Avenza Systems Inc. is a private Canadian company that develops, markets and supports computer and mobile software products and royalty-free map data for the mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) industries. Avenza creates software that focuses on design, publication, use and the creative aspects of mapping and spatial imaging. Organizations and individuals use MAPublisher®, Geographic Imager®, PDF Maps and MAPdata to create and use high-quality cartographic products. With products being used internationally and a distribution network of resellers, the global reach of Avenza is continually expanding. Visit PDF Maps HERE.
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ANATUM: Can you give a brief description of your product and your pricing structure?
Avenza: PDF Maps is an iOS and Android app that functions as an offline map viewer and geospatial toolset. PDF Maps can load maps from an in-app iTunes-like map store or it can load custom maps from email, iTunes or Dropbox. Once a user has their maps they can take their phone or tablet into the field, onto the trail, or travelling and not have to worry about having a network connection or be plagued with expensive data roaming fees in order to view and manipulate their maps. Since the maps are internally referenced and stored on the device, it relies only on the internal GPS chip in order to do things like locate, measure, track and drop placemarks. All this data can be exported and imported onto other devices once a connection is established again.
PDF Maps is free for personal use but is subject to a licensing fee for commercial, academic and government use. The fee is on an annual, tiered system, based on the number of devices. The per device fee decreases with the number of devices licensed. Attached is a file that outlines the various tiers for commercial licensing.
ANATUM: Does your product support disconnected editing, or does it require a Wi-Fi or cellular service connection?
Avenza: All maps and most tools can be used without requiring a WiFi or cellular connection. A network connection of some kind is required in order to acquire maps from the in-app map store and to share placemarks with other users. The Find Places tool queries an OSM database so it too requires a connection. Those are the only parts that require a connection. Once a map is loaded onto the device, there is no need for a connection to use any of the other tools.
ANATUM: Is user data and project features stored on your company’s server or a cloud database? What are the security features to protect the user’s data?
Avenza: Any created data is stored on the device itself. We do not store, touch or in any way access or have access to users’ data. Android users can also choose to export data to an SD card in the device and store it there. Upon first creation, the data is stored in the app location, which is often on the device itself. The data can only then be removed through an export through iTunes/File System, Email or Dropbox.
ANATUM:Can users sync their data from the field so office coworkers can see new data, or have the office staff feed new project data to workers in the field?
Avenza: If there is a network connection of some kind they can export their data via Email or to Dropbox in order to send the data directly to those back at the office. A connection must be re-established before any field data can be shared. Conversely, field workers can obtain new maps and data from their office via the same email and Dropbox methods and via URLs to ftp and http sites.
ANATUM: Is there a native map component and what mapping service does it use? (Google, Bing, Apple, Mapbox?; satellite, hybrid, topo?)
Avenza: PDF Maps requires a map to be loaded, either from the in-app map store or via manual user-based loading. It does not rely on any mapping service for use in the field. The advantage of this is that virtually any GIS application can be used to export a geoTIFF or geospatial PDF that can be loaded into the app before going out into the field. In this way you are not subject to any of the limitations one mapping service may have compared to another. You are not limited to loading just one service’s tiles but as many as you choose.
Avenza: The maps are all stored internally once installed and are only limited to being used within PDF Maps itself.
ANATUM: Does your program record points, lines, and polygons with the ability to customize data collection forms based on the paper datasheets they might normally utilize?
Avenza: PDF Maps records points in the form of placemarks onto which attributes can be attached and recorded with photos as well. Lines can be recorded either through the use of the GPS track or the Measure tool which can plot a measured path and then have it saved as a line. The Measure tool can measure areas as well but they cannot be saved as polygons at this time. This is a feature that is planned for a future release of PDF Maps. Attributes can be recorded onto any saved map feature like these points and lines. You can also create custom attribute schemas within a folder so that any feature within the folder will have the same schema applied to it. Attribute values can also be created with picklists so data collection can be further streamlined.
ANATUM: Does your program record photos and video for attachment to GPS records? Can the User import an existing photo from the Camera Roll?
Avenza: Photos can be either attached directly to a placemark via the device’s camera as well as from the camera roll. You can also plot existing photos from your camera roll onto your map to see where exactly they were taken.
ANATUM: Is there a search for feature or GPS record function?
Avenza: PDF Maps has a GPS track feature, which plots a path along your travelled location and records data like location, distance, speed and elevation from the internal GPS chip within the device. There is a search tool called Find Places which queries an OSM database and returns results onto the map. This requires a network connection.
ANATUM: Does your program have the ability to view the history of previously recorded field entries, or GPS records from other
Avenza: Users can import other sets of placemarks and tracks onto their maps and into their own folders so they can cross reference previously collected data with that of their own.
ANATUM: Does your program have the ability to auto-generate ID numbers for records to help minimize incorrect labeling by the user?
Avenza: Folders containing placemarks and lines have default names or can be named by the user
ANATUM: Is there a desktop interface that allows the user to see their projects and edit field-collected data?
Avenza: The data can be imported into most GIS applications as well as many web-based map services and edited in that fashion. KML/KMZ format is handled by many applications but is often handled differently from application to application so it is worth noting beforehand how whatever GIS software the user has handles KML.
ANATUM: Are there any particular features that you want to highlight?
Avenza: The most important features we wish to highlight are:
- Purchase and download maps direct from a 100,000+ in-app map store in an iTunes-likemanner
- Load your own maps from your GIS and mapping systems
- Supports geospatial PDF, GeoPDF, GeoTIFF, TIFF with tfw and JPG with jgw
- No data connection necessary to use maps
- Offer maps for sale through the PDF Maps in-app map store
- Measure distances and areas and estimate walking times
- Record GPS tracks
- Export, import and share waypoints and tracks with associated attribute data, including photos
- Share geo-tagged pictures and details via way points with co-workers, friends and family
- Search for places and points of interest on any map using the OSM database
- Download and carry multiple maps on one device similar to music and books
ANATUM: Thank you very much for taking time to talk to us!
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