Ortelius: Forthcoming Mac Mapping Software

Ortelius screenshot Philip Riggs writes to mention a new Macintosh mapping application currently under development. It’s called Ortelius (after the sixteenth-century cartographer). From the web site:

It is a dedicated map-making illustration program that knows geography. Instead of building maps from lines and primitive shapes, you draw directly with roads, railways, boundaries, buildings, woods and streams. Generate contour lines from elevation plots. Label items using a consistent style. Roads (for example) know how they connect to each other and junctions are drawn properly, fully automatically. If it needs moving, it will move all of its connected feeder roads with it, maintaining junctions as it goes. Want to insert a bridge? Highlight the road and insert a bridge — no need to fiddle about trying to build one from tiny bits of curves and lines. …
In a GIS system, a database of geographical objects is used to generate plots. Ortelius works the other way around — you draw directly the objects you want, and it builds a database underneath. You can import aerial photographs for tracing, and work with any coordinate system or grid you desire.

Ortelius’s purpose seems to be twofold: create an accessible mapmaking application separate from complicated and expensive GIS and vector-graphics software (e.g., Illustrator with plugins), and give the GCDrawKit framework a place to shine.

But I’m not sure how useful it will be if it’s limited to freehand map drawing. Even rank amateurs will have geographical data in the form of GPS traceroutes, and it would be a mistake not to allow access to that data — or other geodata sources, many of which are freely available. I’ll reserve judgment until I see a final product, though: this is the sort of thing I could buy on the spot if they nail the feature set and interface. Version 1.0 is expected to be released as shareware for a price of around $50. No firm release date.