Prof. Larry Poos, The Catholic University of America (Washington DC), has used R2V for Windows to digitize a large number of historical maps and created a GIS system for his history research. Following is a letter posted by Prof. Poos on the MapInfo mailing list, which explains why he selected R2V for Windows and how the software has helped his projects.

From owner-mapinfo-l@csn.org Sun Nov 20 15:21:21 1994
Subject: A follow-up to an earlier question
To: mapinfo-l@csn.org

Dear All,

A couple of months ago I sent a message to the list, appealing for
some help as an almost total MapInfo/machine-mapping novice. As
those who read it could tell I was really at square one in understanding
much of what was going on. I received a number of very helpful
replies, on- and off-list, and I think I've solved my problems
to my own present satisfactions. I am writing now partly to thank
all those who replied, and also to talk about the solution I
arrived at: I found the experience interesting in part as a good
example of problem-solving via lists, but there may be someone out
there who may want to reflect on the choice that I, as an amateur
in the GIS world, made. I'll also mention the particular software
that I used in conjunction with MapInfo so please, no flames, as I
am not affiliated with the vendor in any way and just want to relate
my experience.

I'm a historian and I wanted to analyze and display some fairly simple
demographic and economic data on maps with very old boundary displays.
I my case, specifically, England circa 1350-1550, with the old
county and pre-Reformation diocesan boundaries. (As it turns out,
a couple of graduate students in my department, working on 19th
century southern US states, became interested, and their maps and
databases became sort of my test cases for learning.) So, I needed
to create base maps with old boundaries; there are lots of these in
print in modern studies, so it wasn't a matter of having to trace
from old maps as such but to go from modern-printed maps of old
boundaries to vectorized files (though I since found some sources
for historical US census-year state maps with old county boundaries).
For England, I could find no such thing already available.

Thus: digitizing tablet or scan-and-trace? I had conflicting advice
from members of this list, pro and con both, and I had absolutely
no previous experience of either procedure. For my purposes --
the maps were fairly large-scale so fine detail was relatively low
priority and I don't have to worry much about registering extremely
precisely in earth coordinates -- and, I am talking about working
with a relatively small number of maps anyway -- it eventually
seemed to me that scanning and raster-to-vector conversion made more

I tried several packages and dealt with several different vendors,
several of whom kindly made trial traces of a .TIF file I sent
them. I finally settled on a package called R2V for Windows
(that's the only platform I work on). With my background it
is incredibly easy to work with, and produces vectors in .DXF
and .MIF format; the quality of the trace seems extremely high
and within a day of getting it up and running I had several of
the maps I needed working in MapInfo, with polygons and labeling
as I needed them. The vendor was unbelievably helpful, and
even produced -- within 24 hours and for free -- a slightly
customized version for my limited hardware.

I speak here, as I already emphasized, as someone very much out
of the hard-core of GIS: but for someone coming from my perspective
the combination of R2V and MapInfo fits my needs perfectly, and
I take my experience to be a model of how people like historians
may be able to make creative use of the new availability of
mapping software to do their work. I wonder whether anyone
else out there might be doing something similar? -- I'd be
interesting in hearing about it. Meanwhile, I'm very happy
with this choice, and many and sincere thanks once again to
everyone out there who helped.

Larry Poos, Ph.D.
Dept of History
Catholic University
Washington, DC