Maplex, PLTS Aid NIMA Chart Production

Maplex 3.4 Is Now Shipping

Esri's Professional Services Group is using Maplex and Production Line Tool Sets (PLTS) to help the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) produce updated and Harbor, Approach, and Coastal Scale Nautical Charteasy-to-read nautical charts at a fraction of the time and cost required before. It is estimated that the incorporation of Maplex has improved production time by about 35 percent.

The Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) project uses Maplex to produce enormous volumes of spatial data. "Map production systems produce hard-copy charts from digital data," says Marco Rosas, Digital Nautical Charts project manager, Esri. "Nautical charts are complex and annotation-dense, and the DNC data structure makes annotation extraction cumbersome. We are using various font sizes and types in Maplex 3.4 to perform automatic annotation placement for specific features. The translation files in Maplex allow us to convert integer values from the database attributes into actual text."

Above right: The Harbor, Approach and Coastal Scale Nautical Chart incorporates annotation generated using Maplex 3.4. This use of Maplex decreased the annotation generation step by 75 percent.

As cartographers know, annotating a map is a bottleneck in map production; Maplex is a powerful tool for solving this problem. Maplex organizes data so that symbology is extracted from database attributes using Feature Class Code definitions. Features are easily annotated using font definitions to assign a font type, size, and color for each feature in the database. Maplex allows users to prioritize the features in the database to avoid overlapping, making maps easier to read.

The ArcInfo symbolset was mirrored in Maplex to match the nautical chart data for duplicate symbolization. Point symbols were also duplicated from ArcInfo to represent unique features for point symbols. This feature ensures correct text placement during export from Maplex to ArcInfo.

To improve quality control methods Maplex generates a relate file to track the source of annotation in the database.

Additionally, the enhanced automation server capabilities in Maplex 3.4 allow users to create a graphical user interface in Visual Basic to run maps through in batches. This makes it possible for Maplex projects to sit unduplicated on a server so that necessary edits need only be performed once.

PLTS is a result of Esri's extensive experience working with NIMA and many other military mapping agencies around the world. This software is designed to support the generation and maintenance of standard soft-copy and hard-copy products by NIMA.

Maplex is Esri's automatic text placement and cartographic design software. For more information about Maplex, call Esri at 1-800-447-9778 or visit To purchase Maplex, contact your Esri regional office or call Esri at 1-800-447-9778. Outside the United States, please contact your local Esri distributor.

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