My Account     Contact Us     Cart

Articles

Cartographer Chronicles: Billy Roberts

 

Cartographer Chronicles Billy Roberts

What does one do when a passion for historical people and events takes you to places you’ve never been only to find that there are no accurate maps to get you there? If you’re Billy Roberts you channel your expertise in spatial analysis, cartography, and passion for the Wild West into a nearly year-long research project that culminates in writing a book and launching your own map publishing company.

By day, Roberts is a is a member of the Geospatial Data Science team within the Systems Modeling & Geospatial Data Science Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In his spare time, he is an avid fan of Billy the Kid and other notable personas of the Wild West.

‘After a lot of reading about Billy the Kid, I decided that I wanted to visit some of the places that I had just read about.’ says Roberts. ‘But I quickly found that there were really no good maps out there. Tourist maps are not hard to find but they tend to be less than accurate, incomplete, and feature covered wagons and stuff that isn’t really relevant to the story that the map is telling.’ he adds.

So, I went to New Mexico, talked to local historians and spent nine months researching locations that are part of the narrative of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War. Some of the locations I visited are on private ranches and sometimes the land-owners didn’t even know about them. I used historical maps as a reference and was able to verify that the places, buildings, or artifacts were there. Then I georeferenced everything and mapped it all out using MAPublisher.

Roberts has been using the MAPublisher plug-in for Adobe Illustrator for more than 8 years. ‘The combination of MAPublisher and Illustrator lets you do things you can’t do with other mapping software, and once you get past the initial learning curve, it’s easy to use.

Making maps of the Wild West presents some design challenges that Roberts is able to overcome with MAPublisher. ‘I work almost exclusively in MAPublisher. I use Geographic Imager to combine hillshades with digital old paper textures to get the background effects I want, then use MAPublisher for all the mapping and digitizing.’ For his Billy the Kid map, Roberts imported data sets stored as shapefiles into MAPublisher and used Illustrator to add fonts that were typically used on maps in the 1700s and 1800s to give them maps a realistic, authentic look. ‘I could not make maps the way I do with ArcGIS.’ says Roberts. ‘I can do so much more with the design in MAPublisher, and it lets me work quickly and efficiently. If at any time I have a problem or questions, I can contact Avenza and someone always gets back to me. I know that they have fixed bugs and implemented solutions based on my suggestions.’ he adds. ‘It feels like Avenza is on my team.’

Roberts has now published three maps based on the Lincoln County War which are distributed mainly through Roberts’ website. His Billy the Kid wall map, which in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, is also educational. The map has become extremely popular at festivals and in the museums of the historic town of Lincoln, New Mexico, even earning a spot in the visitor’s center. Up next for Roberts are more maps and a detailed book about Billy the Kid. ‘I want to tell his story from a geographic perspective because for me, seeing how things fit together spatially helps to make the story much more real.’

See more of Billy Roberts’ maps on his website www.newmapsoftheoldwest.com and coming soon to the Avenza Maps Store.

New Release – Avenza Maps 3.6

Avenza Maps v3.6 is now available for iOS and Android devices! This latest update includes new features and improvements based on user feedback.

A major theme for this release is navigation, as it introduces a suite of features in the new navigation tool set accessible in the new Map View toolbar. We have enhanced the app’s usability by adding the GPS and Tracking features to the new toolbar. The toolbar is easily accessible by swiping up in the Map View to reveal three options; GPS, Tracking and Navigation.

GPS

We’ve added some basic GPS location data to the toolbar including altitude information (frequently requested by users!) as well as bearing and accuracy information. Heading in a specific direction? Your course will change based on your average bearing to help keep you orientated!  

Avenza Maps GPS

Tracking

What was previously the Record GPS Tracks feature has found a new home as the Tracking feature on the Map View toolbar (but it can still be accessed through the Map Tools in the bottom right). This tab includes some of the features from the GPS tab, and also allows you to track distance travelled, average speed and the duration of your tracks. Once you start tracking, swipe the toolbar down to reveal more of your map but keep those valuable tracking statistics viewable at the bottom of the screen.

Avenza Maps tracking

Navigation within the app is intended to be a direct route to the destination (point-to-point). Navigation can be accessed in the new Map View toolbar but is also quickly available in the Map Tools (three dots)  at the bottom-right of the screen.

Project Destination 

Do you know the direction and distance to a particular location? Set the bearing and distance to your destination, and the app will place a placemark on the map as a guide. You can choose the bearing by either pointing your device in a direction (the heading will automatically be entered) or lock the compass and type in your own bearing. Select from different units of measurement for your distance like meters, yards, or even minutes by walking!

Avenza Maps Project destination

Navigate to Placemark 

There are a few ways to navigate to an existing placemark on the map.  Of course, you can select Navigate to a placemark in the navigation tab or you can elect to edit one of your previously placed placemarks on the map by tapping the Navigation button.

Avenza Maps Navigation to placemark

Enter Destination Coordinates 

Know the specific coordinates of a destination you want to navigate to? We’ve got you covered! If you receive a set of coordinates you want to navigate to, use the Enter destination coordinates option which will place a placemark on the map, create a path between your location and the placemark as a guide, and bring up the navigation features to help lead you to your coordinates.

Once a navigation option is chosen, details such as speed, distance, and estimated time of arrival are shown in the navigation panel and can be accessed for the duration of your course by swiping the toolbar down. This will hide the compass, thereby allowing you to have a full view of the map and the course to your destination while still showing key statistics like speed, distance and the estimated time of arrival to your destination.

 

Cloud Import and Export Options 

We’ve added more opitons for importing and exporting map features with support for cloud storage apps.  When importing map features, and choose From Storage Locations to pull up every possible file storage option on your device. New options include Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and other third-party cloud storage applications.

Importing from storage locations to Avenza Maps

Magnetic North

You can now choose the declination for the app’s built-in compass as it now supports magnetic declination and magnetic north. Users can opt to switch to magnetic north in the Map View settings in the app.

Avenza Maps Magnetic North

About the Author

Andrea Becker is a member of the Support team at Avenza Systems and is excited to help navigate users through all of the wonderful new features in version 3.6!