The Angry Corrie 23: May-Jul 1995
Hi-tech review: Landscape Explorer
The wee grey picture is a view of Kilimanjaro from the south: Kibo crater on the left, Mawenzi on the right. I knocked it together in under an hour, using Landscape Explorer and a bit-mapped chart of the mountain imported from an atlas program. Then, of course, I had to spend three hours fiddling around with Paintshop Pro to convert the very beautiful on-screen colour image into the rather poor grey-scale which you see before you. (Hey, you want nice pictures, go buy The Great Outdoors, OK?)
Some will recall that LE has graced these pages before (TAC18, p9), but Version 3 is sufficiently advanced to merit another mention. So here's one of those patronising Q&A sessions so beloved by computer journalists:
What does it do? It takes contour information and converts it to a three-dimensional landscape model, which you can then view from any direction. If you can scan a map, or get a map image from an atlas program, then LE will trace contours automatically for you. If you can't import the contours, you can draw them freehand yourself. Once you've made your three-dimensional landscape, you can add different terrains (forest, rock, sand, etc) in different colours.
What else? If you buy the LE Pro version, you can drape bit-mapped images over the generated landscape, and/or superimpose simple line drawings using LE Pro's drawing tools.
And? LE can import USGS and Ordnance Survey data files. LE Pro adds the options of handling Vistapro files and exporting to AutoCAD. Both versions let you generate simple fly-round animations.
Jings. Where can I get this? LE is shareware. Cybernauts can download it from CompuServe on the WINSHARE forum (Map/Travel/Vacation), or via the Internet from Simtel: look for land301.zip under win3/gis at oak.oakland.edu. If the last sentence is gibberish to you, then you are probably a grown-up person with a real life, and you should just write to WoolleySoft, Humblesknowe Cottage, Ramoyle, Dunblane FK15 0BA, or telephone 0786-825406. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I run it on my Sinclair Spectrum? Don't be daft; it runs under Windows 3.1. You'll need at least a 386 processor and 4MB RAM. 486DX and 8MB are strongly recommended for the Pro version.
How much will it set me back? From WoolleySoft, a fiver gets you an unregistered copy of LE, or a demo of LE Pro to play with. If you like it, then it's £40 to register LE and (gulp) £100 to buy LE Pro. (Registration brings you product support, the animation viewer program, new colour schemes and the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that you are not the sort of person who takes things without paying for them.)
So what s the verdict? It's a good program, it does what it says it's going to do, and the product support (mail/phone/e-mail) is terrific. Test drive a copy today.