Planet Geographic Information Systems
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Q:“How can I display layers from multiple maps or combine maps?
A:“The easiest way to combine layers from different maps is to first open all the maps from which you require elements. You can switch between them with the Window menu (or double-clicking on the map name in Design Mode). Select the map that you would like to be your "master map" - the one you can open and have the others open automatically next time - and switch to it. Now you can click inside the Displays tab on the right and select layers from the other (external) maps. The master map will now be dependent on the external maps, so keep them together or in a directory sub-tree on the same drive to avoid problems later on.
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Q:“How do I display MrSID (.sid), ECW or (Geo)TIFF files in PlanetGIS?
A:“Raster images need to be "registered" for display in PlanetGIS by capturing them using the Edit->Capture menu. Then, if necessary, create a new feature class of type "raster image" and select it. You will then be able to select images with the following extensions: .sid, .ecw, .tif/.tiff, .jpg/.jpeg, .bmp. Please note that you can select multiple images at the same time.

You then have some options for placing the image(s). .Sids and .ecw already have the location information embedded, so just stick with the defaults. Tiffs may have, Planet will see it and select the appropriate option. For other formats, you may have "world files" (.tfw, .jgw, .bpw, etc) which Planet will also recognize as long as they are in the same folder as the image files and have exactly the same name, apart from the extension. If you don't have world files you'll have to manually place the images on the map or type in the coordinates of two corners.
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Q:“I don't have a "Microsoft XPS document writer" printer?
A:“The Microsoft Document Writer comes pre-installed with Windows Vista/7/8/+. For earlier versions of Windows you can download and install it from here.

If your XPS Document Writer has been deleted, it can be reinstalled by following the steps below:

1. Click Start and select Devices and Printers.
2. Click Add Printer.
3. Choose Add a Local Printer.
4. Select Use an Existing Port.
5. Select XPS Port and click Next.
6. In the manufacturer list, choose Microsoft.
7. On the right side, choose the latest version of the XPS document writer and click Next.
8. Choose the driver currently installed, click next, and click finish.

Note: If the XPS Port is not available, perform the following steps:

1. Click Add a Printer.
2. Choose Add a Local Printer.
3. Select Create a New Port.
4. Select Local Port, then click Next.
5. In the Enter a Port Name field, type in XPS Port, then click OK.
6. In the Manufacturer list, choose Microsoft.
7. On the right side, choose the latest version of the XPS Document Writer, then click Next.
8. Select Use the Driver that is Currently Installed and click Next.
9. Printer name should be Microsoft XPS Document Writer, then click Next.
10. Select the option Do Not Share Printer, then click Next.
11. (Optionally) uncheck the box for Set As Default Printer, then click Finish.
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Q:“Printing transparent fills to PDF doesn't work
A:“This is a long-time issue, with a "won't fix" status for now. PDFs don't handle transparency. Yet, all physical printers can simulate it with a dither pattern. When creating a bitmap in memory or on screen, colours can be blended together when an overlaying surface has transparency (or "alpha channel"), but when sending a drawing to a printer, it can be like painting on top of a painting. (It cannot be assumed that the printer has enough memory to create an entire high-resolution bitmap before starting to print).

In our opinion, PDF should be able to handle dither patterns, as it is simple and Windows has been using that method since 3.0, if not earlier. And especially since most PDFs are created by a printer driver.

Microsoft has an alternative to PDF, called XPS (XML Paper Specification). It is installed by default as a printer ("Microsoft XPS document writer") since Windows Vista. In our experience it works much better than PDF. All recent versions of Windows include a viewer for XPS files that will print them out if required.

Finally, as a workaround, an XPS can be printed to PDF which produces a PDF that displays and prints correctly. The reason why this works is not known to us, and we are not sure if it will work in all cases, especially on large formats like A1.
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Q:“Can I use PlanetGIS to make maps for my GPS?
A:“Yes, but you cannot upload maps to your GPS. Since most GPSes use a closed format for their maps you need to use the software that is provided with your GPS or purchase such software (e.g. MapSource). If that software can read GIS files, like shape files, you can create such files with PlanetGIS.

PlanetGIS can upload and download tracks and waypoints from most Garmin GPSes and can track the current location of any GPS that provides text or NMEA output through a serial or USB port.
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Q:“My link to Google Earth stopped working!
A:“This normally happens if the association between .KML files and Google Earth is broken by some program that was recently installed. You can test this by double-clicking on a .KML file in Windows Explorer. Planet creates .KML files in your Temp folder and then asks Windows to launch the appropriate application for it. (To easily find your temp folder, type %TEMP% in the address bar of your Windows Explorer).

The association can be restored by right-clicking on a .KML file and selecting "Open with..."

Re-installing Google Earth should also fix the problem.
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Q:“How do I display a part of my map - a property boundary for example - on Google Earth?
A:“The quickest is to select one of more features and then select View->In Google Earth->Selected features. Be sure to have Google Earth installed!

For more options to interact with Google Earth, please see
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If your question remains unanswered, please feel free to contact Paul at