GeoPad Software

Depending on purpose and hardware constraints, it is useful to include a range of software packages on the GeoPad device. Software that make a typical installation are summarized below and organized by purpose:

Mapping Software

ArcGIS 9.x

ArcGis 9.x is a comprehensive GIS package composed of four modules: ArcMap for mapping, ArcCatalog for data browsing and file creation, ArcToolbox for data manipulation and modeling, and ArcScene for 3D viewing. Additional "extensions" for raster analysis (Spatial Analyst), 3D surface creation and analysis (3D Analyst), and other tasks (e.g. ArcHydro, Survey Analyst, Geostatistical Analyst, etc.) are available as add-ons for this software suite. ArcGIS software is available at 3 "licensing levels": ArcView, ArcEditor and ArcInfo. All contain the same 4 modules (listed below) but each licensing level allows increasingly greater editing and modeling capabilities and a wider array of tools in ArcToolbox. An ArcEditor or ArcInfo license is required to edit and create modern geologic map data (i.e. those stored within "geodatabase"); ArcEditor is sufficient for virtually all field mapping and data entry tasks. An ArcView license is sufficient for mapping and editing data in shapefile format but has limited capabilities for editing data that are stored in a geodatabase.

  • ArcMap - Map creation, editing, annotating, viewing and printing software.
  • ArcCatalog - Software for GIS data (and metadata) browsing, creation and conversion to other formats. Similar to Windows Explorer, but with GIS-specific utilities and functions. The functions available vary with licensing level.
  • ArcToolbox - A collection of tools for manipulating, converting, creating, analyzing and editing GIS data. Some overlap with basic functions in ArcCatalog, but with many unique utilities. The tools provided vary with licensing level.
  • ArcScene - A 3D viewer that has capabilities for fly-through, 3D rendering, animation creation, etc.

ArcPad 7.x

ArcPad 7.x is stripped down version of ArcMap designed for field data entry. Meant originally to run on hand-held GPS devices and PDAs, it runs equally well on field tablet computers. Although lacking the other components of ArcGIS, it has better and more versatile GPS capture capabilities for lines and polygons and is very simple to use. Field forms for data entry can be designed in a separate program, ArcPad Studio, or created automatically by exporting maps and data from ArcGIS to an ArcPad "project". Preparing data for use in ArcPad 7.x requires ArcGIS software.


GeoMapper provides the visual user-interface that allows a geologist to implement mapping using intuitive, self-explanatory buttons that are touched using a stylus (Brimhall et al, 2006)

Office Productivity Software

  • Microsoft Office - Word, Excel and Access used for common tasks
  • Microsoft OneNote - the preferred note taking program used by GeoPad enthusiasts
  • Windows Journal - a vintage predecessor to OneNote

Regional Reconnaissance Applications

  • Google Earth - Comprehensive high resolution image server used to preview field areas
  • USAPhotoMaps - GPS integrated tool useful for generating geographically referenced photo maps directly. The software can be downloaded from JSMcox Software
  • World Wind - A predecessor to Google Earth, NASA's World Wind "...lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D." World Wind contains Landsat imagery but lacks the higher resolution imagery from commercial satellite companies that are available through Google Earth.

Geographic Tools

  • GPS utilities - See the manufacturers website for updates, and basic GPS Utilities specific to your unit. If you have a USB GPS, it may not work directly with ArcGIS products. There are several solutions available, and they are not all the same. Franson GPSGate will work with most GPS receivers and integrate them with the existing ArcGIS GPS tool. MxGPS provides a simple communication link, but does not provide a live feed to ArcGIS. XPort will read GPS data from any serial port (standard 9-pin, Bluetooth, or USB) and forward that data to multiple internal COM ports. This works as an effective mechanism for connecting a USB or Bluetooth GPS to ArcGIS, with the added advantage that the GPS can be used simultaneously with multiple GPS-based programs. For example, one could run DeLorme Topo, ArcGIS and ArcPad all with live GPS positioning from a single GPS receiver with XPort.
  • Delorme Topo USA - At the time of this posting, the lastest version considered is v.5. For those of you familiar with the Delorme atlas series, this is a product that will be familiar to you. With coverage over most of USA, you can generally purchase map coverage in regional sets (e.g., Southwest USA). These maps are complete with the Delorme topo base and geographic information. Not necessarily useful for mapping but helpful during recon work.
  • AllTopo Pro - Manufacutered by iGage Mapping, this software product offers statewide data sets based on the USGS online resources. It is not integrated with ArcGIS, but it is a great way to build and maintain digital, USGS topographic sheets. You can use it to build georeferenced big topo sheets that should be uploadable into ESRI products.

Visualization Aides

  • Pokescope - this feature allows the user to view full-screen, full-color 3D images on a computer, view large print stereographs, view 4"x6" stereo prints without cutting and mounting, and browse traditional stereo cards.

Photo Panorama Generation

  • Auto-stitch - a superb, automatic image stitcher for creating 1D and 2D panoramas. Developed at the University of British Columbia, it is very simple to use. A free, fully functional Windows demonstration version is available.
  • Photoshop Elements - free digital photo editor for PCs

Geologic Interpretation

  • Stereonet software - Allmendinger's Stereonet is a popular choice that is free to the academic community
  • 2D Move - produced by Midland Valley Inc., is a program that is great for rapid construction of 2D deformation models

Resources about GeoPad Software