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Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 15 No 03 - MARCH 2002
Autodesk's MapGuide 6 has been released, substantially enhancing the creation and use of intelligent maps, providing links to GIS and design applications, and providing a vehicle for publishing the data to the web.
What can you get out of a map? No longer is it just a 3D representation of a piece of real estate - maps now come with a wealth of associated data - features, symbols, demographics and so on, so that when you point to a place on a digital map, you can access reams of underlying data associated with that particular feature or location.
They are now digital data warehouses, available not only on the workstation, but also on the web, over Intranets and Extranets, and in the field on laptops and PDAs, to be used by civil engineers, architects, maintenance crews and similar remote workers.
So much information is now available, therefore, that the most important aspect of it all is not so much what you have, but how you get at it, and how you make something worthwhile of it. Which is where Autodesk's MapGuide comes in.
Defined as a means of levering data out of a map, and leveraging the information within an organisation, MapGuide primarily works by disseminating information over standard communication devices, linking maps, GIS and digital design applications.
It comes, therefore, with 3 basic components - a means of pulling the data together from the various GIS and CAD sources - something to view the intelligent maps, once they have been put together - and a further tool for getting the information to the intended user.
The first function is handled by Autodesk's MapGuide Author which integrates GIS and CAD data, enabling the user to create the intelligent maps. To view the maps that have been put together, Autodesk has three MapGuide Viewers, reflecting the users' web browser environment - MapGuide Viewer Plug-in, MapGuide Viewer ActiveX Control and MapGuide Viewer Java Edition. MapGuide Server delivers the intelligent maps to the Author on the Viewer.
Supporting these is a range of tools and utilities that improve the handling of MapGuide. Raster Workshop optimises raster file formats for better performance over networtks - it can also take in scanned blueprints, schematics and other maps and overlay them, after making the top sheets partially transparent, to show different types of information, concurrently, on superimposed maps.
Utilities also include the ability to convert industry standard GIS and CAD data into MapGuide Special Data Files (SDF), supported by a Component Toolkit for modifying these files, and an SDF Loader. Symbol Manager customises symbols and creates symbol libraries, adding to the library of 500 symbols that come with the software.
A utility called Dynamic Map Authoring enables authors and users of maps within associated applications to tinker with maps in Realtime. Authoring enables users to organise the map data, changing the look and feel, and setting levels of interactivity of maps and design data. Symbols are attached to map features, map layers are organised and display settings are preset. Authored maps are saved in a Map Window File (MWF) or Map Window XML (MWX) format, which describes all of the data covered by the map, its' projection and the background colour. Each map layer is described with its' display attributes. The interface to the MapGuide Server is also attached, so that it can be accessed by the MapGuide Author or Viewer whenever it needs to view the spatial data.
The aim of MapGuide is to enable users to publish and manage interactive maps without having to use technical specialists. It also enables them to access maps and associated data from any location, and in a large number of formats, including ESRI Shapefile, ESRI coverages, Microstation DGN, MapInfo, Interchange files (MID, MIF), Atlas BNA, comma separated values (CSV) and Autodesk DWG. It is also able to integrate data from most relational databases, via OLEDB and ODBC - Oracle, SQL Server, MS Access, dBASE and others. This list alone emphasises the vast amount of data that can, theoretically, accompany an intelligent map.
MapGuide's Spatial Data Provider is a direct access tool for extracting spatially defined data directly from the above sources, saving users the time and expense of data conversion. Management of the data is provided by the aforementioned tools, Dynamic Authoring Toolkit, Raster Workshop and SDF Loader.
So what is new in MapGuide 6? One of the principal improvements has been in performance, where disk and file I/O and memory management have speeded up the operation. XML Support has now been included, so that users can now work with XML representations of maps.
Dynamic Map Authoring has extended its' features to enable authors to dynamically generate new maps, as well as working on existing maps. Enhanced Symbol Support enables users to create their own symbols using their own rsater images, or modify existing symbol files (SMB) with a new Symbol Manager. This enables users to control the symbol's insertion point, load TrueType font libraries as symbols, control foreground and background colouring and so on. This enables users to produce better looking and more effective maps.
Other capabilities that have been opened up with the Dynamic Map Authroing are Batch processing of maps, Metadata and Data Mining and Database-driven Mapping
The new Dynamic Authoring Toolkit is used to enhance the flexibilityof MapGuide Application development. It enables MWF files to be organised as an XML document under the MWX file format. MWX is a logical structure of a MapGuide map, arrnaged so that the developer can understand the heirarchy of the map componants and how they relate to each other. Using XML parsing tools, developers can dynamically generate maps that were initially set using MapGuide Author during application runtime. An example of this is where developers could reset map layer definition properties in the field including the 'SQL Where Clause' to produce another view on the maps.
It also allows information to be used form one map to another, using pop-up menus, map extents, layer properties and so on. Maps are stored as XML in databases.
DWG is now built in! Autodesk DWG and Autodesk Map project files can be used in the same way that you would work with MapGuide's SDFs, and Autodesk has added other facilities, such as layer filtering, map tips and hyperlinks from map objects, which allow users to run attribute reports from selected map objects.
The Raster File support has been extended to include Earth Resource Mapping's Enhanced Compressed Wavelet (ECW) and LizardTech MrSid have been added to supported raster files.
MapGuide 6 is installed from a single CD, using a simple installation wizard, but different configurations are necessary for each type of viewer. Mac and Solaris versions are also available. Although MapGuide Viewer can run on Windows 98 and above, MapGuide Server requires at least Windows NT, with MS Internet Information Server 4.0, Netscape Enterprise Server 3.6 or iPlanet Web Server Enterprise 4.1, or Windows 2000 Server with MS Internet Information Server 5.0.
Client Browsers can get away with Netscape Navigator 4 onwards or other browsers that support PNG image displays. MapGuide is also available on PDAs for real remote viewing.
Finally, MapGuide Provider for Oracle Spatial enables usersa to leverage Oracle as a special data warehouse, increasing the scaleability, reliability and performance of applications, eliminating the need for data conversions, and capable of reading data stored in Oracle8iSpatial, and 9iLocator & Spatial. CU
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