MapInfo Pro

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MapInfo Features Roadmap 2021+

  • 1.  MapInfo Features Roadmap 2021+

    Posted 03-01-2021 04:52

    I am wondering what new features we can expect from Precisely on upcoming versions of MapInfo and if there are any major overhauls of the older limitations planned.

    I ask this, as despite MapInfo being our core enterprise GIS software, I have needed to rely on the open-source QGIS almost entirely for map production and data-editing.  This is seemingly due to some missing standard GIS features that do not seem to be getting addressed with each update, years on from when competing software has introduced them.

    Some of the longstanding features missing:
    • 'Data-driven pages' (ArcGIS) / 'Atlas' (QGIS) 
      • The ability to use a spatial feature to define multiple page locations and output multi-page pdfs with a single export
      • This would include the ability to define a title, page number, scale, rotation in the feature attributes, which could be accessed in the layout view. This would allow the layout to show 'Page 1 of 4' etc. or an individual title per page, such as a location name.
    • Map Themes/Symbology
      • Defining custom expressions per symbol within the theme categories 
        • E.g. for a roads layer, we may want to only display (and label) the smaller local roads at 1:2000 and larger roads at varying scales. Currently we'd need to separate this into 4-6 separate layers with symbol overrides. The alternative like QGIS allow us to define any number of attribute expressions within the one layer/theme, such as where road class = local, use x symbol and show between 1:1-1:2000. An entire road dataset symbology at different scales can be defined in the one layer symbol interface. 
        • The above expressions list for labels as well
      • Ability to pre-define symbol categories in the theme even if the attribute values does not currently exist.
        • If we know what set values an attribute such as 'Status' can have, we should be able to define all possible values in advance so when they are actually populated, they show up on the map as intended and not under the 'all others' category. For example, if in an inspection database, all of the statuses begin as 'Not Inspected', MapInfo does not allow us to define the symbol and legend entry in advance for the status 'Complete' as the value has to exist during theme creation. The only option is a workaround by populating a dummy 'Complete' record at the beginning.
        • There is usually an option to not show legend items if they do not appear in the data, but the user can at least still define them for when they do
      • Save one or more themed layers into a single shortcut file so another user can simply open this shortcut file to import all contained layers into their own workspace with the themes/labels already defined. 
        •  This would be similar to how you can currently open a workspace file while in MapInfo, except it would add the layers to the current map rather than creating a new one where the themes can't be transferred across. 
    • Customizable templates/constraints for editing feature attributes, to make editing accurate and simple.
      • E.g. Defined drop-down lists (also with value aliases), checkboxes, number range, date picker, joined/related-table cascading lookup dropdowns, unique values, filepath selector, default values etc. QGIS has all of this, ArcGIS at least has the basic 'Domains' available so drop-down lists can be used when editing data.
      • For example, we are about to implement a new asset management system and it's very hard to recommend using our core MapInfo Pro 2019.3 software for the GIS integration if asset engineers still have to manually type all attribute data-entry such as pipe dimensions. A single incorrect character will cause edits to fail, whereas if we had a custom drop-down list or joined lookup table of pre-defined dimensions, this would take a lot of the risk away and be far more convenient.
      • Selecting and editing attributes of multiple features at once using the above forms
      • These templates allow the GIS to be utilized by more than just the power users for editing data

    I'm interested in Precisely's stance on these sort of features and if any changes to this long-time core functionality is being considered. I'm impressed by the processing speed of the MapInfo raster functionality, but if I require QGIS for all complex/multi-page map production and data editing/collection, I feel that MapInfo is not serving its job as the 'all-rounder' enterprise GIS package.

    Timothy Righetti
    Nillumbik Shire Council
    Greensborough VIC

  • 2.  RE: MapInfo Features Roadmap 2021+

    Posted 03-01-2021 10:02

    Thanks, Timothy, for taking the time to write up these requests.

    I'll try to dive into your suggestions and give you some ideas where possible. I won't get through all your ideas today but will come back and take a stab at the other ideas later.

    I'm not trying to say that all you request is doable. I know, and so you do, that's not true. But we do have some (new) capabilities that you might find helpful. Please let us know if you think these can help you solve what you are looking to do, or if you still have to rely on other tools.

    We have created the plans for the MapInfo Pro v2021 releases this year, and I know @Patrick Collins is working on a road map we can share. I'll also send you an invite to the MapInfo Lab here on the Knowledge Communities where we discuss the improvements to MapInfo Pro in more detail with our customers.

    Smart Text

    ​In one of the earlier versions of MapInfo Pro, we introduced the concept of SmartText. This allows you to add dynamic text to a layout. This dynamic text would be a single or a set of MapBasic functions that return a text. This makes the text able to reflect on changes in say your Map window, the Date or Time, or your current selection.

    A couple of years back, I did a webinar around SmartText in Layouts.

    To give you a few ideas on the capabilities of the SmartTexts, I have added some examples:
    • Name of map in frame named "Map-1": $mb{WindowInfo(LayoutItemWinID(CurContext(1), "Map-1", 1), 1)}
    • Scale of map in frame named "Map-1": $mb{MapperInfo(LayoutItemWinID(CurContext(1), "Map-1", 1), 33)}
    • Layout page number: ${Page}
    • Number of pages in the layout: ${Pages}
    You can also use this method to read values from a table and show the value on the layout.

    I like the idea of getting a location for a given map. How are you doing that in QGIS/ArcGIS? Is it reading the value from the record or is it getting the value using for example the center of the map?

    With v2021, we are working on giving these SmartText some more visibility by presenting the SmartText aliases, the predefined SmartTexts, in a dropdown on the Layout tab.

    Automated layout generation

    In the MapInfo Marketplace you can find the tool called Site Mapper developed by Kalu Ribush. Maybe this can help you generating multiple outputs?

    I'll be back with some more suggestions.

    Peter Horsbøll Møller
    Principal Presales Consultant | Distinguished Engineer
    Precisely | Trust in Data

  • 3.  RE: MapInfo Features Roadmap 2021+

    Posted 03-08-2021 22:59
    Hi Timothy

    Please send me your feedback on Site Mapper.  It's been a while since I made any updates.  I'd appreciate any feedback on making it more intuitive and useful.

    Regards, Kalu

    Kalu Ribush
    Dept. Jobs, Precincts & Region (VIC)
    Melbourne VIC

  • 4.  RE: MapInfo Features Roadmap 2021+

    Posted 03-09-2021 16:20

    Hi Kalu - just going to jump in here with my feedback. Site Mapper for me is about the best thing since sliced bread!! It is a great tool - thanks so much for developing it. I use it every 4 months to print pdf's for ~7,000 maps!

    I do have a couple of things on my wish-list that may not be possible but will throw out there anyway:

    1) would like to be able send direct to a printer - we frequently print up to 200 maps at a time and currently use a very old tool called e-Spatial which only works on MapInfo V15 or earlier. One day, this will no longer be an option.

    2) any chance of being able to save the settings selected? We use exactly the same setting for each session which means changing every single option each time it is used. [it does seem to crash after about 1500 maps but that is not a biggie except for redoing the settings!]

    Thanks very much

    Judy Curson
    Ovato Print

  • 5.  RE: MapInfo Features Roadmap 2021+

    Posted 03-09-2021 23:32
    Edited by Joshua Knight 03-09-2021 23:32
    Hi Timothy
    Regarding the template picklists for editing feature attributes (like ArcGIS domains) the Datamine Discover addin for MapInfo has a Data entry module that does this. You can even use the same picklists in our Discover Mobile app for iOS and Android. Also the picklists are not only used for feature attributes, they are also used for symbology and you can predefine the attributes that don't exit. I can see your council has a license for Discover, you might want to try it out.

    Joshua Knight
    Datamine Australia Pty Ltd
    Kew VIC