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Digital geologic mapping has many advantages over ‘analog’ mapping. A really big one that is often ignored is the utility of a desktop digitizing tablet. Clicking away with the mouse along an elaborately shaped contact trace is bad for your wrist (and possibly, your brain) and falls far short of the speed and accuracy of using a pen. Just try writing your name in script with a mouse if you don’t believe me. Most of us have been using writing implements in our hands since we were toddlers. I use a Wacom Intuos Tablet at home and at the office and can’t imagine doing it any other way. You can program buttons on the pen and on the tablet to perform common program tasks to un-tether yourself from the mouse and the keyboard.

On the road and in the field I use a Tablet style notebook PC which allows you to use the pen directly on the screen.

A far better option for office use is a Pen Display:

This would be an extremely useful addition to any GIS / mapping oriented enterprise, no?

For the times when you just need paper but want to stay digital, there is a way. ADAPX has developed a digital pen and digital paper product that is rugged for the field. Check out the website:

Below is a snippet from their website (looks promising):

More Power to Paper with Digital Data Collection

Using Capturx for ArcGIS, you get fully digitized GIS data from paper maps automatically. Because you don’t have to change the way you work, you eliminate the need for additional training on data collection, importing, and editing processes.

Capturx for ArcGIS is a powerful, easy-to-use, digital data collection solution that enables you to keep using paper maps. If you use ESRI ArcGIS® 9.2, the Capturx for ArcGIS extension is the ideal way to create, import, edit, share, and act on paper-based data in and between geographic information systems (GIS).

Capturx for ArcGIS 9.2 enables you to print out any ArcGIS map and feature legend on digital paper, and then make changes and annotations to the map in ArcGIS by simply writing on the printed map.

There is no need to modify your existing ESRI products because Capturx for ArcGIS can be used with any ArcGIS Desktop licenses, including ArcView®, ArcEditor™, or ArcInfo®, and is compatible with geodatabase feature classes, such as personal and enterprise ArcSDE®.

Image Download the datasheet for a complete list of key features.


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  1. […] being able to map directly on the surface of a high-resolution monitor. It is one-step beyond my previous advice to run out and get yourself a wacom digitizing tablet because it removes the final level of […]

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