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Easy Trace Pro 8.7.1682

During the year 2009, our company actively participated in different exhibitions and conferences - not only traditional geoinformational ones (GEOFORM+, DATA+), but also specialized (NAVINTEH-EXPO, Sovzond), thematic (MIGAiK), and up to "2009 ESRI European User Conference".

Participation in very different actions was directed at review of the geoinformatics market and clarification of the "role and place of vectorizing in the modern society". As a result, we got a rather unexpected (but may be quite predictable?) impression:

  • Large software companies - leaders of the geoinformatics market have not offered something fundamentally new for vectorizing. ESRI Company has even ceased developing of the ArcScan package.
  • Decoding of detail photos remains a manual task. Sometimes it is not even done at all - the main purpose is to assemble and to sell (buy) a coverage of a certain area. It is quite a riddle, what will the customer (administration of the territory as a rule) do with it.
  • State order for map vectorizing fell into hands of the former Roskartografia and its affiliated companies as usually. They use the next reincorporation of their Panorama software with inevitable grave consequences.
  • Providers of navigational maps stew in their own juice. They do not expect any help from the state and ignore the entire experience of the GIS-community at the same time.
There are pleasant news nevertheless.For example, a team from Noginsk has already done more than 20 updated city atlases based on space photos. Technique details were not divulged and most likely it was done manually but it's great all the same, because the cities have received high-quality atlases at last.

Sovzond has got some experience in automatic decoding of detail imagery - recognition of roofs of individual buildings, but they use a foreign software.

For our company the situation looks like that:

  • nothing comparable with the Easy Trace vectorizer has yet appeared at the market;
  • nobody has suggested a competitive technology of color image processing;
  • the products we know have no means for forming of complex and powerful process flowsheets comparable with Easy Trace tools;
  • we have not seen semi-automatic decoding of detail imagery;
We could miss something of course. It is much more indicative how other players see our place at the market. For example, Mr. Jack Dangermond - the head of ESRI Company suggested us to contact official ESRI dealers with the object to sell Easy Trace PRO through their networks.

Technology and documentation:

Easy Trace project more and more becomes a all-sufficient entity. For example, our project-prototype contains not only an adjusted qualifier and data structure but also strategies (parameter sets) of utilities to be used at all stages of the work.

It has become necessary to think about project-related documents, i.e. instructions. The project manager should be sure that operators have all technical specifications and technological instructions close at hand.

To add instructions to the project, put them in the Docs subdirectory. These may be MS Word documents or PDF files. References to the instructions get into the Help menu at project loading and thus the documents may be opened from Easy Trace directly.

Data exchange :

    Easy Trace efficiency is in many respects ensured by simplicity of mutual data exchange with target GISes. Absolute correspondence of the working environment is achievable only for an integrated vectorizer of course but such programs inevitably inherit "the weight of former errors" typical of any highly-developed system environment. As a result, they do not "fly" - speed and effectiveness of their utilities always have limitations.

    That is why our vectorizer retains a certain conditionality of data presentation and its own interface focused on specific tasks of vectorizing. Nevertheless, easy data exchange with different GISes and CADs is a matter of our constant efforts.

  • ArcGIS export/import is updated for compatibility with ArcGIS version 9.1 and later. Our previous version of data exchange with ArcGIS was developed for the current at that time ArcGIS 8.x. When ArcGIS 9.х was released, we saw that its COM-interfaces underwent a very thorough change and Easy Trace actually could not interact with the new ArcGIS version (apart from documents of the old version, and with difficulties). Now we have improved the situation: at import from ArcGIS, data may be taken from a personal geodata base (MDB-files) or from ArcMap documents (MXD-files).

    Both data structure (layers, attributive tables, coded value domains and subtypes) and vector data themselves (taken from spatial object classes that contain points, polylines, polygons, and annotations ) may be imported to Easy Trace.

    Besides, import of raster classes (i.e. registered images) is provided.

    For every spatial class selected for import:

    • Easy Trace generates a layer in the project (by default, it has the name of the class being imported).
    • Easy Trace generates an attribute table of the same structure as the imported class has (excepting service fields containing object identifiers, polyline length, polygon area, and the type of geometry) .
    • "Value"-"Description" pairs will be written to the corresponding attribute tables in the Easy Trace project on the base of Coded Value Domains. It will be done also for Subtypes. The attribute that determines the subtype becomes the key for thematic presentation in Easy Trace.
    • If the Import settings only option is off, spatial objects (vector entities) and their attributes will be imported .
    Image extraction from MDB and its linking to the Easy Trace project will be done for every raster class selected for import. As Easy Trace does not support MDB's format of images (Imagine), every raster will be saved as a TIF-file in the project folder. It may take some time.

    At import from an ArcMap document (MXD-file), it is possible only to import layers of the current Map. In addition to data from the geodatabase, the following information will be taken:

    • Colors of imported layers remain as in the ArcMap document.
    • If different presentation of objects based on unique values of one of their attributes is provided in the MXD-document for the imported layer, attribute values and their corresponding colors become parameters of thematic presentation (Attribute Display Settings) of the corresponding Easy Trace layer.
    • Besides colors, polygon fillings based on raster templates are partly being imported. The limitation is connected with the fact that Easy Trace supports black-and-white templates only. Any color template of ArcGIS will be transformed into a monochrome one.
    • Easy Trace imports also simple linetypes (that correspond to system ones) and provided point markers.

  • Import Wizard is improved in the part common for all formats:
    • you may input parameters of the project generated at import (units, scale, and DPI of the virtual image) explicitly or "ask" the program to calculate them on the base of data being imported;
    • Easy Trace copies images into the project folder at import, if the corresponding option is on;
    • log-file is changed: the program writes nothing into it but shows it in the final dialog box together with import (export) phases and error messages. The same is true for Export Wizard.
  • Image-to-project linking is updated. Before the alternation, it was possible to see what image was taken, where to it has got in the project and if it corresponds to vector after linking only. Now the image is visible as a part of the project just after the first step of linking (input of the minimal required information).

    This approach makes this relatively difficult stage of vectorizing more transparent and simplifies it for novices.

    Another important change is the possibility to relink the image. It is a logical development of our technique of exact correction of the image based on ALL nodes of the grid (about 400 points in the case of a standard 1:100 000 topographic map sheet).

    It is no secret that vectorized topographic maps are often of low accuracy. The Panorama package (GIS MAP 2008) for example registers images using only points on the map frame. At that all distortions in the map (caused by printing, storage, scanning) remain and therefore the electronic map simply can not be exact.

    Easy Trace suggests the following approach:

    1. Image linking to project without any correction, as it is - an easy operation, just several clicks;
    2. Extraction and vectorizing of the "black" subject layer;
    3. Automatic recognition of grid lines ;
    4. Exact correction (relinking) of the image based on all crossings of grid lines with each other and with the map frame.
    Operations 1-3 were automatized earlier, but relinking required several operations. Our new Relink Image option simplifies the process.

    Other innovations in image linking:

    • Automatic linking of a large group of images (with the help of registration files) is added. There is no need now to link every image individually when you want to input a big raster coverage into Easy Trace (one of an entire city for example, if topological check, correction, and optimization of vector data is intended).
    • Possibility of automatic image copying into the project folder is added. It is useful at project transfer to another working place without any risk to lose raster files.
    • The Hide Automatically option is provided for all stages of image-to-project linking that minimizes the dialog box when the cursor is outside it. It is convenient for estimation of linking results.

Imagery decoding

    If the task is more complicated than area calculation at oil spillage or estimation of burnt wood, one may be sure that photo decoding will be mostly done manually.

    Lately we started gradually "to stalk up" to some problems of space imagery decoding. In the course of our work for the Rapid Eye Company we had to recognize some areas basing on a series of criteria and considering FOUR photos at once.

    Strangely enough, most objects were extracted applying the trivial operation chain Diffuse - Contrast Enhancement- Brightness-based Filtering. After it, the objects were automatically outlined. But in a number of cases groups or chains of small objects were extracted instead of big spots. The following improvement was done for their quick aggregation:

  • The Enclose tool received a new option - contour smoothing with a user-specified approximation. It is provided for quick forming of encircling contours around groups of selected vector objects. Final shape improvement of the contours was done with the Camber Editor.
  • We had to control accuracy of received vector boundaries applying four photos taken at different time. As it was rather tiresome to switch images on and off all the time, we elaborated a special view mode.

  • The Synchronize and Split view mode divides the working window into 2 or 4 parts, and you may select the visible image individually in each of them. Project positioning and scale in the split window are synchronized - all the parts always contain the same zone of the project.

    Vector editing and navigation in the image may be done in any part of the window. The mode is extremely time-saving if several images are required simultaneously to control vector data.

  • Usually, two images are sufficient for vector control. For example, that is true for vectorizing of a color map with a superimposed color photo. It is enough then to use transparent image superposition instead of the Synchronize and Split view mode.

    Easy Trace supports transparent presentation of color images through black-and-white ones for a long time. It is convenient at semi-automatic vectorizing. But comparison of two full-color images (a map and a photo or two photos made at different time) requires rigorous control of transparency. A new video-mode for concurrent presentation of full-color images is called Image Transparency

  • Recognition of the road network is a typical task at imagery decoding. Regular rows of city blocks in photos just put the idea of automatization into one's mind. For example, it is possible to input points at road crossings applying the dynamic scaling mode of the Point tool and then somehow link them with lines.

    This idea was realized in the new utility Generate Grid from Points. You just put points at nodes, start the utility, and the network is ready. It will have some false segments most likely and some others will require editing but on the whole it accelerates and simplifies the process notably.

    One may run the Buffer Zone Generation utility after network forming to get polygonal coverage of roads.

    By the way, agricultural grounds in foreign photos often look like neat sets of rectangles separated by country roads. As a matter of fact, this utility was developed for them.


The Copy option is added to the Group Editor submenu. Just after copying the tool starts the Move Objects mode. The same is true for the Copy/Paste keyboard command (Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V) if a group of objects is selected with the Group Editor.


  • The Blocks dialog box is updated. Group deletion of blocks is added. Besides, the "Show standard symbols" option is provided.

  • At thematic attribute-based presentation of vector objects, their color, linetype, and markers depend on their attribute value. But object presentation returns to the conventional one at object selection and visual check of attributes becomes impossible.

    This inconvenience is partly compensated by thematic color in the Line Sample field at editing. For point objects, the field contains a line of the color selected for thematic presentation.

  • Simultaneous work of the Auto and Sort flags became possible in the dialog box for attribute input / editing. Previously, sorting of the pulldown list was impossible if the automatic input option was on.
  • Exact correction of all grid cells in a topographic map becomes even more convincing if the project contains the ideal vector grid. The Relink Image dialog box is supplied with the Generate Mathematical Grid option now. Just look at it:

  • As Text objects can have attributes since recently, we added thematic presentation for them based on attribute values. It is possible to adjust thematic presentation of text in the present release of Easy Trace.
  • It is possible now to import strategies of subject layer extraction from another project.

  • The Topology Correction has received the "Convert common vertices into nodes" option.

Bug correction

  • The bug is corrected: the program wrote wrong time in the TAB file at MIF export, and MapInfo could not load this file with "No columns" message
  • The bug is corrected: there should not be points in column names at MIF export.
  • The bug is corrected: at import of raster layers with transformation, any transformation was considered as one demanding rotation (correction), that prohibited from import.
  • The bug is corrected: it was impossible to link a jpg-image to project applying a raster registration file.
  • The bug is corrected in the Shift/Resize Polyline tool.
  • The bug is corrected: at qualifier loading the program didn't execute name search for standard blocks.
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