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Product Overview: Maptitude Version 2012

Wednesday, June 27th 2012
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This article provides a product overview of Maptitude 2012 from Caliper Corporation. Paul Amos, GIS manager for the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, reviewed the product. He reports that the new features in this release provide inexperienced users with the ability to quickly generate presentation quality maps with an interface that’s user-friendly and intuitive. Experienced users will find the model estimation and statistical analysis tools quite comprehensive.

Caliper Corporation

1172 Beacon Street
Suite 300
Newton, MA 02461
(617) 527-4700

Single User License - $695

Maptitude 2012 software is a desktop geographical information system from Caliper Corporation. The software provides easy-to-use, professional mapping tools along with detailed U.S. data at an affordable price. International versions of the Maptitude Mapping Software are also available with databases and geographic boundaries for the respective countries.   

The U.S. version of Maptitude 2012 includes the October 2011 geographic data release from NAVTEQ. The geographic data from NAVTEQ comprise many layers such as points of interest, railroads, highways, census geographies and building footprints for many urban locations. The NAVTEQ data include street data for address location, street visualization and network analysis. The census geographic boundary files with Maptitude 2012 encompass variables from the 2010 Census and the 2009 American Community Survey to map demographic information from the state level down to the census tracts.

Getting Started
At startup, Maptitude generates a Quick Start dialog box that provides several options to get the user working with maps quickly. I selected Create a New Map from the Quick Start dialog box. I was then directed to another dialog box where I chose General Purpose Map, selected the “A State” radio button as the area to display in the map, and typed “Pennsylvania” to quickly create a map of the state of Pennsylvania. Figure 1 shows the results of the map of Pennsylvania that I created.

Figure 1: Maptitude 2012 user interface (click for larger image).

The Maptitude user interface is similar to most Windows-based software programs. The menus and buttons are shown on the top of the user interface. The buttons on the toolbars are standard GIS-based tools and their functions are easy to figure out based on the button’s icon and the tooltip. The working layer is shown in a listbox on the Standard toolbar and the Maptitude commands that are used to set colors, styles, thematic map settings and labels operate on the working layer. The Display Manager on the left shows the layers in the map along with the preformatted symbology, which creates an aesthetically pleasing map display right out of the box. The Map Window along with a small Overview window is shown on the right. I was impressed by the professional appearance of the Legend in the lower right corner, which will change as layers turn on and off as a user zooms in and out.

Maps can also be created quickly using the Map Librarian function from the Tools menu or during the Quick Start dialog box. The Map Librarian makes it easy to organize maps into categories within libraries and to open maps using bookmarks. Maptitude includes a map library, but users can create their own map libraries. They can add categories and maps to any map library. The Map Librarian opens a dialog box to select a Map Library and Map Category and to choose the map to create from a list of variables that are included with the base layers. The Map Librarian will automatically create a thematically shaded map of the selected variable and geographical unit and then places the map in a new map window. Users can switch back and forth between their maps using the Windows menu. Figure 2 shows the results of the Map Librarian displaying the County Economic and Housing Profile Map Category with Income – Households as the selected variable. The Legend is updated to show the ranges of the Median Household Income, and the data source of this variable is listed in the Legend as the 2009 ACS 5-year estimate.

Figure 2: Map Librarian and thematic output (click for larger image).

Maptitude provides direct support for many geographic file formats for users to incorporate data from other sources into their maps. The following is a list of file formats that can be opened directly in Maptitude without needing to import the data: records with a coordinate for a point in any ODBC database, spatial data stored in an Oracle Version 7 (Spatial Data Option) or Version 8i or later (Oracle Spatial) database, spatial data stored in a Microsoft SQL Server Spatial layer, Esri Shapefiles, Esri ArcView 3.x Project Files, Esri Personal Geodatabases, and MapInfo TAB files. Maptitude can also import data from a wide range of geographic file formats including: ArcInfo Ungenerate and Export (E00) files, AutoCAD DXF files, ETAK MapBase files, Intergraph Design (DGN) files, MapInfo Interchange Format (MIF) files, U.S. Census Bureau TIGER/Line® files, and U.S. Geological Survey Digital Elevation Model (DEM) files.

Map Menu

The Map menu allows the user to change the properties of the layers in the Display Window and to control whether the Display Window is visible on the user interface. The properties of each layer are shown in the Layers dialog box and the user can change the display order of the layers, style, label, name and autoscale options. Users can add or drop layers, hide layers and create metadata for their layers.

The Map menu provides functions that change the appearance of the map and move around the map. The user can change the scale of the map and use the panning function to move the map in specific directions. The Bookmarks option allows creation of spatial bookmarks for specific areas of interest. Map windows can be synchronized with one another, which will update a map window automatically when a display is changed in a synchronized map window.

The Map menu contains options to create thematic maps including Color Theme, Pattern Theme, Dot Density Theme, Chart Theme and Scaled-Symbol Theme. These tools can also be accessed from the Standard toolbar. Prism maps use 3-D imaging and color to show the relative values of a single data field and are displayed in a separate window.

Dataview Menu

Maptitude displays attribute information for layers and tables in Dataviews. Users open a Dataview by specifying the layer in the working layer listbox on the Standard toolbar and pressing the New Dataview button next to the working layer listbox. Once a Dataview window is open, many of the functions in the Dataview menu will become enabled. Figure 3 shows an example of a Maptitude Dataview window for a county layer.

Figure 3:  Maptitude’s Dataview window for a county layer (click for larger image).

The Dataview menu provides functions to work with tabular information within Maptitude. There are functions to work with fields in the table including sorting, transposing, grouping, locking columns and showing/hiding columns. The structure of the fields in the table can be viewed with the Table Structure option and tables can be modified with the Modify Table option. Fields can be calculated with the Formula Field function, which provides a variety of operators and functions to create new attribute values in the table based upon a formula.

The Dataview menu includes Summary Statistics and Model Estimation functions, which perform additional analysis on the data in the Dataview. The Summary Statistics function calculates the univariate statistics for all numeric fields in a Dataview and presents this information in a new Dataview window. The statistics include count, sum, minimum, maximum, mean and standard deviation. The Model Estimation function estimates a regression or binary logit model from a Dataview or map layer. The user can select the dependent and independent variables. The function computes the estimate and standard error, performs a t-Test for each independent variable, and displays the R2 and Adjusted R2 values for the model. The Model Evaluation function evaluates a model on any map layer or Dataview by filling a field with the predicted dependent variable to compare results. Figure 4 displays the Model Estimation dialog box with an example of the results of a regression model. 

Figure 4:  Maptitude’s Model Estimation dialog box.

Selection Menu
The Selection menu contains functions to query the data in the map layers or a Dataview. The Settings function opens a dialog box where a user can add or drop a Selection Set, set the colors of the Selection Set, name a Selection Set, and set the status. Users can perform selections on their data such as Select by Condition, Select by List, Select by Values, Select by Location, Select by Theme, Select by Highlight, Select by Adjacency, and Combine Selections. Once a selection is made, the selected records are added as a set to the layer from which the records were selected and the map legend is updated with the records selection set. Figure 5 displays a selection of county records in the state of Pennsylvania with the Selection Set listed in the Display Manager.

Figure 5. Selection Set of the county records in the state of Pennsylvania (click for larger image).

Tools menu
The Tools menu provides access to functions and toolboxes to perform a variety of analysis. The Tools menu contains toolboxes for Map Editing, Surface Analysis and Drawing. The Map Editing option in the Tools menu includes the Map Edits toolbox and a function to set up a digitizer to create new map features. Maptitude’s Surface Analysis tools are used to analyze and display surfaces on a two-dimensional map in a map window or as a 3D map in a figure window. The Surface Analysis option in the Tools menu includes the Surface Analysis toolbox, 3D Map, 3D toolbox and Terrain Shortest Path. The Drawing toolbox option shows or hides the Drawing toolbar on the user interface. The Drawing toolbar offers tools that add freehand text, polygons, lines and images onto the map.

The Tools menu includes options to perform Routing analysis and to work with Imagery. The Shortest Path Routing function computes the shortest path along streets, railroads, bicycle paths or bus routes, and the Network Bands Routing function generates polygons that show the locations that require a certain amount of time from an origin. The Imagery option provides functions to register an image to a true location on the map, an Image Librarian to create Image Libraries, which are lists of images that have the same map projection and can be added as a single layer in a map, and an Image toolbox to work with imagery specifically from the USGS, Google Earth and WGS.

The Tools menu contains additional options to perform geographic analysis. The Locate function allows the user to locate geographic features such as an address, ZIP Code, city, coordinate and images by geotagging. The Geographic Analysis option includes a menu to perform the following analyses: Measuring Distance and Size, Using Overlays, Creating Areas of Influence, Creating Districts, Creating Bands, Creating Density Grids, Creating Desire Lines, Using the Click Bands Toolbox, Tagging Points by Area, Locating Weighted Centers and Service Areas, Combining Attributes. The Geographic Utilities menu contains utilities for the following: Work with GPS Data, Rubbersheet, Create Vector Grid, Connect Points, Line/Area Conversion, Clip by Area, Multi Clipper, Mask, Merge Geography, Coordinates to XY, District Reports, Mailing Labels, Geographic File maintenance. The Tools menu also provides functions to export layers, open layers in ArcMap, create a slideshow and manage Add-Ins.

The GISDK (Geographic Information System Developer’s Kit) is accessed through the Tools menu. The GISDK is Maptitude’s scripting language, which writes macros to create maps, perform spatial analysis and build custom applications. The GISDK contains both a debugger and a compiler. GISDK also allows users to call GISDK functions and macros from other applications that are using COM.

Maptitude 2012 is designed to provide a user with the ability to quickly generate presentation quality maps at a very affordable price and includes a vast database with the product. As an experienced GIS software user, I was able to get up and running with the software very quickly and found the user interface to be very user-friendly and intuitive. Caliper’s website provides free video tutorials for prospective and existing customers to view and learn about the capabilities of the software.

I like that Maptitude 2012 provides the ability to create maps with the Quick Start and Map Librarian menu. The layers are added and symbolized automatically, which saves plenty of time for a user to create presentation quality maps quickly. I was also impressed with the model estimation tool. I have not seen that function in many standard desktop GIS software programs and it seems like a natural complement to GIS software that provides statistical analysis tools for GIS data. Users who create distance variables in their tables can quickly create models with this function to see if there are any relationships between the dependent variable and the independent variables in their data.

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