Thursday, 10 November 2011

A GIS developed in Manitoba

Did you know that there was a GIS developed in Manitoba?  It’s true!  MAP II was developed in the mid-to-late 1980s at the University of Manitoba Geography Department.  It was also the first (or one of the first) GIS built for the Mac.

As a member of the faculty at the University of Manitoba, Micha Pazner led the building of an Apple Macintosh-based Geography Laboratory in the mid-1980s.  From there, Micha Pazner, Chris Kirby and Nancy Thies headed the team that developed MAP II, a Mac-based GIS.  The first version was named MAP II, as it was based on the map algebra developed by Dana Tomlin, implemented in his Map Analysis Package (MAP) and was considered a second generation of MAP.

Back in the days when GIS were commonly grouped into the Raster or Vector camp, this was a raster-based GIS.  MAP II was unique at the time as it was developed with an emphasis on user friendliness and map visualization.  GIS software packages at the time were difficult to use and GUIs and user-friendly interfaces were not common. For example, the powerful ArcInfo system was command line driven.

One of the cool features that I remember was that maps developed in MAP II could be exported to other software programs, such as drawing packages.   This was truly extraordinary for the time and a major advantage of being in the Mac world, as this was long before the days of Windows and integrated software suites in the PC world.

The developers distributed MAP II through John Wiley and Sons publishing company and documentation may still be available on Amazon.  MAP II was used as a teaching GIS at the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg throughout much of the early 1990s.

Micha Pazner is an Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario.

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