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Review: XMap Business by DeLorme


Reviewed by: Ken Herbig

System Requirements:
PC with Intel Pentium 120 MHz or Higher
130 MB minimum HD space
MS Windows 95/98 or Windows NT or later
MS Windows compatible Super VGA card (800X600 min. resolution)
16 bit color monitor & mouse
CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive
Printer with 1.5 MB printer memory for 300dpi laser printing, 6 MB for 600 dpi (color recommended)
MS Internet Explorer 4.0 or later, or Netscape Communicator 4.0 or later (recommended)

XMap Business is fairly simple to use, but does have great tutorials included in it. As most of us do, I installed the program which, by the way, was flawless, and I started using the program without looking at the documentation. I have been using other DeLorme programs for many years, so it was fairly simple to maneuver within the menus, as they have kept with their general format. The DeLorme programs that I have used in the past are Street Atlas USA & Phone Search. It seems that XMap has brought these two programs together and then added many more features. It even gives you the ability to search for zip codes and area codes. Many times you will receive an area code or a zip code in a message and you have no idea where they are located. All you need to do is to search for either one and it will have the answer for you.

XMap comes as an eight CD set. One is the installation disk and the other seven are data disks for different regions of the country. To run the program, just insert the area CD that you would like to work with and double click the program icon located on your desktop. If you keep your CD search feature on, it will start automatically by inserting the CD.

The program can be used the same as Street Atlas USA to find an address and to print out directions to your destination. It has the ability to search by Place Name, Street Address, Phonebook Listing, Zip Code, Phone Number and even a few more. You can even do a search to find a street intersection (e.g. S. Middletown Rd & Route 59, Nanuet, NY). The basic functions are very similar, you use your mouse for centering and zooming in on an area. They even gave you the ability to magnify the print on your map, for those of us who feel that the print is always too small.

When I accepted the offer to do a review on XMap, I had one thing in mind that I wanted to do. I wanted to do a mailing to specific areas in Rockland County. I did a search by Zip Code and then chose the streets that I wanted to target in my mailing. I then exported this information into a text file. I was then able to import the information into my word processor, MS Word 97, and do a mail merge to a form letter and print the envelopes for the mailing. I found that this entire process was much easier than I had anticipated.
BTW: I did watch the tutorials before attempting this project.

If you have a database with all your customers or clients, you can import it and use it to make up your route. What a time saver this is. You can even pick a location and get a list of everyone within a radius that you designate.

For anyone who has ever needed to makeup a sales or delivery route, this is the software for you!
All you do is click on the "Navigate" tab. Click on the "New" button and enter a name for your route. Click on the "Start" button and mouse click on the location that you would like to start. You can then add your stops by clicking on the "Stop" button and choosing from a vast choice of search criteria. Place Name, Street Address, Phonebook Listing, Zip Code, etc. I like to use the address search if I don't know where I am going. You just repeat the stop choice for all your customers or clients. Then you click on the "Finish" button and choose where you want to finish. You then click on the "Calculate" button. XMap calculates the shortest route and lets you print out the results. You can print an overhead map with all the stops shown, or you can print a route map that has the directions, street by street, at the bottom. The directions include the beginning and ending points for you route; the distance and travel time between each of your stops; and the directions between each stop, even exit numbers if there are any.

The program also has the ability to add personal notes and labels to your route map using the "Draw" function. This helps if you need to make a note of specific instructions or just the name of your contact.
I find that a little reminder of the names of the employees is very helpful. People are always impressed when you remember their name.

Another very useful search feature is the ability to search for a specific type of business along your route. You can use "Yellow Page" type listings to make a list. You can also limit the search to within a specified distance off your route. If you want to know if there are any restaurants that are no further than ½ mile off your route, it will give you a list. You can even narrow it down by what type of food. (American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, etc.)

If you have an internet connection you can make use of another feature, NetLink. This allows you to get up to date information about your route. You can check the weather, road construction and events that are planned along your route. This is a great feature for those who are on a schedule. If there is road construction in progress, you can choose another route to bypass it or if there is bad weather in the forecast you can leave a little earlier.

The program can be used with a GPS (Global Positioning Device). This device, when hooked up to your laptop computer, can let you know where you are at all times. It even has the option of voice navigation. Press your F5 key and it will tell you the time and distance to your next turn. DeLorme has its own GPS receiver called Earthmate. I do not have a laptop computer, so I was not able to really get to see the full ability of this system in action. I did hook it up to my home computer and was able to get the exact location. (Latitude N41 21.1512 / Longitude W74 20.8914 Elevation 510.60') All I needed to do was put in 4 AAA batteries and connect it to my COM port and the program did the rest.

If you have ever used any type of mapping programs, this one is up near the top. I was truly impressed by everything that it could do. I tried to use as many of the functions as I could to be able to give you a fair review of the program.

I would highly recommend XMap Business to anyone who is in outside sales or who works for a company that is in the delivery business. Also, there are many benefits for businesses that are involved in bulk mailing and phone solicitation.
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