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Generating maps from data organized in a GIS requires a chain of technically complex processing tasks, regardless of the end product being needed in a planning department, placed on an organization’s home page, or sold in a bookstore to a customer. Operating costs can be reduced if production is organized within a suitably designed processing environment: the aim is to have a systematic, standardized work flow, consisting of effective methods and tools in all production phases from database organization all the way through product finishing.
On the example of the production of world atlases, this paper describes a toolkit that has been developed for efficiently converting GIS source data into cartographic products at scales between ca. 1 : 500,000 and 1 : 5 Mill. At the outset, an outline of the production environment is provided. The core part consists of a description of the production toolkit, indicating where tools provided by standard software packages reach their limits. Emphasis is on explaining the functionality rather than on software architecture. A representative selection of the tools is discussed in more detail and illustrated by sample maps and graphics. The procedures encompass all major production activities, such as database and product editing, data verification, map preparation, product generation, and updating, plus a set of general process handling functions. In conclusion, a summary of the experiences in working with the system will be given.