Mapping is the visual representation of data, and one of the best ways to link information to a place. Maps may show what everyone expects, or they may reveal patterns and trends in data that are impossible to see any other way. Traditionally, cartographers, geographers, surveyors, planners, and other professionals have created maps, and the process was slow and meticulous. It could literally take months, or even years, to produce high-quality paper maps. Today, GIS programs have made it easier than ever to quickly and affordably generate maps for virtually any project. ESRI's ArcGIS, for example, is an integrated collection of products for building a complete GIS. It provides a large array of symbols and cartographic capabilities for creating high-quality maps. To print a hardcopy of your map, there is ArcPress for ArcGIS, a print rasterizer for fast and high-quality printing and exporting. ArcPress processes a map on your computer and then transforms the map into the native language format of whatever printer you're using. This process reduces printing time and eliminates the need for extra memory or processors within the printer. ArcPress integrates with ArcGIS so printing is as simple as selecting an icon. Anybody who uses ArcGIS can benefit from ArcPress, especially if you produce large-format maps that contain high-resolution images or detailed vector data. As you rasterize an image, you can continue to work on other tasks, paper is automatically rotated to suit your image, and resolution is adjusted to best fit the selected printer or plotter. Bentley's GeoGraphics is an extension that adds database and geospatial functionality to the CAD features of MicroStation. This integration of capabilities provides a wider range of tools for creating effective maps than do many pure GIS programs. Bentley PowerMap is a comprehensive, stand-alone, and self-contained production mapping solution with a rich set of map creation and cleanup tools. It supports the viewing of 2D and 3D data at the same time, and is particularly effective when working with 3D data. You can plot both vector and raster data. For GIS users, PowerMap functionality is also available through the GeoGraphics extension. HyperXpress, for example, is a high-performance printing and plotting software program that uses a RIP (raster image processor) to print large files. The RIP software dramatically decreases the time it takes to print the large, complex images that result from most GIS projects. HyperXpress handles files that exceed 5GB in size and processes hybrid files that contain raster and vector data. This tool can dramatically minimize printing problems—especially those that always seem to occur when you have a big deadline looming. Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a different AutoCAD feature in every edition of her popular 'Circles and Lines' tutorial series. For even more AutoCAD how-to, check out Lynn's quick tips in the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Cadalyst's free Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst! Follow Lynn on Twitter Source.