On this page you will find information which explains the links between you, the person or business with a spatial or “mapping” problem to address, the GIS software “tools” available, and the service providers like ourselves, who’s job it is to bring it all together. This is not a page concerned with “technology” as such, see our Introduction to GIS page for that.. Rather it attempts to shed some light on this little known multi billion dollar a year industry, to help make it work for you without sending you into debt or becoming the latest owner of a fully licensed copy of White Elephant® “one of the world’s most popular GIS and Desktop Mapping Solutions..”
No matter what GIS or other mapping application you use, the MapMakers Australia support team offer you the same, high quality professional support.
What range of software is available?
MapMakers Australia run a wide range of software applications, and have been doing so since 1985. Most others use and sell only the software of one major company. This allows us to offer our experience and professional support to users, regardless of your existing software.
What is the relationship between most service providers and the big GIS companies?
Most are contractually bound to use and sell the products of only one company. Unlike virtually all other service providers, MapMakers Australia are not agents for any software manufacturer.This means we are not restricted to recommending solutions, based on software which may not be optimally suited, or even capable of addressing your particular needs.
Our GIS technicians don't understand what I want, and I haven't a clue what their techno-babble means..!
We have technological expertise AND extensive experience in most application areas. Most other providers have technological OR application expertise. A typical approach to problem solving involves GIS technologists responding to the requests of specialist professionals, and increasingly, non specialist community groups. Lack of a common “language” and experience base often causes misunderstanding, frustration and inefficient re-working. Because we understand where you’re coming from and wish to go, and understand how to get there, our services are both effective and efficient.
Acquiring the right GIS software and learning how to use it - support and training..
Almost all GIS businesses use this approach:
- Sell you expensive software as a first step. After all, this is where the big profits lie (A$3,000.00 should get you to the starting grid, if you listen to a standard sales pitch!)
- Then sell you expensive training courses so you can begin to use their software (we regularly hear from training course “victims”..)
- Use “imaginary” training materials which mean nothing in the real world, and certainly don’t consider your own personal or organisation’s needs.
Our approach is entirely different:
Standard GIS Support. Phone, E-mail, text, fax responses to specific “how do I..” questions. Response times usually same day, often immediate. Excludes programing, scripting and SQL.
- We don’t on-sell expensive commercial software, but with a Support Policy can recommend where your needs will be met effectively and cost efficiently.
- Regardless of which GIS you choose, the documentation supplied with your software is your primary reference source. You cannot come to terms with any GIS application if you are not prepared to read, actively engage with and routinely consult documentation. GIS Software Support is NOT a replacement for documentation, but an adjunct to it.
Standard support options can be purchased directly from the support shop link at the bottom of the page.
Training. Custom training courses specific to your needs. We can deliver in-house or accommodate you at our premises in Tasmania.
- We provide training tailored to your needs. A GIS Software Support Policy is NOT the same as training. Our training courses are priced very reasonably and we are completely flexible. We cater for the needs of all, from complete novices to hardened veterans!
- We use “real world” data and whenever possible, this is data for your own region of interest. We believe this is the only way to make training relevant. Lets face it, who needs to know about this stuff anyway, unless they have a problem to solve, or wish to gain a deeper understanding of their own corner of the planet?
Support for GIS software and pre-paid custom mapping support
Most providers offer support (phone, fax, E-mail) on an “incident” basis, or unlimited support for an annual fee. This support is confined to technical aspects of using their own GIS software. MapMakers also offer incident based, and annual fee support options.
We don’t mind what software you use (check with us first), and we also include support for your specialised application areas. We can suggest which GIS application would satisfy your requirements and budget. Our rates are extremely competitive!
- Per incident. A$175* per hour (min 0.5 hr). This entitles you to phone, E-mail and fax responses. Response times usually same day, often immediate; excludes programing, scripting and SQL (these may be arranged through our custom mapping service). Incidents can also be used for custom mapping e.g. for creating a custom draft map, or for updating an existing mapping project.
- Annual Fee. A$550* per individual, for unlimited phone, e-mail and fax responses; excludes programing, scripting and SQL (these may be arranged through our custom mapping service). Please include this text – “Initiate Support Policy” in the “Project Summary..” box if using the form rather than the shopping cart below.
- You can use the shopping cart below to initiate support incidents or an annual policy (currently MasterCard, VISA, or PayPal account). Alternatively you can complete the form on our terms and conditions page to initiate a GIS Support Policy or request Incident Support.
*Plus GST for Australian clients
Considering getting into desktop mapping / GIS for the first time, and not sure what would best suit your needs? MapMakers Australia offer impartial, professional advice. How can we do this? Read on..
A likely first encounter with GIS..
You probably reached this site because you’d like a “map” that shows you something specific, but can’t find it in an Atlas? GIS (geographical information systems) are software tools used to create such maps.
In the GIS and technology business generally, a few large corporations monopolise the industry. Typically they enter into agreements with local and regional small businesses, to promote and sell their GIS and desktop mapping products.
The retail price of such software typically starts in the $2-3,000.00 bracket. While development costs are high for any software, the profit margins are huge, so it is quite understandable why the majority of businesses happily tie themselves in with one of the big players – it’s their bread and butter!
Unfortunately for you, the individual or business with a specific information or knowledge gap to fill, it means most businesses you approach with this in mind, or who approach you, will have as their prime objective, selling you a copy of their software.
They don’t so much care that it is the best solution, as the next pitch will be to offer you often irrelevant training (more $$), followed by “customising” applications (more $$ still) to hopefully do what you wanted in the first place!
MapMakers’ approach is different. We listen carefully to your requirements. We can then offer a solution based on immediate and / or strategic needs, but free of any pressure to lock you into expensive proprietary solutions. Almost always there is something “off the shelf” which will do what you need.
Where do people learn about GIS?
Typically there are three main areas where GIS practitioners learn:
- From private companies, offering training courses to learn how a particular software package works.
- On the job, or in-at-the-deep-end. Especially true for professionals in the workplace. Most large organisations have some sort of “spatial” software. Depending on size, some offer in-house training (usually provided by an I.T. department), while many use the training services offered by the large software firms who tend to monopolise corporate GIS.
- At tertiary education level. While not widely offered, some colleges and universities offer GIS modules (for example geography, environmental science, or surveying), or even complete spatial technology courses. Courses are varied in depth and content. For some, it is an introductory module in a computer science course. Most institutions use one of the major commercial GIS software packages for teaching purposes.
MapMakers’ staff have a great deal of experience in all these areas. Because of this we know the benefits and weaknesses of each approach.
The net result is that we offer you the very best, impartial advice and / or instruction, designed to address your own needs. We can put put you in touch with proprietary trainers in your region if necessary, or organise customised courses involving our own trainers and / or other specialists, as required.
What do I need to get up and running?
- A computer, ideally a reasonably modern PC.
- Good Windows skills.
- A copy of a GIS software product.
- A willingness to actively read and understand the documentation supplied with your GIS software.
- Some digital “map” data.
As indicated throughout this page, most sources of advice are closely linked to one of the large GIS software companies. If you know what you need, you probably won’t be reading this! The first, crucial step is to have a clear idea of what you wish to achieve. Sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how easy it is to be persuaded to buy a copy of a GIS product without ever being asked what you’d like to do with it!
Your Windows OS skills must be reasonably good. If you struggle with something like MS Excel, don’t know why your mouse has two buttons and a funny wheel thingy, or get hopelessly lost browsing the web, chances are your windows skills could be improved. We’d recommend addressing this before continuing, as adequate (preferably good) Windows skills are a prerequisite for Mapmakers Support.
You must be prepared to invest time in learning about your GIS application. Our Support Policies will help shorten the learning curve, but they are not a replacement for software documentation, nor are they a substitute for formal training – we can supply that if required, but it is entirely separate from a Support Policy.
It’s beyond the scope of an introductory page to explore options in detail, as everyone’s needs are unique. However a quick, no-obligation call or E-mail to MapMakers could save you endless hours of frustration and thousands of dollars. Get in touch with us by any of the means below, or fill in the form at the end of this page it won’t cost you a cent!