MapText, Inc., developing software for high-quality cartographic text placement, recently announced the availability of Label-Contour, an extension to its flagship product Label-EZ. Label-Contour places the elevation (or depth) labels for a contour map according to precise cartographic requirements. Placement is completely automatic and performed in a matter of seconds.
Contour maps are employed to display elevation/depth information of terrain. They are widely used by geological survey organizations, by the military, by earth resources companies, for meteorological purposes, and for sea-bottom exploration and underwater cable lying.
Elevation information on contour maps should be placed in a way that the layout of the labels conveys terrain information that is easy to interpret, avoids conflict with other labels, and provides the highest aesthetic and cartographic quality possible. In other words, the reader of the map should be able quickly and easily to comprehend the terrain structures displayed. For example, according to cartographic conventions, contour labels are normally placed “upward” or “downward”. The labels for a mountain are stepping up, with the top edges of text facing the peak, and the labels for a basin or crater are stepping down, with the bottom edges of text facing the bottom of the depression. That is, the labels for a mountain are to be placed below an east-west line through the peak and those for a crater are to be placed above an east-west line through the crater bottom. If possible label placement should follow a slightly curving imaginary line, carefully avoiding conflict with labels of other features.
Proper label placement for contour maps is extremely difficult and time-consuming when done manually. According to the company’s release, Label-Contour performs the task automatically and at incredible speed. It first gains an “understanding” of the terrain structures implicit in the data and then places the elevation or depth labels according to cartographic conventions and a user’s requirements.
Label-Contour is an extension to Label-EZ and is compatible with all the major GIS systems.