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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Mapping (Cartographic) 'Consulting'

Excerpt of Venezuelan Map Project

"Danesh, I would like to get your tips on cartographic aspects of map of my work" (rephrased). This opportunity is one thing I can't pass. However, it is not easy as you and I would think. This post will be focusing my recent experiences in terms of cartographic consulting.

If you have seen in my previous posts (3D visualization for housing, Mauritian map project and Coordinate capture), the 'clients' had minimal idea of principles of cartography and GIS. The recipients would have no clue on GIS software and very much depended on me to produce the desired outcome. In short, my expertise is meant to deliver a product

Things are bit different with experiences in August and September. In August, I attended the International Map Industry Association (IMIA) Conference in Melbourne and attended Map Hack Day. Please refer to the post for details. In the process of making an online map, my team was divided into two : One group to focus on attributes data and number crunching and another focuses on spatial data preparation. Although it was not consulting, I had a unique experience of educating my ex-employer on how to use QGIS for preparing the data. I have used QGIS before at work and went for training one day to advance my skills. Though not fully utilized, it became handy as my team member struggled on QGIS. For this case, my team member is well versed with GIS, but not in QGIS. I showed him where to do clipping, how to do selections and other aspects of QGIS. In short, my expertise was to impart my knowledge for product build-up.

September Experience

A week ago, I received an email a friend of mine. He is well versed with GIS technologies and cartographic principles. He needed some views and tips on how to enhance map presentation. For me, this was a challenge as there was expectation (bit high one). I am now being viewed as a person from GIS Industry and has cartographic work experience. I would be advising him on ArcGIS and potentially on advanced QGIS.

The day came where my advice would come into play. He presented his projects, his current map templates and the cartographic styling being used. Turnout out, after 1 1/2 hour discussion with him, I learnt a lot of new things from him (specifically on ArcGIS):
  1. Bookmarks: Which saves one particular view
  2. Convert to Graphics: I can convert a Legend in ArcGIS and break the components as individual pieces
  3. Style Sets: A library of style sets (for symbology purposes) can be crafted and reloaded back into Symbology library
  4. Relative pathnames: If your shapefiles are stored in different places (in same directory I believe), this tool allows quick retrieval of files should they move around
From my side, I showed how dissolve can merge all the divisions of a shapefile into one. However, we encountered some issues when summing up totals (of population of attributes) for the dissolving shapefiles. I showed him that in ArcGIS there are two different tool bars he need to be aware for map production. Data Frame toolbars and Layout Frame toolbars may look the same but difference can be noted. Panning in Data Frame means moving the map while its equivalent in Layout moves the paper behind the map.

As our discussion progressed, the questions I was receiving was pushing the limits of my knowledge. I have been insulated from the tips and tricks that can greatly improving my mapping Production process. I hope to be more exposed to advance cartography through these opportunities.

I would like to thank my readers and my friends for offering me challenging opportunities.

Contact me via the blog through the links at the right navigation pane for cartographic consulting

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