integration of RoadTracker™ with its award-winning feature-extraction program, Feature Analyst®. RoadTracker extends the ease-of-use and time-saving advantages of Feature Analyst by adding new capabilities for the many government and industry users of Overwatch Geospatial Systems’ suite of tools.

Geospatial Holdings, Inc. unveiled its patent pending Geospatial Tension/Calc3D™ Technology which utilizes the Company’s proprietary Smart Probes along with custom designed software to quickly and accurately calculate bending radius, joint integrity and pulling tension data of underground conduit that is critical for the safe installation of high voltage underground transmission and distribution cabling.

Avenza Systems Inc., producers of MAPublisher cartographic software for Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia FreeHand as well as MAPdataUSA, MAPdataCanada and MAPdataWorld royalty-free GIS data sets, announces the release of Geographic Imager 2.0 for Adobe Photoshop CS2 and CS3. Geographic Imager 2.0 is the latest version of this powerful software that adds geospatial functionality to Adobe Photoshop.

Loopt, a social-mapping and communication service, announced that the location- based service is now available for free to BlackBerry users on the Sprint, Alltel, T-Mobile and AT&T networks. BlackBerry users can now share their location information with friends across multiple devices and carrier networks. According to a recent report from IDC, BlackBerry handsets lead the industry in smartphone sales with 44.5% of the market, largely due to the new consumer-friendly phones they now offer like the Curve and Pearl.

Latitude Geographics has released Geocortex Essentials 1.3, its market leading software for extending ESRI’s ArcGIS Server platform. Version 1.3 includes important new tools to allow GIS professionals to quickly build and deploy focused, feature-rich ArcGIS Server applications that integrate with other information technology systems.

Leica GeoMoS Version 4.0, automatic deformation monitoring software, now features the ability to gather, store, and analyze geotechnical data recorded through a Campbell Scientific datalogger. Geotechnical data is now integrated seamlessly with geodetic data in a single database for advanced deformation analysis.

A new generation of features and functionality incorporated into the latest Leica SpiderWeb version 2.2 GNSS Internet reference station data distribution software by Leica Geosystems delivers significant improvements in data usability and efficiency for both service users and service providers. Particularly exciting is software’s ability to apply full network correction information to create Virtual RINEX observation files for advanced post-processing services.

uismedia is pleased to announce MapViewSVG 7, an extension for ESRI ArcGIS Desktop. MapViewSVG offers the possibility to publish ArcMap projects fast, easy and cost-efficient on Internet/Intranet, CD or DVD. Open standards like SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), XML and ECMAScript guarantee a high cartographic quality, functionality and interactivity.

MapViewSVG supports vector based object data and image data. Attribute data are stored as XML files or in a database and are dynamically linked to the geometric data. WMS- or ArcIMS server data can be included as well. Several query functionalities allow powerful possibilities in searching attribute data and their geometries.

Geographic Technologies Group, Inc. (GTG) announces the release of GeoBlade Community Maintenance. GeoBlade Community Maintenance is ESRI compliant and operates with ArcGIS Server and pre-ArcGIS Server technologies.

GeoBlade Community Maintenance provides a user-friendly mapping interface to visualize code inspections, community projects, and other activities related to community maintenance. Users have the ability to create new code enforcement cases from the map and reassign code enforcement cases in mass. Other capabilities include mass updating code data, reassigning building permit inspections, adding locations to existing projects, and generating project letters.

Around the Web

GIS Portal Streamlines Aquaculture and Fisheries in Africa, June 10, 2008, by Jessica Wyland, Africa Geoinformation Research Network

Hamilton County to test GIS mapping system, June 12, 2008, by Rob Borders, Noblesville Daily Times

GIS integration puts Nanaimo on the Google map, June 12, 2008, by Rosie Lombardi, Intergovworld


Upcoming Events

GIS Enabling Your Water Operations Workflows
Date: June 26, 2008
Place: Webinar
USA
View Field Mapplet and its plug-in extension capabilities. Automate Work Requests, Hydrant Flushing, Valve Turning, and Meter Reading. Utilize these plug-in extensions to increase productivity and efficiency in your workflows. See how the value of these cost-effective tools leverages your investment in GIS, both in the office and in the field.

 

21st ISPRS Congress --Silk road for Information from Imagery
Date: July 3 - 11, 2008
Place: Beijing International Convention Center (BICC)
Asian Games Village , Beijing, China
The Silk Road is the most famous East-West trading route in ancient times. It served not only as the conduit for goods but also as the highway for knowledge transmission between the east and the west. Nowadays, the need for timely, high-quality, long-term, global spatial information is increasing rapidly.

 

2008 IEEE International Geoscience & Remote Sensing Symposium
Date: July 6 - 11, 2008
Place: Boston, MA USA
Welcome to the official website for the 2008 IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium to be held in Boston! IGARSS’08 will be the 28th annual symposium for GRSS and will continue the excellent tradition of gathering world-class scientists, engineers and educators engaged in the fields of geoscience and remote sensing to meet and present their latest activities.

 

GEOBrasil Summit 2008
Date: July 15 - 17, 2008
Place: Imigrantes Convention Hall
São Paulo , Brazil
GEOBrasil Summit 2008 presents new trends, products and services earmarked for integrated solutions connected with mapping, localisation, navigation, geographic localisation and analysis for management of public and private companies. Integrated events: GEOBrasil, GNSS Navis, GEO Oil & Gas and GEOCities.

 


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