Dr Mike J Smith
Initial review of cadcorp SIS
I had a training session on cadcorp (SIS) this week from one of their technical analysts (thanks Campbell!). I have briefly flirted with cadcorp in the past, but with so many products on the market it is often difficult to keep up with the industry. Anyway, I was interested to see what the product had to offer as it has been gaining increased usage in the UK (a notable recent contract being the London Fire and Planning Authority). Having started its life in the CAD business, it is very firmly a mature GIS product. Another reason for exploring SIS further was a conversatin with their Technical Director (Martin Daly) at a recent AGI meeting.
OK so SIS can pretty much do all your data loading, editing, creation and analysis. At a functional level it is very capable (note the "fun" and useful keyhole function!). My initial use has seen two areas where it is particularly strong (and other products, naming no names, lie behind). The first is support for importing a variety of different data types. Besides the usual suspects (shapefiles etc), it also supports the import of things like GPS tracklogs in the form of GPX files (see earlier blog). It is also very strong in online datasets being one of the few products I know that will load WMS, WFS and WCS data. One of the latest developments is support for GeoRSS; an increasingly popular web publication format that we use at the Journal of Maps. From my initial review, perhaps the feature which looks like it has "killer" potential is that of layered PDFs. The PDF format has supported layers for a few years now (since verion 6??), yet I am not aware of many products that take advantage of them (Illustrator for one). Well cadcorp can export its data window as a layered PDF; this (to be honest, wonderful!) feature allows you to distribute a PDF of your data and, taking the GIS paradigm, allow users to turn layers on and off. Whilst the current final release (I believe) doesn't support this within finished map ouputs, I gather this is something being closely looked at. I should note that techincal suggestions are all reviewed and response time is very good.
I'll be playing with cadcorp more over the summer, but my first impressions are very favourable, with some unique features which clearly identifies it within the GIS marketplace.