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How to Work with Maps in Complex MPK Format

Every once in a while a new type of file type appears that presents challenges when trying to use CAT Tools. It is common to work with MS Word, PDF, and even InDesign files using these tools. But sometimes a new kind of file encourages the implementation of new tricks and the use of new tools and software to be able to meet clients’ demands.

Here is where we revisit the importance of having a good IT and DTP supplemental team who is able to assist when these new challenges arise. This is the case for files with the .mpk extension, which will be called “MPK files” from now on.

First, a special program needs to be installed; namely, ArcMap, which is the main component of Esri’s ArcGIS suite. Once the file is open, it needs to be exported as a PDF. Once the PDF file is ready, it is basically treated as any other PDF file and converted or saved into an MS Word file, which allows for the file to be uploaded into the translation environment. It is important to be careful though, because as happens with a lot of PDF files, not all the text in the file becomes “editable.” Unfortunately, street names, locations and other data can be shown as part of the map image, which will not be extracted to upload as a single file. Here’s when DTP has to join in as they normally do when dealing with an image with embedded text. It is only then that the translation and editing process can begin as normal.

Being able to convert the initial file into PDF is a task that an expert team of IT personnel is capable of doing, but the true challenge is trying to convert the file back into an MPK. There seems to be no easier way than the laborious process of copying and pasting the text from the completed MS Word file and replacing the text in the MPK file (using Arc Map), and again, IT can help with that. Be aware that this process goes off without a hitch only when working with Western characters. If you are working with Asian characters, however, there a few more steps that need to be followed. But we’ll talk about that in a later post.