Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Secret Alternative GIS Lifestyle: Curious World Maps

Well, I wouldn't call Curious World Maps a GIS, but I would call it a cartographic alternative that many of you probably have never had the chance to use to make maps. I wanted to quickly bring it up, because while chatting with James, I actually used something he never heard of. What was the quote, James? "The more I learn the more I learn how much I don't know." Ditto. My office has only the base model of a Curious license, which is pretty hefty in price. We do use it everyday to support news in our intranet portal, but most users are only creating simple country-level political maps. Lately though, I've been trying to expand my knowledge of it to create some interesting and detailed maps. Granted, the base license doesn't bring the drawing and paint module with it. It's pretty easy to use and comes with it's own gazetteer, which is the reason for the high price I gather. If you have used a GIS and have worked with any Adobe graphic design suite, Curious should be a snap. It's trying to master the overlays, shadows, animation, and 3D advanced features that's interesting. I'll admit, I haven't tried the 3D suite yet, but I think that's next on my list this week to work with. So far, to get some "drawing" functionality into my maps I've exported Google Earth's terrain and imagery to Photoshop; added my graphics and exported it to Curious for layering aspects of our style sheet that we use in my office. I have made some nice maps using that technique, but is it really efficient? That's why I hope the natural 3D component to Curious works out to my benefit. I can't wait to make fly-throughs too——it should be fun. I don't know about all y'all, but how many of you would say that using a GIS for cartography is "fun?" Another side note: I haven't used the full Google Earth suite either, but am interested in comparing the two applications. I wonder if SketchUp can export to Curious? Guess I'll just have to experiment—I'll let you know how it goes. [Photo courtesy of Curious]

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