Planet Geographic Information Systems
The world's fastest & friendliest GIS

Cadastral data added: remaining 2 provinces

January 25th, 2013

The Free State and KwaZulu Natal cadastral maps are now available for download here: http://www.planetgis.co.za/browse.php?id=11

I am still getting email about blank maps, so let me explain a bit more. The cadastral maps each come with 3 files inside a .zip/.7z archive. All 3 files must be extracted to a location where Windows allows software to create more files. (C:\Program Files is not one of them, but if you run Planet “as Administrator” that will also work). The first time you open the .map file with Planet, Planet will create additional files for spatial indices, etc.

If you accidentally only extracted the .map file, Planet will recreate the database file and it will be mostly empty. You need to start over, delete everything in your map directory and extract all 3 files from the archive.

Just a reminder that Planet 4 is still in “beta” phase. If you have existing projects in Planet 3 you should at best “play” with a copy which you can upgrade with Tools->Maintenance->Upgrade. (And be prepared to tell me exactly what you did to lose all your data ;)

Please also see a few more frequently asked questions below.

Lastly apologies to all who have ordered the data on DVD/HD. At this point it looks like the first orders will only go out at the end of next week.

Q: Is Planet also available on Linux or Mac?
A: No, I do want to port to Linux and Mac but that is still in the distant future. If you really know your way around in Linux, Planet should run OK with Wine (www.winehq.org).

Q: Can I get shapefiles instead?
A: I do not run a download service on behalf of the SG and NGI, but you can export shapefiles, DXF, GPX & KML files with PlanetGIS Explorer 4.0. Shapefiles are also less practical to download than the compact Planet4 format. StatsSA’s census shapefiles (zipped) is 337MB (which b.t.w. you can download here: http://africaopendata.org/dataset/cen) while the downloadable Planet map built from it (zipped) is 76MB.

Q: What is new in version 4?
A: Just a few highlights for now:
1. Built-in SQL server. All features are stored in a single table and each feature class and subclass has a dedicated “attribute table” created automatically. External database tables link to “keys” in the attribute table, where before detail tables linked to a feature’s key.
2. Built-in database manager. You can create your own tables and add columns whether it is in the build-in database or an attached Access/MySQL/Oracle database.
3. Tighter integration with shapefiles. The original location and settings are remembered for each shapefile that is imported, for easy re-import. Exporting feature classes to shapefiles is much, much faster.
4. Photo tab. You can attach JPEG images to any feature on your map, and as many images as you want to a particular feature. The images appear as thumbnails in the Photo tab. Panorama images will be viewed
by a built-in 3-D “bubble” viewer.
5. GPX, CSV & SQL import/export.
6. [Enterprise] Ability to build mobile maps & manage Windows Mobile handheld devices (more on this later!)

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Cadastral data added: Cape provinces

January 24th, 2013

The 3 Cape provinces (WC, EC, NC) are now available for download here:
http://www.planetgis.co.za/browse.php?id=11

(If you’ve noticed the Eastern Cape update on there and downloaded it
prior to this email, please download it again because I have made
important changes to its parcel locator).

I also forgot to tell you about the new Administrative & Census
boundaries map. It was built from StatsSA’s latest shapefiles,
including “main places”, “sub places”, wards and EAs. (Don’t ask me
for actual census data though, StatsSA will start to release that in
March).

I have received dozens of emails today from people complaining that
the new maps come up blank. Please make sure that you extract all the
files from the .zip or .7z archives and put them together in a folder
to which you have full access, e.g. C:\MyMaps. You also need to use
the very latest version of PlanetGIS 4.0
(Explorer/Professional/Enterprise).

And well done to all… In just two weeks nearly 190GB of data has
been downloaded from my servers!

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Cadastral data available: Northern provinces

January 23rd, 2013

Just a quick note to let you know that the 2012 cadastral maps of the
northern provinces (LP, MP, NW, GP) are available for download here:
http://www.planetgis.co.za/browse.php?id=11

These maps have a parcel locator under the “binoculars button”. Let me
know how that works for you.

Thanks to all the feedback I’ve received, Planet 4 is now a lot more
stable, so be sure to get the latest Planet too.

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A New Year and also a New Planet! (4.0 is here)

January 4th, 2013

Happy new year to all!

I have been rushing to get this out before everyone gets back to work in 2013. After four years of continued development on a mobile version of PlanetGIS and 3D pointcloud software, and working all the newly developed technologies back into Planet, I am happy to announce the general availability of the first BETA version of Planet 4.0 (Explorer, Professional & Enterprise). This release is intended for the more adventurous Planet users (who will let me know about bugs and only use it on a copy of their existing maps) or those interested in updated maps from our website or trying it out on new projects.

I will soon have a whole lot more updated maps on the website, but I have decided to send this out with the single most requested data ever: farm boundaries of South Africa! If you are interested, please download PlanetGIS Explorer 4.0 and SA-farms.zip. This is a free download and you don’t even have to log in on www.planetgis.co.za. The SA-farms map also includes the latest administrative boundaries from the Demarcation Board. PlanetGIS Explorer 4.0 now allows you to save your cosmetic customizations too maps as well as export to shapefiles, so you don’t need a trial version of Professional for that any more.

Everyone with a PlanetGIS license and current web updates can also download PlanetGIS Professional 4.0 or PlanetGIS Enterprise 4.0 from their profile page.

I have so much more to tell you, but wanted to get this out as soon as possible because many people have been waiting long for this data and some people might still have some free time on their hands before the big graft commences!

One Response to “A New Year and also a New Planet! (4.0 is here)”

  1. superkhoi x says:

    Hello every one.
    Working with Planetgis 4 beta I would suggest adding option of when selecting a layer in window that it will be highlighted in the layer display list for identification purposes when adding the legend.
    Also I’ve experience when using the 3d plugin display i sometimes need to close the 3d display, but the whole application close down.
    One other small thing in the version 4 beta is exporting of kml format is not working only the kmz currently.
    What would be nice is some edit functions for polygons and vector so you don’t have to redo all of vector layers.
    Will update on further bugs as I go on
    The good thing about the application I like is the speed compare to other big brand gis apps in which it runs and process huge files

    Thank You very much It has been a pleasure working with this application so far.

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Version 3.0.8, Wiki manual & Blog

May 20th, 2009

It has been 5 months since my last update and many PlanetGIS users started to wonder if I am still around. Well, it has been a crazy 5 months and I have lots to tell you. During this time we (the company) quietly turned 10 years old. As you may know, our software is quite a bit older, but a very nice milestone to reach for us indeed. Apart from trying to complete too many things in-between updates, I disappeared into a large project for nearly two months. This project was the starting point for PlanetGIS entering the mobile computing world, but more about that at a later date.

Creating a new manual for Planet - one that someone might actually read and find useful - proved to be a lot more work than I first anticipated. I wanted to create a tutorial that one can read sequentially while learning all the important bits in a more-or-less logical order. I keep going back to the earlier chapters and adding content as I receive questions that I’ve had to answer a few times before. Now I’ve realized that the manual will never be finished. Just like Planet, it will continue to grow and get better. I have now placed most of the chapters that are nearly complete or useful as-is on a wiki. Because there are still many parts of the manual that simply says “todo”, we are still some way off from a printable PDF. Anyone that have registered on our website can participate in this effort. If you’d like to change the wording of a sentence so that it makes better sense, please do! If you want to start your own chapter on a specific topic that you feel should be covered, go right ahead! My helpers and myself will monitor the wiki continually while we’re also adding to it. We will rearrange things that are out of place, and if you messed something up - that is OK - because we can easily roll back to a previous version. The PlanetGIS wiki is here: www.planetgis.co.za/wiki

I have also finally put up a blog. This, and all my previous newsletters are on the blog, but the idea is to have more frequent updates about what’s happening on Planet GIS. I’ll do my best to post something on the blog each time a new feature is implemented or when something interesting is happening relating to PlanetGIS. Please feel free to comment to my posts! Very soon there will also be a forum where we can discuss problems and new features. The PlanetGIS Blog is here: www.planetgis.co.za/blog

And finally, version 3.0.8 of PlanetGIS is now ready. Please download it here. The main highlights of this new version are:

  • Raster transparency: you can now specify the opacity of raster layers in the display properties. As with transparent fills in Planet, the image is dithered onto the screen instead of per-pixel blending, but this is much more efficient when printing.
  • Conditional display by feature density. Ever set up your map to work perfectly in a built-up area but when you pan to a rural area the map is empty? See Maximum feature density in the wiki!
  • Get current Google Earth viewport. If you’ve just saved an image from Google Earth, this new option will position your image automatically by asking GE what its current viewport is.
  • New database drivers. This is what’s been taking so long. The new database drivers are still being tested and are available in addition to the old ones. PlanetGIS now also has a “built-in” SQL server, courtesy of SQLite. The database connections interface has also been completely revamped. Please read about it in detail in the wiki.

Because of some fundamental changes in the database connections, maps saved in version 3.0.8 won’t work the same with older versions of Planet, so please make a backup of your maps.

One Response to “Version 3.0.8, Wiki manual & Blog”

  1. Mike Trenor says:

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday, Planet! The Wiki and Blog are excellent ideas, and I’m sure I’ll find the answers I need there.

  2. David Jansen van Vuuren says:

    Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant! Keep up the good work!

  3. Johan van Rensburg says:

    Was there when it started.
    Still use PlanetGIS every day!

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Last PlanetGIS update for 2008

December 17th, 2008

In this update:

Small Talk
Season’s Greetings and Thank-Yous
2008 Report-back
A Ten Year Anniversary Coming Up
Exciting New Developments for 2009
Annual Price Increase

Small Talk. By now, most subscribers to this newsletter - especially those in the Southern Hemisphere - are basking in the sun or taking time out at their favourite holiday destinations. I hope you are thoroughly enjoying it! For others - like myself - this is a time of high productivity because the phones have stopped ringing and there are very few unexpected demands on our time. One is allowed to “go into the flow” without the interruptions and on some days produce more than what three (productive) people normally would. If you have been blessed - like me - with a vocation (with an o) that you thoroughly enjoy, you don’t need a vacation (with an a)… you only need some quiet!

Season’s Greetings and Thank-Yous. I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a fantastic festive season and extend a huge thank you for all your support and well wishes during the year. May you have a wonderful time with your family and friends.

2008 Report-back. 2008 has been a phenomenal year for Planet GIS. This year alone, we have gained 209 new clients of which 74 purchased software licenses and we’ve added a total of 253 licensed users to our database (many of which would be old clients upgrading to version 3.0). Our free map download service has also been received with tremendous acclaim. Since we introduced the service in April, nearly 500GB of data has been downloaded. We have also gained many friends!

A Ten Year Anniversary Coming Up. On April 9th, 2009 our company turns 10 years old! The software, however, has already been under development for nearly five years when the company was incorporated in April of 1999. We’ve been through some tough times and for many years relied on consulting work to keep the ship afloat and fund the software development. Your marvellous support during 2008 meant that our 10th year had been the best one ever!

Exciting New Developments for 2009. The New Year will be a very exciting one for us. You may notice a lot of changes on our website during this month already. In January we will be launching updated online documentation (a Wiki), a development Blog and support forums. I would like to thank TGIS (www.tgis.co.za) for donating a large sum of money toward the development of a new technical manual. TGIS has been an invaluable part of our success since the early days. Thank you guys & gals from the bottom of my heart!

Annual Price Increase. We will be introducing price increases early in January. Software functionality has been snowballing and we’re adding a lot of value around the software to help you get the most out of it. Since recently purchases of software licenses, for example, include a full year of software updates, regardless of the jump in version number (eg. 3.0 to 4.0). We need to make some price adjustments to keep this ship on an even keel, especially with the roughly 14% devaluation of the South African Rand (locally) over the past year. If you have been considering purchasing software licenses, now would be a good time if you are able… :-)

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Version 3.0.6 released, Gauteng cadastral

December 1st, 2008

I am happy to announce the release of version 3.0.6 of PlanetGIS, now available for downloading. This update features dozens of improvements and also some cool new features requested by our users:

  • Bug fix: the style element prioritization feature introduced in 3.0.5 also caused raster images to be drawn 11 times over. It is a testament to Planet’s rendering speed since it was only noticed by a few users who complained about hugely increased print job sizes!
  • Improved labelling. Up to 4 different labels can be stored with a feature’s geometry and you can create separate displays showing specific labels. Labels can now also be set to not align with a line feature and a new font style introduces “boxed” text;
  • Zoom extents & feature count menu options for displays;
  • Much improved handling of displays which visibility depends on scale constraints in either the display properties or style properties;
  • A new streamlined Quick Launch start-up screen;
  • Selected features are now also printed with the user defined selection style;
  • Maps relying on other maps can now be set to only open those maps when they are needed, eg. once zoomed to small enough scale or when a display is toggled from hidden to visible;
  • Drawing priority for style elements: you can now group individual style elements (pens, fills, fonts and symbols) into priority slots to determine the drawing order. This new feature enables you to make road maps with outlined roads;
  • Proximity select and containment select now allows you to select multiple feature classes;
  • Discover Spatial Tables feature (currently only for Oracle Spatial);
  • Zoom to same location: jump to the same geographic position in another opened map;
  • More “select all” options: visible features, features in map, features in view.

Please log in to your user account to download the latest update: www.planetgis.co.za/login.php and let me know if you need any assistance.

Our Gauteng cadastral map is *finally* ready. Please preview it here: http://www.planetgis.co.za/browsemap.php?id=88. It took more time to prepare the Gauteng map for the parcel locator than all the other completed provinces put together. Now on to Limpopo and Mpumalanga…

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Free routable GIS street map of SA?

October 28th, 2008

Are you familiar with the OpenStreetMap project? OpenStreetMap is a project aimed at creating and providing free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. Contributors to OpenStreetMap take GPS devices with them on journeys, or go out specially to record GPS tracks. They record street names, place names and other features using notebooks, digital cameras, and voice-recorders. Back at the computer, contributors upload those GPS logs showing where they travelled, and trace-out the roads on OpenStreetMap’s collaborative database. Using their notes, contributors add the street names, information such as the type of road or path, and the connections between roads. That data is then processed to produce detailed street-level maps, which can be published freely on sites such as Wikipedia, used to create handheld or in-car navigation devices, or printed and copied without restriction.

I’ve known about this project for some time, but after watching its coverage grow exponentially (click to see animation) for a while now, I eventually got very excited about it. This project has become the Wikipedia of street maps and has a real potential to surpass the accuracy and completeness of expensive commercial street maps in the near future… sustainably. With this data you can do whatever you like as long as you acknowledge the source, and you don’t ever have to pay for updates. The more people that get involved, the more updates you’ll see, and it’s all free. It is very easy to add streets, change streets (or any other type of feature) and change or add attributes like names. Anyone can do it!

You can download this open and free street map of South Africa, as a PlanetGIS map, now from our website. Because this is such a living map, I will post an update on our website once per month. Your changes to the map will be included! View it or download it here: www.planetgis.co.za/browsemap.php?id=15. You can see how quickly the map is growing on this page: www.planetgis.co.za/sa-osm-progress.php.

A lot of changes have been made to Planet over the past month and a half. You have to get the latest version (3.0.5) to see this street map properly. Changes include such things as multiple labels for features, boxed labels, prioritized styles, and much much more. If you use 3.0.4 or earlier to view this street map, it won’t look anything like it should.

Other news is that the searchable cadastral map for KwaZulu Natal is now ready for download.

Let me know if you would like to contribute to OSM, the Free Wiki World Map.

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Version 3.0.4 released

September 16th, 2008

We are happy to announce the release of version 3.0.4 of PlanetGIS, now available for download. This update features dozens of improvements and also some cool new features requested by our users:

  • Transparent fills. You can now fill polygons and specify how much of underlying features should remain visible. We have chosen to do this in a way that is consistent with how transparency is simulated by printer drivers, so the hard-copy quality is superb;
  • Automatic redraw. Need to track your vehicles in real-time on that big screen?
  • User definable hot-spots for symbols;
  • Much improved import/export of coordinates from databases;
  • Control over the output resolution of PNG and other image formats;
  • Batch orientation of points and text to nearby lines and polygon facets;
  • Change label capitalization. Ever wanted all your streets, etc labelled in Title Case instead of UPPER CASE?
  • Partial containment selects: you can now specify a percentage overlap across boundaries;
  • Improved support for Oracle Spatial;
  • You can now export labels with KML (Google Earth) files; and
  • A new selection hatch for optimal visibility of selected polygons;

Please log in to your user account to download the latest update: www.planetgis.co.za/login.php and let me know if you need any assistance.

Other news is that we are a sponsor at the FOSS4G conference in Cape Town at the end of September. The Free and Open Source Software for GIS conference incorporates GISSA 2008 and is the most important GIS event in Africa this year. We will have a spot at Open Spatial’s stand where attendees can try out PlanetGIS. If you’re interested in attending, please click here.

Map downloads from our website just passed the 50 gigabyte mark for September to date. I added a small file which improves the appearance of some layers, puts the provinces together (if you want) and integrates the contour maps (if you have them). Did you get what you needed?

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Updated South African data!

August 28th, 2008

During June this year we managed to obtain the latest cadastral data from the various Surveyors General offices as well as the latest topographic 1:50,000 vector maps from the Chief Directorate: Surveys & Mapping in Mowbray. It has been over a month’s work to compile these datasets into user-friendly PlanetGIS maps, and we’re still working on the cadastral maps. I have been placing the maps on our website as they were completed and for July and August to date there has been nearly 100 Gigabytes of downloads!

The maps are now broken down by province to make the file sizes a bit more manageable for downloading. For all provinces you will find the very latest of the following:

  • Topographic 1:50,000 vector maps
  • 20m contours (complete coverage)
  • 5m contours (partial coverage)

The new cadastral maps are ready for the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape as well as the Free State. We are currently working on KZN and Limpopo and the other provinces will follow soon. These maps now come with a search engine. Click on the “locate” button (the button with the binoculars) and select “Locate a land parcel”…

The new maps may all be downloaded from http://www.planetgis.co.za/browse.php?id=20.

Please let me know what you think of the maps. Your feedback is highly valued.

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