GIS Features of GIS.XL Add-in

GIS interface functionality is mostly controlled by the first five buttons in the ribbon toolbar. As discussed in the previous chapter, the first two buttons display the Map and Legend panels.

Another button, named the Add Layer, allows you to insert layers stored on your hard disk into the map. These map layers can be in vector or raster formats. Lines or polygons stored in ESRI ShapeFiles (*.shp) can be inserted into the map points under the vector format.

You can import images or rasters (grids) from raster formats. As example is DEM—the digital elevation model. The current version of Add-in only lets you work with rasters stored as "Binary Grids" (*.bgd). If you have rasters in another format, you must convert it in other software. For example, I use the SAGA open source tool.

The next image shows an example of elevation lines imported from a ShapeFile. The new layer is displayed in a single color when you import it. In addition to the Map panel, there is also a Legend panel (where one item has been added for display purpose). The Legend panel lets you change the position of individual layers using drag-&-drop features.

If you select one layer in Legend and then click on the Attribute Table button in the ribbon toolbar, a window displays data from the ShapeFile attribute table. You can select, filter or edit this data in different ways.

If you want to edit the visual properties of the map layer, use the functions in the Leged panel. In the example, I have opened the elevation lines. When you double-click on an item in Legend, a dialog appears where you can edit visual properties of all the features in the layer. In the following example, I changed the line color and opacity.

Additional visual features can be set by right-clicking an item in the Legend panel. A context menu is displayed and you can choose your option. For example, you can use this to remove layers from the map, zoom to the entire layer extent, export layer attribute data or set feature labels. Comprehensive setup options for layer properties can be found under the Properties menu item.

If you want to display labels for elevation lines, click on the Labeling – Label Setup item in the context menu. You will see a dialog where you can set labels for the map layer. You can also enter values stored in the ShapeFile Attribute Table as labels.

You can also set a number of parameters for your labels; such as font, size, transparency, rotation and other things you want to use. An example of displayed labels is shown in the following image.

In addition to labels, you can also set visual characteristics of each feature (line) in the map layer according to the attribute table data. When you click on the Properties item, a dialog appears where you can set-up multiple features, such as symbols.

In the example below, we set line colors related to the "VYSKA" column in the attribute table (vyska = altitude in English). The map is much easier to read when you use this set-up, and you can set multiple parameters of map layers until your requirements are completed.

Other GIS functions can be found by right-clicking on the Map Layers root item in the Legend. A context menu displays the following additional features.

These features let you zoom the map to the maximum extent; or you can create groups of map layers. One of the most important feature is the last item – Projection. Click on this and you can either display information about the map projection you have used, or you can change it. This feature is particularly important if you want to use the function for data export into Google Earth (Excel to KML). You need to use projection WGS84 for this function, and this is explained in detail in later chapter.

The last group of functions is contained in the Map panel context menu. You right-click on the map, and a group of functions is displayed in the menu.

The Add Layer function lets you add new layers to the map from your computer disk. The Pan function allows you to scroll the map with your mouse. The Select option gives you the opportunity to select individual features from the map layer and Zoom and Full Extent functions scale the map. The Open Project and Save as Project options open and store information about current maps layer setups and properties. If you often open the same map layers with the same visual characteristics, you can save these proerpties together and automatically open them in bulk. This simplifies and speeds up your work. The Clear Map function removes all layers from both the Map and the Legend panel.

The last three features are the most interesting; the Info function activates your options to idenfity each feature on the map. Click on the map and an auxiliary dialog appears with all the data in the attribute table for the features you clicked.

The penultimate function Print lets you print your map results easily in map sheet form. Your map will be inserted in the Map panel of your printed map. You can then add things on the paper. For example, you can insert the things you need including the legend, a north arrow, the scale and labels and custom images (logos) from your disk. Finally, you export your finished map as an image file.

However, if you don’t want to print, and only want to export your map from the Map panel, click on Export – the last item in the context menu. This saves your Map panel content in an image file.