NOAA's goal: making maps more manageable

NOAA's goal: making maps more manageable

Along with management, maintenance and tracking, Cadmandu software adds layer

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Chart Division will manage files from its remote offices via the Internet this month when it completes an upgrade to a more powerful database.


NOAA uses the Cadmandu file management system to keep track of changes to map files and give multiple users access to a map simultaneously.


The move to Microsoft SQL Server Version 7.0 will also give the agency the power to manage and protect more than 1,000 graphical map chart files as they are updated daily and weekly, said Marc Higgins, a computer specialist at the division's Office of Coast Survey.

The Marine Chart Division maintains nautical charts for the nation's coastlines. It updates one set of maps continually and another set periodically, said Alexandra Heliotis, deputy chief of the division.

To maintain the charts, division staff members rely on a file management system that lets multiple users access a map simultaneously, keeps track of all updates and prevents users from accessing documents without using the software, Heliotis said.

Work aide

Given the division's volume of work, Cadmandu Version 6.0 from AutoMate Corp. of Allison Park, Pa., combined with SQL Server 7, helps the staff work effectively, Heliotis said.

The division will also upgrade the software with a function that prevents an unauthorized user from bypassing the system's security.

SQL Server 7, upgraded from Microsoft Access, resides on a Hewlett-Packard Co. NetServer LX Pro with four 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors, Higgins said. The 60G hard drives have 512M of RAM, he said.

The agency's servers and client systems run Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Higgins said.

Cadmandu was customized to fit the division's needs for a dual-management system, Heliotis said.

'The configuration of the management of the files has been more of an issue of cost avoidance,' Heliotis said. 'We still have to do the update on the files, so I don't know that it has saved us any time, but it helps us avoid costs by managing the files properly.'

In a train-the-trainer setup, AutoMate officials taught some users the software, and they in turn trained other Marine Chart Division users.

The agency chose Automate's software because it was less expensive and more user-friendly than other file management systems, Heliotis said.

The division had big file management requirements.

Staff members must assign version designations to the charts, make sure all the changes are made within the program and ensure that all the correct files are archived with each chart, Heliotis said.

Cadmandu has Access written into its program, Paul Stayert, AutoMate's director of marketing said. Access allows Cadmandu to create internal files.

AutoMate representatives recommend that system administrators own a copy of Access or SQL Server 7 for troubleshooting and making changes to the database that Cadmandu builds and uses for file information, Stayert said.

But an Access database can become overloaded when handling thousands of files or hundreds of users, causing rough operation, Stayert said.

The Cadmandu Secure Server function, which the division is adding, provides a safety net as it saves files and prevents users from accessing files when the files are not in the Cadmandu format, Stayert said.

Many security applications save files in an encrypted or encoded format, he said. If the system crashes and the management software saves the document to the encrypted format, the file becomes useless.

Cadmandu saves files in their original format, yet shields the documents from access unless a user is logged in, Stayert said.

The log-in gives users temporary network administrator access to select the files, he said. Those not logged in are restricted from accessing files, he said.

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