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GIS For Dummies® by Michael N. DeMers

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Chapter 6

Keeping Track of Data Descriptions

In This Chapter

Understanding how simple graphics programs store descriptions

Working with database management systems

Using object-oriented systems to provide more geographic reality

No matter what type of geographic setting or scales of geographic data you use in GIS, you need to link the graphics with meaningful descriptive data. When you perform geographic analysis, you search, manipulate, compare, and analyze this data. Every GIS software package must manage descriptive data and link them to their respective objects on the map. Without this capability, your GIS is nothing more than a digital picture, and you may as well work with a paper map.

You can find many programs that contain both graphic elements and descriptions, such as graphics drawing packages, complex drafting and design programs, facilities management packages, and computer-assisted mapping programs. These programs aren’t, technically, geographic information systems, but they may possess some of the functionality of GIS and definitely link data descriptions with graphics in a similar way. Getting a feel for how these simpler systems handle data-to-graphics linking can help you understand how more complex GIS do the same thing. Consequently, this understanding can help you select the software that meets your needs.

In this chapter, I describe how simple software systems store descriptive data and link them with the appropriate graphics. I tell you what these various ...

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