Maptitude carves out middle ground
- By Patrick Marshall
- Apr 15, 2002
Not every map application requires the detailed and powerful map-creation tools found in the likes of ESRI's ArcGIS, and not every Web-based map application needs the diagnostic and adjustable load-balancing capabilities of MapInfo Corp.'s MapXtreme or ESRI's ArcIMS.
However, when we last looked at Caliper Corp.'s Maptitude, we found Version 4.0 to be the easiest-to-use desktop mapping program available. Although it didn't offer the higher-end capabilities of MapInfo Professional or ESRI's ArcView, Maptitude's map-querying and reporting tools are both powerful and accessible.
The new Maptitude Version 4.5 offers somewhat enhanced map-creation tools and broader file format support. What's more, the new Web publishing tools offered in Maptitude for the Web 4.5 are surprisingly easy to use.
With any map loaded in Maptitude, you can simply click on Application/New to begin working with the "Mapplication" wizard. Using the dialog box that pops up, you can select among the six predefined templates that enable various types of map queries: point, area, line, multilayer queries, themes and locator operations.
Once you've selected a template, Maptitude will create the application. You can then fine-tune the Web application configuration, specifying when pages expire and what data fields will be available and indicating whether users can toggle layers off and on.
Maptitude for the Web does not include the kind of Web diagnostic tools found in MapXtreme and ArcIMS, but it does allow you to specify additional servers for any Mapplication, with load balancing performed automatically.
No, Maptitude is not backed by an extensive network of consultants, nor does it offer an array of add-on modules to bring new capabilities, such as 3-D analysis, to the basic package. And those wanting to develop custom applications will have to employ Caliper's proprietary scripting language — GISDK — which is now bundled with the program at no extra charge.
But if you're looking for a program that offers powerful and easy-to-use tools for querying and reporting, Maptitude is an extremely attractive value. And while the program's Web publishing solution doesn't offer diagnostic tools and the like, it makes it a snap to move basic interactive maps to the Web.