Geocart Capabilities FAQs

What computer do I need to use Geocart?
Any modern Macintosh or Windows machine will run Geocart.
I own a mean machine with 8 cores and 16 simultaneous threads. Will Geocart run faster on it?
Geocart will use all available CPU cores, and the gains scale nearly linearly for each independent core. That is, an 8-core/8-thread machine will run nearly four times as fast as a 2-core/2-thread machine for large-scale raster processing. Your 16-thread machine puts two simultaneous threads on a single core, so you won't see double the performance from that, but you will see clear gains.
What operating system do I need to use Geocart?
Macintosh OS X 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard), 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion), 10.8 (Mountain Lion), 10.9 (Mavericks), 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan).
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. The server versions will also run Geocart, but we have not tested them much.
What differences are there between Macintosh and Windows versions?
Nothing substantial.
Are Geocart files portable between Macintosh and Windows?
Yes.
Will Geocart run as a 64-bit application?
Yes, if the operating system permits.
Is there any advantage to running as a 64-bit application?
If you work with very large maps (e.g., 20,000x40,000 pixels) then you need to run Geocart as a 64-bit application. The 64-bit versions run a little faster as well.


How big a map can I make?
The short answer: As large as you want. The longer answer: The raster images and vectors you use to create a map have been created with some level of detail. There is no point to making a map so large that it exceeds the detail of your source data. A map's size may also be limited by your machine's RAM memory.
Sure, okay, but what about 10 meters by 5 meters at 300 dpi?
If you have the RAM, the patience, and a 64-bit operating system, then yes, you can create a map that large.
Does Geocart have a zoom tool?
Yes. It operates from 5% to 4000%.
Can I change the map's resolution?
You can specify the resolution to be any reasonable value you like.
Can I work with multiple maps in the same document?
You can work with as many as you like, and you can overlay them, change their z-order, group them, align them...
What scales of maps can Geocart work with?
From city blocks to world maps and everything in between. However, Geocart's specialty is map projection. A map of a city block isn't normally a projection problem unless you are trying to convert imagery from one projection to another with datum shift.


Can I add text and lines anywhere I want on a map?
Geocart is not an illustration program. It draws everything either by generating the linework itself (such as the meridians and parallels) or by extracting information from a database. If you have put your text and linework into a database, then Geocart can draw it. To embellish your map, you should export it from Geocart and finish it within a graphics application.
What export formats does Geocart support?
You can export as a graphic in TIFF or JPEG form. You can export in mixed raster and vector form to PDF, editable in, for example, Adobe Illustrator.™
What kinds of data can Geocart place onto maps?
Geocart reads raster images in JPEG, TIFF, Adobe Photoshop™ formats, including transparency. It reads Shapefile vector files that use geographic coordinates. It reads MCAM and SMSB vector files, as well as simple text polygon files. It can place text using a Geocart “typesetting” database that allows you to set font, size, color, and other attributes. The placement of text will be determined by projection.
What kinds of fonts can Geocart display in map labels?
TrueType and OpenType fonts.
What settings are there for grid or graticule?
Just about anything you want: You can specify automatic placement at fixed intervals independently for meridians and parallels. You can add arbitrary meridians and parallels. You can remove arbitrary meridians and parallels. You can prune meridians as they approach the poles so they're not so crowded together. You can display the tropics and polar circles.
Can I change the line styles for things like coastlines and the graticule?
You can independently specify line attributes for dozens of kinds of coverages. You can even specify the prime meridian, equator, tropics, and polar circles separately from the main graticule.
Can I draw great circles, small circles, loxodromes, or rhumbs?
Yes, and more: isomegeths (isocols) of equal distortion, for example. Geodesics on ellipsoids. Rhumbs on ellipsoids. Things you just can’t do anywhere else.
Can I compute distances between points?
Not presently. This is coming soon.
I want to know about the distortion on my map.
Geocart provides an innovative distortion visualization facility. You may also discover the different kinds of distortion present at any point just by pointing to it and viewing the results in the information palette. You can draw Tissot ellipses as a network at graticule intersections, or you can place them wherever you like across the map. You can stipulate “contour” lines of constant distortion to be drawn.
Can I see what latitude and longitude is at a point on my map?
Geocart has an info palette. You can see the geographic location there when you point to a pixel.
Can I make one of those polar view maps with Geocart?
You can center the map wherever you want, including the poles.
I have a scanned map in one projection. I want to make it a different projection. Can Geocart do that?
Yes. You place your TIFF, JPEG, or Adobe Photoshop™ map onto a Geocart document. Then you create a new “skeletal” map to overlay on top of it in order to show Geocart what the projection, scale, and all other parameters are. You save the document as a database that Geocart can use like any other raster database. Then you can reproject it to any other map projection.
I have a map viewed from the equator. I want to make it a polar-view map.
Geocart does not care what aspect the original data is in. It will draw in any aspect.
Can I crop the map by north/east/south/west boundaries?
Yes. You can also crop it using a small circle centered on some point. In fact, you can crop it almost any way imaginable if you're willing to set up an XML description of a piecewise small-circle boundary.


What kind of quality can I get when reprojecting?
The best in the world: Geocart's PixSlice™ technology ensures that everything in the source map arrives in the target map seamless, beautiful, and correct. No unsightly speckling, nothing missing, no spurious artifacts. If you want faster rendering while you're constructing your map, you can set Geocart to draft mode and get the same quality you would get from any other program.
Isn't PixSlice just interpolation, like biquadratic or bicubic?
No. Interpolation is what you would get if you plucked a few pixels out of the source map around the point corresponding to the target pixel in the destination map, and blended them together. That works just fine when the source and destination projections are nearly identical. It doesn't work so fine when, for example, the region spanning a pixel in the target map corresponds to a long, narrow region hundreds of pixels wide in the source map. Interpolation would only select a few pixels and blend them, losing the contributions of all the features in the remaining pixels. In general, interpolation is not a good solution when the distortion characteristics of the source and target projections differ significantly at corresponding points.

PixSlice is far more sophisticated and powerful: It knows all the pixels that need to contribute to the destination pixel, and in what proportions, no matter how convoluted and disparate the two maps are. Potentially it can blend thousands of pixels for a single target pixel, especially if your source map is far more detailed than your target map. The result is startling detail and clarity.
Why is PixSlice important?
Because it retains all the detail possible.
Because your raster imagery will be correct no matter what scale you project to.
Because edges blend correctly when abutting two maps.
Because it's theoretical perfection, and you love perfection! At least, we do.
But what about text when reprojecting?
Geocart does not attempt to reposition or reshape text or linework on a raster image. That is not really a solvable problem because it's impossible to know what was originally behind the obscuring text. If the source and target projections differ drastically, line widths will change and text will warp—but they won't become jagged. Whether the results are usable is a subjective decision. You should, for example, be able to transform a complete Robinson world map to Winkel tripel with publishable quality, even at wall map size.


Does Geocart generalize vectors?
Yes. At present Geocart generalizes using your choice of the Douglas-Peucker or Visvalingam-Whyatt algorithms. You may also generalize those results using Bézier curve generalization. Or, you may generalize using only Bézier curves, or you may turn off generalization entirely. You may specify the level of detail you wish to retain during generalization.
Can Geocart create globe gores?
Yes. You can create gores using a variety of projections and with any number of gore sections from none to 45.
I need an “orange peel” map, where the earth is sliced up. Can Geocart do that?
Yes, in many different ways. Geocart knows about many common interruption schemes.
Does Geocart support my projection?
Please see the Projections page.
Does Geocart let me undo and redo operations?
Yes, up to a limit of steps that you can specify. Any operation that changes a map is undoable.
What color spaces does Geocart work with?
Grayscale and RGB, unmanaged color, at present. All color spaces include transparency.
My maps have subtle color gradients. Will Geocart work with and export 16-bit/channel images?
Yes. *Not in the student edition.
Does Geocart do datum shifts?
Yes. When you create a map, you can specify a datum for the map. Whether raster or vector, you can also specify the datum of each database you add to the map. If a datum from a database does not match the datum of the map, then Geocart will shift the database coordinates to the target map before projecting. *Not in the student edition.
How do I specify a datum?
You select one from the list Geocart knows natively by name or EPSG code. Or, you enter the parameters yourself. *Not in the student edition.
How accurate is Geocart's datum shift capability?
If the datum you attach to a map or database has a 3-parameter ellipsoid center translation specification for converting to WGS84, then Geocart will perform the equivalent of a “Molodensky 3-parameter shift”, but slightly more accurate. If the datum contains seven parameters for center translation, scaling and 3-axis rotation, then Geocart will perform a “Bursa-Wolf” transformation using the EPSG Operation Method 9606 “Position Vector 7 parameter transformation”. Presently Geocart does not perform any other kinds of more specialized datum shifts, but for maps at 1:5,000 scale or smaller, nothing else should be required anyway.
Is Geocart scriptable?
Not at present.
Can I run Geocart “headless” as a server for coordinate conversion?
Not at present.


What data sets ship with Geocart?
A small suite of vector and raster databases suitable for 1:50,000,000 maps ships with all editions:
  • Vector: coastlines, intl borders, lakes, major rivers, minor rivers, provinces, US states.
  • Point locations: US cities, world capitals, world cities detail, world cities simple.
  • world (a composite small-scale vector database with several coverages).
  • Altitude Color (raster imagery with color changes by altitude, up to 1,440x720 pixels).
  • Color Relief (raster imagery with color relief shading, up to 1,440x720 pixels).
  • Grayscale (composite raster imagery with land mask, relief, and topography, up to 1,440x720 pixels).
  • Labels: nations, oceans, US cities, US states, US state abbreviations, world capitals, world cities detail, world cities simple.
  • Natural Earth (all vector 1: 50,000,000 coverages).
  • Stylized World (NASA world topo satellite imagery with false color oceans, up to 5,400x2,700 pixels).

  • The Personal Edition ships on one DVD ROM. It includes the above databases plus:
  • Stylized World up to 21,600x10,800 pixels.
  • NASA world topo, late summer, up to 21,600x10,800 pixels.
  • Natural Earth (all but Natural Earth 2 raster imagery).

  • The Professional Edition ships on two DVD ROMs. It includes the above databases plus:
  • Natural Earth complete.
  • Digital Chart of the World (minus urban coverage).
  • NASA world topo, late summer, full resolution (86,400x43,200 pixels).
  • NASA Blue Marble to 8,192x4,096 pixels (Clouds only, Cloudy world, land mask, summer world, winter world).
  • NASA Blue Marble night world to 16,384x8,192 pixels.
  • NASA Blue Marble night lights to 30,000x15,000.
  • World Vector Shoreline, modified to join all coastlines into polygons.
  • World Data Bank II (coaslines, islands, lakes).


  • What data formats does Geocart support for export?
  • TIFF
  • JPEG (three quality levels)
  • Adobe Photoshop™ PSB (large document format)
  • PDF (including vector layers, editable in Adobe Illustrator™)
  • What data formats does Geocart support for import?
    As placed images, Geocart can read:
  • TIFF
  • JPEG
  • Adobe Photoshop™ PSB (large document format)
  • Adobe Photoshop™ PSD
  • As sources for projected data, Geocart can read:
  • Editable polygons, a text format.
  • SMSB, an old vector binary format for supporting Geocart 2.
  • MCAM, a vector format from MicroCAM.
  • ESRI® Shapefile if its PROJCS coordinate system is GEOGCS.
  • Raw raster image assumed to be the world composed of RGB in “geographic projection”.
  • TIFF, assumed to be the world in “geographic projection”.
  • JPEG, assumed to be the world in “geographic projection”.
  • Adobe Photoshop™ PSD, assumed to be the world in “geographic projection”.
  • Adobe Photoshop™ PSB, assumed to be the world in “geographic projection”.
  • Geocart raster reprojection databases (composable from raster map imagery on any supported projection in any placed image format).
  • Typesetting database, a textual format for describing label placement with styled text.


  • What is the Student Edition missing?
  • Maps in the Student Edition have a maximum extent of 10,000 x 10,000 pixels or 3,456 x 3,456 points, whichever is smaller.
  • The datum dialog is not available in the Student Edition. Maps such as UTM that are by nature based on ellipsoidal datums will still work, but you cannot change the datum. (In this case, the datum will be WGS 84.)
  • Student Edition will not export 16-bit/channel images (only 8-bit/channel).
  • Student Edition will not export general reprojection data bases. (This means you cannot convert a scanned image in Mollweide to plate carrée projection, for example, but you can reproject from plate carrée, or “geographic projection”.)
  • Geocart files created in the demonstration version of Geocart cannot be read into the Student Edition.