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

Archive for May, 2008

Introducing the DiscoveryDisc!

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

30 Days, sixty Gigabytes downloaded, 33000 hits on our website and over 800 new people on the mailing list later, I am a little surprised by the current need for data. South African GIS data. Just over 30 days ago, I uploaded half a gigabyte of highly compressed maps to and many people have since downloaded all of them. Now, if you did and you are on 3G - like me - this would have cost you R200 (40c/MB) and taken at least 5 hours to download. (Hopefully you have uncapped ADSL!). Then to uncompress the files, first un7zip and then also uncompress and index in Planet, add at least 2 more hours. So, unless you were blessed with really fast internet and everything went exactly right the first time, you have (or rather your computer has) spent a whole working day to get the maps installed. Furthermore, if you did all of the above - and liked what you saw - you probably emailed me to ask about contour data, satellite images and/or aerial photography!

Now… someone once told me: “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck loaded full of DVDs”, so I’ve enlisted the help of a company that can produce and dispatch large quantities of DVDs, on demand, within a 24 hour lead time. Then, I created the PlanetGIS DiscoveryDisc.

This is a single DVD containing all our essential maps which you can run straight from the DVD (you don’t even have to install Planet). On the DiscoveryDisc you will find:

  • Landsat7 satellite images for the whole of South Africa (15m resolution).
  • Administrative Boundaries (provinces, district and local municipalities as obtained from the Municipal Demarcation Board).
  • Main roads of SA (national, regional, secondary and arterial routes with route numbers)
  • Place names from the SA Geographic Name Server: over 58000 place names.

That is as much as we could squeeze on one standard DVD without compression, but if you need more, read on. Here is a snapshot of the Oudtshoorn/George area as viewed from the DiscoveryDisc: (you may have to tell your email reader to display images)

As you can see, you can create stunning maps with the Landsat7 images as a backdrop. Here is another, zoomed in over the Central Karoo, which shows the place names for even the remotest of places, holes, koppies, etc.:

You can order the DiscoveryDisc from our website for R49 + postage & tax. This barely covers our direct costs, but I hope that it will eventually end up on thousands of computers. This DVD contains valuable information worth many times more. Please order the DiscoveryDisc here: You can use these maps in your projects, make as many copies as you like and give/sell it to whomever you like.

OK, Paul, this is very nice… but I need more!

For the more data-hungry, I have created more options: instead of the DiscoveryDisc you can order the PlanetGIS DataDiscs or DataDiscs+. The DataDiscs are two DVDs containing 17.5GB of compressed data that you need to extract to your hard drive. We have created an installer that makes it really easy. On the DataDiscs you will find:

  • Everything on the DiscoveryDisc, plus:
  • Topographic 1:50 000 (vector) maps for the whole of SA;
  • Cadastral data (original farms, farm portions, erven and street names) for the whole of SA;
  • Statistics SA’s main and subplaces (similar to suburbs with well known names, used for collecting and aggregating census data);
  • 20m contours for the whole of SA.

On the DataDiscs+ you will get all of the above, plus an extra DVD containing all the 5m contours that are available for South Africa and the 2001 census data.

Finally, you might be interested in the PlanetGIS DataSpindle (all the above, plus the scanned 1:50000 and 1:250000 topographic map sheets in a single map… really cool!) and PlanetGIS DataDrive! (adding over 600GB of orthophotography). More about these in a future announcement.

You will find a description of all our data products here:

To order, please log in on

PlanetGIS 3.0.1 released

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

I am happy to announce that version 3.0.1 of all editions of PlanetGIS is now available for download. This update fixes a number of bugs, introduces dozens of minor improvements and 2 new features:

  • Dual coordinate systems. You can now have your maps in geographic projection (lat/long) but do measurements and view coordinates in a projected coordinate system. The most appropriate projection parameters are automatically chosen for the target area; and
  • Batch printing. Specify a selection or a whole feature class to use for determining the position of pages. There are various options for selecting appropriate scales for printing and you can also create images (BMP/JPEG/PNG) instead of printing. This can save you days!

Please log in to your user account to download the latest update: and let me know if you need anything.

Many thanks to TGIS for funding a large part of the above developments.