Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


  • What kind of software is Depiction?

    Depiction is a new type of mapping software that takes some of the best features from the on-line mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), and simulation industries to bring an easy, affordable "what if" experience to everyday folks.
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  • What exactly is a "depiction"?

    Think of a depiction as a visual story about your community. That story could be a dream"What if we put a new park and rail station where that burned-down warehouse is?"or a nightmare"What if the hurricane cuts off access to this part of the city? How will we evacuate or shelter in place?" Check out our overview page or downloads and samples page to get sample files and interact with them online.
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  • Where can I buy Depiction?

    You can buy Depiction right here on this site with a credit card and download it immediately to your machine. No sales folks, no trips to the store. And we offer a risk free 30-day trial.. If you need to use a purchase order, please contact us.
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  • Can I put Depiction on more than one computer?

    Each purchase of Depiction includes two licenses for its user--that way, you can put one copy on your desktop computer, and another on your laptop.
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  • What kind of information can I include in a depiction?

    Depiction automatically provides you with some of the most common free data you might need to tell stories about your community, such as satellite images, street maps and road networks. In addition, you can import data by hand, using addresses latitude/longitude, or from any of the following sources:

    • Spreadsheets (CSV)
    • Images (JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIF)
    • Live Reports (via POP3 email)
    • Elevation data (ADF, DEM, GeoTIFF, HGF)
    • Shapefiles
    • GML files
    • WFS and WMS webservices

    See our page on finding and importing GIS data for more information on shapefiles and other GIS formats.
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  • How can I share the depictions that I create?

    Depictions can be printed, and it is easy to take screenshots and email them to others. However, the best way to share your depictions with others, aside from having them get Depiction as well (which we encourage!) is to point them to the Depiction Free Reader. The reader enables anyone to explore depiction files, zooming in and out and using revealers to create customized views of the maps, data and imagery contained within.

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  • Do I need a supercomputer to run Depiction?

    Not at all! We designed Depiction to run on the everyday machines you already use. Pretty much any laptop or desktop (or tablet PC) built over the last five years running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 can run Depiction. Our minimum system requirements are:

    • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2), Windows Vista or Windows 7.
    • 400 MHz Pentium Processor (1 GHz recommended)
    • 512 MB RAM, or 1 GB when running on Vista (1 GB recommended)
    • 91 MB hard drive space (Microsoft .NET framework 3.5 also requires some space if not already on your computer. Click here for more information.)
    • Display setting of 800x600, 16-bit high color (32-bit true color and 1024x768 recommended)

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  • Can I run Depiction on an Apple or Linux computer?

    Depiction is built on the Microsoft .NET framework 3.5, and thus requires a Windows installation to function. Click here for more information on the framework. If your computer processor allows for it, you can run Depiction in a Windows emulator, dual-boot environment or desktop sharing application. Some possibilities include (none specifically Depiction endorsed):

    A search for how to run Windows on your operating system will likely give some useful information as well.

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  • Does Depiction, Inc. sell data?

    No. Depiction provides you with free "Quickstart" data from the web when you create a depiction and works with the data you already have, or that you find on the Internet. For more about data and Depiction, click here see our Data page.
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  • Does Depiction, Inc. offer training?

    Our intent is for Depiction to be so easy to use that it does not require formal training to get started, beyond watching some tutorial videos and just taking a few minutes to explore the program.

    However, Depiction is a powerful program, and learning to use all of its mapping, simulation and collaboration features is easier with direct help. To assist our customers in becoming fully competent, in addition to our wide array of free support materials including Depiction 101. We also offer Depiction University, an inexpensive 8-module online course, based on Depiction curriculum already used at institutions around the country. We also offer DepictionTutor. This is a service where you can purchase assistance from a Depiction expert in one hour blocks.
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  • Does Depiction, Inc. provide consulting or develop custom software solutions for organizations?

    Yes we do. Please contact us for further information.  We also empower established consultants and firms who know their markets best and who can customize Depiction for their clients needs.
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  • Can I customize Depiction into a custom solution for my organization?

    Yes. Our primary focus is on producing a great software platform for you. By platform, we mean an affordable, easy piece of software that can be used for many purposes across many industries. We freely share with others how they can customize and add to Depiction using their own industry expertise.
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  • What are "interactions" in Depiction?

    The interactions are basically the rules that govern your depiction. We give each user the freedom to say "I want my reality to work this way." For example, some people may want a plume to disable vehicles where others may not (for example, if it was a hazardous response vehicle).

    There is a basic overview of the interaction rules in the Help file, if you have the product installed and running.

    For Version 1, the interactions are very straightforward. They are triggered simply by one element intersecting with another element's zone of influence.

    Software developers will be able to write even more sophisticated behaviors, perhaps triggering an element when it gets within a certain distance (but not intersecting) and then changing that element's icon or triggering an email to be sent.
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  • Why can't I find any locations with Depiction?

    Sometimes Depiction warns that it cannot find a perfectly reasonable location:
    Could not find location
    If you know the location is valid, it may be that your firewall or virus protection program is blocking Depiction from accessing the internet.

    To fix this:

    1. Configure your firewall or virus protection program to add Depiction to the list of programs granted access to the Internet. Each firewall has a different way to do this, so please see the instructions for the firewall you are using.
    2. Exit and restart Depiction.
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  • Why is the .NET framework installer telling me I need to close it?

    When installing the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, you might see a dialog box such as this:

    This dialog box is generated by the .NET Framework Setup program launched by Depiction's setup program. If you see this dialog box, click the Ignore button. The .NET Framework will continue to correctly load. Our apologies for any confusion resulting from this.
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  • What if emails sent from Depiction do not reach their recipients?

    We encountered this problem once when demonstrating Depiction at a conference. In the Send as Email control, we entered "" as our Outgoing mail server, just like we usually do, but the emails never arrived at their destination. It did not matter whether we were connected into our corporate intranet via VPN. Depiction did not complain, but the emails did not arrive.

    The solution, in this case, was to use "" for the Outgoing mail server. is the private IP for our email server.

    Here is what we understand about why this happened. The wireless system provided by the conference routed all emails sent via a public IP address through their mail server. The public IP for our corporate email server is "". Emails sent by Depiction with Outgoing mail server set to were intercepted by the conference's email server. For some some reason their email server did not pass our emails on; perhaps it considered them to be spam. Fortunately, their email server did NOT intercept emails sent by a private IP address. Those emails went directly to our email server and were properly passed on.
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  • What information does Depiction send to the Internet?

    The following Depiction functions require being connected to the Internet:

    Function When does this happen? What is sent, and to whom?

    Validating serial number

    The first time you run Depiction on your computer, Depiction connects to a web server to validate the serial number you enter.

    Encrypted information about your computer hardware (not your IP address). To a Depiction, Inc. web service. The information is encrypted in a way that prevents Depiction, Inc. from knowing the characteristics of your hardware.

    Checking for updates

    Depiction automatically checks to see whether there is a more recent version available when you first launch Depiction, and every week after you install Depiction. If Depiction finds a more recent version is available, it will ask whether you would like to download and install the update.

    The Depiction version number. To a Depiction, Inc. web service.

    Creating a new depiction When you create a new depiction whose location is an address, Depiction uses an Internet-based geocoder to find the latitude and longitude for that address. If you enter a latitude and longitude for the location, Depiction does not need to connect to the Internet-based geocoder. The latitude and longitude of the upper left and lower right corners of your depiction area. To a Depiction, Inc. web service.
    Getting the list of Quickstart items Depiction uses an Internet-based service to determines the set of available Quickstart items for your depiction. If you are not connected to the Internet, your list of available Quickstart items will be shorter. The latitude and longitude of the upper left and lower right corners of your depiction area. To a Depiction, Inc. web service.
    Downloading data Depiction connects to the Internet to download data for Quickstart items, or when you request to import data from a source other than your own computer and its connected peripherals. Depiction has already identified a number of useful geo-spatial resources publicly available on the web, making it easy for users to include one or more of these in any depiction. When you save a depiction, Depiction saves the file to your hard drive along with any imagery or data you downloaded for your depiction allowing you to recall the data/imagery without the requirement of having Internet access. The latitude and longitude of the upper left and lower right corners of your depiction area, and information about what type of data to collect. To the web service providing that data; typically this is NOT Depiction, Inc.
    Geocoding elements When you add to your depiction elements that requires "geocoding" to convert the element's address information into a latitude and longitude, Depiction will connect to an Internet-based geocoder. This is true when placing an element using the Address mode of Add Content, and may be true for elements read from a CSV file or from Live Reports. If the CSV file has latitude and longitude fields, Depiction will use these instead of trying to geocode an address, and thus will not need to connect to the Internet. The address information that you enter, from the live report email, or from the CSV file. To a geo-coding web service.
    Using Live reports™ When actively importing elements via the Live reports feature of Depiction, Depiction needs to access the Internet if the email service is accessed via the Internet. Requests to read the emails from the email account you specified for this Live report source. To the specified email provider.
    Sending elements as email When sending elements via email from within Depiction, Depiction needs to access the Internet if the email service is accessed via the Internet. A text-based email containing information from the properties of the elements being emailed. To the specified email provider.

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  • How do I activate Depiction after upgrading to Windows 7?

    There are many ways to get to Windows 7, and versions of that operating system you can use. For more general information on Windows 7 or 8, consult the Microsoft website. If you are asking this question, however, you have most likely reformatted your hard drive to install Windows 7 or 8 and needed to reinstall all of your applications, including Depiction. If this is the case, just send an email to with your serial number (if you have it: we can also track it down with your name and email address used at time of purchase). We will add another activation to your license and reply when your serial number is ready to use again.
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    How do I update Depiction if the updater is blocked by my firewall?

    Visit our product download page and download the latest version from there. Or got to to download the most current version of Depiction.
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