Field of Science

Replacement for topozone? Not quite.

Back in May of this year Dinochick announced the demise of topozone.com, which was purchased by trails.com and not only no longer free, but also vastly changed. For years I had been using topozone to plot paleontological localities onto 1:24000 scale maps to print and found it indispensable (it could also be used to quickly change between coordinate systems and datums). ReBecca suggested the GeoPDF toolbar offered by the USGS and an accompanying program Map2PDF. This program turns Adobe Acrobat into a geospatial tool. Although ReBecca states that this program did not allow for plotting of coordinates, I found that it did such work, in a variety of coordinate systems and datums. The problem? Map2PDF is only free for a trial period and then must be purchased. Unfortunately the website does not list a price and you must contact a sales representative for purchase. In my mind this raises the big red flag "if you have to ask how much it costs you probably cannot afford it". Like ReBecca I miss the free and very useful topozone.com.

Recently, however, I came across another site that allows free access to topographic maps. TopoQuest.com touts itself as the replacement for topozone.com and was created specifically to be such a replacement. Excitedly I set to work and quickly found that I could access USGS DGRs (Digital Raster Graphics) of a variety of topograhic maps by imputing place names or even coordinates. Just like topozone.com, right? Wrong. Unfortunately I have not found a way to get the program to plot coordinates and print maps, and the website provides no contact information to contact the developer. I also noticed to my dismay that I could not plot sites in Arizona (where I am) using UTMs (my desired coordinate system) because the pull down menu only allows for northern zones, not southern. Still, if you are looking for a free program that will provide and search for DGRs, this may be the place. While it is still not a complete "replacement for topozone.com", the developer does state that the site is still under construction. Therefore I am keeping my fingers crossed that the ability to plot specific coordinates and print the resulting map will be added, or maybe that I just missed that available application.

2 comments:

  1. Cool! Thanks for pointing it out. Hopefully it will soon cover the southern states.

    Glad to hear the GeoPDF toolbar lets you plot coordinates, I guess I just did not play with it enough. But I agree, if you have to ask how much something cost, its probably to much!

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  2. I heard from a tech from TerraGo and the free toolbar does indeed plot coordinates among other things and is free, so you do not need to purchase Map2PDF. Excellent! So you can use TopoQuest to find maps, download them for free at the USGS DGR site, and then use them with the GeoPDF toolbar. This still does not have the great printing option provided by topozone, but it is a start.

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