Digital mapping software allows organizations and individuals to present geospatial information in a friendlier fashion. However, creators need to pay attention to a few key qualities when they choose software. Look for these 6 qualities if you're in the market for a new solution.
Balancing Ease of Use Against Robustness
Striking the right balance between ease of use and robustness can be a little challenging. Users will typically want an experience that simplifies as much as possible. At the same time, though, you want to have access to powerful features.
Good design should strike the right balance. Ask about demo versions and test drive the features by doing a mock-up of a real project. Make notes about the user experience and how robust the features are.
You want to have access to files from a large number of sources. Consequently, interoperability is a must. Look for support for many popular formats, especially Shapefile. SHP files are popular with many government agencies. KML is popular with folks who use Google Maps and Earth, too.
You should test drive the interoperability of the digital mapping software. Verify that the line conversions are smooth and accurate, and compare the results to previous work you've handled.
Users also typically need to connect to APIs, websites, FTP servers, and databases to gather and submit data. Make sure your digital mapping software supports all of your required web services. Also, choose a package that offers support for many additional services in case you need expanded compatibility down the road.
The visualization tools should offer more than the simple production of maps. For example, you may need to supply charts alongside maps to explain some things. Many web users will also want access to layers that allow them to quickly sort through different types of data.
People often look past licenses if the costs aren't extreme. However, you want to have digital mapping software that works on a licensing regime you like.
This is especially important for organizations that need multi-user licenses and may require scalability in the coming years. Learn what the licensing regime will be so there aren't any surprises down the road.
You may need to add imagery that goes beyond the stock maps and charts for the software. Built-in CAD tools can minimize annoyances. If you need to design imagery to accompany the map, it's nice to have that in the package at the time you buy.