In my washout geology career…..computers were paperweights. We had to make maps – so we would make them. HAND DRAWN MAPS…or we drafted them on 1:24000 maps so we didn’t have to worry about scale and north arrows.
So I’m up to Part 2 of these un-numbered blog posts on how this is going to work. I’m moving a project from ArcGIS to QGIS. Project was in Data Driven Pages in ArcGIS and I’m trying to figure out if I can move this to Atlas in QGIS. Luckily I don’t have to re-develop the map layout – which was done by someone much more talented than myself. I must fill you in that it took multiple iterations of going: THIS? No….(changes) THIS! No…..(changes) THIS? No…..(dammit changes) &*(%$ THIS?!?! OK GOOD I HATE EVERYONE.
It’s never going to be a one to one crossover. ArcGIS has great map making tools. It makes a nice cartographic map. The question is can I transfer it over to QGIS. Why? Because my data resides in PostGIS/Postgresql
The answer is 90% yes. So I’m shooting for this:
It’s a nice legend. Everything is explained. We also pulled some dynamic text into it. So WINDING OAKS and TOM WADE were automatically generated. The tract ID in the lower right was autogenerated. The acres in red weren’t. As this evolved we went from one layer to about three and we were pulling information from all three to put in the map. We ended up running a frequency of tree cover and having to hand code the result. Which now that I think about it we could have been smarter – but our fluff time was eaten up with changes to the map. If I can offer some advice – beat your client over the head during the design phase. Spend lots of time on the design – it will save you time during production.
What I now have:
So – things that were completely different in this transition.
- Both QGIS and ArcGIS offer rulers. I will argue the rulers are a bit more stable in ArcGIS than QGIS – but the functionality is the same. At times the rulers in QGIS would move things I didn’t want moved. It happens and wasn’t a heartbreak by any stretch. So lay out your rulers and line up your map annotation/legends/things.
- If you notice above in the QGIS legend (one image up – the big image) I’ve got this really nice line that extends out from Stands/U.S. Acres. It creates a separation from the important part of the map – the stand information. QGIS can draw rectangles, triangles, and ellipses – no line. It can draw an arrow. So I decided to draw arrows and remove the arrow head. I could have use rectangles with a white and black border and gotten the same look…but I went the line route because I was bumping things around to match my existing PDF.
- The legend. Here was a problem. In arcgis you have this wonderful thing you can do with a legend. You can ungroup it. Once it’s ungrouped you can move it around and do all sorts of things to it – except put it back together and have it act as a legend. I’ve 9 things I’m showing. In Arcgis we add a legend and ungroup it and spread those things out. In QGIS – you can’t ungroup your legend. After a bit of thinking…..I ended up adding the legend three times and removing the bits I didn’t want to see. So instead of a legend with 9 items – I had a legend with 4 items or 3 items or 2 items. IT’S NOT WRONG….I’m so used to ArcGIS (12 something years with the same interface) that I want to go “Why…” – but it’s not wrong. It’s just different. One nice thing about QGIS is you never break the link back to the map. It’s always a legend. So If I add another layer – I just have to pick which of the three legends the new item goes in.
- North Arrow – so. I’m running linux. I have no doubt I could thieve the north arrow out of my ArcGIS install. QGIS is that flexible and you can grab a font, an SVG, or about anything and make a North Arrow. I’m not going to read the ArcGIS terms of license something agreement to figure out if I could use the north arrow. So I used the one pictured.
- Scale – If I had one complaint…it’s I have to stick with a ratio and not a 1 inch = xxx feet. I like ratios..client not so much. BUT – I think I have a fix for this shortly after I typed the word complaint. Stay tuned.
So the question is now – how do I fix the parts of this map that need to be dynamic? I have to pull acres in because this is a land cover map. I need to pull tract names, property names, and more from different layers. How Do I do that automatically and not hand type it all in? I think it’s possible and I have a plan. Will the plan work? Don’t know. You will know after I do….