Map software

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by vagoughs, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. vagoughs macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2011
    I need about 20 or so simple locator maps for a guide book that I've written. The quote from a local cartographer was $400 per map (actually, $400 and up -- whew!), which made me wonder what cartography software might be available for Macs. The maps would not be complicated -- just selected roads, towns, larger rivers (maybe), and then the specific sites for the book. Any suggestions would be appreciated -- thanks in advance!
  2. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    $400 per map is cheap...

    I am a creative director working within geospatial graphics for broadcast, the current applications I use costs me $10K per month in licensing... Furthermore I have nearly 10 years in military/broadcast graphics and creative so I do have a lot of experience in this area.

    Geospatial software I know of is for PC or Linux, there isn't much out there with regards to Mac version (that I would recommend). If it doesn't need to be geographically correct (just a simple image) the option I would suggest is Inkscape, it's a vector drawing program that *may* allow you to create a map that can be scaled up/down.

    If it has to be correct I would try Geocart it is pricey and has a pretty steep learning curve. The single license is $860 without data, though onto of that the software wont run well on stock hardware, you need a dedicated graphics card with plenty of ram (I would *at least* make sure you are running 12GB)

    For instance I am using a custom Linux box with 24GB RAM, 2X8 Core Intels, Quadro 5800FX with 2GB RAM, and yes ingesting a world map @ 500m still runs into the hours.

    The cost of mapping software isn't so much from the feature rather the ability to created geographically correct and to scale works, high resolution DEM and satellite imagery doesn't come cheap not to mention you need the computing power for it to run correctly.

    My recommendation would be to try to strike a deal with a cartographer, seriously the amount of time money and effort spent on creating your own maps just wont be worth it. Cartographers charge this kind of money for a very good reason ;)
  3. ManAboutCouch macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2007
    Dublin, Ireland
    There are a number of Open Source GIS (Geographic Information Systems) packages available for the Mac. The learning curve can be pretty steep, and getting your hands on useable data can be difficult.

    For a novice, you could try web based services like or

    If you want to make the maps yourself from scratch you could use some of the Open Source apps available from I recommend Quantum GIS, as it's quite polished and has plenty of power under the hood, Mac downloads available here:

    As for Open Source data, the OpenStreetMap project is an amazing resource: You can download the data from

    The whole geo area is undergoing very rapid change at the moment, lots of new apps and data being made available. I have a blog about the field, which I update occasionally, here:

    Good luck with your map making!
  4. brownpaw macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2010

    Contact a nearby college with a bachelor's or master's urban planning program. They will have several classes dedicated entirely to GIS. Maybe they'd be happy to see if any students are interested in doing it cheaper. If I had that opportunity, I'd do it for wayyy less than $400.
  5. nastebu macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2008

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