ClueTrust, makers of the default free GPS-to-Mac application LoadMyTracks, have today launched a preview of an ambitious new project: Cartographica, a GIS application for the Mac. They’re asking for feedback on this currently free download.
I’ve just given it a spin myself. I found a ShapeFile of Afghani district populations at the wonderful Geocommons library and imported it into Cartographica. After some playing around with the controls I was able to color code them by population like so:
I’m not a GIS pro, so getting results like that in a matter of minutes is a good sign on the ease-of-use front:-)
While it’s early days yet for this application, I think it’s clear where its makers aim to position it: Not as an ESRI ArcGIS or Manifold competitor, but as something that is good enough for school users, GIS hobbyists and people who georeference their photos — for the last group, Cartographica has menu items like “Timecode Photos from iPhoto Library” and “Plot GPS encoded Photos”.
In other words, this application is in the mold of an iMovie or iPhoto for GIS analysis, pushing approachability and ease of use over a full feature set (at least for now). Even the user interface is reminiscent of Apple’s i-apps. I don’t mean to infer however that the tools are lightweight: There are geocoding tools for addresses, you can set the layer projection (choosing from a long list), acquire WMS and database data directly from the web and of course upload GPX data from a GPS device. (I haven’t tried them all, however.)
No word yet on the price, but a discount is promised to those who fill out a survey. In any case, making an approachable GIS application like this available today is a nice way to celebrate GIS Day:-) (Thanks Matthew for the tip)