The SLOC meet certainly proved that 100% acceptable laser printed maps
are possible. But this opinion refers to the printing technology.
Before I'm ready to offer an unqualified endorsement of laser printing
(assuming SLOC's success is reproducible elsewhere, and that remains
to be proven), there remains the nagging issue in
my mind of the effect of laser printing on course setting.
Offset maps come in all shapes and sizes; generally the paper
is sized to bound the extent of the mapped terrain (generally the whole
park). Laser printed maps seem to come in the shape and size of the paper
that will fit the particular printer used, and offer only the part of the
mapped terrain that will fit on that sheet of paper. A quick review of
my map collection confirms this -- offsets of all sizes, lasers tending
to be more narrow, with varying lengths and only part of the terrain.
Many are simply an 8.5x11 inch slice of what is in OCAD.
Thus, with an offset print map, the course setter has the whole thing to
work with, and is not bound on what legs or loops can be designed in the
mapped terrain. The course setter who knows the map will be laser printed
is thus artificially bound if the paper is smaller, and may have to present
an inferior course than what is possible, in order to fit the paper size.
The organizers of the SLOC meet promised us an offset of the whole mapped
area, but apparently it wasn't ready. It would have been interesting
to see it and see what was possible. I'm not saying the paper size
constrained the course setters in this case, but I could speculate that
longer courses could have been set if we had the whole map sheet, as
an example. Certainly longer courses could have been set on the present
sheets, so it may not have been a factor at all, and simply a course
setting decision based on other factors.
I hope as laser printing takes over, which I guess is inevitable, that
we use big printers with big sheets of paper, so course setters don't
have to be constrained by the laser printing effect and can present the
best courses the mapped area has to offer. Course setting seems hard
enough as it is.