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Tuesday
Oct232012

Introducing Cartographica 1.4: Overlay Operations

New to Cartographica 1.4 is the ability to perform Overlay Operations. Overlay Operations are useful in many contexts when working with spatial data as they make limiting or expanding datasets via spatial location simpler and more efficient. Below are descriptions of the various Overlay Operations that Cartographica has in place for version 1.4. Each serve a specific purpose that you may encounter while working with spatial data. 

Clip Function: Clips all target layers to the Clip layer. The Clip layer can be thought of as a cookie cutter. The boundary of the Clip layer is the outline of the cookie cutter. The Target Layer is the rolled out cookie batter. The output of the Clip function is a new layer that includes only the area that was contained within the boundary of the Clip layer.

Erase Function: The Erase function works opposite of the Clip function. The idea with the cookie cutter is the same, except that rather than clipping a cookie from a large batter and then focusing on the cookie, it erases the cookie and focuses on what’s left of the batter.

Intersection Function: The intersection function creates a new layer based on the intersection of multiple polygon layers. The intersection function is also commonly referred to as the "and" function. The intersection is the area where both polygon A "and" polygon B are located. The intersection function creates an empty layer when the polygons do not share common space (i.e. layers that are mutually exclusive).The output of the intersection function is a new layer that contains only the areas the fit the definition provided above.

Union Function: The union function creates a new layer based on the combination of multiple polygon layers. The union function is commonly referred to as the "or" function. The union function can operate on polygons that are either mutually exclusive or non-mutually exclusive. In both cases the resulting layer will include all space occupied by both layers. Unlike the union operation in probability theory, the spatial union does not have to deal with issues of double counting non-mutually exclusive areas. The areas that overlap are simply added to the final layer.  

Difference Function: Creates a new layer that includes areas of two polygons that do not overlap. Areas that occur in both layers are not present in the resulting layer.   The idea is that the non-overlapping areas are removed, not the polygons. Sometimes the area is just one polygon, but it might also be all of one polygon and parts of 2 others. 

Update Function: The update function updates a target layer with features found in another layer. For example, if you have a new and an old street file the new street file can be used to update the missing streets on the old street file.

Identify: Identifies features in target layers with operation layer features. For example, the identify function can be used when one of two spatially identical layers is missing attribute data. The layer with attribute data (the operation layer) can be used to identify the unidentified features on the layer without attribute data (the target layer).

To highlight a few of the new Overlay Operations we can use an example. In the example you will be using Cartographica’s new overlay functions to select features based on their spatial location. Download the Lexington Census Tracts and Urban Growth Boundary. Import the Lexington Census Tracts layer and the Lexington Urban Growth Boundary Layer by using File > Import Vector Data. The Urban Growth boundary layer is a feature unique to Lexington that represents a politically defined limit on urban sprawl. The main reason behind the boundary is to limit urban sprawl from encroaching on to Lexington’s valuable horse farms that surround the city. A key problem with this situation in Lexington is that the county that Lexington is within (Fayette County) is made up of distinctly rural and urban areas. In some cases this feature of Lexington and Fayette county presents problems when conducting various spatial and statistical analyses. As a result, you want to isolate urban and rural counties into separate layers. You can do this using Cartographica’s new Overlay Operations. Below is a map highlighting Lexington-Fayette County with the red-region representing the urban-growth area. All Areas outside of the red space are rural areas within the county. 

We want to create a new layer that contains only urban areas in the city by cutting out the rural parts of the census tract layer. To do this choose Tools > Perform Overlay Operation. To identify only the rural areas within Lexington you need to use the Clip Function. The Clip function clips all target layers to the operation layer. You can identify which layer is the target and operation layer within the Overlay Operation window. In this case the LandUse_Sector layer is the operation layer that will be used to clip out the rural census tracts. To select the Clip layer click and drag the LandUse_Sector layer to the Clip with box. Below is an example of the appropriate set up to perform the clip operation. After you set up the window like shown below click Perform.

Below is an example of the map of urban areas within Lexington. Note that when the new clip layer is created it will be at the bottom of the layer stack. You need to move the layer to the top of the layer stack and check the box to view the layer’s features. The new layer contains all of the Census tracts that are within the urban growth boundary. This is advantageous because the urban and rural areas in Lexington are distinctly different and may be studied and and understood differently in specific contexts, which requires separate data layers.  

Now you want to create a new layer that contains only rural areas within Lexington by erasing the parts of Fayette County that are within the Urban Growhth Boundary. To do this choose Tools > Perform Overlay Operation. To create a new layer that contains only rural areas you need to use the Erase function. Use the LandUse_Sector (urban growth layer) as the erase layer and the Census tract layer as the target layer. When set up, click perform. 

Below is a map of the rural areas in Lexington. Like before, when the new erase layer is created it will be at the bottom of the layer stack. Move the layer to the top of the layer stack and change the layer styles so that it is more easily visible against the other layers. Notice that all of the census tracts that were within the Urban Growth Boundary are now removed from the new layer. View the map below for an example. 

Monday
Oct222012

Introducing Cartographica 1.4: Snapping Functions

Cartographica has had the ability to add and create new features for a while now, but new in version 1.4 are the snapping tools, designed to make the Add Feature process simpler and more efficient. Snapping tools make it easier to draw point, line, and polygon features by automatically connecting to Vertex, Edge, or Grid features on a layer. That is, if your goal is to create a new layer, or to update an old layer, then using the snapping tools allows you to more easily draw the new features. We can illustrate with an example.

In the following example you have a street layer from Lexington, Kentucky. The street data was collected from the U.S. Census 2000 Tiger/Line Files, but is downloadable by click on this link, download streets data . The street layer is incomplete due to the demolition of an old public housing complex that has since been reconstructed. During the rebuilding of the housing complex the street network was changed and redesigned. Fortunately, you can easily update your street layer by using newer satellite imagery and the snapping tool to redraw the street network.

Begin the example by importing the Lexington street file by choosing File > Import Vector Data. Also, add the satellite imagery by choosing File > Add Live Map.

After the data are visible in the Map Window zoom in to the area east of downtown Lexington that appears to have an incomplete road network. See below for the area of interest. We are interested in the area in the center of the map.

A closer look at the target area.

You can complete the street network by first adding a new layer by choosing Layer > New Layer (Move the new layer to the top of the layer stack). Choose Edit > Add Feature. You will be prompted to select the type of feature you would like to add. Select Line. The Editing Options window will appear. The Editing Options window has two options within it: First, the Snap to drop down menu allows you to select the type of snapping method you would like to use. The Vertex option allows you to snap to any vertex, or line end point. The Edge snap option allows you to snap to edge of any line or polygon edge, and finally the grid option allows you to snap to points that on a grid. Second, the snap distance is a parameter that defines how sensitive the snap feature is when snapping to any of the options listed above. For example, if the snap distance is set to 10 meters and the cursor is 15 meters from a vertex then the snapping function will not snap. Below is an image of the Editing Options window. 

Change the Snap to menu selection to Vertex. When you select the Vertex option a new pane will appear within the Editing Options window. Here you are able to select the layer that you would like to snap to when adding new features. Select the Street layer. The Snap Distance will automatically update (The automatically updated snap distance is fine for now). You are now ready to begin adding the new line features. To add points hold down the option key and click near the end point of a line feature on the street layer and draw a new street making sure to trace the streets in the corresponding satellite imagery. After you have drawn the new street press the return key. See below for an example. You should have noticed that when the snap function is working the cursor turns a bright green color. 

To continue adding new features choose Edit > Add Feature and then draw another new street. Repeat this process until you have completed the street network in this area of Lexington. Below is an example of the new layer. Note: the layer has been renamed Aspendale_Streets.

 

 

The final step is to merge the Streets and Aspendale_Streets layers to create a single layer that includes the updated street network. The updated layer will contain all of the streets from both layers and the corresponding attribute data from the original street layer. This is advantageous because all of the fields that are contained within the street file (i.e. the street name, speed limit, address, etc.) will be included in the new layer. This will allow you to manually update all of these atributes on the new Aspendale_Streets that have been drawn. The same method can be used to update any street file and allows you to continually update your data to real-time accuracy. To merge the layers first select each layer in the Layer Stack using command click. Choose Layer > Merge Layers. The following window will appear.  Set up the window to match the image below and then click consolidate. The final output will be a single layer that includes the data from both layers. 

Final Map with Consolidated Street Networks.

Monday
Oct222012

Introducing Cartographica 1.4: Layer Styles and the Uber Browser

The Layer Styles Window has been enhanced for version 1.4. The User Interface is similar, but includes several new or upgraded functions. New functions include additional editing capability on both lines and patterns for layer features, enhanced management of feature labels, new line and fill patterns, and integration with the Uber Browser. The new line and pattern styles have variable colors and can be used through drag and drop.

Also new to version 1.4 is the Uber Browser, which is designed to enhance your ability to edit and improve your layer styles. The Uber Browser is a collection of libraries that contain point, line, and pattern symbols, bookmarks, and color palettes. Each of the libraries is included with several stock items. However, the libraries can be added to, which allows you to create a collection of symbols and color palettes that you can continually refer to.

For this post we are using data from DC GIS. Click on the following links to download the data. Washington D.C. Basemap (Census tracts), DC Metro Lines, and DC Metro Entry Stations (points)

After you download the .zip files import the .shp files using File > Import Vector Data .

Start by editing the styles for the Metro Lines layer. You want to use something other than the standard line symbol to represent the Metro Lines. To accomplish this you can use the Uber Browser. Choose Window > Show Uber Browser and select the Line tab. Drag and drop the Freeway Under Construction symbol to the Metro Lines layer in the Layer Stack. See below for the Uber Browser.

 

You want to identify the metro lines by their color. In Washington D.C., the metro lines are blue, red, yellow, orange, and green.Double-click on the Metro Lines layer in the Layer Stack. Change the Based on menu to Name and then click on the Gearbox and select Distribute Unique Values. For each Metro line change the fill color to a color that matches the Metro’s name. This is done by individually selecting the Metro Line items in the Layer Styles table and then clicking on the Fill box and selecting the color. See below for an example of the Layer Styles window. 

 

You may also want to change the Metro Stations symbol. Double-Click on the Metro Stations layer in the Layer Stack. Click on the Symbol box to bring up the Uber Browser. Click and drag the Metro symbol to the Symbol Box and uncheck the Stroke box. Change the symbol size to 2 and press return. See below for the Uber Browser and Layer Styles Window. Note:  Your Uber Browser will most likely not have as many User symbols as what is shown below, including the Metro stations symbol. To add new symbols to your library find a symbol using an internet image search, save the image, and then click Add in the bottom left of the Uber Browser window. Select the Image and then click ok. The new symbol will be added to your library.

See below for the final map.

 

Friday
Oct192012

Cartographica 1.4 is now in beta

We are very pleased to finally make available the first release of 1.4, our largest version of Cartographica to date. Please read these notes if you choose to use this beta version of the software. We will be following up this post over the next few weeks discussing the new features and capabilities of Cartographica 1.4.

Beta Test Warnings

Warning: Although we have done extensive internal and private beta testing, it is important to remember that this version of Cartographica is still considered to be in testing. Please make sure that you have files that you are working on with 1.4 backed up sufficiently that you can recover from a catastrophic data loss due to file format incompatibility, erroneous data, or the or other potential errors.

Talking about 1.4

Cartographica 1.4 contains a wide variety of new features, user interface enhancements, performance improvements, and new file format support. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting new information on our blog and tweeting new information as well as making more information available on our website about 1.4 and the exciting new changes contained herein. These release notes will contain many individual feature but do not serve as sufficient documentation for how those features are used.

We welcome input from all of our customers and potential customers during this testing period, through email to support@cluetrust.com as well as via our web support site.

We would also like to encourage the sharing of opinion, feature ideas, and usability issues on our forums at our support site. This is the home of our knowledge base and is a good jumping off point if you run into problems or would like to make a suggestion.

During this period, we will be collecting data about the functioning of the software, some of which will be sent whenever the software starts, and some of which will be sent only upon your request. If you encounter a crash, please send in a little detail on what was happening at the time of the crash. If you include your email address, we will try to follow up with you when a fix is available or if we need further information.

OS Compatibility

Cartographica 1.4 requires Lion or Mountain Lion (10.7.5 or 10.8.1) or more recent in order to function correctly. We take the process of removing support for older versions of the OS very seriously, but there are many new features that we could not reasonably support on versions prior to 10.7. We have opted not to move to 10.8 as a requirement, due to the lack of support for the popular 2008 MacPros. At this time, customers using OS 10.6 will need to remain on the 1.2 versions of Cartographica, which will be maintained for at least six months. This includes fixing of significant bugs, but does not include the introduction of new features. We will continue to test for basic forward and backward compatibility between the 1.2 versions and the 1.4 versions.

Keys

Cartographica 1.4 uses the same keys as all previous versions of Cartographica. However, we have made some modifications to the verification system and therefore it is more important than previously to have your name and company name exactly as it was on license that you were granted either during the evaluation period or when you purchase the software. If you have trouble getting the software to recognize your valid key, please visit our lost key page and request that your key information be resent to you. This is the same information the Cartographica uses to determine the validity of your key and therefore if you put the information in exactly as it is sent to you, you should not have any problems.

If you do experience problems with the new key verification system, please let us know. We are performed extensive automated testing on this, we realize is an irritating element of the software and we want to make sure that operates as smoothly as possible.

If you're running both version 1.4 and the prior version of Cartographica, newly verified keys will work appropriately with both.

Compatibility with prior versions of Cartographica

We've gone to great lengths to ensure compatibility both forward and backwards between versions of Cartographica. Map sets that are written with versions 1.4 should be readable with both versions 1.4 and 1.2.10. All map sets that do not contain WFS layers or grid layers will be compatible with versions back to 1.2.9. We expect to release version 1.2.10 by the time that first and 1.4 is released, and it is also available as a direct download and using our RSS feed for test versions.

Changes made to styles will generally be visible in version 1.2.9 and above, with the exception of the new style types for lines and the new pattern fill styles. If you load a layer containing those into 1.2.x, the new styles will be appropriately ignored. If, however, you save the files using 1.2.x, the line and pattern styles will be eliminated during the same operation.

Downloading the beta

Cartographica betas will be available for direct download or available by setting your Cartographica software update preferences to Beta or Development.

Beta information is available on our beta page and release notes for 1.4 will be updated regularly.

Wednesday
Oct102012

Saving Time by Using AppleScript 

AppleScript can make life much easier when performing repetitive tasks. Recently we had an issue with a customer needing to automate the Count Points in Polygons tool across a number of point layers. The process was taking a long time due to the sheer number of point layers being aggregated. To automate the process we wrote a script that will count points from multiple point layers and automatically add new data fields to the polygon layer. The new data fields will be labeled to match the name of the point layer being aggregated.

Here, I'll show an example of this using crime data from from Washington D.C. (The data are available for download at DC GIS). We'll start with the crime data, downloaded from DC GIS, and block group polygons, downloaded from the U.S. Census Bureau. Import the data by choosing File > Import Vector Data. Note that if you download the crime data from DC GIS you will need to create new layers from selections for each of the crime types. Also, note that you can use the script in the example below on any set of point and polygon layers. So if you have point layers you want aggregated to one of your own polygons layers then you can use the script in the exact same way as shown in the example.That is, the script is not written only to be used with data in the example below. 

Cartographica offers a couple ways to complete this task of aggregating points to polygon features. First, you can choose Tools > Counts Points in Polygons. When you have a large number of point layers you will need to perform this task repetitively for each of the point layers that you would like to have aggregated to the polygon layer. When you have many point layers to aggregate, this process can be time consuming. The second option is that you can choose to perform the task by running an AppleScript that will automatically perform the task for you. 

Running the Script

The script is available by the following the link. 

To run the script

1. Make sure your Map window is frontmost in Cartographica

2. Double-click on the script file to open AppleScript Editor

The script we have provided has two parts needing mention. The first part is the script for the Standard Utilities. The Standard Utilities are some additional functions that you can copy and use in your own scripts to handle choosing layers from a list, creating unique layer and column names, and doing numeric conversion. 

The second part is at the bottom of the script where there are commands that performs the repetitive count points in polygons task. The commands are shown below. The first set command tells Cartographica to create a selection box for the point layer that you want aggregated. The second set of commands tells Cartographica to create a selection box fot the polygon layers that you want to have points aggregated on. The final command repeats the process for all selected point layers and adds a count field to the selected polygon layer that contains the original point layer's name. 

tell application "Cartographica"

set selectedLayers to my chooseLayers("Choose the Point layers", the document of the front window, 1, yes) 

set chosenLayers to my chooseLayers("Choose the Polygon layer", the document of the front window, 5, no) set polyLayer to item 1 of chosenLayers

repeat with targetlayer in selectedLayers

add point count polyLayer counting targetlayer column name (name of targetlayer

end repeat

end tell

3. Click Run

After clicking run the program will prompt you with selection boxes. Be sure to select the point layer like shown in the image below. Once you select the point layers click ok. 

After you select the point layers you will be prompted to select the polygon layer that you want the points aggregated to. Select the polygon layer and then click ok. 

The result of running the code should be new fields with names corresponding to the aggregated layer. See below for an example.