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Applications for map drawing

No single application is good enough to create ready-to-publish map and figures.  Many applications tend to grow bigger and bigger to fulfill an all-in-one application.  I think it's better to take the best part of many applications rather than to cling to a single application.  The royal road so far is:

TS-[text]-MS Excel-[text]-GMT-[EPS]-Illustrator-[EPS]-InDesign

Spread Sheet

MS Excel: One and only for TS data arrangement and recalculation.  Scaled plot is not possible.  No EPS output.  Good for quick arrangement and preview plot of the data in the field.
Export space-delimited text file as Unix standard input for GMT.

Graph application
DeltaGraph Pro:  Scaled plot and contouring with shades (based on direct triangulation) are available.  EPSF and Adobe Illustrator export is fairly good quality.  But it's own figure quality is not good enough for publication.  Export EPS and finish with Adobe Illustrator.

GIS application
Polygon-based map-drawing is enhanced with its database function.  However, high-performance for serious business is just too much for most geologists.  The cost for the application and an operator is not often available or justified.  Map output in CAD formats is good, but EPS output for scientific use is not very good.

CAD application
Best for drawing large-scale maps, construction plan, or engineering design.  Good for mapping houses and roads, but not much for topography and geographic projection.  Expensive.

Advantages: From primitive multi-purpose data (xyz and raw-grid) to high-quality PS output.  Geophysicist- and geologist friendly design.  Specialized in plotting and map drawing.  Selection of 25+ geographic projection by few parameters.  Unix, Windows,and Macintosh are supported.  Full complexed automation is possible using shell scripts.
Disadvantages:  Only command-line interface is available for command input.  No graphic interface for output.  Expensive Adobe suites and PS printer are required.

Draw application
Adobe Illustrator is the best graphic interface for GMT output.  GMT is operated only by text-based command lines.  Adjustment of all details by the command lines is possible, but tedious.  GMT creates perfect EPS file that is ready for edit by Adobe Illustrator for all details.  So, it's much better to finish the graphic with Adobe Illustrator.  No other draw application is as good as Illustrator, for precision and flexibility. 

Raster application
GMT can create raster maps such in EPS.  Delicate adjustment and enhancement of color rasters are possible with Adobe Photoshop.

DTP application
With word processor application like MS-Word, it's not possible to prepare good quality publication.  You can insert GMT-ESP into MS-Word documents, but layout option for publication is limited and not precise.  PDF output is quite poor quality.  Such DTP applications as Adobe InDesign, Adobe PageMaker, and QuarkExpress are ready for high quality commercial publication.  Imported EPS graphics are perfectly represented.  PDF output is almost perfect because these DTP applications can output perfect PostScript, while other non-Adobe applications create only faulty PostScript. 

What's PS (PostScript)?

PS is a language to describe pages for printers.  Characters, lines, pixels are plotted with a corner of a page as an origin of plot.  Beside pixel images, all objects are in vectors.  The resolution does not depend on CPU, but an output device.  Data for the highest quality commercial printing can be created by a small Macintosh.  PS is in plain text.  It is possible to edit a PS file using text editor.  Since PS is to be interpreted by a printer, most applications are not able to open a PS file.  EPS is used instead.

What's EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)?

EPS is a part of a page described by PS.  The origin of plot is not a corner of a page, but a corner of a rectangular (bounding box) surrounds entire objects.  The bounding box can float on a page.  PS for the page will describe the position for printing.  You can import and layout an EPS graphic on a page of DTP and word processor application.  To view an EPS graphic on the page, preview image is necessary.  GMT outputs EPS without a preview, so imported EPS is shown as a blank rectangular on the page.  Non-PS printer (without PS interpreter) cannot print the EPS graphic without a preview image.  Using GSview or Illustrator it is possible to add a preview image to EPS.  The format of the preview image is not the same for PC and Mac.  The image is 72dpi (display resolution) and not clear on display.  Using a PS printer, perfect output is available.   Non-PS printer may output the low-resolution preview image only.

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