Product Review - RouteMAP IMS 3.0

By Hal Reid

RouteMAP IMS Review Logo ImageRouteMAP IMS 3.0

ESRI, Inc.
380 New York Street
Redlands, CA 92373
Tel: 1-800-970-0033

Product Overview

RouteMAP IMS 3.0 is an out of the box solution for adding maps to existing web sites.Several things make this product unique.First, ESRI licenses users to install RouteMAP IMS on their server(s).Not only does this provide licensees the ability to selectively add mapping features it also gives web masters and developers the ability to seamlessly customize the look and feel of RouteMAP IMS so it matches the graphics of their site.

Second, ESRI's RouteMAP IMS product has server based pricing rather than transaction based.This is important because almost all other web mapping services charge customers transaction fees each time a map is rendered or a route is calculated.The bottom line, transaction based pricing can get expensive very quickly.The expense of serving maps with RouteMAP is limited only by the capacity of the server.In other words, ESRI doesn't care how many maps are rendered or routes are calculated as long as the software resides on one server.If the capacity of the first server is exceeded then users must purchase another license for the second server.

Finally, the actually licensing cost for a single server is less than $10K.This cost structure makes it an excellent value.

From an applications standpoint, RouteMAP IMS might be used to provide store locations and routing to stores in a retail operation (Exxon Service Station Locator - where are your stores and how to I get there from here).It can be used for local government, for finding polling place locations, events within a state (New Jersey Event Locator) or any geographically distributed enterprise that has a need for web-distributed maps and routing.This product also differs from public web mapping solutions because RouteMAP IMS contains your data and, as mentioned above, has maps customized by you, for your enterprise, and lets you insure the information is current and accurate (Pulte Homes).The available datasets are for North America or Western Europe and dynamic data can be added to the maps via ODBC.The product contains an SDK for a number of methods of web publishing and viewer support, including Java, C#, VB, ASP, ASP.Net, JSP, etc.(Ed.note: all links for retail, schools, etc., are RouteMAP sites)


RouteMAP IMS is designed to run on a Windows O/S that supports IIS 4.0 or later.IIS must be running as the web server.

There are three components to RouteMAP IMS, the RouteMAP IMS Server Manager, the RouteMAP IMS Webgate and the RouteMAP IMS Map Author.

The Map Author can also be run remotely, so that maps can be created and published from a non-server machine running on the same network as the map server.

The architectural diagrams look like this.This architecture is also scalable to support multiple servers.

Basic Architecture Image

New Features

Several new features are included in RouteMAP IMS 3.0

1.A new .Net API
2.For the U.S., updated streets, lakes, highways, etc.Also updated are D&B's 18 million Business locations and attributes.
3.The U.S.dataset is now the North American dataset as it comes with Canadian street level data (also from Tele Atlas).
4.For Europe, updates from Tele Atlas of Highways, Major Roads, Streets, Waterways and Points of Interest which include banks, restaurants
and other businesses.
5.New map projection "on the fly".In previous versions you had to have a dataset of one or another projection (Albers or Cylindrical) whereas
now there is one dataset that is switched as the map is zoomed.

Maps and Functionality

Creating and publishing a map begins in Map Author.The image below is the tool bar at the top of the Map Author UI.Maps are created from general geographic templates that can be customized via Map Author commands.

Map Author Toolbar Image

Clicking on New Map opens this dialog.Note, the supplied templates that correspond to the datasets that have been loaded on the server.

New Map Dialog Image

Using Map Author, I created a map of Dallas, Texas and added (via the built-in geocoder) of a list of doctors.All layers (features and databases) can be turned on or off via the legend.Layer properties, can be accessed via the legend as well, where you can control symbology, scale based display, etc., and configure as needed to enhance the map display.

By clicking on the Add Feature or Add Database you will see these pull downs.

Add Feature Image Add Database Image

Note that shape files can be part of the map as well as an ODBC link for dynamic data.

Layer properties can be changed, added or deleted through this dialog (accessible by clicking on the legend entry).

Layer Properties Image Small

When you click on Layer Properties you get the full dialog, which looks like this,

layer Properties Image Large
Click for larger image

When you have added the features, databases and have the map symbolized and you are ready to publish the map to the web, click on the Make We

Page button on the toolbar, Make Web Page Imageand this brings up the dialog below to allow you to set the map image size and other characteristics of how it will be published.You can publish the map using several templates and even include it in an applet.

Publish Map ImageList of Map Output Templates
Click for larger image

By creating a number of maps tailored to different end users, for example, different regions, service territories, different point data (customers, competitors, route points), or zoom levels etc., your web site could contain a map library.Each of these maps could be updated using the dynamic data link or as needed for the individual end user.

When the map has been published, you can set the default to either the map view, find dialog or the route dialog depending on what is the most common use for a particular end user.

Map With Doctors Image
Click for larger image

The doctors are indicated by the blue triangles.Note the three major buttons above the map.The Map button shows the map, the Find button allows you to locate within the map layers and the Route button lets you route between points.There are also the usual, zoom in/out, print, center, etc., functionality.

When doing a find, these dialogs will appear relative to the dataset that have been loaded.

U.S./Canadian Dataset Find Dialog European Dataset Find Dialog
US Find by Image European Find Image
Click for larger image

Entering an address, intersection, postal code, etc., the found point is annotated on the map.If you want to find nearest (e.g.doctors), from a layer containing points, that option is available at the bottom of the Find dialog.

Find Nearest Image

When the location is found on the map, it is annotated.

Annotation Image

If you had selected doctors (our point file) and a one-mile radius from the above intersection, you would see a map like this, along with a list of doctors within that radius.

Radius Map of DoctorsDoctor List
Click for larger image

If you click on the Route button on the left of this dialog, it will create a new map with the route from the initially found point along with the driving instructions.

Doctor Route Image Route Instructions

Note the option to download the map and driving instructions to a Palm™ device.


RouteMAP IMS 3.0 provides an easy way for almost anyone to create and maintain current web accessed maps for the enterprise.After the product is setup on your web server, the learning curve for Map Author is virtually flat.So training and configuration is minimal, if not almost non-existent.Anyone who has used electronic maps either on the desktop or via the web will feel at home using RouteMAP IMS generated maps

Even beyond the ease of use, there is the flexibility of the published map.If you use the datasets for either the entire U.S.and Canada or Europe as a base map, this entire data is contained in the published map.This is regardless of the initial zoom level selected (a particular city, state, territory, etc.) when the map is published to the web.Why this is useful, is that if the end user wants to see more area, route farther that the initial map view or find points beyond the initial view, the entire dataset is there for them to explore.

The application possibilities are probably endless for RouteMAP IMS as it can be used to create a single web based map or a set of map libraries tailored to different end users..

This is a very solid, feature-rich product at a bargain basement price and despite the value, it seems to remain one of ESRI's best kept secrets.

Published Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Written by Hal Reid

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