MapInfo Pro in 64-bit is well and truly up and running!
From early on in the development and release process to now and in the future, Critchlow have been involved in helping Pitney Bowes test the design concepts and functionality of all MapInfo Pro releases.
And now that more and more MapInfo Pro users are switching over to the 64-bit version, we want to make sure that you're up to speed with how it works and are getting the most out of it.
We've compiled some helpful tips to get you started...
This blog is the second of four in our 4 Steps to Mastering MapInfo Pro 64-bit series and focuses on one of the simple but very effective productivity enhancements of the new user interface.
Mastering MapInfo Pro 64-bit
#2 Right-Click for Speed
Why context matters...
It is the nature of ‘map centric’ applications such as MapInfo Pro that users can spend a lot of time with their hands practically welded to their mouse. Using MapInfo Pro without a mouse could be done via solely via the various keyboard shortcuts – but you just wouldn’t do that, things just happen quicker with a mouse.
So it makes sense then to crown the mouse as King and make it as easy as possible to achieve the tasks you want to undertake at the location of where the mouse is and what you have asked it to do – the essence of context.
While the new ribbon interface for MapInfo Pro is a fantastic example of context in action, it's not the only place where context will change how you use the 64-bit MapInfo Pro.
Examples of these map centric ‘interactions’ include tasks such as changing the scale of what is currently being seen on the map, selecting features/objects from the map, editing the location or shape of the map objects or adding labels to map objects to name a few.
In earlier versions of MapInfo (and other GIS applications) users would need to select the tool to undertake these tasks by moving their mouse off the location of where they were currently undertaking work to a toolbar (typically anchored to the top of the application), select the tool and then recenter the mouse back in the location on the map where they were working. It’s just the way it was (is) and people just accepted it.
Simple, but effective: Introducing the MMT.
Luckily for MapInfo users, the Pitney Bowes Software Engineering and User Experience teams have gone a long way to improving the efficiency of these map based ‘interactions’ by introducing a new Map Mini Toolbar (MMT) in the upcoming release.
The toolbar is accessed via a right-click in any map window and by default includes a subset of the most common map interaction tools including:
- The various selection tools
- Panning and zooming
- Labelling and label modifications
- Map object editing
When combined with the existing functions available when accessing the right-click menu it gives users very quick access to the most commonly used functionality. For example, the ability to select an object, make it editable and change the shape of the object can all be driven from the right click menu and the Map Mini Toolbar, and you can do all of these tasjs without moving your mouse off the map.
The effectiveness of this seemingly simple addition to the right-click menu is in helping you retain focus on the area of the map window that you are working in rather than following your mouse back and forward between the map and the toolbars at the top of the application.
It may seem rather minor when the whole user interface is being updated but for those doing a lot of “map work” this will be a huge productivity improvement as these common tools are now where you need them – at the tip of your cursor.
And for those wanting to know if they can choose what tools they have in the toolbar the answer is "yes" but you will have to wait just a little bit for this functionlaity to be available - but not too long.
The great thing about MapInfo Pro 64-bit is that it has allowed the Development and User Experience teams to spend time understanding the tasks that users have to undertake when working with Spatial Data.
From this understanding they have been able to design and build context into the application so that the appropriate tools and functions are only available when the user needs them. While the ribbon is a major example of this (more in another post) – the Map Mini Toolbar is another example of having the right tool accessible at the right time – and that’s one of the keys to productivity.
The key to mastering the Map Mini Toolbar is to remember that it’s there, but once you do, you will be amazed at how effective this toolbar is.
Of course, this is only one skill that you will need to learn when using MapInfo Pro 64-bit but thankfully the team at Pitney Bowes has done a fantastic job at making the learning curve as short as possible.
Be sure to check out the other blog posts in the 4 Steps to Mastering MapInfo Pro 64-bit series and check out the Getting Familiar with MapInfo Pro 64-bit webinar series below. We're sure you'll like what you see!