Map symbol brewer
Does ESRI have any developments afoot to implement a more comprehensive set of graphical symbols than the currently limited spot, pie and bar? I am thinking on the lines of the work of Dr. Olaf Schnabel, who developed the Map Symbol Brewer (http://www.oschnabel.gmxhome.de/portfolio_en.html). This kind of development would make ArcGIS a useful tool for summarising multivariate point data on a map, and would save users a great deal of time in developing their own shaky scripts to draw things like Maucha, spider, polar and radar diagrams.
The proxy server did not allow an upload to the ESRI site, but an example of what I am asking is at this link: http://www.dwaf.gov.za/iwqs/water_quality/NCMP/natl_assmnt04_maucha.pdf.
The R statistics program has many of these types of symbols, and has a simple mapping procedure for shape files (and it's free). However, the ideal would be to use the symbols in a cartographic environment.
Mapping Center Answer:
There's no effort like this afoot. Once you start digging, there is no such thing as a comprehensive list of graphical symbols--there is no practical limit to what could be symbolized.
The problem of multivariate thematic symbology for maps is challenging, not just to make the map, but to read it as well. Back when all we had was paper, relatively few of these maps got made, but those that did were usually pretty decently designed and executed (meaning expensive). In the digital mapping age, if the will exists to make such a map, it can be done, but because these are all specialty maps, they are on the fringe of most people's expertise, so finding a cartographer is a challenge, and it's, like you indicate, a lot of work.
We are not limited to paper any longer, but because such maps are not mainstream, you're just not likely to see a generic or mainstream tool for making them. But web maps are offering some solutions, particularly by leverating Web 2.0 graphics engines against GIS services. For instance:
Where instead of using a complex symbol for every polygon, symbology is based on a characteristic that explains something commonly understood, and then clicking on that feature gives better context. I'm not saying this replaces the need for rich multivariate symbology, but it offers an alternative that will work well in many cases.
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