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Updating and Enhancing Maps with Landsat 8

This guest blog post was written by Tom Patterson — one of the creators of the Equal Earth Projection, and Natural Earth Data, (you can read more about Tom here). Learn how he used Geographic Imager for Adobe Photoshop to create two maps from Landsat 8 imagery.

I am a big fan of Landsat 8 satellite images as a resource when making maps. Typically, I use these free images taken every 16 days for verifying and updating other geospatial datasets. I also transfer Landsat textures to shaded relief art in order to better evoke a sense of the physical environment.

The examples that follow demonstrate how I have used Landsat imagery to enhance two maps. The first example is Prince William Sound, Alaska, a map that I am presently working on. The second example is a Landsat mosaic of the Big Island of Hawaii. Both of my examples will give you a general idea on how to integrate Landsat images into your cartographic workflow—using Avenza’s GIS plugins for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator—with a few technical tips thrown in for good measure. For in-depth information about using Landsat in Photoshop, refer to this tutorial.

Prince William Sound, Alaska

Prince William Sound, in south-central Alaska, is a spectacular place to map. Its sheltered waters are bounded by the lofty Chugach Mountains, indented by deep fjords with tidewater glaciers, and dotted by forest-cloaked islands. The problem I am facing is out-of-date geospatial data because of the rapidly melting of glaciers. For example, the positions of glaciers, lakes, rivers, and coastlines available in the National Hydro Dataset (NHD) have changed considerably since these data were collected between 2008 and 2012. In order to make an accurate map—if only for this year—I have had to re-digitize these vector elements using Landsat images as a reference.

For this task, I used “LandsatLook Images with Geographic Reference” downloaded from the Earth Explorer website. These quasi-natural color images, which come pre-made from bands 7, 5, and 3, clearly depict water bodies, vegetation, bare earth, and glaciers. They were perfect for mapping the changing landscape of Prince William Sound.

Tom Patterson Geographic ImagerNational Hydro Dataset lines overlaid on a LandsatLook image in Adobe Illustrator.
The lines do not match physical features on the more recent satellite image.

For reference, I used images taken on September 29, 2018, about the time when glacier melting ceases before the onset of winter. Images taken later in the fall are hampered by fresh snow cover and deep mountain shadows due to lower sun angles.

Because the LandsatLook images were in the same projection as my map, I could directly place and then register the images in the Adobe Illustrator file with MAPublisher. Had the projections been different, I first would have had to transform the LandsatLook images using the Geographic Imager plugin in Adobe Photoshop. Finally, I moved the LandsatLook images to a bottom layer and dimmed them for editing the lines with Illustrator’s Pencil tool. Using a Wacom tablet and stylus for editing lines greatly improved my drawing speed and accuracy.

If a 30-meter LandsatLook image lacks enough detail, you can increase the apparent resolution to 15 meters by applying panchromatic sharpening. Doing this will involve downloading all data bands that comprise the Landsat scene (a Zipped archive about 1 GB in size). Within this archive is Band 8, a grayscale image showing the same area as the LandsatLook image, but with double the resolution.

Tom Patterson Geographic ImagerComing into focus. A LandsatLook image before (left) and after (right) panchromatic sharpening.
Besides increasing detail, panchromatic sharpening also shifts colors.

Once Band 8 is downloaded, the first step is to enlarge the size of the LandsatLook image by 200 percent in Photoshop (Image/Image Size). Resample it using the Preserve Details (enlargement) option. Next, copy and paste Band 8 on top of the LandsatLook image. Then, in the Layers window, change the blending mode of the Band 8 layer from Normal to Luminosity. Finally, apply Curves adjustments to both layers until the tonal range of the combined image is to your liking. The pan-sharpened LandsatLook image will keep its georeferencing thanks to the Geographic Imager plugin.

Tom Patterson Geographic Imager Landsat8Use the Layers window in Photoshop to apply panchromatic sharpening. 
Selecting Luminosity blending mode for the Band 8 layer is key.

The Big Island, Hawaii

In 2017, I created a Landsat mosaic of the Big Island as a starting point for making two National Park Service maps: Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I used the Landsat mosaic as a source for land cover textures—forest cover and historic lava flows (those that formed since 1800)—depicted on these maps. Compared to the Landsat mosaic, the map textures print very lightly in the interest of visual cleanliness.

Tom Patterson Geographic ImagerBig Island Landsat mosaic (left) and the maps of Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail (middle) and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (right) derived from it. Click here to see a larger version of the Ala Kahakai map (5 MB) and here for the Hawaii Volcanoes map (6.4 MB).

The first step in creating a Landsat mosaic was downloading the appropriate image data. In a perfect world, a mosaic of the Big Island would only require four 185-kilometer-wide Landsat images. However, because of persistent cloudiness on the windward side of the island, ten images were needed to complete a nearly cloud-free mosaic. Using images taken in previous years was a necessity. When selecting older images with fewer clouds, I looked for those taken at about the same time of year to keep the lighting consistent. I then used the Clone Stamp and Spot Healing Brush tools in Photoshop to carefully delete any unavoidable clouds and their shadows from the mosaic. Fortunately, the few clouds that remained were in remote areas far from the main focus of the final maps.

Tom Patterson Geographic ImagerThe Big Island is covered by four overlapping Landsat images.

Tom Patterson Geographic Imager Landsat 8Clouds be gone. The Landsat mosaic before (left) and after (right) editing.

The Landsat mosaic was assembled in Photoshop using Geographic Imager (File/Automate/GI: Mosaic). In the Mosaic window, I selected the Maintain Layers option to ensure that each Landsat image was placed on a separate layer. I then added layer masks to each image layer to piece together the ten images with the goal of avoiding clouds. Although the masks themselves with feathered edges looked like a messy jig-saw puzzle, they combined to produce a seamless Landsat satellite image mosaic.

Tom Patterson Geographic Imager MosaicGeographic Imager’s Mosaic window.

I created the Big Island mosaic in natural color by compositing Bands 4, 3, and 2 as red, green, and blue channels, respectively, in Photoshop. I also brightened the forested areas with LandsatLook mosaic placed on the topmost Photoshop layer and with the layer opacity reduced (in normal blending mode). The natural color procedure is explained in detail here.

With a Landsat mosaic of the Big Island completed, my next task was extracting the forest and lava textures and applying them to the Ala Kahakai and Hawaii Volcanoes maps. But that was an involved procedure that will have to wait for another blog.

One more thing …

Since making the Big Island mosaic in 2017, the Puna district experienced volcanic activity in 2018 that covered a large area in lava and reconfigured the shoreline. Although Puna is the cloudiest area on the Big Island, I was lucky to find a recent cloud-free Landsat image that I then used to update the mosaic. You can download a GeoTIFF of the updated mosaic here (120 MB). It is in the public domain.

Tom Patterson Geographic ImagerPuna District, Hawaii, before (left) and after (right) the volcanic eruptions of 2018.

Refreshing Your Maps with Linked Data

Does your map have data that updates periodically? Maybe your river data gets updated each year, or the lake boundaries change. Typically, this means importing all the data into your map again as things change. To make your life easier, MAPublisher has the option to Manage Data Links, which allows you to check for updates to linked data and to automatically apply the updates to the map! You can even set your MAP Theme Stylesheets to apply to the new data so you don’t have to re-style it manually.

Say you’ve got a street map that you created last year. But, the city has updated the status of some of the streets. Some of the lanes have changed to local roads, and some of the minor arterial roads have been updated to major arterial. Instead of importing all of your data again, let’s create some data links (with linked MAP Theme Stylesheets) to update the map with ease.

Toronto Streets

Let’s focus on a small inset of this map so we can better see the changes that will happen. In this example, we’ll focus on an area where we know the ‘laneways’ have changed to ‘local’ roads. Our laneways are purple, and our local roads are in blue.

Toronto Streets Inset

Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s check out the data link itself. Your data link was automatically created when you imported your data. To access the data link, simply open the Manage Data Links in the MAP Views panel.

Edit Data Link

You’ll see that there is one data link, and that’s for the streets file we imported to make the map last year.  To view the settings of the data link, click Edit (pencil icon) at the bottom-left of the dialog box.

Edit Data Link

Now you have the option to turn on the ‘Automatically check for updates when the document is opened’ setting, and (or) turn on ‘Apply any relevant stylesheet or dot density themes to layers on update’. In order for the stylesheet option to work, be sure to set the appropriate destination layer.

Edit Link Details

Once all the settings are set, check if there are any data updates by clicking the Check button in the Manage Data Link window.

Check for Updates

After checking we can see that the Status has updated to say that our data is out of date. Click the Update button to update the data. A dialog box will pop up to confirm that this is indeed the data you’d like to update. Click Update to start the update. I know that some of the ‘laneways’ have been changed to ‘local’ roads, and so the attribute has been updated. Since I created the MAP Theme using those, we should see the changes.

Update Data Links

Updating Data

Once the update is finished, we can see on our map that all of our ‘laneways’ have changed to ‘local’ roads, and they have updated with the MAP Theme Stylesheet as well.

Final Updated Map

Using the Manage Data Links option is an easy way to update your data when updates become available! Save yourself the time and hassle of importing data over and over again and use the data links to your advantage. If you’re looking for more documentation, be sure to check out our help pages.

Cartographer Chronicles: Tom Patterson

The process of making maps can vary greatly depending on the cartographer and the purpose of the map. Tom Patterson, one of the cartographers behind the public domain data set Natural Earth and the popular website Shaded Relief, regards cartography as a creative process. He sees geospatial data as an artist would see paint on their palette. “They are raw materials from which the map is made,” says Patterson. “For me, the map making process starts with an online scavenger hunt for geospatial data, and ends with a visual depiction of the results of that scavenger hunt, a map.”

Patterson recently retired after 26 years with the U.S. National Park Service at the Harpers Ferry Center, located in West Virginia. Harpers Ferry Center is the media hub for the U.S. National Park Service, where most of the maps, exhibits, and publications for public consumption are produced.

Patterson is well-known for making maps with beautiful shaded relief effects, a technique that he has focused on for his entire career. It’s something he has a passion for and is a feature that he believes makes his maps unique. “When making a shaded relief, I go to great pains to portray the natural world in a beautiful and idealized manner, by combining shaded relief with land cover data, drop shadows, gradients and vignettes, with control and restraint,” says Patterson. “I ultimately want to create a shaded relief that readers will find attractive and which will blend harmoniously with the vector elements above.” Patterson prefers light, luminous colours for depicting terrain, and also tell a story. “A map is more than just a combination of points, lines, polygons, type and pixels. To me, a really good map is one that becomes much more than the sum of these parts,” he says. “Maps are an important form of communication, and they should effectively share the ideas of the cartographer to the map reader.”

When making graphically creative maps, you want to use tools that provide you with the most control. With MAPublisher, you can easily access and manipulate geospatial data using Adobe software. “MAPublisher and Geographic Imager bridge the gulf between graphical and GIS worlds.”

Patterson was an early-adopter of MAPublisher, a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator after learning about it in 1996 at the annual North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) conference. If you’ve ever used the Natural Earth data, you might be interested to know that most of the vector elements were created with MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator.

He was also integral in the development of Geographic Imager when during a presentation about manipulating Digital Raster Elevation Model (DEM) data he commented that having a MAPublisher-like software for Adobe Photoshop would be useful. “My suggestion was heard by the President of Avenza, Ted Florence, who was in the audience. He put me in touch with the software development team at Avenza to brainstorm ideas about a GIS plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. Geographic Imager was the eventual result of our discussions.”

Along with his many contributions to the cartographic community, Patterson has held some important positions as the former president and current Executive Director of NACIS. Patterson has created accessible, open source data for global use (Natural Earth), he recently contributed to a new map projection that is taking the cartography and GIS world by storm; Equal Earth. “This equal-area pseudo-cylindrical projection has gained traction rapidly—it seems that cartographers and map users alike have had an unfilled need for world maps depicting countries at true size and presented in a pleasing manner,” he quips.

As an accomplished and respected veteran of the field, we asked that what advice Patterson would give to new cartographers, finding their way? “Seek out advice,” he states. “Map design and production is mostly a solitary task, and any map you create will seem easy-to-understand and logical to you since you are the one who made it. But, your readers may not see it that way,” says Patterson. “The easiest way to avoid these potential ‘failures to communicate’ is by showing drafts of your maps to people that are not family and close friends.”

Another tip that Patterson has for fledgeling cartographers, is to give readers a reason to slow down and read your map. “The trick in today’s media-saturated environment is to design a map that will catch your reader’s eye, ignite their curiosity, and draw them in. Give the most emphasis to the information you want them to remember long after they put down your map.”

Cartographer Chronicles: Thorfinn Tait

Cartographer Chronicles Thorfinn Tait

A teacher by day and a cartographer by night, Thorfinn Tait (a native of Scotland) has been teaching high school in Japan for almost 20 years while making maps of fantasy lands in his spare time.

Mapping is a hobby for Tait, and his deep love of atlases, along with fantasy role-playing games (known as RPGs), helped drive him towards creating his own maps of fantasy worlds. He started in 2005, making maps in Adobe Illustrator. His goal was to create an atlas of a fantasy world, that included the same variety of maps that you’d find in any traditional world atlas — topographical, political, thematic — along with all the tables of data typically found in an atlas. He chose to map the world of Mystara, a popular Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign setting from the 80s and 90s.

Tait set out to compile all of the original maps of Mystara (more than 250 of them) into a cohesive whole. “One of my biggest struggles was trying to work out what projection Mystara’s maps used. But there was a fundamental disconnect for me in that Illustrator alone did not have the functions I needed,” says Tait. “For example, to change the projection of a map, I tried to use it in tandem with other GIS software, but it was very troublesome having to constantly import and export elements between programs.”

Map of Caldwen

While working on the Atlas of Mystara project, an original Mystara author made a return to the industry, and Tait volunteered to remake his maps in Illustrator. The year after, that same author commissioned Tait to map a new RPG world, the World of Calidar. Determined to avoid the same problems he’d encountered with Mystara, he began establishing dimensions of the new world and creating custom projections based on them. But, working between Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and GIS software was still very complicated.

World of Calidar

I managed to complete the first assignment with just those tools, but as soon as I got my first commission, I invested it right back into my maps by purchasing MAPublisher and Geographic Imager.” With MAPublisher, a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator and Geographic Imager, a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Tait could work natively in both Illustrator and Photoshop.

“My favourite aspect of MAPublisher is without a doubt the custom coordinate system. It allows me to create resources for fantasy worlds just like they already exist for the real world, and then repurpose them across all of my maps,” says Tait. He also uses MAP Attributes and adds data to the world’s geography. “For example, it’s easy for me to track things like road and river lengths, land areas, dimensions of coastlines and political borders, and so on — MAPublisher calculates all of these things for me automatically.”

MAPublisher has allowed Tait to take his previous work and convert it to the newly established custom coordinate systems, without losing any of the GIS attributes he’d created over previous years. Tait also uses Geographic Imager to create Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) for the World of Calidar. DEMs can help bring maps to life, adding an intricate level of detail and depth.

The Great Caldera

Tait’s tagline for his freelance business is “Mapping fantastic worlds with real-world accuracy”. “I couldn’t do this without MAPublisher and Geographic Imager,” he says. “The software allows me to create and work with data for a fantasy world just like other people map the real world, the only difference is that I am creating all the data myself!”

“MAPublisher has truly expanded my horizons as a cartographer and has also changed the course of my projects. Without it, my current work would simply not be practical — in fact, probably not possible at all.”

Tait is currently working on georeferencing existing Mystara maps and tagging elements with their original sources. Check out more of his mapping projects on his website!

MAP Chart Themes: Doing More with Your Data

We all love a good choropleth map, but sometimes we need our map to display more than just different shades of colour to communicate more detailed information. MAP Chart Themes are the perfect way to distribute that extra bit of information that you want your readers to know. You can display the data in a bar chart format, or pie chart format. There’s even the option to have the charts change scale according to the data.

Say you have a map showing the population density of Toronto, like this map below.

MAP Theme Density Map

But, while this shows just the density of the population, you want to go more in-depth. For example, you want to look at all the ethnic origins of the residents of each neighbourhood. This is the perfect opportunity to use MAP Chart Themes.

To create a MAP Chart Theme, open the MAP Themes panel (Window > MAPublisher > MAP Themes) and click the + button to create a new Theme. Then choose Chart as the Theme type.

Create MAP Chart Theme
Once you’ve created your theme, now you can get to making your charts! You can use either bar charts or pie charts, choose whichever will show your data best. To show the variety of ethnic origins for the neighbourhoods in Toronto, I chose a pie chart.

MAP Chart Themes Settings

Select a layer, then click the Add Attribute button (the green plus icon) to add your attributes. Select the attribute you want to include in the chart, and style it as you see fit. The preview at the bottom will update as you make changes to the components of your chart. There are options to change the size of the chart, and even turn it into a donut chart!

MAP Chart Themes Donut Chart

If you want to include a title for your charts you can, but because my map contains so many charts in a relatively small area, I chose not too. Labels for the sections of the charts can also be added as well. Edit the test if necessary, and even label your pie charts with percentages if that helps to better communicate your data.

MAP Chart Themes Labels

My favourite feature is the Scaling option (button is on the right). This allows you to automatically scale the size of your charts based on attributes. You can set the scale by defining the value that represents 100%, then select an attribute, click Load and watch the magic happen. This feature is super handy especially if you’re creating a map with tight boundaries or not a lot of extra space because you can easily adjust the size of all charts at the same time.

MAP Chart Themes Scaling

Back to my example map, I set the scaling and applied the MAP Chart Theme. Since there are 140 neighbourhoods in Toronto, I chose an inset of the larger map to show how the scaling appears. You’ll see neighbourhoods with a higher population have a larger pie chart, while neighbourhoods with a lower population have a smaller chart.

MAP Chart Themes

The scaling feature works for bar charts as well. I created another map with data showing the total number of inter-province visits for each Canadian province in 2016 vs 2017. In this case, I chose not to change the scale of the charts (by total number of visits per province) so it’s easier to see the comparison.

MAP Chart Themes Bar Charts

If you’ve made it this far in the post, and have eagle-eyes you’ll notice that there are no charts for the Territories or the Maritime provinces. Since I only wanted to visualize the data for some of the provinces, I used the Ignore option in the MAP Chart Themes box. It’s handy when you want to exclude certain data, for any reason.

MAP Chart Themes Settings

There you have it! An easy way to visualize that extra data that your readers want to know, and you want to share without making your map overly complicated. Looking for more details on Chart Themes? Find it in the MAPublisher Documentation available on our website. 

Mapping Other Worlds: Coming Soon to MAPublisher

Every year new projections are created and we endeavour to add all of them to MAPublisher with new releases. While we’re very excited about Equal Earth coming in MAPublisher 10.4, there are a few other new projections that will also be added. Looking outside of our regular sphere of planet earth, we’re excited to announce we’ll be including Narnia Conic, Pandora Copernican, Camelot Equal Area and Atlantis Azimuthal.

We’re very comfortable mapping planet Earth. There are hundreds of projections to choose from, whether you’re mapping a town, a state or a continent there are lots of options. While the world of planetary cartography is growing, there are relatively few projections for planets outside our realm. Pandora Copernican is the first of its kind and can be used for the entire planet of Pandora. While the Na’vi may not be big map users, the humans on Pandora need them in their quest for unobtanium.

Pandora Avatar

Narnia Conic and Camelot Equal Area will help create a more solidified general map for both lands. While both exist in different realms, these projections will help cartographers create maps to assist readers in identifying key plot locations and add to their enjoyment of the story. By creating projections for these two areas, the maps created for these mythical areas will now allow for a more accurate representation of the fantasy.

The most anticipated projection, Atlantis Azimuthal, will allow any cartographer to display Atlantis in its full glory. With Atlantis Azimuthal, the islands around Atlantis will be shown in proper relation to the capital, along with the canals. Bringing Plato’s land to life, Atlantis Azimuthal will be a staple for all cartographers mapping mystical lands.

These undoubtedly useful, otherworldy projections will be available with the upcoming release of Avenza’s MAPublisher cartographic plug-in for Adobe Illustrator.

Atlantis Drawing

Atlantis image source:

Using Automation in MAPublisher

We are always looking for shortcuts to make work easier for our MAPublisher users. One way to simplify your workflow is by automating some of the routine tasks that are required to make maps using MAPublisher in Adobe Illustrator. Not everyone is familiar with software automation, or even knows that it’s available in MAPublisher but if you are curious to learn more, then keep reading!

Automation tools in MAPublisher help to make simple or repetitive tasks easier and faster. Automation can be run independently or in conjunction with the FME Auto MAPublisher Plug-in which allows more advanced automation. The Automation tool can be accessed from the automation button (lightning bolt) on the MAPublisher toolbar, or by clicking in the menu Object > MAPublisher > Automation.

MAPublisher Toolbar Automation

There are several automation options available in MAPublisher. You can use automation to create MAP Grids, apply labels, apply applicable MAP Stylesheets, and even export to geospatial PDFs. An important point to note, to use automation on a MAPublisher document, the document must be active in Illustrator.

Automating Map Views

If you’re planning to use automation, you’ll have to enable the specific options you would like to automate. For example, to import data to a matching MAP View, simply enable the MAP Views option, and select from the dropdown list the tasks that you want MAPublisher to complete. Make sure that the coordinate system of data being imported matches a coordinate system of the existing MAP View, then select one of the four actions for your data.

MAPublisher Automation MAP Views

Automating MAP Themes

If you’re a fan of MAP Stylesheets (we all know they make our lives easier) then you can have MAPublisher apply them using automation. Enable the option and MAPublisher will apply any  MAP Themes that meet the criteria to the imported data. Don’t forget to set the ‘Auto-assign’ in the specific MAP Stylesheets themselves as well since you can’t link layers that haven’t been imported yet. If the ‘Auto-assign’ properties aren’t set correctly, your data will import but the stylesheet will not be applied.

MAPublisher Automation MAP Themes
Automating Grids & Graticules

For Grids & Graticules, you can set the extents for the grid bounds with either the MAP View or a layer that you’re going to import. If you’ve already created configuration files for your grid, then select either ‘All configuration files in this folder’ or ‘Only these configuration files’ if there is a need to use only certain configuration files.

Automating Labeling

When you enable labeling, choose either MAPublisher labeling or LabelPro. You’ll also have to choose a specific setting in the MAPublisher Preferences (Edit > MAPublisher Preferences > Import MAP Data). Uncheck ‘Append feature type as the suffix on imported layer names’ to be sure that your labels import properly.

To use the regular Label Features option, set the details such as the source layer, target layer, attribute, and the style. You can add as many layers as you need with the Add Layers button on the left, and remove as necessary. If you’re using LabelPro, simply load the .lps file.

MAPublisher Automation Labeling

Automating Export to Geospatial PDF

Last but not least, if need your document to be exported to a geospatial PDF as the last step of the automation process, enable the option and specify the location you’d like it saved in. Once you’ve selected all of your automation settings, import your data to watch your automation work!

Enabling automation in MAPublisher can speed up your map making process, and make your workflow easier. Save yourself extra steps when working with stylesheets and grids you’ve already created, and let automation do the work for you. Simple MAPublisher magic!

More MAPublisher Features We Love

Last year we wrote a blog post about some of our team’s favourite MAPublisher features. Not surprisingly for software that has been around for over 20 years, everyone had a different favourite and we had to be selective for the blog post. This year, with new team members coming on board and new MAPublisher releases it’s a good time for a new list of favourites. Check out some of these features that you might not know about, and find out how they can make your workflow easier!

Create Elevation Plot

Jeff C. – Quality Assurance

Prior to MAPublisher 10.3, “Create Elevation Plot” was a feature of Path Utilities I seldom used because, to be honest, it had a few limitations. MAPublisher 10.3 introduced a completely new way of creating elevation profiles, and the difference is astounding. The available customization options are endless – not only can you select whether your axes will use metric or imperial units, but you can also set the Line Colour, Line Width, Fill Colour, Background Colour, Axis Intervals, Axis Labels, Graph Size and much more. Another aspect of this updated tool that I love is the ability to save and re-use ‘styles’. These styles remember specific elements of an elevation profile (e.g. appearance, units, size, etc.) and can be applied to other profiles made in the future, saving the user a lot of time.

Elevation Plot Created in MAPublisher

Text Utilities

Keith  S.- Quality Assurance

In my opinion, the Text Utilities tool is one that is underutilized in MAPublisher. The tool allows you to perform actions on text within a document, including Curve Text to Latitude, Draw Shape Around Text, Merge Text, Create Line From Text on a Path, and many more. The actions can be performed on selected text only, text on specific layers, or all text in the document. The tool even allows the user to preview most actions before committing the changes.

If you have ever seen text along a path with a red plus symbol at the end of it after performing a transformation or manual adjustment it is an indication that the text path is not long enough to contain all of the text. No problem for my favourite action in the Text Utilities tool—Extend Overflowing Text. This utility solves the issue by extending the text path to a length which will accommodate the full length of the text.

Join Lines

Oliver N. – Customer Support

One of my favourite tools to use in MAPublisher is the Join Lines tool. If you are working with a road or rail network and sections of the same track or street connect to each other but are broken into different line features, you can easily join them into single features with a common attribute like Street Name or Track Number. You can target a line layer and then in the Destination options, choose either to perform the join on the original target layer or specify a name for a new line layer that will contain the joined lines. You can also use a proximity value to determine how close the lines must be in order to be joined. I find that this tool allows subsequent styling to be done easily and saves a lot of time in arranging the data to your needs. It also reduces the size of your file by compiling data into fewer features.

Copy MAP Objects From

Keith S. – Quality Assurance

This feature allows users to copy MAP objects (including MAP Views, MAP Layers, MAP Themes, MAP Selections, and MAP Locations) from one open document to another. MAP Views can be copied by themselves or with their associated MAP Layers. The best part is, that any artwork which is copied to the destination document will retain its styling provided that the custom colour swatches used in copied artwork are set as “Global” in the Adobe Swatch Options dialog. It works like this: With the destination document open, launch the Copy MAP Object From tool. Select the object(s) you want to copy to the destination document by checking the checkbox beside each object, then click “OK” to perform the copy. Copy MAP Objects From is one of my favourite features because it saves so much time when styling maps!

Copy MAP Objects From in MAPublisher

MAP Themes Scaling Charts

Bob P. – Business Development Associate

My favourite way of making infographic maps is using our MAP Chart themes. Within Chart Themes, you can add a bar or pie chart to any point layer, based on any set of attributes from the point layer. For an added level of information, each of the charts can be scaled based on the value from another attribute. This helps when you want to show the proportion of values, but also give an indication of the total population size for each point too. The best part is MAPublisher allows you to pick between Area and Radial scaling for pie charts. If the population of one point is twice the size of the smallest point, it can either have twice the area, or twice the radius length. This is my favourite tool in MAPublisher, because it shows that our team thinks of everything to make sure cartographers can make the exact map they want, right down to the smallest details.

Creating Chart Themes using MAP Themes in MAPublisher

About the Authors

Jeff, Keith, Bob and Oliver are all members of the Avenza Systems Team and their passion for maps shows through in the work that they do with our clients and in developing MAPublisher.

Mapping Love: Celebrating Valentine’s Day by Creating Infographics

Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate than with new maps (and creating infographics) about love? This year we’ve hunted for romantic data for Canada and the United States and visualized it all for you using MAPublisher 10.3 and Adobe Illustrator.

The first map shows all the most romantic locations (at least as their names suggest) in Canada. This information was provided by Stats Canada. Using the MAPublisher Point Plotter, it was easy to plot all of the locations!

The best part about using the Point Plotter is you can choose any symbol available in your symbol library to mark the points. I chose the symbol that I wanted (a Valentine’s map marker–how adorable!) and then plotted each location simply by using the town’s name and province.

Canadian Point Plotter - MAPublisher

After adding some text and symbols in keeping with the theme, the map was ready to go! You can check out the PDF below, or, you can download the georeferenced version from the Avenza Map Store, for use in the Avenza Maps app

Romantic Places Map made with MAPublisher


Moving on to my infographic – which is a popular and engaging way to illustrate statistics and small amounts of data that might otherwise be overlooked. I found data from the United States covering a variety of Valentine’s Day topics. The plan is for my infographic to include two maps and two additional charts. The first map illustrates the average wedding cost by state, and the second map shows popular proposal locations.

For the average wedding cost per state map, I used a MAP Theme to colour all the states appropriately (and quickly!). The benefit of using a MAP Theme is that you can apply a theme to multiple layers at once. Since Hawaii and Alaska were projected separately from the mainland of the United States, they exist in different layers on the artboard. Using a MAP Theme made it easy to include them in the colour scheme of the map.

MAP Themes - MAPublisher

On the second map, I want to map the most popular proposal locations in the country. I used the MAP Point Plotter tool again, but, this time, I used the latitude and longitude to plot the points because some of the locations could not be plotted by name alone. It’s very beneficial to be able to swap between the two options!

USA Point Plotter - MAPublisher

My maps are complete, and after adding two graphs (made using the graphing tools in Illustrator) containing even more fun Valentine’s day data, and some love-ly symbols, the entire infographic was finished. You can check out the completed infographic below!

Valentine's Day Infographic made with MAPublisher

About the Author

Rebecca Bennett is a member of the Marketing Team at Avenza Systems and loves making creative and visually appealing maps.

MAPublisher 10.3 Released

We’re excited to announce the release of MAPublisher 10.3 for Adobe Illustrator. We’ve listened to your feedback and worked closely with our users to build features to improve map design and productivity. Stay tuned for more blog posts and other resources that go deeper into some of the new features. For now, here’s an overview:

MAPublisher 10.3

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

Compatible with Adobe Illustrator CC 2019. We’re committed to providing the best GIS and cartography tools for building great quality maps in Adobe Illustrator. Improvements to our user interface to support high-resolution monitors, and this release is fully compatible with the latest Adobe Illustrator CC 2019 on both Windows (32-bit and 64-bit) and Mac.

Create Elevation Profile charts. An often-requested feature from our users, elevation data for points along a selected path can now be collected and displayed as an elevation profile in a highly customizable chart. The data is downloaded in real-time from a server (internet connection is required), which can then be customized to your liking using the available settings. Frequently used settings can even be saved for future use.

View data distribution when batch generating rules in MAP Themes and MAP LabelPro. When selecting a data classification in MAP Themes or MAP LabelPro, you now have the ability to see how it affects the data distribution in an interactive histogram and chart. Histograms are a great way to visualize continuous data in intervals and useful for large sets of data points.

Improved attribute capabilities in ‘Join’ tools. We have added many attribute management improvements to MAPublisher Join tools (Join Areas, Join Points, and Join Lines). You can now better manage how attributes are handled during a Join process, including the ability to calculate new attributes. We also added additional operations to help you better sort and calculate statistics from attributes.

MAPublisher 10.3 Release Notes

  • Compatible with Adobe Illustrator CC 2019
  • Create Elevation Profile charts
  • View data distribution when batch generating rules in MAP Themes and MAP LabelPro
  • Improved attribute capabilities in ‘Join’ tools
  • User interface and usability enhancements