GIS Software Choices:
ArcView2, MapInfo & Workstation Arc/Info 7

Presentation for the Province of Bukidnon, Philippines
John Schlosser, President, Schlosser Geographic Systems, Inc.
Malaybalay, Bukidnon -- July 3, 1996

1. KEY POINTS

1.1. MapInfo, Arc/Info, & ArcView are the realistic choices
1.2 Arc/Info, MapInfo, and ArcView are different.
1.3 The best choice for you depends entirely on your budget, your data, and the type of analysis you need to do.

2. WHAT'S THE SAME

2.1 Make maps composed of many individual layers
2.2 Make maps “intelligent” by attaching data values to map lines, points or other features
2.3 Have the underlying data table control the colors, cross-hatching or symbols on the map.

3. WHAT'S DIFFERENT

3.1 Ease of use
3.2 Analytic power
3.3 Editing and updating maps
3.4 Geocoding: putting addresses on the map
3.5 Company history and direction
3.6 Cost factors

Ease of Use ArcView2.1 MapInfo Pro 4 Workstation Arc/Info 7
Ease-of use of general interface: menus, button pads, dialog boxes and screen “forms”. Graphic user interface, with menus, dialog boxes, and button bars.

Menu choice names and functions have a UNIX-like “look and feel”.

Menu options can be moved to different places in the menu “tree”.

Users can write programs to create custom menu systems and button pads. Difficult to create custom dialog boxes.

Graphic user interface, with menus and button bars and floating button pad(s). Menu choice names and functions have a MS Windows “look and feel”.

Interface is Windows95-compliant (e.g., tool pads are “dockable”).

Users can write programs to create custom menu systems, screen forms and button pads.

Command line interface, without built-in menus or button pads.

"ArcTools” menu interface is included, but rarely used by users.

Users can write programs to create menu systems, screen forms and button pads.

Ease-of-use of map display operations: e.g., panning, zooming, and re-centering the map view. Easy-to-use pan, zoom and scrolling options.

No menu choice to display the previous map view.

No option to interrupt screen re-draw.

Can simultaneously display map layers which have different map projections and coordinates.

Superior set of Easy-to-use pan, zoom and scrolling options.

Menu option to re-display the previous map view.

Can interrupt screen re-draw with the ESC key.

Can simultaneously display map layers which have different map projections and coordinates.

Limited set of built-in pan, zoom, & re-center features. Most users write programs/scripts to enhance the built-in features.

Cannot simultaneously display map layers which have different map projections and coordinates. Map layers must be re-projected to have same projection and coordinate system.

Ease-of-learning Reasonably easy to learn, especially for staff with background in UNIX computer systems.

No “wizard” type learning features.

Extremely limited printed documentation. Detailed online documentation.

Reasonably easy to learn, especially for staff with background with other Windows computer systems.

Includes step-by-step “wizard” helper features.

Extensive printed documentation.

Detailed online documentation.

Difficult to learn.

Typically operated by dedicated computer staff, not by planners or analysts with non-computer responsibilities.

Extensive printed documentation.

Detailed online documentation.

Ease with which users maintain data files, track data lineage, and general system administration. Shape-file map data is easy to maintain. Binary Arc/Info format data cannot be moved between directories or stored in the same sub-directories without risk of losing attribute data links.

Limited method for tracking metadata (for data lineage purposes).

Typically operates under Windows or WindowsNT so good compatibility with other Windows systems.

MapInfo format data can be copied between directories or stored in the same sub-directories without risk of losing attribute data links.

MapInfo format data is binary-compatible between Windows, Macintosh & UNIX versions of MapInfo.

Limited method for tracking metadata (for data lineage purposes).

Typically operates under Windows or Windows NT so good compatibility with other Windows systems.

Binary Arc/Info format data cannot be moved between directories or stored in the same sub-directories without risk of losing attribute data links. Special “export format” is recommended for moving data between computers.

Good facilities for tracking metadata (for data lineage purposes).

Typically operates under UNIX, requiring above average system administration staff labor.

Analytic Power ArcView2.1 MapInfo Pro 4 Workstation Arc/Info 7
Theme maps: Data driven color-coding and symbolization. Rich set of options including ranged fills, pie diagrams, and dot density fills.

Supports “transparent” crosshatching fills.

Awkward key legend box features.

Richest set of thematic options including ranged fills, pie diagrams, and dot density fills plus use “natural break,” standard deviation, and other categorization methods.

Supports “transparent” fill patterns.

Good set of options. Pie diagrams require use of separate macro (included).

Excellent but labor-intensive, control over fonts, fills, and positions of map and layout text.

Supports custom fill patterns and line styles.

Adjacency, “buffers”, and proximity: What's happening nearby. Can select within a buffer but does not create the buffer zone for use in further analysis.

Very limited ability to build new map layers from combinations of old layers.

Easy implementation of “near” functions.

Buffer regions built automatically with ring or buffer objects retained. Buffer size controlled by data values.

Computes “near” and distance functions, but via relatively complex method.

Most sophisticated features to compute intersections and overlaps among regions.

Full control over creating buffer regions. Buffer size may be controlled by data values. “Near” and distance computations possible but require computer program or multi-step command sequence.

.

Table Queries, selections & “What-if's” Works with one “selected set” of map objects or data records at a time, discarding previous selection.

Good query-building tools. No SQL support.

Can print tables and maps on same page.

Can define qualifying selections as their own map layer.

Build many groups and sub-groups to progressively refine the analysis. Retains previous queries as dynamic tables.

Good query-building tools. Use SQL syntax.

Can print tables and maps on same page.

Can define qualifying selections as their own map layer.

Easy implementation of “many-to-many” and “one-to-many” table relationships.

Works with one “selected set” of map objects or data records at a time, discarding previous selection.

No query building tools, unless programmed by user. No SQL support.

Cannot define selected map objects as a separate map layer.

Supports complex table “joins”, involving 3 tables simultaneously.

Difficult approach to “many-to-many” and “one-to-many” table relationships.

Blend data from different sources: Aggregating and disaggregating Limited ability to build new map layers from combinations of old layers. Can disaggregate and aggregate based on percent of overlap. Can overlay, combine, & split multiple layers--creating new map layers. Automatic data aggregation & disaggregation when objects split or combined. Can overlay, combine, & split multiple layers--creating new map layers, but requires sophisticated user following exact sequence of manual steps. No built-in data aggregation & disaggregation tools.
Create contours lines & slope maps from point data Not available. Requires optional program e.g., Vertical Mapper ($895) Requires optional module e.g., TIN or GRID ($2,000 @ est.)
Editing and updating maps ArcView2.1 MapInfo Pro 4
Re-draw or re-position map regions (eg., planning zones, zip codes, town boundaries.) No “UnDo” command.

Cannot edit Arc/Info format data; can edit “shape file” format data.

Cannot add points (vertices) to re-shape an existing region shape. Can display but cannot import regions defined by more than 5,000 points

Strong map editing features.

Can build and edit regions defined by up to 32,000 points.

Can reverse edits with UnDo command.

Strongest map editing features. Can automatically build closed polygons from simple lines.

Can create polygons with unlimited numbers of points (vertices).

Can reverse edits with Oops command in ArcEdit.

Combine, split, and trim map regions. Merge adjacent regions (shape file format only). No “polygon overlay” operations, so cannot split one region with another or trim one region to fit the adjacent region border. Combine regions, split one region with another region, and “erase” an area of overlap between regions. Merge regions and split regions.
Screen Digitizing: e.g., Update maps using aerial photos Can display photo images (raster data) as backdrop. Significant limitations: No way to interrupt screen re-draws, therefore much slower. Can display photo images as backdrop. Can interrupt screen re-draws. Can display photo images as raster backdrop. Cannot interrupt screen re-draws.
Table Digitizing Does not support table digitizers. Supports table digitizers. Virtual Tablet Interface (VTI) software recommended. Best digitizer support. Most complete features for processing digitized line data.
       
Geocoding: Putting addresses on the map ArcView2.1 MapInfo Pro 4 Workstation Arc/Info 7
Geocoding overview “Rule-based” scoring system for “close” or imperfect matches.

Zone” information, e.g., zip codes is blended with the street database, making it difficult to handle changes in zip code or other zone boundaries

Std. MapInfo. Zip code boundaries or other “zone” information is in separate layer, not in streets. Easy to substitute different zone layers (eg., town boundaries) or edit zone boundaries. No “close” match or scoring options.

MapInfo with “MapMarker” add-on product: Offers “rule-based” scoring system for “close” or imperfect matches.

Street data, zip codes, and zip+4 codes integrated into one database.

Powerful geocoder, but requires relatively large investment of effort to set data up properly.

Only geocodes against one file at a time, typically one county at a time.

Offers “close” match option and “soundex” options.

Option to “fall-back” to Zip+4, if no street match No. Make a separate passes through the Zip+4 database after street geocoding. Std. MapInfo: No, separate passes.

MapInfo with MapMarker product: Yes.

No
Built-in address standardization No Std. MapInfo: No.

MapInfo with MapMarker product: Yes. Will standardize street address and zip code but not zip + 4 code.

No
Add Census codes while geocoding   Std MapInfo. No.

MapInfo with MapMarker product: Yes.

Yes.
Custom or user-updated street databases Yes. But limited tools for maintaining and updating street databases. Std MapInfo. Yes.

MapInfo with MapMarker product: Yes.

Yes.
Multiple county or multi-state databases No. Load each county database separately. Std MapInfo: No. Load each county separately.

MapInfo with MapMarker product: Yes.

Yes.
Address geocoding can be done standalone, ie, without the GIS No. Yes, with MapMarker. MapMarker geocoding has programming interface and can be tied to other non-GIS software applications. MapMarker does not require MapInfo software. No.
       
Using existing maps and related data ArcView2.1 MapInfo Pro 4 Workstation Arc/Info 7
Import “foreign” map formats ArcView2 “shape” file format published-1995.

Includes no import utilities except for Arc/Info E00 format. Data interchange format (E00) closely held as proprietary.

Can display AutoCad DWG-format files.

Published “open” ASCii data interchange format so can write own translators or use off-the-shelf translators.

DXF import/export utility is included.

TIGER/DLG/Atlas translators and other translators available at extra cost usually.

Includes complete set of translators available for nearly all digital map formats..
Use ARC/INFO “export” format data (E00). Can import compressed or un-compressed “export” files (E00) with single or double precision coordinates.

Imports polygons with up to 5,000 vertices.

Can export from “shape file” format to MapInfo interchange (MIF) format (process not tested by SGS.)

Can view and map Arc/Info binary data directly without translation. Difficult to use binary data that is “copied” to a local system.

Need to convert ARC/INFO binary format maps to “Shape” format to edit, “append”, “combine” or make any other changes.

MapInfo's optional ArcLink program ($595) imports compressed or un-compressed “export” files (E00) with single or double precision coordinates.

Imports polygons with up to 32,000 vertices.

Bi-drectional: ie, can export from MapInfo to Arc/Info (E00) and vice-versa.

Usually can import Arc/Info Export format data (E00) files, although frequent problems sometimes occur when attempting to import E00 data prepared by a different versions of Workstation Arc/Info.
Immediate access to database (DBF), Excel or Lotus spreadsheet data. Can read DBF-format & INFO.database files. Translates delimited ASCii. Can “connect” to and use data from remote database “servers.” Can read DBF-format. Also directly uses Excel, Lotus, ASCii, without translation. . Can “connect” to and use data from remote database “servers.” Can convert DBF-format files to its proprietary INFO format.

Can connect to large number of UNIX-based database systems.

Following comments are based on company announcements and publicly available information.

Company History & Direction ArcView2 MapInfo Pro 4
Software company history and focus Environmental Systems Research Inc. (ESRI) has been a major GIS developer since the late 1970's, with UNIX Arc/Info being its main software product.

Traditionally has emphasized software development as its core business.

Also markets UNIX computers.

Estimated annual sales of more than $200 million with ArcView2 sales constituting a small fraction of total revenue.

MapInfo Corporation released its first desktop mapping product in the late 1980's. is traditionally PC/desktop-oriented.

Traditionally has emphasized software development as its core business. Also markets substantial amount of map data. Does not sell computers.

Estimated annual sales of $30-40 million, with MapInfo for Windows as its flagship product.

Environmental Systems Research Inc. (ESRI) has been a major GIS developer since the late 1970's, with UNIX Arc/Info being its main software product.

Traditionally has emphasized software development as its core business.

Also markets UNIX computers.

Estimated annual sales of more than $200 million with ArcView2 sales constituting a small fraction of total revenue.

Users High proportion of government users.

A typical ArcView2 site is also a user of UNIX Arc/Info or other ESRI software.

High proportion of private company users.

A typical MapInfo site is a business or public sector analysis group that uses pre-built map data layers.

High proportion of government users. A typical UNIX Arc/Info site is a large utility, public works, military, or natural resource organization that makes its own map data layers.
Software releases ArcView2 released in mid-1994. Available for UNIX, Windows, & Macintosh. MapInfo released in 1990. Available for UNIX, Windows, & Macintosh. Revision 4 renamed MapInfo Professional. Rev 4 released for Windows in late 1995 and for Macintosh in early 1996. Revision 7 released in late 1995 for many UNIX computers. .
Desktop Alliances None Microsoft. None
Financial strength Private closely-held for-profit company. Believed to be profitable. Publicly traded company (NASDAQ-MAPS) as of 2/94. Consistently profitable. Private closely-held for-profit company. Believed to be profitable.
       
Cost factors ArcView2.1 MapInfo Pro 4 Workstation Arc/Info 7
Software price (5/95) $795-995 (includes Avenue scripting option). $695 (Mac) $1,295 (Windows/WinNT) $10,000 - 20,000 (est.) Varies.
CPU recommended 486-66DX or better 486-66DX or better Sun, HP, SGI, DEC RISC, typically.
RAM recommended 16mB or more. 16 mB or more. 32 mb or more

Typical new desktop GIS computer system hardware for ArcView or MapInfo for Windows.

If a computer is being purchased specifically for desktop mapping or desktop GIS uses, the most common specifications are as follows:

Other costs

When comparing costs, prospective users should include:

These “other costs” vary so much that they cannot be outlined in this document. Contact your vendor or the software manufacturer.

SGS All rights reserved, Schlosser Geographic Systems, Inc. Seattle, WA 206-224-0800.
Permission is granted to reproduce this document for non commercial purposes, provided that the document is reproduced in its entirity, including this notice. Information included here is the subjective opinion of the author and has not been reviewed by software manufacturers. gis40\ai_v_mi\0717.doc.doc

 

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