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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

Additional resources

Paper Maps and Digital Maps, Friends Forever

As a company that makes software to create digital maps, that has a mission to create the largest repository of digital maps in the world, and has built a mobile app to consume them, we believe firmly that digital maps are the way of the future. Like it or not, digital maps will eventually (if not already) reduce the need for traditional paper maps. It’s a debate that many people are as passionate about as they are about the digitization of books and music.

Take Dave McIlhagga, Founder and CEO of MapSherpa, a company which has spent years at the forefront of developing new ways for map publishers to deliver maps and for people to consume them. MapSherpa offers on-demand printing of maps so you’d think he would be on the side of the paper maps. “In fact, I see digital maps as more of a way to promote maps and map use rather than a replacement for paper,” says Dave.  

A pioneer in the digital mapping space (read an interview with Dave on our Facebook page), Dave sees paper versus digital not as a competition for supremacy but as viable options that complement each other. “Digital maps offer new ways of interaction and help us visualize the world differently by viewing data in ways that may not have been feasible in the past. However, paper maps are simple, informative, and accessible by everyone. They aren’t being replaced. Offering both are important and will ultimately drive demand for map publishers.”

When we look at recent history, streaming services like Spotify and iTunes all but replaced physical forms of music, and Netflix and similar video streaming services are doing the same to DVD sales, not to mention delivering the knockout punch to companies like Blockbuster. However, while streaming is the heavy favourite of Netflix users, they still have subscribers hanging onto its DVD service. Isn’t the same scenario playing out here for maps? Let’s look at some pros and cons.

 

Distinct Advantages of Digital Maps

  • More accessible (download from anywhere, instantly)
  • Easily edited, augmented, personalized, and updated
  • More useful – more map data in one package, multiple layers
  • Flexibility to zoom in and out change perspectives with a digital map (replacing the need for multiple paper maps)
  • Navigation and routing capabilities

 

Paper Maps Will Never Die

  • Digital maps are the future, but paper will be around forever
  • Publisher and retailers still have a strong demand for paper map sales
  • Maps for recreation
  • Maps for visualization on a large scale
  • Maps as paper art

 

Neither Format is Perfect

  • Paper maps can become outdated quickly, are more costly to update
  • Paper maps can wear out, tear, and become unusable
  • Digital maps have a learning curve on how to properly use them
  • Digital maps have screen size limitations
  • Mobile devices run out of power, break, and become unusable

 

Best of Both Worlds

We recently partnered with MapSherpa on a project that will allow map consumers to easily get maps in both digital and printed formats. Now, when you view a MapSherpa map in the Avenza Map Store you’ll have the option to also purchase a paper copy in a variety of sizes, and printed on a variety of different materials from MapSherpa’s map store, MapTrove. Find a map on the MapSherpa site, in paper format, and get the digital version for use on your mobile device in the Avenza Maps app. “It’s the best of both worlds for consumers and for publishers,” says Dave.

Honestly, corporate vision aside, we have to agree.

See MapSherpa’s collection of Winter Games themed maps of South Korea, featuring Pyeongchang Seoul and Gangneung regions.

Avenza Maps 3.4 Released

We’re excited to announce that we’ve completed the release of Avenza Maps 3.4 for iOS and Android.  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.

Add and manage symbols. This release of Avenza Maps provides enhanced support for point symbology, including a built-in collection of US National Park Service recreational symbols. All users can package their own PNG symbols as KMZ files, import, and use them in the app.  In addition, Avenza Maps Pro users are now able to import and manage readily available collections of industry-specific symbol sets, such as the EMSINA Australasian All Hazards Symbology Set and the US National Wildfire Coordinating Group GIS Standard Operating Procedures (GSTOP) Incidents Point Symbols. These symbol sets can be downloaded directly from the Avenza Support Centre. You can even enable/disable symbols you may or may not use.  You can also reorder your symbol sets so that higher priority ones are listed at the top of the Choose Symbol screen.

Add placemark workflow improvements. The Add Placemark screen now appears every time the Add Placemark icon is tapped from the map view screen. This allows the user to conveniently change the symbol (or use the default one) as well as add any necessary information such as photos or collect data in a schema. Several of the most recently used symbols are listed for quick selection. A default symbol can still be set for the layer so one symbol can always be chosen.

 

Tapping the More icon on the Add Placemark screen brings up the Choose Symbol screen where you can scroll through your library of symbols. Filter by name or simply browse for a symbol to use. You can view this list in a grid format (like above) or in a list format with names.

Release Notes

  • Enhanced support for point symbology, including a built-in collection of US National Park Service recreational symbols.
  • All users can package their own PNG symbols as (KMZ) files, import and use them in the app.
  • Avenza Maps Pro users can import and manage readily available collections of industry specific sets of symbols.
  • Improved add placemark workflow and screen to accommodate symbol selection and made it easier to add photos.

 

You can get Avenza Maps now from the App Store and Google Play.

MAPublisher 10 Released

We’re excited to announce that we’ve released MAPublisher 10 for Adobe Illustrator. The MAPublisher product team has been working closely with our customers to build more useful features, tools, and to improve the look and feel.

MAPublisher 10

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.

Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud 2018 support. We are fully committed to providing the best map design tools seamlessly built into Adobe Illustrator. We have improved our user interface (panels, tools, buttons) to support high-resolution monitors. This release is fully compatible with the latest Adobe Illustrator CC 2018 on both Windows (32-bit and 64-bit) and Mac.

Manage Data Links. This feature has long been requested by our customers. You now have the ability to create and manage data links for MAPublisher documents. MAP layers in a document can be updated when its source data has been modified. Data links are checked automatically every time a document is opened and will display the status of affected layers in the MAP Views panel. This allows you to keep track of data that may have been moved or modified. When a data source is missing, a notification will alert you in both the Edit Data Link dialog box and MAP View panel. Note that only the link is dynamic and not the actual map features, meaning that manipulating your features in the document does not directly affect the source data. You will need to export your data if you want to overwrite your source data.

Filter attributes and filter geometry on import. A common workflow our customers encounter is trying to reduce the amount of data being imported. Often times, a dataset covers a much larger area or has too many attributes included. There is now a way to streamline import so that it’s not only quicker to import, but also results in improved Adobe Illustrator performance due to the reduction in the number of map features on the artboard. The new attribute filter helps you  select which layer attributes (or layers) to include or not include prior to import. The new geometry filter provides several options (including an interactive map) to help you select which area to include or not include prior to import.

Redesigned Scale Bar tool. We’ve worked a lot with our customers to redesign the scale bar tool. In addition to new customization options, new scale bar styles were generated with the help of the US National Park Service, Harpers Ferry Center. You also now have the ability to save, import, and export scale bar styles, making it easier to share defined styles with others.

Improved MAP Tagger Tool. You now have the ability to create custom leader lines with various arrow styles and option to snap leader line to different positions around a label. This provides a new level of customization and efficiency without having to style leader lines afterwards.

New Simplify Art simplification method. A new Visvalingam-Whyatt simplification method and fault tolerance setting to accommodate positional error between shared edges in the topology. The Visvalingam-Whyatt method is an area based algorithm which eliminates points based on their effective area. By iterating through points of lines and areas, it calculates and removes the point with the least effective area.

 

MAPublisher 10 Release Notes

  • Fully compatible with the latest Adobe Illustrator CC 2018 on both Windows (32-bit and 64-bit) and Mac
  • New ability to create and manage data links for MAPublisher documents. MAP layers in a document can be updated when its source data has been modified.
  • New attribute filter capability to select which layers and attributes to include or exclude prior to import
  • New geometry filter capability to select which features to include or exclude prior to import
  • New scale bar styles and customization options including ability to save, import, and export scale bar styles
  • New Visvalingam-Whyatt simplification method and fault tolerance settings to simplify art
  • New MAP Tagger Tool ability to create custom leader lines with various arrow styles and an option to snap leader line to different positions around a label
  • A new Point Utilities action that can rotate points to the angle of latitude
  • A modified Text Utilities action that can draw a point for text based upon text alignment for indexing purposes
  • New settings for North Arrow location including True North and a custom coordinate and options to use Great Circle or compass method
  • New MAP Web Author HTML5 export customization options including adjustable scale bar
  • A number of user interface and usability enhancements.

 

The Best of Both Worlds – Map-making and GIS Functionalities in Adobe Illustrator

Original article from Directions Magazine on October 4, 2017.


Modern cartography—the art, science, and technology of making maps—consists of manipulating and displaying geographic elements in a graphic environment. Traditionally, GIS software has offered users limited ability to manipulate the graphic attributes (hue, brightness, saturation, transparency, line thickness, text, etc.) of geographic elements, while graphic design software has treated geographic features as it would any other graphic elements, without regard for how they are connected in predictable ways to other geographic elements and to Earth itself. Additionally, in the real world, natural or artificial boundaries and features are constantly changing and cartographers need to update maps at different scales and in different styles to reflect these changes. Therefore, cartographers need an efficient and reliable way to bridge the divide between GIS and graphic design software.

First launched 30 years ago, Adobe Illustrator has long been the professional standard for graphic design, especially for creating vector graphics. For more than 20 years, Avenza’s MAPublisher has provided extensive GIS functionality inside Adobe Illustrator. I discussed the synergy between these two programs with two experts:

  • David Lambert, Director of Cartographic Production for National Geographic’s commercial retail mapping products, which includes its well known Trails Illustrated outdoor recreation map series, and
  • Tom Patterson, Senior Cartographer at the National Park Service’s Harpers Ferry Center, in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, which designs most of the interpretive media that is found in national parks—including maps, brochures, outdoor signs, visitor center exhibits, films, and digital kiosks.

 

“Map Illiterate” vs. “Map Aware”

Image

In the past, many map makers have also used Macromedia FreeHand (acquired by Adobe in 2005 and since discontinued), CorelDRAW, Canvas, or even more recent entrants with a map-specific slant such as Ortelius, proving that a graphics environment has long been regarded as a good and viable one for their trade. As well, for many years, Esri has offered an Illustrator export option from its GIS products, proving that Illustrator, in particular, has long been the preferred work environment for making maps. However, Lambert points out that those files exported from Esri’s GIS products are devoid of geographic properties once imported into Illustrator. He has been with National Geographic for 21 years. His team used to work with Illustrator, which was already the graphic design standard, but used Esri software to design maps, which they then exported as Illustrator files from Esri and imported to Illustrator. “Once we brought that into the Illustrator format, it lost all geospatial awareness,” Lambert recalls. In essence, the file became “map illiterate.” In 2011, he switched to using MAPublisher after learning how easy it made it to incorporate GIS data into Illustrator workflows.

To explain the advantages of using MAPublisher to keep graphic elements “map aware”, Lambert cites three examples:

  1.  The Great Salt Lake has shrunk in size over the years. “Prior to 2010, somebody would export a lake boundary and then bring it into Adobe Illustrator, where it might be re-scaled and transformed with an Illustrator function to fit the area of another map,” Lambert recalls. Now, with MAPublisher, National Geographic can use the same lake boundary in its maps of Utah, of the United States, and of the world, in each case simply reprojecting it on the fly without having to first export it to GIS software.
  2. Many of National Geographic’s nearly 300 outdoor recreation maps overlap one another at different scales. When, for example, Great Smoky Mountain National Park produces a new trail dataset reflecting changes in trails, National Geographic can now incorporate those changes much more quickly than ever before by simply transforming them through different map projections in the geospatially-aware files.
  3. The boundary between Pakistan and India is constantly changing. National Geographic can now make each change just once, then move it from its world map to its map of Asia and other products.

 

Starting in a Common Projection

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National Geographic starts working on any new map products in MAPublisher. “We want to get off on the right foot, so we make sure that they are all in the common projection from the very beginning,” Lambert explains. His team uses MAPublisher right from the start to georeference files and then to incorporate additional GIS data from federal, state, and county agencies into them. “For example,” Lambert says, “if we get a data set from the National Park Service, we are able to quickly import it and split it into the different layers and styles throughout our entire map series. We can see which trails might be hiking trails, horse trails, or mountain biking trails and quickly apply our styles. We also receive information from the U.S. Geological Survey, such as national hydrological data sets.”

MAPublisher allows users to work in a GIS environment from inside Adobe Illustrator. For example, they can bring in a transportation data set from a county, then click on a road in Adobe Illustrator and bring up a MAPublisher viewing panel to display its attributes, such as its name, whether it is paved, and, if it is not, its clearance. “We can see all the information that these agencies are assigning to these different lines,” Lambert says. “Adobe Illustrator and MAPublisher work together seamlessly.” By contrast, he points out, with other programs you have to exit one and go into the other.

Reconciling Conflicting Data

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Most of Patterson’s work revolves around making those very familiar black-banded brochures that visitors receive when they enter a national park. He began using MAPublisher in the mid-1990s, when Avenza introduced version 1.0. “We had just started converting our maps from manual production to digital production using Adobe Illustrator as our primary drawing software,” he recalls. “Soon afterward, geospatial data started becoming more available and the quality greatly improved. Of course, we wanted some means to bring these data into the graphic environment of Adobe Illustrator. MAPublisher provided us with the ideal tool for doing just that.”

Early on, Patterson’s team only used MAPublisher to import geospatial vector data into Adobe Illustrator to produce non-georeferenced maps. As the years went by, however, it saw the value of creating entirely geo-referenced maps.

To create a new map of a national park, Patterson’s team begins with an Adobe Illustrator template that contains all of the map layers that it would use for a typical NPS map—including lines, area colors, symbols, and labels. For even greater efficiency, it employs targeted layers with graphical styles applied to them. “A big part of our process at the beginning,” he explains, “is going on an online digital scavenger hunt, essentially finding whatever data we can that is in the public domain, from which we can compile our maps. We then import these various geospatial data sets into the Adobe Illustrator environment with MAPublisher.”

“The most time consuming aspect of map production is reconciling conflicting data,” says Patterson. “For example, analyzing and fixing different road data sources that don’t match with one another is an arduous process. However, thanks to the data manipulation tools in MAPublisher—which allows us to select, sort, and manipulate data by attribute—this task is now much easier.”

Patterson’s team updates NPS maps every year or two or three, depending on each park’s popularity. Working with a geographically-aware MAPublisher document allows it to take the previous printing of its map and import new data into it, which then drops into place where it should. For example, if a park builds a new trail, the park GIS specialist will send Patterson’s team a shapefile for that trail that it can quickly and easily import using MAPublisher. “It just works seamlessly,” says Patterson. Additionally, almost all NPS maps have shade relief art in the background. “We generate the shaded relief and then manipulate it using Avenza’s Geographic Imager tool in Adobe Photoshop. The result is a geographically aware Photoshop file of the shaded relief, which MAPublisher will automatically register to map line work in Adobe Illustrator.”

Geospatial PDFs

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Another very important feature of Avenza’s software, Patterson says, is that it enables his team to save all of its printed maps as electronic files in geospatial PDF format for dissemination via the Avenza Maps app and accompanying digital map store direct to digital devices such as smart phones and tablets. Park visitors can then download and use these maps on their location-enabled mobile devices and, because the maps are geospatially aware, a little blue dot will show their location at all times as they explore a park, even in the absence of a cellular data connection.

Before publishing a new map of a national park, Patterson’s team typically field checks it, saved as a geospatial PDF, using the Avenza Maps app on an iPhone. “We refer to this draft map as we canvas the park,” Patterson says. “We can take notes right in the Avenza Maps app, drop locator pins, and record tracks. When finished field checking, we e-mail the data to ourselves and import it into the working map file through MAPublisher. The notes and tracks that we recorded in the field are used to update the final map, improving accuracy.”

One goal of Patterson’s team is to increase online access to NPS maps. “We are pretty excited about some of the new capabilities in MAPublisher,” says Patterson, “particularly, saving our park maps as Web tiles. We are going through a multi-year transformation right now, converting our maps from the UTM coordinate system to the Web Mercator coordinate system for compatibility with Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Apple Maps. We do all of this through the ‘Export Document to Web Tiles’ feature in MAPublisher, which is really pretty cool.”

Patterson’s team also recently began experimenting with MAPublisher’s Map Web Author tool, which allows quick and easy creation of data-rich and interactive HTML5 web maps from GIS data. It produced a prototype for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park that contains layered information and the ability to explore the map interactively. For example, it allows park visitors to compare contemporary photographs to those taken during the Civil War era at various viewpoints throughout the park.

Other Specialized Illustrator Plugins

There are dozens of plugins that extend Illustrator’s capabilities, for example to edit vector data, concatenate multiple paths, or precisely position nearby objects. Here is one list of Illustrator plugins. CADtools and VectorScribe are particularly noteworthy in this context, because they show that a professional base of CAD users like Illustrator as their working environment, just as GIS and mapping professionals do.

HotDoor’s CADtools 10 plugin provides an extensive set of CAD capabilities—including drawing, editing, labeling, dimensioning, transformation, creation, and utility tools—inside Illustrator. For example, users can insert dimensions or labels on objects, paths, or points in space, which update in real time in response to changes in the artwork. The can also move, transform, and measure objects with precision.

VectorScribe enables users to reduce file sizes by eliminating excess points while maintaining the shape of paths; slide points along paths, extends paths, or trim them; accomplish complex vector editing, such as adding points to tangencies, reverse paths, or smoothly connect curves to straight lines; edit corners on dynamic shapes; or dynamically measure distances and areas along paths.

Conclusions

The sources of geospatial data now include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS), the Internet of Things (IOT), and myriad consumer devices and, consequently, the amount of available geospatial data is growing exponentially. At the same time, professionals and consumers now expect location to be routinely embedded in everything they do on their digital devices. MAPublisher helps cartographers keep up with this accelerating cycle of supply and demand by making it easier and faster for them to make beautiful maps. Recent attempts by other GIS software vendors to address the increasing demand for cartography and map creation within the Adobe environment is evidence that making maps in Adobe Illustrator is the preferred way to go. With MAPublisher leading the way, it is a workflow that is here to stay.

Avenza Maps 3.3 released

We’re excited to announce that we’ve completed the release of Avenza Maps 3.3 for iOS and Android. We addressed some early user feedback and made a few point releases to resolve those issues (3.3.1 for Android and 3.3.2 for iOS). We’re also working on another minor update that addresses some additional user feedback.

Avenza Maps 3.3

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.

Redesigned Measure Tool. This tool has been completely redesigned and renamed — now known as the Draw and Measure tool. It features an improved interface which lets you draw shapes and measure more easily. While in a draw or measure mode, you can now quickly tap anywhere to enter a segment for a line or area. In addition, there are two precise input modes to enter segments: Point By Point and Course and Distance. Long press anywhere on the map to enter precise input mode. For Point By Point, simply enter the coordinates (lat/long, easting/northing or MGRS/USNG) to add a segment at an exact location. The Course and Distance mode allows you to enter the heading (angle) and distance from an initial location.

You can also now draw circles. Using only two points — an initial center point and a second point at any distance away — which means you can now draw circles that can act like buffers. It even works with the Point By Point and Course and Distance modes to enter specific distances or coordinates. Best of all, shapes and areas can now be saved as a map feature to your map. They can be exported as KML, CSV or GPX or even SHP (if you have Avenza Maps Pro). New style settings are available to adjust line thickness, stroke and fill colors, and opacity.

Release Notes

  • Redesigned Measure Tool (now known as “Draw and Measure”)
  • New advanced drawing capabilities, including tap anywhere to draw a segment and tap and hold to access “point by point” and “course and distance” modes
  • Draw, edit, save, export and import areas. Draw areas including circles using only two points.
  • Reorganized Settings including new settings to change location dot color and line and area colors including opacity
  • Record GPS Tracks will continue to run even when the map is closed
  • Map Store improvements including ability to preview map extent
  • Improved Map Store user registration workflow

 

You can get Avenza Maps now from the App Store and Google Play.

Optimizing Point Symbol Placement with MAPublisher LabelPro

This post was contributed by Hans van der Maarel of Red Geographics.


The problem with using GIS data for point symbols is that depending on the scale and symbolization you often end up with symbols partly overlapping each other. Of course, the symbols can be manually moved around after initial placement to get a more aesthetically pleasing result, but that can be a tedious and time-intensive task.

Thankfully, there is a way to automate at least part of this process by using MAPublisher and LabelPro.

Example map of Breda, The Netherlands

This example shows the heart of an old European city (Breda in The Netherlands to be exact). The map is composed of Dutch Top10NL topographic base data, a few labels were manually added for larger features (such as the park), and points imported from OpenStreetMap (OSM) and styled using a Map Theme. As you can see, there are a number of spots where the symbols are densely located and overlap each other.

The MAPublisher LabelPro add-on is capable of collision-avoidance to make sure overlaps don’t happen. But it only works when generating labels (text). Fortunately, the solution is to trick LabelPro into processing symbols too, so that they can benefit from better placement without overlaps.

Let’s start by adding a column to the attributes to the OSM points layer and filling it with a default value, a capital O.

Thankfully, there is a way to automate at least part of this process by using MAPublisher and LabelPro.

Editing the attribute schema

Next, determine how big the symbols are. On the artboard, use the Type tool to place a capital O and adjust its size so that it’s about the same size as one of the point symbols. In this case, a 14 pt Futura Medium, shown here in red, seems to cover it well (your results might be different).

Determine the approximate font size

Futura is a good font in this case because the O is a perfect circle. Once you’ve determined the approximate font size to use, delete the O text as it won’t be needed anymore.

Next, set up the LabelPro labelling rules. Since there is already a layer with the manually placed labels and the symbols shouldn’t interfere with them, the manually placed labels will be designated as an obstacle layer. The symbols layer will be labelled with the attribute created earlier and the style set to the font and size that was just determined.

Set obstacle layer

Setting the appropriate rules partly depends on personal preference but it’s important to specify that the placement prefers the center position (position 1 on the placement control). In other words: if there’s enough space for placement, the label doesn’t need to be moved or offset. Another important rule to configure is that font reduction should be turned off. All of the labels (eventually symbols) are going to be a fixed and similar size.

Set placement point rules
Set fitting point rules

Also, another good practice is to specify a suppression layer. Any labels that can’t be placed with the rules set will be placed on the suppression layer. After placement, you can determine if any labels need to be adjusted manually.

Let’s label! Go ahead and label with these settings and afterward hide the original symbols layer and the suppression layer. The map is filled with O’s where the original symbols are located.

O labels placed

At first glance, this does not seem very useful, but closer inspection shows that the labels have retained the attributes of the original OSM point symbols.

Attributes migrated to the O labels

This means that if they can be turned back into points, they will be able to be styled!

In order to turn them back into points, a text reference point needs to be created. In other words: a little dot on the text selection line, in the center of the O. This is a two-step process. First, select all the O’s on the artboard, open MAPublisher Text Utilities, and set the Action to Set text alignment and Alignment to Center. This action changes the alignment of the text without changing the actual position of the text (due to LabelPro labeling the text alignment is different based on where the label ended up in relation to the original point). This step takes care of the horizontal positioning.

Set text alignment in MAPublisher Text Utilities

The second step is to adjust vertical positioning. Vertical positioning is adjusted by moving all text up by a certain distance. Make sure all the O’s are selected, then use the (Adobe Illustrator) Move tool. In the Position group, set the Horizontal to 0 (no adjustment here since Text Utilities was used), set the Vertical to minus half the text size (font size in this example was 14 pt, so a vertical adjustment of -7 pt), and the Angle to 90 degrees.

Use the Move panel to fine tune position

For reference, this example is zoomed into a symbol that did not get displaced.

Next, these labels need to be turned into point symbols. There is a handy option in MAPublisher Text Utilities that can do that, but it places a point to the lower left of the text and the symbols need to use the center text reference point that was just created. Instead, with all of the O labels selected, open the MAP Attributes panel and export the attribute table to a text file. Make sure to specify the option Export All Attributes because there are two important hidden attributes needed to make this work: #MapX and #MapY, which are the coordinates of the text reference point.

Export attributes to a .txt file
(Click for larger version)
Export attributes to a .txt file

Using MAPublisher Import, add the attributes text file that was just created to the map and make sure to appropriately specify #MapX and #MapY in the X and Y coordinate columns.

Import .txt file as Delimited XY

Since there is no projection information stored in the text file, you’ll need to specify that the coordinates are in the same system as the MAP View it’s coming from and you’ll need to add it to that MAP View upon import.

On the map, there is now a new point layer and because they still have all of their original attributes, the layer can simply be added to the MAP Theme to have all the point symbols reapplied to them instantly. Let’s admire the results:

Symbols reapplied with MAP Themes

If needed, repeat the last few steps for the suppressed labels as well (to a different file and different layer of course) to see what still needs to be done manually.

Calibrating Your Device’s Compass for Improved Navigation in Avenza Maps

Ensure you’re going the right way!

One of the great features of Avenza Maps is being able to navigate offline using your own maps or maps from the Map Store. By tapping the GPS icon twice (once to locate yourself and then again to enable the compass), the map will rotate and align with your compass. Your current location is represented by a blue dot and the little arrow points in the direction you are facing. This feature allows you to navigate easily, however it can be problematic when your devices’ compass isn’t calibrated. If you notice that your blue dot’s arrow is not pointing in the right direction, or isn’t functioning as you’d expect, try these steps to calibrate your device’s compass!

Android

Not calibrated (Android)

To calibrate your compass on Android, go to your Google Maps app. If your blue dot’s beam (the blue shading coming out of it) is pointing in a different direction to where you are facing or is very wide, your compass will need to be calibrated. To calibrate, tap the blue dot and select “calibrate blue dot compass”. From here, you will be instructed to move and tilt your device in a figure 8 pattern, shown in the following diagram.

Calibrate device (Android)

Your compass accuracy will improve as you continue to do this. When you are happy with your compass accuracy, tap Done. The beam from the blue dot on the display will now be narrower and point in the right direction. If at any point the accuracy lowers again, this process can be repeated. If this does not solve your issues, you can select “report blue dot issues” by pressing the blue dot again. For more information, click here.

Calibrated device (Android)

iOS

On Apple devices, use the Compass app to calibrate your compass. This app comes pre-installed on iPhone devices. If for any reason it has been deleted, it can be found in the App Store if you search for “Compass”.

Compass app on App Store (iOS)

When the calibration screen appears after you open the Compass app, you’ll need to perform a few easy steps to calibrate the compass. Follow the on screen instructions and tilt your phone until the ball moves all the way around the circle. If you are using an earlier iOS, you will be prompted to move your phone in a figure 8 motion.

Calibrate device (iOS)

Once this process has been completed, the default compass screen will appear – your compass is calibrated and ready to be used! If the default compass screen appears as soon as the app is opened, your compass is already calibrated. If you see a different page appear on screen, the Compass app also doubles as a leveler; swipe left you will return to the compass screen.

Calibrated device (iOS)

Happy navigating!

How to Create and Style Highway Shields with MAPublisher LabelPro

MAPublisher LabelPro intelligently labels your map layers using custom rules and styles. One of the popular uses of this feature is to create highway shields. The result is a cleaner map and is widely used on road maps around the world. While MAPublisher has many default options for highway shields, it is possible to create custom shields to improve your map as well. This blog will outline the steps to create and customize highway shields for your map.

Step One

Import your data into MAPublisher, ensuring your road line data has an attribute field for highway route numbers. Highway shields can work with any data type, however, traditional highway shields are created with a highway number with no additional characters. Using the integer data type enforces this and is recommended for highway shields.

 

Step Two

On the MAPublisher toolbar, in the Labels subsection, click the MAP LabelPro button.

 

Step Three

On the MAP LabelPro dialog box, click the Setup Layers button. This allows you to select which layers are going to be labeled or used as obstacles. This means you can label multiple features at the same time as the highway shields. Click the checkbox next to your roads layer and click OK.

 

Step Four

Optionally, you may want to only create highway shields on some of the roads within your road layer. For example, if your roads layer also contains roads that are not highways, you don’t want them labelled with a highway shield. The solution is to create a Label Filter. To do this, first create a new filter by clicking Add label filter button at the bottom of the dialog box. Next, in the Label Filter section, select Limit by expression and click the Edit icon. This opens the Expression Builder dialog box. In this example, the expression entered selects only roads that have a jurisdiction designated as “Federal” or “Province”. Only these roads will be labelled with a highway shield.

 

Step Five

If you didn’t create a label filter, click the layer in the Source list you would like to label. On the right side, ensure that the “Is labeled” checkbox is checked. Immediately below, in the Label Source drop-down, select the field that contains the highway route numbers.

 

Step Six

Select or create a rule from the Rules drop-down. The pre-defined Highways and Interstate rules that are included with MAPublisher follow conventional mapping patterns, but if you want to customize the setup of your shields, click the Edit button. Once you are satisfied with your rules, click OK to return to the MAP LabelPro dialog box.

 

Step Seven

To customize the appearance of the shields, click the Edit button beside the Style drop-down. To add highway shields, click the Label with symbol check box to enable its settings. The Symbol file is the shield library, where you can pick between Canadian, US State and generic shields. The Symbol drop-down is where you can pick the shield from the shield library specified. All shields will have the same symbol, if you want multiple shield shapes on your map, you’ll have to create label filters as outlined previously in step four. The Font family, Font Style, Size, Colour and Label case affect the appearance of the text within the shield. Click OK when finished setting the style.

 

Step Eight

Back in the MAP LabelPro main dialog box, click the “Output suppressed labels to” check box. This moves all excess labels such as duplicate shields or shields that clash with other features on your map to a Suppressed layer. You can view features on the Suppressed layer after to see which labels were not included and you can decide to keep or delete them.

 

Step Nine

Click Label to begin the labeling process.

 

Step Ten

When all of your shields are generated, you can do some additional customization. In the Illustrator Layers panel, select all of your shields. From here, any changes to the colour, stroke colour and other settings you would use on objects, will be applied to your shields. With this functionality, you can create the exact shields you want for your map.

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