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I have a desktop application for a client that needs to map a main subject location and around 5 "comparable" locations, within a range of 1-2 miles (often even less), from an aerial view, and zoom in as much as possible given the range of the locations. We have an interface to supply the locations, and are looking for software to simply generate and print the map. No GUI needed, no fancy bells and whistles.

Can anyone recommend software to accomplish this?

I've looked at similar questions in many different forums, but the software recommended in the answers are usually overkill to the job I need to get done.

We've tried ArcGIS but it can't zoom as close as we'd like for aerial images, and doesn't print all areas correctly.

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As others have said in comments, apparent detail when Zooming In has little or nothing to do with the software and everything to do with the data.

Once you have the right data for your described purpose you can use just about anything to cut it up and print it. For imagery it doesn't even have to be "GIS" software, so long as it's an a standard format like GeoTiff or Jpeg2000. I've used Photoshop, Xnview, ImageMagick, Gimp, and other graphics programs to make quick and dirty raster maps when I didn't have my fully stocked GIS workstation at hand.

We use Arcgis, and other software such as QGIS, with sub-meter pixel accuracy imagery and have no problems resolving cars, sidewalks, decks & porches, and what have you. The screendump below is from Quickbird image with 25cm pixels viewed in ArcMap at 1:2,000 scale. The grey box is 50m to a side (~165ft), visible just underneath the scale box is a set of powerlines crossing the river (you'll need to click through to see the image at as-captured scale).25cm quickbird image with 50mx50m scale box

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sounds like you have an application that would be ideally suited to a web mapping application. Google as mentioned above or esri solutions would work and allow a lot of customization. If you want to stay strictly desktop oriented rather than relying on a browser/internet I would check out ArcGIS Explorer Desktop which you can use for the mapping component and write code for in vb.net (though i have never personally used this). Heres the product page, and its free: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/explorer/common-questions.html

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You can create maps from command line using QGIS. (But you have to prepare the project file first.)

C:\...>qgis --project myproject.qgs --snapshot image.png
       --width 1500 --height 1000 --extent xmin,ymin,xmax,ymax

There is a more detailed description on my blog.

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If the poster is asking for simple mapping software that allows the plotting (geocoding) of locations (so, accurate geocoding has to be part of the package), plus the ability to accurately determine location/context (maybe not necessarily from an aerial image(s), but almost certainly in combination with one): "Maptitude" supports these requirements. In terms of context, you can add aerial imagery from a variety of sources to see which one provides the best "accuracy" but then overlay building footprints, streets, and business locations with logos, for example.

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