Scribble Maps Pro Review: http://pro.scribblemaps.com/
There are many online applications available that encourage the creation, usage, and sharing of maps among professionals, classmates, and friends. Scribble Maps Pro is one that not only targets both the novice and expert map creator, but unlike its similar counterpart Google Earth Pro, it doesn’t require any special downloads - and it’s free. Its ease of use and accessibility makes it one of the most popular applications in the education sector, offering users a wide range of capabilities, such as marking up maps, measuring distances, importing KMLs, Shapefiles, as well as tabular files, adding placemarks, text, images, shapes and more. Scribble Maps Pro also provides support for Open Street Map and Cloud Made, enabling users to utilize Scribble Map Pro features onto either of these two mapping applications. Similar to Google Maps, this product also offers search capabilities, so users can search for either a geographical area, or a business. Finished map products can easily be shared with links, widgets, as well as be exported as images, KML and GPX files.
Scribble Maps Pro is a flash based application that is currently available in two versions - Scribble Maps, and Scribble Maps Pro. This review will focus on Scribble Maps Pro, the more advanced GIS mapping platform of the two.
Basic Mapping Features
Scribble Maps Pro has an inbuilt drawing application, offering users display customizability. Colours and opacities can be applied and modified for lines, polygons and markers. A full range of font features are available for texts, and a variety of symbols are included for markers. Included in the drawing menu are the following features:
See Figure 1 for a sample of some of these features.
- Pen tool - for drawing straight or curved line segments
- Polygon pen tool - for drawing polygons
- Scribble tool - 'free form pen' for doodling
- Line Tool - for drawing straight lines segments only
- Connected line tool - for drawing connected lines (no individual segments)
- Draw shape tool (for drawing irregular shapes)
- Draw rectangles
- Draw Circles
- Place text
- Measurement tool (measures polygons, and lines)
- Markers (a nice variety of symbols available)
- Image - users can link images to their map (size is not adjustable)
|Style options for lines.|
|Figure One: a screenshot of the map being marked up by some of the drawing tools available.|
Importing External Data
Scribble Maps Pro does a fabulous job supporting the utilization of external files. The mapping possibilities are almost limitless with the ability to import ESRI shapefiles as well as KMLs and spreadsheets. External data must however be in the GSC North American Datum 83 coordinate system, and be under 5 megs in size. Access to a coordinate converter is helpful, as many shapefiles and kml files are not originally in this coordinate system. I had used ArcGIS to convert my Shapefiles, to clip the files to reduce the size, as well as to create KMLs for testing purposes. Working with KML files is a bit trickier because one would either have to locate a KML coordinate system converter, or convert the KML back to shapefile to perform the coordinate conversion.
Scribble Maps Pro supports, points, lines and polygon Shapefiles. From the File Manager menu, one can import the shapefile and assign line and fill colours, as well as set the transparency level. It doesn’t appear as though one can customize the point symbol however, as I was not able to change the default that I was given. The customization of symbols is limited to single-symbol colours however, so more advanced mapping, such as choropleth, is not possible. Figure Two is an example of a map created using Shapefiles.
|Figure Two: Imported Shapefiles overlaid on top of Google Maps|
The legend on this map was added as a graphic which was created and exported from ArcGIS. Unfortunately, Scribble Maps Pro does not produce map legends. Figure Two is a map that was created using Google Maps as an underlay. If one prefers to work with a white background, this is possible as well. See Figure Three.
|Figure Three: Map created on a white background|
Importing KML files
As long as the KMLs are in the GSC coordinate system, and under 5 megs in size, there shouldn’t be a problem importing the files. Some modifications of the files are possible post-import as there is a KML editor available in the toolbox. Some of the limitations of shapefile imports are recovered by the ability to create more advanced KML files in a GIS program and then import them into Scribble Maps Pro. As mentioned earlier, shapefiles can only be symbolized by single colours, however as you will see in Figure Four, multiple symbolization can be achieved in the KML file.
|Figure Four: KML file imported into Scribble Maps Pro. Legend was added separately as an image overlay.|
A very useful time saver is the ability to import placemarks/markers directly into the program from a spreadsheet. For those with large amounts of points to map, one can add the data with geographical coordinates into a spreadsheet that saves out as either .CSV, .TAB, .XLX, XLXS. Mashups are created instantly! Below is the spreadsheet import tool displayed. The user will need to assign columns to the corresponding fields as seen below. The user can customize the marker symbol as well.
Figures Six and Seven below show the above table mapped with two different marker symbols.
Saving and Exporting
The sample images shown above have all been exported as JPG files. All maps can also be exported as KML files. Having said that, however, I have not been able to successfully export all the maps in this format. Many times, only the text and images will successfully save out in KML format, but not the map features that have been imported. Likewise, there is an option in the menu to view the current map in Google Maps and Google Earth - but again, the map features do not transfer onto the other applications successfully. Scribble Maps Pro offers many ways to share maps : via email, facebook, twitter, as well as a widget on a blog or webpage. Figure Eight is a map created in the program, and Figure Nine shows it imbedded into a webpage. This map on the webpage is not static - it is interactive with zoom features and links the user to the completed saved map online.
Because it is an online program, it is not as stable as a desktop application is. Many times I had trouble saving my map, and at times I couldn’t load images. This may be correlated to the length of time I had been logged on and inactive. Usually once I logged out and logged back in, all the features appeared to work again.
Scribble Maps Pro is exceptionally easy to use and offers many features that a mapping program does - display customizability, exporting, as well as the convenience of managing the layers (sorting into folders, changing their display order). Additionally, users can toggle between map platforms such as Google Maps, Open Street Map & Cloud Made Support. In my opinion , it’s the best free online mapping application available today.
- Published May, 2010