Map Program Comparison
Every year or so I go shopping for a computer map program that is as good
as DeLorme Street Atlas v6 from 1998, and every year I am disappointed.
I want a program that shows "minor" roads even at wide zoom levels. I don't
want a road to be invisible until I zoom in so far I can't see where it goes.
Most map programs have a "detail level" setting, but the programmers are the
ones deciding how much "most detail" really means. I want a knob that goes to
eleven: I want to ask for more detail than the programmers believed would be
Try this experiment: set your map program to the highest level of detail,
make its map display window 320x240 pixels (the sizes of these images), center
it on Happy Camp, California, and zoom out until you can first see the Pacific
on the left side. This should get you a scale of about 90 miles across the
320-pixel window width. How many roads do you see? Is there any combination of
settings that gets you anywhere close to Street Atlas 6? If so,
I want to hear about it.
|DeLorme Street Atlas 6 from 1998
The gold standard!
|Garmin MapSource 6.10.2
As you can see, there's no comparison. And this happens in rural areas all
over the country: by the time MapSource (or even the newer Street Atlas
releases) will show the minor roads, you're zoomed in so tight you can't see
where any of them actually goes.
DeLorme Street Atlas 2009 has a feature that lets you scale the display by up
to 50%, which helps some. It means you can see four times the real estate at a
given zoom/detail level. But when you do that, the road marker icons and place
names all get smaller too, making them unreadable. You can just about see that
the roads exist, but you can't read the place names. Not good enough. What I
really want is a program that lets me decide the level of detail to show at
every zoom level, including detail levels that the vendor decided would be too
much. They should let me decide how much is too much!
Does your map program do any better than MapSource? Center in on Happy Camp,
zoom out until you can just see the ocean in an area just 320 pixels across (the
size of these images), and take a screen shot. (Press Alt-PrtSc to put a screen
shot on the clipboard, then paste it into a drawing program and save it.).
Send me the screen shot along with your
map program name and version number, plus any special settings you used. Thanks!
This page was last edited
August 08, 2009.