[OSGeo-Discuss] Proposal: OSGeo Cartographic Library

Tyler Mitchell (OSGeo) tmitchell at osgeo.org
Sun Apr 13 11:06:20 PDT 2008

On 13-Apr-08, at 9:23 AM, Bruno Lowagie wrote:
> If you make the map in PDF, you could provide the
> legend as a floating annotation that can be moved
> around by the user.
> If you are using OCG, you also have the Optional
> Content panel that can be used as a legend and that
> can be used to make certain layers visible/invisible.

For me the question of PDF is not limited by number of pages, or  
options that PDF offers, but whether or not it is an efficient format  
for sharing cartographic information - for which, so far, I'd say it  
fails miserably.  How many times have I went to a municipal mapping  
site only to find their maps are all in PDF - what a pain!  It might  
just be me though :)

Also, in the operational/industrial GIS map production environments  
I've been in, we've needed easy ways to print and re-print maps  
without having to open a viewer (and our printers didn't support PDF  
natively - though I assume some do now).  To print, I've focused on  
native plotter file formats and/or Postscript since most plotters can  
support it. Of course this isn't going to be good for web distribution.

For delivering digital files, I've often converted the PS files into  
PDF but it's been far from ideal.  I increasingly believe that web- 
based tools are going to be the only option.  So what about off-line  
delivery?  A CD or USB runable system is an interesting and more  
effective way than a PDF in some cases, though of course both have  
some memory overhead issues.

So, is it just me or does stuffing a 1:20,000 topo map into a PDF  
makes a huge file that is virtually unusable unless you have  
gigabytes of RAM and dual processors.  Delivering a 40MB PDF to  
client who is running an old computer doesn't bode well for your  
service ;-)

For what it's worth,

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