GeoMedia GIS Blog

"A picture is only worth a thousand words. A map may be worth a thousand numbers. But a GIS is worth a thousand tables."

Batch Plotting – Part 3

Posted by jeffhobbs on August 7, 2007

When using the batch plotting utility, you have a few different output options including TIFF, JPEG, BMP, or GLS. Additionally, Intergraph has documented a workflow where you can create PDFs from batch plotting. Although I’m sure the workflow/white paper is somewhere on the Intergraph web site, I’ve uploaded a copy of the white paper for easier reference.

This workflow is great and quite easy to understand. I personally use the HP5500PS driver to create my mapbooks. For those that haven’t created a PDF using GeoMedia, when you do, you will immediately see the benefits including:

  • Since the PDF is vector-based (unless you’ve incorporated translucency into the map), the map will typically be much smaller than a raster image of the same map
  • Assuming the text were placed as standard text in GeoMedia, all of the text are searchable by using the "Find" or "Search" commands inside of Adobe Reader
  • Since the files are vector-based, there’s no pixelation
  • With Adobe Reader, you can select only a portion of the map to print. This is great when you have a large format map but only need to print out a small piece of the map
  • My hope is that one day TerraGo Technologies will integrate their Map2PDF for GeoMedia product with the batch plotting utility. With the Map2PDF tool, you’re able to embed attributes into the PDF, provide the ability to turn on and off individual layers in the PDF, identify real-world coordinates on the map, and even plug a GPS into a computer and visualize the GPS point on the PDF as you drive around! Very cool stuff – just REALLY wish they’d continue development on the tool!

Anyhow, there are many more benefits to a PDF, but the above list are just the first ones that come to mind. Now, the biggest drawback to the white paper referenced above is the lack of a way to schedule the creation of the PDFs. I say this because the white paper discusses using Adobe Distiller. Now Adobe Distiller is a great tool, but unfortunately, there’s now way to run it in the background as a Windows service or something similar. As a result, if you’re going to use the white paper’s workflow, you’ll need to either keep the computerlogged in at all times with Adobe Distiller running OR you’ll need to launch the Distiller on an as-needed basis. Both options have their positives and negatives. In the end, neither is ideal.

That takes me to a change that I’ve made to the workflow. Instead of Adobe Distiller, I use Ghostscript to create the PDFs. Now Ghostscript provides two humongous advantages over Adobe Distiller:

  1. It can be run through a DOS batch script. And, as we all know, a DOS batch script can be scheduled via the Windows Task Scheduler. In other words, the computer can be logged off and PDFs can still be created
  2. It’s free! In other words, you don’t need to have the somewhat expensive Adobe Acrobat product.

Now, I have had this process working in the past…more or less. HOWEVER, due to the bug mentioned in my previous post (Batch Plotting – Part 2) concerning the landscape vs. portrait issue, I have not been able to test the overall procedure. In the end though, I’m somewhat confident that once the bug is fixed, things will behave correctly and I’ll be able to get scheduled PDF output without using Adobe Distiller!

Finally, after this is all complete, my hope is to create an Oracle view to use as my plot shapes. In the Oracle view I will store the date any element in the plot shape was last modified. Then, I can schedule the batch plotting utility to print maps nightly. That way, in the end, ALL of my maps will be current as of the previous day. In the end, (I hope) I will have an application in place that will automatically update my mapbook nightly. All in all – pretty cool if you ask me 🙂 .

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5 Responses to “Batch Plotting – Part 3”

  1. Trevor said

    Jeff-

    Have they fixed the vector/raster problem with translucency in 6.1?

  2. jeffhobbs said

    Trevor,

    Not totally sure. I don’t even know if it’s considered a “problem”. That last I heard, there were different 3rd party software limitations causing the issue.

    Had you heard it would be fixed?

  3. Trevor said

    I have no idea. However, I have a 3rd party fix for this issue. I have a software package called Enfocus PitStop Professional that allows detailed PDF element editing. One attribute you can modify is the translucency of filled objects – so you can have everything vector and still have translucency.

  4. Jeff Hobbs said

    Trevor – very interesting! I’ll have to take a look – thanks for the pointer! I’ll talk to someone at Intergraph and try and find out the latest word on the subject. Will post back when I hear something.

  5. Jeff Hobbs said

    Trevor,

    Heard back from Intergraph. No change from 6.0 on the translucency “issue”.

    Jeff

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