What Carto Is

Carto is a tool. Its intended use is making cave maps. Its intended primary user is the cartographer. Its primary purpose is to reduce the amount of hand copying that must be done, and to eliminate the use of ink.

Carto can be used to quickly produce and maintain a working map. A composite image of all the sketches can be used as an ugly, but complete, working map. After each survey trip the sketches are scanned and the stations are marked on the images. Carto deforms the raw sketches to fit the processed survey data and superimposes them. This "composite sketch" will not be pretty, it will show mud, grid lines, errasures, and all the idiosyncrasies of the individual sketchers, but it will also contain all the information in the original notes.

Carto can be used to produce a final map. Once the composite sketch of some or all of the cave has been built, the cartographer can start replacing the images with symbols. Carto contains a drawing program designed with the needs of cave cartography in mind. The cartographer basically traces over the images, replacing them with the symbols, curves etc. that will appear in the final map. The single tracing can replace both pencil and ink. The cartographer can then experiment with different views and layouts.

Carto can be used as a map viewer. The final map can be printed on paper or viewed on line. Online maps can be scaled, rotated and manipulated in other ways. Large maps can be viewed over the web through a Java applet.

What Carto Is Not

Carto is not a survey program. A survey program takes the raw survey data, calculates coordinates of stations, closes loops, draws line plots etc.. There are many programs like this, none are perfect, but many are good. I felt no unbearable need to write one more. Carto starts where survey programs end. Carto takes the output of survey programs as input.

Carto does not generate maps automatically. I have seen programs that attempt to make maps (often three dimensional), mostly from the left-right-up-down data in the survey. If that's enough to make a map, why do we bother with a sketch?

Carto cannot replace a cartographer. A well known cartographer skeptically asked me, several years ago when I was babbling about the idea for this project, "Can a program draw a map as well as I can?" He might as well have asked "Can a pen draw a map as well as I can?" Carto replaces pen, pencil, and mylar, not the cartographer.

How is Carto intended to be used?

My concept for Carto, is to scan the sketches as soon as they are made, morph them and add them to the map, then as trace over the images with the CAD features. When each section has been traced the images would be removed. The program would be used to try different layouts, views etc., and then the final map would be printed, and/or distributed in electronic form (either a carto file or an image).

I don't want to do things that way, can I still use Carto?

Yes! I know some people prefer their favorite CAD program/pen and ink/cuniform on clay tablets/paint on cave walls. They can still use some or all of Carto's features.

When will Carto be available?

Now! Though it is by no means finished.

How much does Carto cost?

Nothing! It's free. (Subject to the terms of the Gnu Public License which says "It's free")

Where can I get Carto?

From the Carto web page of course.

Who wrote Carto?

Carto is written by Ralph Hartley who is also the author of the Geek nation web page.

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