Maps In Minutes – British Isles

There are many reasons why you might need a digital map of the British Isles, or a part of it. Perhaps, you want to place a location map on your Web site, or use a road map in a publication. Whatever the reason, Maps In Minutes has the answer. Maps are all custom-burnt to CD-ROM in either Adobe Illustrator or Macromedia FreeHand format. This last point highlights the attention to detail shown by the publisher, which is aware of the shortcomings of trying to convert from one format to the other. Map sources are about as good as they get, and include the AA, and the UK Hydrographic Office. All five packages share certain traits. Vector overlays are presented in numerous layers making them easily editable, while terrain images are supplied in RGB TIFF format for opening in Photoshop or similar apps. The differences are in terms of scale and detail. The most basic – Economy Edition – offers the whole of the British Isles in 1:5 million scale, plus inset maps of Guernsey, Jersey and the Scilly Isles. And, this sub-£100 product boasts over 70 layers, including two-coloured population levels, motorways, A roads, airports, longitude/latitude lines and naming of all major towns and features. The mid-range Classic Edition offers far more: three scales (1:1/2/5 million), a dozen individual 1:1-million scale region maps, and increased mapping detail with almost 100 layers that include dual carriageways and road numbers, motorway junction numbers, service areas and ferry routes. A nice touch is the addition of a road mileage chart – in effect, almost everything a serious cartographer would need. There’s quite a step-up to the Deluxe Vector Edition, both in terms of features and price. In addition to the Classic’s facilities, there are 13 regional maps in 1:750,000 scale that contain far more detail, including B roads and tourist information, plus separate maps of weather forecast areas and sea contours. A comprehensive set of items for map keys is also included. The other two products feature digital terrain-data: the low-cost Terrain Edition offers 1:5 million-scale maps with over 20 different 300dpi backgrounds, but minimal overlay information. The top-of-the-range Deluxe Full Edition has all the 1:1/2/5 million scale maps, including individual regions at 1:1 million and 1:750,000 scales, plus dozens ofbackgrounds with height shadings and contoured colours for land and sea. Min specs: Available RAM: 12MB (Economy), 20MB (Classic), 24MB (De Luxe Vector), 48MB (De Luxe Full), 24MB (Terrain).

OUR VERDICT

The quality of mapping is extraordinary, and technical support is free. The licence is a little restrictive in areas – such as only 640-x-480 pixels on Web sites – and there is an annual update fee of half the collection’s cost, but that’s to be expected given the frequent minor amendments to maps. It’s worth checking the samples and licence on the Web site before buying. If you need UK maps, from basic through to the most complex, Maps In Minutes offers an unrivalled collection of products.

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