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Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS: A Workbook Approach to Learning GIS, 3rd Edition by Michael D. Kennedy

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Documenting Products

Developers of GIS products sometimes become so caught up in the task of providing primary products to decision makers that they neglect a second but vital component of the operation: providing explanatory, documenting, and context-setting information. When the information relates to data sets, we call it, as you know, metadata. Products need equivalent attention. Some of the information about products can be obtained from the metadata; some cannot. A partial list of defining information for a report, document, or map might include the following:

  • A title
  • A descriptive paragraph on the content of the document and how it is to be used
  • The geographic area covered
  • The date the information was produced
  • Identifiers that allow the user to determine the defining information about the data that support the information in the report—references to the metadata, perhaps
  • Statements about the precision of the information in the report
  • Estimates of the accuracy of the information in the report
  • The variables that went into the production of the report
  • A name, phone number, e-mail and postal address of a person (or agency) to contact for information about the report
  • All of the parameters that were supplied by the user in the production of the report
  • Any warnings to users
  • Identification of agencies and individuals responsible for the report

Not all of this information needs to appear in the same format in the same place. Some of it may be generated by the computer and appear ...

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