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Indexing Your Atlas Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

Whether you’re an experienced atlas maker or embarking on your first project, we all know producing an atlas is no small task. In short, an atlas consists of a series of maps and an associated index. Seeing that cartographic content often takes centre-stage, when planning your project it is easy to assume that the map-making process will be the most demanding. However, the proper indexing of map features is often by far the largest individual task when it comes to producing an atlas and can be quite burdensome.

You will be happy to know that MAPublisher 10.1 makes indexing that much easier with the addition of the Include Page Numbers option to the Make Index tool. This advanced option completely automates the indexing of page numbers while also enabling the indexing of two page maps on a single artboard.

For atlas makers, this new addition will streamline and improve the indexing process making it a key enhancement considering the primary function of an atlas index is to help the user locate features and points of interest on map pages.

Let’s take a look at a basic street atlas of Cochrane that was created using MAPublisher 10.1. Cochrane is a town located in Northern Ontario which is not only famous for its mascot Chimo but also for being the hometown of Tim Horton, founder of Canada’s largest coffee chain.

The atlas is divided into four sections: grid cells A1, A2, B1, and B2. Each cell contains two separate map pages numbered two through nine.

The following is a simple example which demonstrates the page indexing for atlas pages eight and nine found in grid cell B2.

Atlas makers can now index their page numbers as easy as one-two-three!

Step 1

To start, using the MAPublisher Grids & Graticules tool, generate an Index Grid with one column and one row (1×1). Although the Index Grid option was selected, the Graticules or Measured Grid options can also be used if it better suits your atlas design needs. Additionally, Cell Reference Labelling was enabled and the advanced labelling options were set as displayed.

Step 2

With your Index Grid created, access the Make Index tool which will initiate the map indexing process. Since we’re indexing streets in this example, we’ll go with the Make index based on feature position and attribute value. The feature position will be relative to which page or pages the street falls on while the attribute value will reflect the street’s name. In this example, streets which span two atlas pages have been highlighted with a yellow background on the map.

Step 3

Since a single artboard is being used to map features which span two atlas pages, the Advanced option Include Page Numbers will be enabled with a horizontal page layout dividing the artboard into page 8 and page 9.

Simply click OK twice and your atlas pages will be indexed with the results written to a delimited text file as displayed below. From here, this file can be formatted and refined within a software like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Quark Xpress, etc.

Portion of the delimited text file output:

Same portion imported into Microsoft Excel:

Note: streets which span two pages have been highlighted to correspond to the map example.

By necessity, indexes are created towards the end of each project when atlas delivery deadlines are looming. It is therefore very important that the technology and methods used be robust and efficient. The introduction of the Include Page Numbers option has enhanced and simplified the map indexing process while meeting the specialized needs of atlas cartographers.

For more information see:


Update Your Legends (Even Existing Ones) Using Automatic Legend Update

With the release of MAPublisher 10.1, you no longer have to worry about recreating map legends every time you update them. Automatic Legend Update, available in the latest release, now allows for simple updating of an existing legend. Automatic Legend Update lets you update attribute data, or change the symbology/classification method/attribute field that is linked to a legend, and automatically have the legend update to reflect these changes – no more having to recreate the legend each time you want to change something! This is possible even with MAP Themes and Legends created in older MAPublisher versions once they are brought into the 10.1 environment.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to open MAP Themes and Legends created in older versions of MAPublisher in the 10.1 environment in order to transform them into Automatic Legend Update. This example classifies populated places in Hawaii based on elevation. We will use the ‘Create MAP Theme Legend’ tool to create a copy of the legend, which by default will be set to automatically update. Any future changes applied to the associated MAP Theme will automatically be applied to the new legend.

Step 1

Open the MAP Themes panel from the MAPublisher toolbar. With the ‘Elevations of Places’ MAP Theme selected, click the ‘Create MAP Theme Legend’ button to create an Automatic Legend Update.

Step 2

You’ll be prompted to create a Legend layer if you don’t already have one. Click ‘Create Legend Layer’ to continue.

Step 3

Note the legend in the ‘Preview’ section and how the legend styling and symbology are preserved, thus saving time. Click the ‘Updating’ tab to see or change your Automatic Legend Update settings. The “Automatically update legend when source theme is applied” checkbox is checked by default. In this blog, we’re also going to check the option to “Match original legend extents” to maintain the size and extents of the legend so as to not change the map layout when items are added to the legend. Instead, the legend elements will change size in order to fit within the existing legend extents. “Maintain aspect ratio” is checked to make sure that the legend elements resize proportionally and a ‘Centre’ anchor allows the resizing to start from the centre of the elements. Once you’re satisfied with your settings, click ‘Create’.

This will create a new legend with Automatic Legend Update that can be moved to any location on the map.

Now that you have created a copy of the legend with Automatic Legend Update, your legend will update when changes are applied to the associated MAP Theme.

A legend characterises a map and MAPublisher 10.1 helps to keep it up to date.

Indexing Manually Labeled Maps Using Create Line From Text on Path

Do you have a street map that you’ve labeled by hand using ‘Type on a path’ that you want to index? Or have you used ‘Type on a path’ only to realize later that you still need those lines the text is now on? Without the original lines that the labels are on, it is not possible to make an index highlighting which grid cells are covered by which streets.

The new Text Utilities feature in MAPublisher 10.1, ‘Create line from text on a path’, allows you to recreate the lines that were originally used to create labels with ‘Type on a path’.

street map not indexed - MAPublisher 10.1

To use this tool to create indexes for maps you’ve labeled manually using ‘Type on a path’, navigate to Text Utilities on the MAPublisher Toolbar. Choose ‘Create line from text on a path’ as the Action item, and style the lines as you see fit.

Label options - MAPublisher 10.1

Create Line Dialog box - MAPublisher 10.1

After you run the tool, you will see your newly created lines on the map

Map with added lines - MAPublisher 10.1

The ‘Create line from text on path’ also creates an attribute in the line layer it creates, called ‘Text’. You can see the new attribute by highlighting the newly created line layer, and opening the attribute table.

attributes table - MAPublisher 10.1

The ‘Text’ attribute is what allows the street names to be shown in the index. Once you’ve created the lines (on an existing layer, or on a new layer), you can then create an index (Index tool on the MAPublisher toolbar). For your index, choose either ‘Make index based on label and matching feature position’ or, ‘Make index based on feature position and attribute value’. Be sure to choose ‘Text’ as the ‘Label matches attribute’ or ‘Attribute’, to get the right values for your index.

Make Index dialog box - MAPublisher 10.1

Once you have chosen your specific index requirements and settings, your index will be created with the street names (Text attribute) and the grid locations.

index created with grid locations - MAPublisher 10.1

MAPublisher 10.1 Released

We’re excited to announce that we’ve released MAPublisher 10.1 for Adobe Illustrator. The MAPublisher product team has been working closely with our customers to build these features to improve map design productivity.

MAPublisher 10.1

MAPublisher 10.1

This update contains new features and performance improvements as well as fixes for reported bugs. Some highlights are mentioned below, for the full release notes see below.

Automatically update existing legends when MAP Themes are modified. It’s here! MAP Theme legends are can now be automatically updated when legend items are updated in a theme. This is great time saver when you’re in the fine-tuning phase of selecting the right colour palette for your map and there is no need to manually update your legend.

Automatically update legends

New ability to create lines from text on a path. Creates a line based on a text on a path source. It’s useful for creating map features and to assist in indexing for manually created maps (i.e. scenarios where text was created manually instead of being created from attribute values). The text utility can be applied to text on a specific layer, on a specific MAP View, on the entire document or only selected text.

Create text on a path

New ability to include page numbers when creating indexes. In the Make Index tool, a new Include Page Numbers option provides the ability to split a single artboard (horizontally or vertically) at the middle point to make indexes that include a reference to a page (left or right, top or bottom). This feature is useful when a map spreads over a single artboard that is intended to be split into two pages in a final output (e.g. a spread in an atlas). Text and features that span both “pages” can be listed in the index as appearing on both pages (i.e. indexing the extents of the text or feature).

Make Index page numbers

Export to GPS Exchange format (GPX) now supported. MAPublisher has long supported GPX import and now supports GPX export. It’s a format that contains contain tracks, routes and points and used to exchange data between GPS units and mapping software. It is compatible with the Avenza Maps app and many other third-party applications.

MAPublisher GPX export

New ability to scale charts by radius. You now have the ability to scale MAP Chart Theme pie charts by radius, in addition to the existing method of using area. This provides another level of fine-tuning while adjusting charts to get proportional scaling correct. Remember that there are advanced scaling features available in the Scaling dialog box (just click the Scaling button). Learn more about chart scaling here.

Scale by radius

MAPublisher 10.1 Release Notes

  • Automatically update existing legends when MAP Themes are modified
  • New ability to create lines from text on a path
  • New ability to include page numbers when creating indexes
  • Export to GPS Exchange format (GPX) now supported
  • New ability to scale charts by radius
  • A number of user interface and usability enhancements.


It’s #NationalColdCutDay, So Here’s a Subway Subway Map of Toronto

March 3rd is National Cold Cut Day… so happy #NationalColdCutDay to you! Cold cuts have been around for more than 2,000 years and today, it is so ubiquitous that any populated place with a market or grocery store stocks it. Even more so, the up-rise of fast food provides the convenience of someone making a cold cut sandwich for you (even better!). Recently, we came across a subreddit called /r/subwaysubway – a collection of subway-style maps of Subway® sandwich restaurants. While most cities boast several dozen Subway locations, Toronto, ON has the density and population to support more than 200. So in honour of National Cold Cut Day, we’re going to create a Subway subway map of Toronto with some of our favourite mapping tools. While this is only meant to be a light-hearted project and not an authoritative source of all Subway locations, please forgive us if we missed a few locations. That said, we used some available web tools in combination with MAPublisher to create a mapping workflow that might inspire you to create your own Subway subway map.

Finding Subway locations

Finding all (most) of the Subway shops was easier said than done. A combination of several sources were used to achieve this. We used the MAPublisher feature called Find Places to scan areas of Toronto to search and import the Subway location point data. This task was performed several times, simply because of the high density of Subway locations in Toronto. In addition, the source provides useful attribute data including name, address, and neighbourhood fields that will be useful for labeling (more on that below).

MAPublisher Find Places - Subway locations

To verify these locations, we also used a web tool called overpass turbo that has some handy tools to build a query that searches OpenStreetMap and filters data that can be easily exported. We simply exported the queried locations as a KML file and used MAPublisher to import it. Unfortunately, these locations did not include any attribute data, however, there were several points included that the MAPublisher Find Places tool missed. We then searched Google Maps and the Subway website to verify several addresses that were missing in the attribute data. Again, we probably missed some locations, but this is supposed to be fun, right?

Overpass Turbo Subway query

With most of the sourcing completed, we end up with a map that looks like the one below. All the Subway restaurant locations can now be considered subway stations. We also used a Toronto boundary layer and streets layer from Open Data Toronto that was transformed to use a projection of NAD 83 / UTM Zone 17N with a -18 degree rotation at approximately 1:65,000 scale. The boundary and streets layer won’t be used in the final map, but helps when navigating the map, especially if you’re (un)familiar with the city.

Subway location imported into MAPublisher

Converting to a subway style map

Using a very liberal amount of cartographic license, we created MAP line layers and used the Adobe Illustrator pen tool to connect Subway locations to what felt natural based on knowledge of the city including following major roads, existing transit corridors, geography, and neighbourhoods. The downtown core was the most difficult to connect as it was densely populated with Subway shops (almost one at every major intersection — impressive), although it loosely represents the grid layout that the downtown core is actually based on.

After some quick connections, we created a MAP Theme to style for the Subway points layer. We created two styles: one for regular stations and one for interchange stations – where our fictional subway riders (eaters?) can transfer to another line. To mark stations as an interchange, we created a new boolean attribute that designates it as true or false. If the rule is true, then it uses a Interchange symbol to denote it as an interchange.

Station stylesheet

Once we felt like we had a solid coverage with interconnecting lines, we copied the Adobe Illustrator document to a new one, hid the boundary and street layers, and began the task of converting it into a styled subway map. For simplicity, we used a typical orthogonal method that employs lines at any multiple of 45 degrees. Needless to say, this took some time and patience as there are many points to align, nudge and decipher. This is where having the geographically accurate map, some of the online maps, and other sources to refer to was very handy.

Styled Subway Map

Compare it to the geographic version (some lines and points may have been moved or redone during the conversion to follow the orthogonal method).

Geographic station map

Labeling shouldn’t be tough, right?

We decided to use MAPublisher LabelPro, an intelligent and obstacle-detecting labeling engine, to label the subway stations because there are so many of them. With a little bit of setup, it can label the entire map in just a few seconds. Using the same rule used to designate stations as an interchange, we created two styles for the labels using the label filter. Interchange stations are slightly larger and have a bold font. We designated the label source to use the attributes from the Subway point layer, in this case, a neighbourhood name. Lastly, we designated the lines as obstacles so that LabelPro can detect whether a label will interfere with them or not.

Using MAP LabelPro to label stations

We also configured placement rules so that the stations have a preference to be labeled at bottom and top, and then at positions around the point if the first two aren’t possible. In addition, we specified a label offset so that the labels are placed more evenly without too much fine-tuning afterwards.

Station point rules

After LabelPro placement and some manual tweaking, the result is a cleanly labeled map. Here’s a detailed view.

Detailed station labels

While the neighbourhood attribute was unique in most cases, some dense areas such as downtown Toronto had station names repeat itself. In these instances, we relabeled them with its street name, a nearby landmark or park. This may not be the most accurate, but it was fun to come across neighbourhoods or areas we’ve never heard of and it allowed us to learn more about our own city.  Another great source to use was this Toronto neighbourhood map that allowed us to quickly verify which neighbourhood a particular Subway sandwich was in.

While we’re sure there are probably many more tweaks to make to this map and more stations to add, here’s our take on the Subway subway Map of Toronto. Make sure to click the links below to see the high-res PDF versions.

Toronto Subway subway map

Click to see the high-resolution PDF version

And in the spirit of traditional Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) maps, here’s one with a black background.

Toronto Subway subway map TTC style

Click to see the high-resolution PDF version

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