ArcGIS vs. MapInfo

ArcGISvs. MapInfo

ArcGISvs. MapInfo

GeographicInformation Systems (GIS) are exceptionally useful information andgeographic tools with a wide range of applications for executingdigital mapping (Paul,2012).The market has numerous software packages that deal with geographicinformation systems. The various software vary in usability, price,and compatibility. ArcGIS and MapInfo are the most commonly usedsoftware by professionals, organizations, and governments in GISassignments (Paul,2012).Both MapInfo and ArcGIS are effective in analysis and cartographypurposes. However, the main difference between the two programs istheir layout and design.

Esriis the proprietor of ArcGIS, first brought to the market in 1999. Thecompany has continued to develop this software with ArcMap serving asthe central point of the application (GISGeography, 2011).Esri’s homepage highlights the distinctive features of theapplication. Pitney Bowes, on the other hand, is the proprietor ofMapInfo. This serves as desktop-usable software. The applicationfirst came into existence in 1986 as a mapping tool after beingdeveloped by students (GISGeography, 2011).MapInfo 12.0 is the latest version of the software.

ArcGISvs. MapInfo

Thefirst notable difference is evident in re-positioning or re-drawingmap regions. For example, when creating geographic maps, a user maywant to reposition zip codes, planning zones as well as townboundaries. ArcGIS does not have an “UnDo”command, therefore making it difficult for users to reposition mapregions. Users need to be careful in setting initial positionsbecause of the irreversibility. ArcGIS has also reduced functionalityin editing data stored in Arc/Info format. However, the applicationcan edit data stored in “shapefile” data format (Goecomm,2016).

Theother problem with ArcGIS is that it cannot add vertices (points) toreshape the existing regions. Although ArcGIS can display regionsdefined by more than 5000 points, it cannot import them (Goecomm,2016).MapInfo, on the other hand, has impressive editing features andcapabilities. This, therefore, allows users to reposition regionswhenever they find new information, unlike ArcGIS. Moreover, theapplication gives users the ability to edit regions that are definedby a maximum of 32000 points (Goecomm,2016).MapInfo comes with an “UnDo”command, therefore boosting the editing capabilities of theapplication.

Anotherdifference is evident in the functions of trimming, combining andsplitting map regions. GIS only allows users to map regions that areadjacent to each other using the shapefile format. When using ArcGIS,users experience challenges in trimming or splitting regions sincethe application does not allow a polygon outlay (Paul,2012).MapInfo on the other hand, allows users to combine as well as splitregions. These features allow users to erase areas that may overlapbetween regions therefore it is possible to fit adjacent regions(GISGeography, 2011).This feature improves the decency of the resulting maps because ofthe increased editing functionality.

Thethird difference manifests in proximity and adjacency. With ArcGIS,users can select regions within a buffer. However, the user cannotcreate a buffer zone to continue using in the future analysis(Goecomm,2016).Therefore, it is quite hectic to build new map layers by combiningexisting old layers. However, ArcGIS performs well in implementing“near” functions (Paul,2012).MapInfo on the other hand automatically builds buffer objects,controlled by data values. However, the proximity function is quitecomplex compared to ArcGIS

Moreover,these two programs differ concerning screen digitization functionssuch as updating maps using aerial photographs. ArcGIS programs canexhibit images of photographs in the form of raster data as abackdrop. The significant limitation associated with this capabilityis the fact that there is nothing can be done to intersect screenredraws. Thus, the program runs slower. On the other hand, MapInfoprogram can also display images of photographs as images (GISGeography, 2011).However, these programs allow intersection of screen redraws, whichenhance the functionality of the system regarding speed.

Ona different note, these two programs exhibit significant differencesregarding the ease with which users maintain files containing data,track the lineage of data, and the overall administration of thesystem. The ArcGIS program makes it easy for users to maintain datain the form of a shapefile map (Paul,2012).However, it does not allow the movement of data in the format ofBinary Arc between directories or stored in the same sub-locationswithout risking the loss of data links. This program operates underWindows programs implying that it is compatible with other Windowssystems (GISGeography, 2011).However, it provides a limited method for tracking metadata forlineage purposes. On the contrary, MapInfo data can be moved betweenstorage locations and be stored within the same directories withoutany risk of data loss. (Goecomm,2016). Itallows limited metadata tracking and operates under Windows programsjust like ArcGIS.

Regardingcolor-coding and symbolization, ArcGIS has a wide variety ofalternatives such as ranged fills and dot density fills among others(Paul,2012).It also supports transparent crosshatching and key legend features.On the other hand, MapInfo has more thematic alternatives compared toArcGIS. Besides, it supports a range of categorization methods andtransparent fill designs (Goecomm,2016).


Bothprograms have weaknesses and strengths. However, MapInfo has featuresthat are more basic and can comfortably handle small data sets. Itsstrength lies in its simple nature because it utilizes a lesssophisticated model that supports shorter load cycles, henceeliminating the possibility of system crashes. Another strengthentails the ability of the user to alter data by simply addingsegments to existing sets without necessarily having to create a newfile. On the contrary, ArcGIS is more sophisticated thus,necessitates greater system requirements that expose it to occasionalcrashes due to the large volumes of data involved. This program hasmodernized features with a better graphic interface, which make itmore appealing to use. It is best suited for analytical purposesbecause of its large data capacity, which translates to greateraccuracy.

Inconclusion, MapInfo is best suited for the creation and editing ofmaps, while ArcGIS is best suited for analysis. ArcGIS acts as theindustry standard today in most parts of the world, but it ischallenging to learn because of its complex nature. It is alsoestimated to be ten times more expensive compared to MapInfo.Therefore, would buy the ArcGIS program for the agency because it isbest suited for analytical purposes because of its large datacapacity, which translates to greater accuracy.


GISGeography. (2011). SpatialNews, the leading GIS, LBS, and Geospatialtechnology news resource. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from

Goecomm.(2016). 27 Differences Between ArcGIS and QGIS – The Most Epic GISSoftware Battle in GIS History – GIS Geography. Retrieved October 01,2016, from

Paul,B. (2012). GIS Software Comparison. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from