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New Text Utilities in MAPublisher 8.4

Among other great new features, MAPublisher 8.4 includes new text utilities designed to ease cartographic workflow by adding flexibility to text handling. These tools are accessed through two icons grouped with the MAPublisher document operations tools on the MAPublisher tool bar.

Text Utilities Icons

Text Utilities

Add functions like convert text on a path to point text, separate multiline text, extend overflowing text, flip upside down text, crop text path to text length, set text alignment, rectify point text to angle, and draw shape around text. These text utilities can be applied to selections, to layers, or to all document text at once. The following table provides examples for the result of each tool.

Text Utilities Icons

Right-to-Left Text Tool

Many right-to-left languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, require additional language-specific processing to get the correct glyph output given the incoming character stream. Let’s look at an example.

Looking at the MAP Attribute panel, we see that the Arabic script is displayed properly

Text Utilities Icons

Yet, when using the Label Features tool, we see that the Arabic text is placed as a series of symbols that indicate that the text placement could not be accomplished accurately. This is one of two scenarios we will see, the other being that the Arabic characters will be placed left-to-right.

This happens because Label Features uses the currently selected font, in this case Myriad Pro. Since the Arabic characters were not found in the current Myriad Pro, the displayed symbol is substituted.

Text Utilities Icons

Once we apply the Right-to-Left text tool to these symbols, the Arabic characters will be reordered and altered to display the character appropriate to placement within the word and appropriate to surrounding characters. To apply the Right-to-Left text tool select Arabic from the preset drop-down menu. This populates the remaining settings with the correct parametrs.

Text Utilities Icons

Clicking OK, the script now matches what is found in the MAP Attribute Table.

Text Utilities Icons

If you are using MAP LabelPro, you will also need to use the Right-to-Left text tool after labeling. However, there is a slight difference between Feature Labels and MAP LabelPro behaviour. Instead of displaying the box with “x” symbol, it will place the Arabic characters in reverse order from their proper placement in the MAP Attributes table.

Text Utilities Icons

The text on the left is placed by MAP LabelPro, with the text on the right having been corrected with the Right-to-Left text tool.

We’re excited that these text utilities are being incorporated into MAPublisher. Many users have been requesting more text options. We hope you’ll like them as much as we do. We’re putting the finishing touches on MAPublisher 8.4 and will be releasing it in a few weeks.

Aligning data with different coordinate systems in MAPublisher

When first creating a map, very often you will find yourself having to align GIS data, especially if it is found or supplied by various sources. You might find that the coordinate systems assigned to each of the datasets might be different. This can prove challenging for many cartographers and GIS users. However, with MAPublisher, you can transform and align your datasets to one coordinate system very easily using the MAP Views panel.

Imported maps have different coordinate systems

For example, we have five layers with three different coordinate systems. After importing them into MAPublisher, the result is three different MAP Views. The MAP Area layer (Province) is in a Lambert conformal conic projection. The MAP Line Layer (river) and MAP Area layer (lake) are in a Robinson projection. Lastly, the MAP Point layer (cities) and MAP Line layer (roads) are in a geodetic coordinate system WGS84.

5 MAP Layers with 3 different MAPViews

Let’s decide that the map we are creating here will have a Lambert conformal conic projection (the MAP View with the province area layer). Now, simply select the two layers in the Robinson MAP View, then drag them to the “Lambert Conf. Conic – 1: 30,000,000” MAP View.

MAPublisher trick: Drag and Drop Transformation

The rivers and lakes layers are now transformed and aligned to the province boundary layer.

Two map layers are transformed and aligned properly.

We will do the same for the cities and roads layers in the “WGS84” MAP View. Select the two map layers (cities and roads layers) then drag them to the “Lambert Conf. Conic – 1: 30,000,000” MAP View.

MAPublisher trick: Drag and Drop transformation for two map layers

The cities and roads layers are projected on-the-fly. Now every layer is transformed to a Lambert conformal conic projection and aligned appropriately.

Every map layer is transformed and aligned properly


Related topics

New in MAPublisher 8.4: Image MAP Layer feature type for georeferenced images

MAPublisher 8.4 introduces two new related features: to import supported image formats directly from the MAPublisher Simple and Advanced Import dialog boxes and the Image MAP Layer feature type. To import a georeferenced image into the current MAPublisher 8.3 (and earlier) requires you 1) to create a new MAP Layer for an image to be placed, 2) use File > Place to place an image into the Adobe Illustrator document, and 3) to use MAPublisher Register Image to align with the vector work. With MAPublisher 8.4, these steps are streamlined and it will be much simpler to deal with georeferenced image files.

Below is the Simple Import dialog box. The new Format option, Image, is added to the drop-down list. Supported images include: PNG, JPG, TIF, GIF, JP2, PSD, PDD, and BMP.

MAPublisher 8.4: Import dialog window

The VancouverDowntown.tif file was selected from the MAPublisher Quick Start dataset. The source coordinate system of the image, “NAD 83 / UTM Zone 10N”, is automatically detected because it is a GeoTIFF and contains the georeference information of the image.

MAPublisher Simple Import: Coordinate System identified for the selected data

When the georeferenced image is imported by MAPublisher, it is stored in a new layer called “VancouverDowntown_image”. MAPublisher 8.4 introduces a new MAP Layer feature type called “Image”, a purple icon with the letter ” I “. From now on, all images should be placed on Image MAP Layers.

MAPView: New data type "IMAGE"

Remember that images placed in Adobe Illustrator using MAPublisher cannot be transformed or reprojected into another coordinate system. To transform an image from one coordinate system to another, it must be done using another software such as Geographic Imager.

MAPublisher 8.4 will be released very soon. Thanks for sending us feature requests like this one. If you have any feature requests for MAPublisher, Geographic Imager or PDF Maps, please feel free to drop us a line at We’re always happy to hear from you!

New Join Areas feature in MAPublisher 8.4

The upcoming release of MAPublisher 8.4 introduces many new features. One of the new features is called Join Areas. We have received a lot of requests from our customers to create area objects by merging common attribute values. This geoprocessing function is generally known as “dissolve”.

The picture below shows polygon objects from a USA Counties layer. The goal is to create a layer with state boundaries and summing the population count by joining the objects of the counties layer.

USA County MAP

In the MAP Attributes panel of the USA Counties layer, every object of the counties layer contains attribute information including county name, state name, FIPS codes, area in km2, population and so on. We’ll be using the StateName attribute value to combine all the county polygons into one polygon per state.

MAP Attribute of the USA County layer

This is the new Join Area dialog box. On the left side, we’ll specify 1) target layer, 2) destination (output) layer, 3) join type and 4) join method. We are trying to create state boundaries from the counties target layer so we’ll select a join type based on the StateName attribute and output it to a new layer called USA States. The join will create compound paths and since our goal is to create state polygons, we’ll dissolve borders between adjacent sub-areas.

On the right side of the dialog box are attribute value operations available for each column. These operations determine what kind of the values will result for every attribute and the operations available are different for each data type (String, Real, Integer). The screenshot below shows the attribute value operation set to Sum for Population attribute (Integer data type). When the Join Area is complete, each state polygon will have the sum of the population of all the counties that belong to it.

After running the Join Areas function, county polygons are dissolved into state boundaries.

The population values show the total sum from all the counties for every state.

This is just one example of how Join Areas can be used. It was initially a feature request and with some discussion and planning, it became real. If you have any feature requests for MAPublisher, Geographic Imager or PDF Maps, please feel free to drop us a line at We’re happy to hear from all of you!

Making dashed lines intersect at every intersection in MAPublisher

One of the great advantages of using Adobe Illustrator for a mapping project is that you can make great line styles easily. For example, to make a double line stroke and one of them is dashed:

01: Double Stroke Line

Double strokes are a line graphic style where two different line strokes overlap each other. For example, the image shows that there is a stroke with a brown color and its stroke size is 3 pts. On top of this brown line, there is a 1 pt white dash line:

02: Double stroke lines with the settings shown in the appearance panel

You might have an experience where you duplicated one line layer and assigned a different style for lines in each of those layers. However, this has some disadvantages. The file size will increase because all the line segments as well as the attribute information attached to every line object is duplicated. Also, when you apply the double stroke line to road layer, the white dash line does not intersect nicely at every intersection of the map:

02: Double stroke problem

With Adobe Illustrator CS5, these problems are solved.

0) Create a graphic style like the one shown above.

1) Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder).

03: Pathfinder Tool

2) Select all the line objects in the line layer.
Click the outline tool 04: Pathfinder - outline tool .

This function in the Pathfinder tool breaks lines at every intersection.

03: Pathfinder - function: breaking lines at every intersection

All the selected objects which were selected at Step 2 will be broken into segments at every intersection and they will be grouped as one object in the layer.

04: Pathfinder result - all the objects are now grouped.

3) Having the grouped objects selected, apply the graphic style with the double stoke.

4) The white dashed line is intersected at every intersection nicely.
05: dashed lines intersect at every intersection

Quick tip

When creating double stroke, make sure to select the option trick tool “Align dashes to corners & path ends, adjusting length to fit” available next to the dash line option.


Since this operation involves a pathfinder functions, the attribute information will not be matintained after the “outline” function is applied to those selected line works. Our development team is looking for a possible solution to keep the attribute information for the future version of MAPublisher.

Changing the Point Angle using Expressions and Attribute Values in MAPublisher

Here we have placed point symbols for a MAP Point layer. However, we want to change the point angle using the Attribute values.

Step 0: my point (not rotated)

Below is the attribute table for the point data shown above. The field directionAngle is the field containing the symbol rotation value. With MAPublisher, it’s possible to assign this value to every symbol in this layer.

step 1: Attribute data

Open the Edit Schema dialog box from the MAP Attribute panel. Find the field called #Rotation from the attribute field list. This #Rotation field is hidden/invisible by default. Click the Visible option to enable it and click OK.

MAP Attributes > Edit Schema

In the MAP Attributes panel, you can see that the #Rotation field shown. The values in this field is 0.00 degree for every point in the layer. We’ll assign the angle value from the directionAngle field to the #Rotation value .

MAP Attributes panel with the #Rotation field displayed

Open the Apply Expression dialog box from the MAP Attributes panel. Enter the column name directionAngle for the Expression and ensure that the value will be applied to the field #Rotation.

MAP Attributes panel > Apply Expression

Every value from the directionAngle field is now inherited by the #Rotation field.

MAP Attributes: Angle value assigned

As a result, the rotation angle is now applied to every point.

Point symbols after the angle values are assigned

The origin of the rotation is at each point’s registration point. With Adobe Illustrator CS4 and earlier, the registration point is set at the centre of the point symbol. With Adobe Illustrator CS5, the registration point can be flexibly placed. This will be discussed with some examples in a later topic. Stay tuned!

Creating a Custom Coordinate System from a Predefined Coordinate System

When transforming a world map in a geodetic system (such as WGS84) to a predefined projection (such as Robinson) using MAPublisher, the central meridian of the predefined projection should be set to 0 degree longitude as shown below.

Image 1: world map in WGS84

World map in WGS84 geodetic system

Image 2: world map in a predefined Robinson Projection

World map with the Robinson Projection with default settings

However, you might want to have a map with a different region centred on your map. For example, Image 3 below shows a world map with a part of Asia centred. In this case, the central meridian was set to 160 degrees East.

Image 3: world map in a custom Robinson Projection with a central meridian value set to 160 degree East

World map in a custom Robinson projection

Today we’ll introduce how to create a custom coordinate system by modifying a predefined coordinate system. We’ll use an example using a GIS dataset world.mif available in the MAPublisher Tutorial folder. We are going to transform a world map to a custom central meridian value with the Robinson projection.

Step 0 : import the “world.mif” file from MAPublisher tutorial folder.

step0:: import World.mif

Step 1 : Open the MAP View Editor window from the MAP Views panel.

In the MAP View Editor window, you can see that the scale of the map, position of the map extent with respect to the current document extent, and most importantly the current coordinate system assigned to the MAP View.

step 1: MAP View Editor window

We are going to transform the MAP View from WGS84 to the Robinson projection with a custom central meridian value. Check the “Perform cordinate System Transformation option.

Click the Specify button under the “Perform Coordinate System Transformation” section. It will open the “Specify Destination Coordinate System” dialog box.


Step 2: Creating a custom coordinate system with the Robinson projection

We are going to create a custom coordinate system based on the Robinson projection by modifying the existing Robinson projection. Find the existing Robinson projection from the list.

On the left side, navigate to Coordinate system > Projected > World. Highlight the folder “World”. You will see the list of the predefined coordinate systems available on the right side of the window. Find the “Robinson” and highlight it.

Step 2: Finding the predefined Robinson Projection

Once the predefined Robinson projection is highlighted, click the Copy button copy button at the bottom. It will duplicate the existing coordinate system and will open the “Projected Coordinate System Editor” dialog box for the duplicated coordinate system.

In the Projected Coordinate System Editor dialog box, there are two tabs: Identification and Definition. In the Identification tab, enter a new name for this customer coordinate system. This name will be used when you are searching the object.

Step 4: Projected Coordinate System Editor

Click the Definition tab. Change the value of central_meridian from 0 (default) to 160. Click OK to apply this new setting. You have just made a custom coordinate system based on the existing Robinson projection.

step 5: Projected Coordinate System Editor (Definition)

Step 3: Complete the Transformation

Under the “Perform Coordinate System Transformation”, the new custom coordinate system just created is indicated. Now you are ready to transform your map.

step 6: MAPView Editor with a transformation option

Now the world map is successfully transformed into the custom coordinate system (Robinson with the central meridian set to 160 degree East).

Transformed Robinson

You might want to take a look at this other blog about the new transformation engine implemented in MAPublisher 8.3.

Transforming an image into a custom coordinate system with Geographic Imager

You can use the same approach to transform your image into a custom coordinate system.

First, we open a world image that has a WGS84 coordinate system.

a world image in WGS84

Click the Transform button in the Geographic Imager main panel. It will open the Transform dialog box.

Click the Specify button. Now repeat Step 2 illustrated above to create a custom coordinate system. Once you select the custom coordinate system in the “Specify Coordinate System” dialog box, it will be indicated in the Transformation dialog box (in the example below, a custom coordinate system “Robinson cm @ 160 degree East” is selected as a destination coordinate system).

Geographic Imager: Transform dialog box

As soon as you click the Transform button, the transformation process will start. Once the transformation process is completed, the Geographic Imager main panel will indicate the new custom coordinate system name.

Transform completed.

Working with Custom Highway Shield Symbols and Label Features

MAPublisher offers a variety of labelling options, ranging from the MAP Tagger tool used for hand labelling single pieces of art, the Label Features tool for automatic attribute labelling, and MAPublisher LabelPro™, a separately licensed advanced labelling engine.

MAPublisher LabelPro ships with nearly 100 highway shields from across North America into which attribute labels can be easily placed. Although LabelPro does not support adding custom symbols to its existing symbols library, the following instructions outline a manual method for adding a custom highway shield to your map, along with placing text on to this shield.

First we must setup our custom shield. This can be drawn in Adobe Illustrator, or produced from a pre-existing image brought into Illustrator using the File > Place menu option. For this exercise I have taken a highway shield I found online from York Region Ontario, and using Adobe Photoshop removed the highway number from the shield.

Working with MAPublisher for Adobe Illustrator

Once the shield is drawn and sized appropriately and placed in Illustrator, simply use the Selection Tool to drag the symbol into the Adobe Illustrator Symbols panel. Be sure to name the symbol, as you will need to access the symbol from a list later on; I named mine “York_Shield”

Our next step is to produce our feature labels. Using the Label Features tool, choose to label with the “Don’t follow line, create point text” option selected. Once the labels are placed on the map, use the Adobe Layers panel to select the labels and use the Paragraph panel or the Control Toolbar to centre justify the labels. This step is important for easily lining up our shields with the labels.

Label map features

We now need to create a point layer with a point corresponding to each label. This is easily done by using the MAP Attribute panel option menu to “Export Attributes..” of our newly created Feature Labels MAP Text Layer. Be sure to choose export all attributes under Options: Scope, and to check “Include column names on first line” as we will be using the hidden MAPX and MAPY attribute columns when importing this data back into the map as point data.

Export map attributes

Next, use the MAPublisher Simple Import tool to add the newly created .csv file of referenced attribute information. When prompted by the Settings dialog, choose the MAPX column as the column containng X coordinates, and MAPY for Y coordinates. Once the data is imported, if it has not been added to the MAP View containing your line and text layers, add it, and specify the coordinate system if necessary.

MAPublisher Settings

With the imported point data selected, open the MAP Attribute panel and right click a column heading to access the Show/Hide Columns > Show All option. double click the #Style column and change the style to your shield symbol. Use the Apply Expression tool in the option menu to apply the symbol to every item at once.

Apply expressions

Alternately, a MAP Stylesheet can be built to apply the symbol only to art with a specific range of attributes. In the Adobe layers panel move your label layer above your symbol layer.

If text and symbol do not line up as desired, the symbol geometry will need to be altered. If you are using CS5, doubble click the shield in the symbol panel to enter isolation mode, here you can drag the symbol to respecify the anchor point so that your symbol lines up as you would like it. If you are using CS3 or CS4, you will need to add some invisible art (no stroke/no fill) just below or above the symbol to adjust its extents, and where exactly the symbol’s centre point is located. As well, symbol and text rotation can be edited globally by changing the #Rotation attribute in the MAP Attributes panel.

MAPublisher highway shields

Styling a MAPublisher Scale Bar

After generating a scale bar, it is placed in a MAP Legend layer. You can accept the default look of it, but majority of users will want to customize and style it to match their map.

Now I’ve just generated a simple scale bar. If you expand the Legend layer, you can see the object “MAPublisher Scalebar” is placed within it. This is a special object generated by MAPublisher and there is currently a dynamic link between the MAP View information (i.e. spatial information) and the scale bar object.

Generated Scale bar in the MAP Legend layer

In order to make a custom scale bar, you will have to break the dynamic link between MAPublisher and the scale bar object. In your own workflow, it’s important that you setup the scale before breaking the link because it will not rescale dynamically after the link is broken. Break the link by expanding the generated object.

From the main menu, choose Object > Expand.

From Adobe Illustrator Menu, Object > Expand

In the Expand dialog box, click the “Object” check box, then click OK.

Expand diaog window

The result: the object <MAPublisher Scalebar> is replaced by an object called <Group> in the Layers panel. The connection between the scale bar object and MAPublisher is removed. The art in the scale bar object simply became grouped objects.

Expanded Scale Bar Object

At this point, select objects in the group and change its colors and lines by using the direct selection tool Adobe Direct Selection tool. The direct selection tool allows you to select individual object even if select objects is a part of a <Group> object.

If you are more comfortable with the selection tool Adobe Illustrator Selection Tool, you will want to read the suggestion below. It works, too.

Take a look at the Layers panel again more closely. The screen capture of the Legend layer above shows that there is a <Group> object under the “Legend” layer. When the object tree under the “Legend” layer is expanded, you can see another <Group> object nested within a <Group> object. (a <Group> object containing a <Group> object). Since all the objects are still grouped, you can simply “ungroup” the art.

Expanded scale bar in the Layers panel

Select the <Group> object (i.e. the scale bar object for this example), then from the main menu, choose Object > Ungroup.

Adobe Illustrator menu: Ungroup

When you ungroup the object once, you now see only one <Group>. This <Group> object contains all the text, lines, and area objects composing a scale bar object.

Ungroup Once

Now, ungroup the object once more. Finally you do not see the object <Group> anymore under the “Legend” layer. It indicates that every object in the layer can now be selected individually using the direct selection tool.

After the grouped object is ungrouped twice ....

Select the objects to edit and style them using Adobe Illustrator tools!

At the end ... now ready to be customized

Buffer Art in MAPublisher

Up to MAPublisher 8.2, the MAPublisher Buffer Lines function was limited to only Line features. For MAPubisher 8.3, a revised buffer function called Buffer Art can be performed on both Line and Point layers. Buffer Art allows you to enter one fixed value to either all or the selected art in one layer or the values from an attribute column in one map layer.

Example 1: Applying a static value for the buffer width

Below is the new Buffer Art dialog box. I have one MAP Point layer with a location of a strong earthquake recorded in India n May 31, 2010.

Example with Buffer Art (1): Settings

I specified a value of 2100 Kilometer as the distance to buffer from the epicentre (the origin of the earthquake). The buffered art will be placed in the existing destination layer Buffer Area – 300 km interval.

For the buffered area, a pre-designed graphic style will be applied.

Lastly, I enabled the Add concentric circles every: option. This option will generate evenly spaced rings around the points within the buffered area. I am selecting 300 Kilometer for each concentric circle distance. It will generate seven concentric circles within the 2100 km buffer. As a result, you can see that a concentric ring is drawn every 300 km from the epicentre.

Example with Buffer Art (1): Result


Example 2: Applying values from an Attribute Column for the buffer width (Creating Graduated Symbols for every point)

I will use another point layer this time. I have one MAP Point layer with the point information of earthquake epicenters. The size of the buffer width in the page unit (pixel) was calculated based on the size of the magnitude for every point in the layer. Those values under the BufferCircle column will be used for the buffer width.

Example with Buffer Art (2): Calculated Buffer Width in the MAP Attribute panel

Now, the Buffer Art feature will be performed with those calculated values for the buffer width.

Example with Buffer Art (2):  Settings

The Attribute Value option is chosen and the BufferCircle field for the Buffer Width.

As a result, every buffered area (circle) has a different size. Also, the graphic style selected for the buffer art had some level of transparency applied. You can see the darker color when the buffered art overlaps each other. In other words, the region where the dark orange is observed experienced earthquakes more than once.

Example with Buffer Art (2): Result

Buffer Art can be applied to many situations such as around parcel lots, around road or highway lines or even creating them to find intersection proximity between map features. Experiment with your own to find out what is most useful for your own data.