The SVG Exporter and Morpher

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The SVG Exporter is a multi-purpose tool designed to help you draw and maintain finished digital cave maps. To do this the program performs several function:


1. Export SVG Files. The program is designed to take Compass Plot files and export them to Scalable Vector Graphic files (SVG). SVG is a standard file format for drawing and graphics programs. It can be read by many drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, and Inkscape. SVG has several advantages over other export formats in that the drawings can be manipulated by an external program to update the map when changes occur in the underlying data. This makes SVG is particularly useful for generating finished, salon quality cave maps. Click here for more information on the Export Process.


2. Inkscape Support. The program is designed specifically to work with Inkscape a freeware drawing program similar to Adobe Illustrator. While Illustrator is an excellent drawing program for cave maps, it is expensive and beyond the reach of many caver's budgets. Even with upgrade discounts, keeping up with the latest version of Illustrator can be very expensive.Since Inkscape is free, there is no barrier to cavers always have the latest version. Since Inkscape is "Open Source" it is possible for cavers to add special features designed specifically for cave mapping. The "Sketch Map Editor" help files have detailed information on using Inkscape for cave maps. There is also a detailed tutorial on drawing cave maps with Inkscape in the Sketch Map Editor help files.


3. Merge/Adjust/Morph (Round Tripping). The most powerful feature of the program is its ability to Merge, Adjust and Morph existing SVG files. This is similar to a concept developed by David McKenzie in his Walls program called Round Tripping.


Merging. Merging is the process of adding new survey data to an existing map. In the past, when new parts of a cave  were surveyed, you needed to redraw the whole map. With the merging process, new data can be added to an existing, finished map at any time. For example you could survey part of a cave one year and then produce a finished map. Then a year later, after you had surveyed the rest of the cave, you would merge the new data into the existing map and then you'd only have to trace new passages outlines to bring the map up to date.


Morphing. Is the process of adjusting all the drawing elements in the map to match changes in the new survey data. This  allows you to completely redo your map without losing any of your work and without the need for tedious manual repositioning.


There are two aspects to this:


a. Reformatting. Sometimes it is necessary make the map bigger or smaller, or reposition the cave on the paper. It might even be necessary to rotate the cave so it is in a better position on the map. Doing this manually, even with a digital map can be very time consuming and tedious. The Morphing a map in the SVG Exporter allows you to completely reconfigure the map without making manual adjustments. The process applies to all the hand-draw passage outlines, floor features and symbols in the map. The program perfectly adjusts all the hand-drawn elements in your map so only the most minor touch-ups are necessary. You can change scale, position, rotation and even paper size without losing any of your work.


b. Warping. If you fix errors in the survey data or add new loops, the locations of stations and shots can move away from their original positions. These changes are not just simple shifts in position were everything moves the same amount. These are drastic changes where the angle between passages and the length of passages changes. If this happens, not only will things need to be moved, they may need to be stretched or compressed in different parts in different ways. If this happens, the positions, shapes and sizes of your hand-drawn passage walls, floor features and symbols may be all wrong.


To solve this problem, the program warps the passage walls and other features to match the new position of the survey shots and stations. In computer jargon, this process is called "Morphing" and it smoothly warps that passage walls and floor details so the cave now match the new position of the survey shots. It is as though the cave map was place on a rubber sheet, that was stretched to match the new passage positions. This can save an enormous amount of work, hand repositioning and re-drawing passages.


Click here for detailed information about the Merge/Morphing process.


4. Repairing, Converting and Adopting. The program also has special tools that allow you to convert maps that were created in Illustrator or other drawing programs and use them in Inkscape. The program also has tools that will add the necessary layers to an existing map if they are missing. This allows you to update a map generated in Walls for use with the Compass converters. Likewise you can repair a damaged map by replacing lost layers that might have been accidentally removed. Finally, you can  take a map that was not generated by any survey program such as Compass or Walls and adopt it into the Compass system, essentially converting it into a fully update-able digital map.


Click here for detailed information about Converting and Adopting maps.


Click here for details on Repairing Maps