Free historical maps of Germany and Europe

It is mildly embarrassing to come across a great resource that is hosted within one’s own institution by accident (read: google). Unwittingly googling one’s own publications is definitively worse, but that is not the point. Nonetheless, I was happy to stumble upon the Institute of European History’s digital map server when I needed to illustrate my point about territorial cleavages in Germany. The site has a slightly dusty look and uses gifs for previews, but the licence is more than generous and the coverage and quality are impressive. If you ever need a map of Hessen-Kassel’s administrative structures in 1821, look no further. The only thing that is missing (as far as I can tell) are shapefiles, but if you are serious about GIS applications, you can convert/georeference the postscript files. For lecture slides, the gifs should suffice anyway.

Makefile helps with latex, too

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article on how make and Makefiles can help you to organise your Stata projects. If you are working in a unix environnment, you’ll already have make installed. If you work under Windows, install GNU make – it’s free, and it can make your Stata day. Rather unsurprisingly, make is also extremely useful if you have large or medium-sized latex project (or if you want to include tables and/or graphs produced by Stata) in a latex document. For instance, this comes handy if you have eps-Figures and use pdflatex. pdflatex produces pdf files instead of dvi files. If you produces slides with, this can save you a lot of time because you don’t have to go through the latex – dvips – ps2pdf cycle. However, pdflatex cannot read eps files: you have to convert your eps files with pstoedit to the meta post format, then use meta post to convert them to mps (which can be read by pdflatex). With this Makefile snippet, everything happens automagically:

#New implicit rules for conversion of eps->mp->mps
#Change path if you have installed pstoedit in some other place : %.eps
c:pstoedit/pstoedit.exe -f mpost $*.eps $*.mp

mpost $*.mp
mv $*.1 $*.mps
rm $*.mp

#Now specify a target

presentation.pdf: presentation.tex mytab1.tex myfig.mps

#Optional: if you want to create dataset x.eps, run
#Stata must be in your path
%.eps :
tab wstata -e do $<

Now type make presentation.pdf, and make will call Stata, pstoedit, metapost and pdflatex as required. If you need more figures, just write the do-file and add a dependency.

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