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MapInfo for Windows, Version 3.0
Company: MapInfo Corp., in Troy, N.Y., can be reached at (800) 327-8627 or (518) 285-6000; fax: (518) 285-6060.
List price: $1,295 for stand-alone copy; multiuser prices are negotiable; MapBasic costs $795.
Requirements: Intel 386 or compatible system with 4MB of RAM (8MB recommended), 12MB of disk space; Windows 3.1 or later; Windows-compatible pointing device.
Pros: Strong creation and editing tools; broad variety of thematic options; multilayer querying; flexible reporting.
Cons: Relatively hard to learn; can't query external databases; small set of symbols.
Summary: MapInfo is the stronger mapping program per se. If you need to frequently create, edit, and manipulate maps, then this is the product to use.
Introduced in 1991, MapInfo Corp.'s MapInfo was the first Windows desktop geographic information system (GIS) program. Version 3.0 offers a grab bag of new and nifty features. At the top of the list is a redistricting tool that allows you to combine territories on the fly and sum attached data as you go. Another powerful enhancement is the addition of polygon overlay tools, which let you use a region on one layer to split or combine regions -- and their data -- on another layer. MapInfo also now allows you to attach raster images to maps as backgrounds.
The program's interface has been worked over, so most utilities have easier-to-understand dialog boxes and many processes offer step-by-step procedures. Also, there's a new set of floating toolboxes, as well as a nifty text-rotation tool.
If you're going to be doing a lot of map creation and editing, MapInfo is clearly the better program, thanks to its capability to accommodate complex objects, to reshape those objects, and to create maps from scratch using a digitizer.
Installation and configuration:
If you have a CD-ROM drive, you can do an unattended install and leave MapInfo's 7MB of sample files on disc. Unfortunately, there's no information about how much space is required for the installation or available on each drive. A full installation occupies 11MB of disk space. It can be installed easily on a network server.
This version of MapInfo offers a new Preferences utility that provides useful control over how the program is displayed and how it behaves.
MapInfo relies on three floating toolboxes: one for drawing tools, one for navigating and accessing utilities, and one for calling up MapBasic features. You can place the toolboxes anywhere on the screen and reshape them, and MapInfo will remember their locations.
The program consumed 17 percent of our system resources when we loaded it, nearly twice that required by Strategic Mapping Inc.'s Atlas GIS.
Configuring the program was very easy, but its relatively heavy resource consumption and the limited information it provides users during installation holds its score at satisfactory.
Map creation and modification:
Creating and editing maps is one of MapInfo's strengths. MapInfo provides a built-in digitizing interface, with a generic driver that supports most devices, as well as drivers for Summagraphics Corp. and GTCO Corp. digitizers. Third-party drivers are available for other digitizers.
MapInfo handled our tests with ease. Creating a larger region out of two smaller ones is performed by simply selecting the two regions …