About Mapping Center Research and Development

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What research and development are we involved in?
We are heavily involved in the development of best practices for mapmaking with ArcGIS software. Some of this work also leads to directed research on specific topics, such as generalization and data capture.
Web Mapping
This work relates to the development of online multi-scale maps and map templates that teach others how to make these. It also includes the processes for creating the map services, both dynamic and cached.
3D Mapping
This work involves the design and creation of a comprehensive suite of online map templates for 3D map design and interactivity. These templates for online maps enable ArcGIS users to quickly and effectively explore, model, and present their data in a relevant 3D environment.
Time-enabled GIS
This work relates to the development of maps that take advantage of the time-enabled GIS capabilities on ArcGIS 10.0.
Mapping with Data-driven Pages
The Data-driven Pages is a new ArcGIS tool that allows the creation of multi-page documents. It uses a combination of built-in functionality and python scripting to create the document. We are researching ways, and compiling examples, to present these multipage documents in a cartographically sound manner.
Cartographic data modeling
This work relates to the development of GIS databases to support map making and map production workflows. See our Presentations and Publications and the Esri Basemap Data Model Web page for more information.
Informed data capture
This research involves product- and process- (i.e., software) driven development of specification for the capture of data to be used for mapmaking. In addition to supporting analysis and inventory, GIS data should be able to support all mapping requirements. This additional requirement of GIS data has not traditionally been emphasized. We are learning what some of the challenges and solutions are for compiling and digitizing data for mapmaking purposes.
Software enhancements
We work with Esri software development teams to incorporate cartographic enhancements to the software. For example, we are working with the Spatial Analyst Team on cartographic conventions for contour lines, and the Maplex Team for better automatic labeling of polygon features used in mapping (such as marine water bodies and physiographic features), and the 3D Team on metrics used to symbolize and label trails on trail maps.
Best practices for map making with ArcGIS
This work involves a number of case studies that explore the use of ArcGIS software for making maps of all kinds. To see some of our examples, visit the Maps section of this Web site.
Best practices for cartographic data modeling for ArcGIS
This research involves developing and defining the requirements for modeling data that will be used in mapping with ArcGIS software. A guiding principle for us is, "If it's not in the data, it can't be on the map." Guidelines, best practices, data models and more can be found on the Esri Basemap Data Model Web page.
When to bail
This earlier research with our academic colleagues explores the reasons that cartographers leave the GIS environment to enter a graphics environment to complete the map-finishing work. It is desirable to stay in a single environment for as long as possible, so what are the impediments to working solely in a GIS for mapmaking? What are the tricks that allow us to overcome the seeming impediments, and what are the real obstacles to mapmaking within a single GIS environment? See our Presentations and Publications for more details.

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