Updating Charts is a Bit of a Mess

Globally the whole business of updating charts is in a bit of a mess at the moment and probably will be for a while. Most national hydrographic offices are fairly well set up for maintaining their paper portfolios. This is no great surprise as some of them have been in this business for a century or more. However with the advent of electronic charts a lot of things have to change. The whole production process needs to be reorganised (not cheap) and some of the basic ways of thinking about charts have to change.

Raster charts are commonly produced as facsimiles of the paper charts. In a simplistic system they are literally scanned from the paper originals. This can give rise to inaccuracies for a range of reasons not least of which are distortions in the paper and non-linearity in the scanner. Scanning at a resolution appropriate to the electronic chart can cause a rather jagged appearance which is most noticeable in diagonal lines and known as aliasing. The raster chart has far fewer dots (pixels) than the corresponding paper chart and this can compromise appearance. A better production method is to create the raster image from the same electronic chart images used to drive the paper printing process. There are still some issues here with re-projection which need to be handled correctly but in general this is a cleaner and more accurate process. It also allows image processing such as anti-aliasing which gives a better visual impression when the electronic chart is displayed.

In either production technique the updating of the raster charts follows on more or less naturally from the time served paper chart update process. It is then common for the vector charts to be produced from the raster data, more or less indirectly from the paper chart production mechanism. At the end of the update chain are the third party chart producers who copy the official data sets and repackage them in a variety of ways. Quite naturally these are the last types of charts to get updated.

But this is all changing because this is not a good way to handle vector data and vector data is the future. It is a separate issue as to why vector charts are the future or whether it is the right future but for now it definitely is the future. The IHO and other august bodies are committed to this and substantial funds are being invested. This matters because creating vector data from paper charts is just not a good way of doing things.

In the vector world everything is an ‘object’ like a light or a depth contour or a traffic lane. Each object has ‘attributes’ like the color red or a certain depth. Each object also has a position (the ‘vector’) so it is represented as a point, a line or an area. These objects can be quite readily managed in a simple database but the natural way of organising them is to tie them more directly to the raw survey data. So when a report is received that a new wreck has been found it is just entered into the database – no intervening chart required.

Vector charts are now a cinch to produce. A cell is just a collection of all the objects in a given geographical area. The problem of actually displaying the chart data is palmed off to the ECDIS or ECS. Paper charts and raster charts are a bit more problematical because the traditional role of the cartographer has been taken out of the loop. Have you ever wondered why a modern chart display simply just does not look as good as a paper chart? Well this is why, there is no longer a cartographer involved to lay out the chart and make it look ‘just so’. Instead we have a dumb computer, and they are all dumb, attempting to reproduce the sort of work that takes a human many years of training and experience. It just doesn’t work so well.

Now to be fair the automated vector to raster production processes are getting better but none the less there is still a complete role reversal. The raster chart becomes a second class citizen to the vector chart and the paper chart ends up at the bottom of the pile. Instead of being the primary focus for updates it becomes the last. There are undoubtedly many advantages with vector charts and with paper charts generated from vector databases. However, for the foreseeable future, they are never going to match the visual quality of the charts that have become standard fare for the mariner for many years.

Last in the chain will always be the third party chart producers. Fortunately as their update feeds become predominantly more electronic (just another output from the database) then these updates should become more timely. Ultimately they should be able to match the official charts for accuracy.

Just now we are in a great transition phase. Some hydrographic offices are pushing ahead with vector only systems while others just deal with traditional paper charts. Most are somewhere in between and possibly a bit unsure of which way to go or how it is all going to shake out. Meanwhile the mariners can look forward to improved electronic charts coverage and more rapid updating. They can also anticipate charts which do not look so good and which, in some cases, are going to cost more. Maybe this is just a classic engineering compromise.

Charting the Course – Business Plan Development & Research

As it is necessary to understand the direction and strength of the wind, before sailing, one must know the contrary winds in business. Charting a development strategy for a large or small business requires detail information about the competition. Too many entrepreneurs launch out with a dream, but never bring it down to the real world where men, women and children make the decisions “to buy or not to buy.” What are the qualities and flaws of the competitive products or services? Where and how are they sold? What are the prices and discounts? Who sells them? The provider’s reputation, financial strength, history and sales staff provide important clues to the nature of competition a product faces. The best ways to research include:

· Search the Internet for information, critiques, or evaluations of your competitors;
· Purchase the product or service for your personal evaluation;
· Find out what potential consumers think about it;

Getting this information requires a bit of work and research. Visit the competitor, interview their customers, sit in a place where you can observe the operation, and keep records. Who’s buying? What are they buying? At what price? Always look for any wrinkles in the competitor’s operation.

Once you have drawn a picture of the competitor, compare your own business plan to that. What advantage does your business strategy, location, products or services have over the competition? In particular, consider the pricing. Can you compete on price? If your goods are higher in price explain why. You may succeed with higher prices, but there will have to be reasons why people will pay more for your products. The aesthetics of the store, the nature of a guarantee, the skills of the sales staff and other features make be an attraction. How does your business compare to the competition? You want to compose your strategy based on the competition. All of this information will give you a clue to the potential you have of beating the competition. If you can beat the competition you have a better chance of being the business to survive.

Bar Charts Brought to Life: Index of Interactive Information for HTML and PDF

Bar Charts and the Information Challenge

Whether one is an unknown entrepreneur or Donald Trump, an elementary school teacher or a university president, a 6th grader researching other countries or a government leader visiting them, each person in any capacity has at least one thing in common: information.

Let me explain why I use bar charts as an example. Whether information is being acquired or distributed for business or educational purposes, the challenge that arises is how to compile all of the information. Bar charts are just one example of a variety of instruments for displaying information which is precise, yet simple.

This time is referred to as the “Information Age” because information about anything under the sun (and beyond) is now available in every home and hamlet. However, though information is one thing each person has in common, our interaction with it sets us apart. In many cases, the way information is accumulated may propel one business beyond the rest. On the other hand, the way information is disseminated may also set one business ahead of the rest. Can something as simple as bar charts make the difference?

Tools for Information Improvement

Bar charts, pie chart, or other types of business chart and business graphs are easily created using graphing programs with almost any word processing software. To create graphs in word processor for a database chart or a database graph is relatively simple and user-friendly.

Creating graphs and charts can also be done for a company website using almost any graph program or business mapping software.

HTML and PDF Interactive Information

Using the above-mentioned tools, compiling information using charts, graphs, and other informational mapping becomes very simple. But problems arise after initially compiling information. Online charts and graphs may include net charts, php graph, flash chart, perl graph, perl map, dynamic chart, dashboard chart, dashboard map, dashboard graph, coldfusion chart, coldfusion graph, dynamic flash, globfx, visual mining or any other data visualization tool, like a web graph or an executive dashboard. Creating these visuals online generally require .net technology.

There are online charts and graphs on the one hand, but there are also many charts and graphs made from word processing applications. The latter are usually saved as a PDF file, in order to preserve the visual integrity of the information when printing reports. These PDF files may include an archive report in the form of an archive PDF, api java PDF, PDF charts, perl PDF, PDF invoice, cold fusion PDF, C++ PDF, other pie charts and bar graphs. These are usually created using Adobe Acrobat.

Bridging the Gap Between PDF and HTML

The disconnect usually comes in trying to convert a PDF file to an HTML file or an HTML file to a PDF file. The gap between HTML and PDF has been bridged by an advanced PDF to HTML converter in recent data visualization software.

Now, visual information a user prints from the internet will no longer cut off because it does not fit the page, nor will a PDF document be distorted while writing it to the internet. Do bar graphs make the difference? The answer is that it depends on how you use it. With the possibility of interaction between HTML and PDF now available to the 6th grader, Donald Trump, and everyone in between, accessing and disseminating information can propel everyone forward into the Information Age.