by David Palomino
Business Analyst 10 provides two default MXDs as a gateway into the application: Business Analyst.mxd and Business Analyst Web.mxd. However, we have expanded on Business Analyst.mxd to create a third MXD, Business Analyst Maplex.mxd. This is a cartographically enhanced MXD available for download here.
Quick Overview of Maplex
Business Analyst 10 with enhanced Maplex labeling is available on the Resource Center for those who need or want optimal labeling for their Business Analyst MXDs. Maplex, available for all ArcGIS users, is a set of tools used to improve the quality of labeling by setting various labeling parameters. Once parameters are set, Maplex then calculates the best placement for labels in your map.
Business Analyst Without Maplex
Because of the way certain datasets are built, labeling can clutter a map. Take street networks for instance. Many street datasets, as they are delivered to Esri, are not one continuous line segment for each street, but are a series of line segment for each road. When telling the regular label engine to label these streets, it will label each individual segment (see Figure 1).
In the Business Analyst Application without Maplex, the cartography will look poor to fair at best and outright distracting at worst. Figure 2 shows the New York City area at 1:250,000 as seen without Maplex. Some (not all) of the areas of note are highlighted with a blue outline.
Business Analyst Enhanced with Maplex
With Maplex, parameters and rules can be set to prevent such cluttering, but instead, draw a label per so many map units (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Even with multiple line segments, Maplex can place labels at specified map unit intervals.
Figure 4 shows where these parameters are set.
Figure 4: Remove Duplicates lets you remove duplicates within any map unit range.
The result is a much cleaner map. Labels serve a purpose but do not distract.
Additional Label Edits
City labels are also edited in the Maplex MXD in order to distinguish them from road labels. Instead of the standard black bold labels, city labels have a subdued gray color starting at 1:5,000,000 zoom-in scale. Figure 5 shows the same New City area with the Maplex parameters in place as well as the edited city labels.
Figure 5. 1:250,000 over New York City area
Image Comparisons: Business Analyst.mxd vs Business Analyst Maplex.mxd
Below are three image comparisons showing the cartographic differences between the Business Analyst.mxd and the Business Analyst Maplex.mxd.
Pros and Cons of Using Maplex-Enhanced MXD
The pros of using Maplex are obvious: better cartography and better looking maps. This is true, whether you’re using maps as a backdrop to more complex GIS projects or if you’re just making a nice looking map.
So what are the cons? The one con is that the more rules and parameters you put in Maplex, the slower the draw-speed for your GIS. This is a similar to the “complex query” concept that I wrote about in my blog “Your Mission: Make Business Analyst Look Better and Perform Faster” (click here to read). However, the affect on draw time is very negligible, and the map quality tradeoff more than makes up for this.
If you edit your MXDs with Maplex, keep in mind that generally, the better your map looks, the slower it will be. For the most part, this draw time difference is unnoticeable.