@xel, on Apr 24 2007, 03:56 AM, said in Accessing vector data:
Hmm, yes, I opened it up while you were posting with a text editor and it turns out to be a bunch of point data, separated by "b"'s, it looks like, .. Only problem is I have no idea how to get that into any usable format, like say an illustrator file. I thought that the data was vector? Doesn't that kind of contradict it being points? (I thought vector data was scalable to any size, because it was made up of formulas, not point data..)
Those formulas are, basically, a way of getting point data. Vectors are contrasted with rasters. A raster is basically a grid, where each cell has a value. Your monitor is basically a raster, with each pixel being a cell with a color value. If you get a magnifying glass and look at your monitor, you can see the individual pixels. You can't zoom in forever, because there is a limited resolution.
Vectors, on the other hand, are lines. In mathematics, a vector is a distance and direction (or a rate (i.e. speed) and direction). You could define a vector in polar coordinates as an angle (a direction) and distance (how far you travel in that direction). So, a simple shape might look like this:
go east for 10 meters
from there, go north for 10 meters
from there, go west for 10 meters
from there, go south for 10 meters
This would define a square. You could zoom in on the boundary of this square forever, and it would never lose detail. You could zoom in on a corner, and it would never pixelate.
You could create the same square using Cartesian coordinates like this:
Connect the dots. Done. This is how Defcon creates its coastlines, more or less.
Coastlines are defined in blocks, separated by those b's. Try importing those blocks into a spreadsheet, like Excel, (or a good math package like MatLAB or Maple) and plotting them. You should see a map of the earth, albeit upside down. You can monkey with the files by hand, if you like. Otherwise, you are going to have to come up with a way of converting them to a format that you can import into some other program.
If that doesn't work for you, and you have a Windows box lying around, you could try using Zanzer7's Mod Suite. I haven't used it, but have heard good things. That being said, it seems to be in a perpetual state of beta, so use at your own risk.