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Sell Your Maps Digitally to Mobile Devices

As we have all seen over the last decade, the distribution and consumption of music, videos and books has moved to a digital model and so, the question then becomes, why not maps? Similarly to the aforementioned media types, maps are also very conducive to both the distribution and use in a digital and mobile way. As we see organizations like Borders, Blockbuster and Kodak succumb to this digital revolution, we map-makers must adapt or suffer a similar fate.

Many of you may be struggling with the issue of selling your maps digitally, tackling the question of the “mobilization” of your content and wondering how to attack the new markets.

But what if there were a generic iTunes/iBooks/Kindle type environment where a map publisher, like many of you reading this, could offer their maps for sale just like musicians and book publishers currently do with their songs and books? There is and it’s called the Avenza Map Store, accessible through the PDF Maps app.

Right now, the Avenza Map Store has more than 100,000 maps from publishers all over the world and we are looking for more as we strive to become the “iTunes of maps”. Map sales in January have already more than doubled December in terms of both units and dollars and December was higher than previous months already.

Signing up to become a map store vendor is free. We encourage and invite everyone to do so.

So here is the gist of the system and the thinking behind it.

 

What is PDF Maps?

The award winning PDF Maps app is an all-encompassing solution for the use, distribution, and sale of digital versions of paper maps to mobile devices. It includes both an app for users to use, discover and purchase maps directly using their devices as well as an in-app store to facilitate the transaction and delivery of the maps.

Think of it like iTunes, iBooks or Kindle, but for maps.

The app loads georeferenced maps and has functionality for locating (via GPS), measuring, plotting points, importing and exporting points and much more, this goes well beyond traditional paper map usage.

 

Why PDF Maps? What are the advantages?

The PDF Maps app and the connected map store responds to the demand of both map users and map producers for a 21st century digital map consumption and delivery solution. In an era where a vast amount of content is shifting from analog to digital delivery and use, the map industry demands a similar solution for its users and producers.

For the user it solves four major problems:

  1. How can I use a map I really like on my mobile device instead of the often less-desirable ones Google and other streaming services offer?
  2. Google and other streaming services fail to perform when there is no Internet connection such as when hiking or traveling in remote unconnected areas.
  3. Services that rely on a bandwidth connection are very undesirable when outside your home network area due to the high cost of data roaming charges.
  4. Google and other streaming services, as well as many existing mobile apps, do not always offer a useful map for a particular purpose such as hiking, boating, and visiting national parks which leaves much desire for a “better” map.

 

For publishers it responds to the following specific needs:

  1. With paper map sales declining, how can I get my content into the digital age for the mobile device market?
  2. Devices like Garmins, TomToms and in-car navigation systems are usually closed to outside map content and thus map producers cannot easily, if at all, make their maps available to users of these systems.
  3. In an effort to get into the digital marketplace it has to be easy, efficient, and inexpensive to repurpose existing content and map libraries. In most cases existing map libraries can be easily ported to the PDF Maps system and existing production processes do not need to be drastically modified, if at all, in order to produce new content for PDF Maps and the Avenza Map Store
  4. With digital map use there is no printing, production quantity guesswork, inventory to manage, distribution and returns to account for.
  5. Updates to the maps are controlled by the vendor and can be instantly made available to the marketplace, while at the same time, older redundant content can be instantly removed and discontinued.
  6. Immediate, easy and effortless entry into the digital map marketplace.

 

Available now for iOS. For more info visit PDF Maps site and the Avenza Map Store site.

Hope to see your content in the map store soon.

How to get Open Street Map data into Adobe Illustrator with MAPublisher

Edit: Updated with a new QGIS workflow (November 21, 2014)

The following tip is courtesy of Hans van der Maarel of Red Geographics.

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For many areas on Earth, OpenStreetMap is a viable alternative to commercially offered data sources. However, it is not always easy to process. This blog tutorial explains the steps needed to load OpenStreetMap data into MAPublisher.

1. Download and install QGIS, this is a free GIS application, available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. QGIS now comes with built in tools for downloading Open Street Map Data.

2. Open QGIS and zoom in to an area of interest. Use the OpenLayers plugin for a basemap if you do not have any imagery or mapping of your own. Keep in mind that downloads from the OpenStreetMap website are limited in the number of exported objects, so for larger areas you will have to combine multiple downloads yourself, or look for other options (for example Geofabrik).

Bing Basemap

3a. Go to the Vector Menu and Choose OpenStreetMap and then Download data.

OSM Download Menu

3b. Choose how you want the extent of the downloaded data to be defined. The easiest way is to use the Map Canvas.

OSM Download Dialogue

4. Open your downloaded .osm file in QGis using the Add Vector Layer tool. Select all the Layers and choose OK.

Select vector layers to add

This results are shown in several layers depending upon what is present in the extent you have downloaded. In this case there are points, lines, multilinestrings and multipolygons. Note that QGIS only imports features that fall completely within the extent specified. So make sure you choose an area larger than your actual area of interest to ensure it is completely covered.

OSM layers loaded in QGIS

5. Export these layers one by one. Right-click and choose “Save As, then ESRI shapefile”.

Save Points to Shapefile

6. The shapefiles can be imported into Adobe Illustrator using MAPublisher. After reprojecting, scaling and cropping we’ve ended up with the raw OpenStreetMap vectors in Adobe Illustrator, with all attributes still maintained.

OSM Layers loaded in MAPublisher

7. Once within the data is imported successfully, you may now use any of the MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator tools to style and customize the map in any way you want.

OSM Layers loaded and themed in MAPublisher

 

MAPublisher Dot Density Maps

Dot density themes are sometimes called dot distribution maps because they show where particular data characteristics occur. It uses dots or other symbols to represent the number of occurrences of a given data characteristic in a particular location. Starting at MAPublisher 8.4, the ability to create dot density maps is available through the provision of Dot Density Themes.

When creating a new MAP Theme simply choose “Dot Density” from the available theme types. The creation of a dot density theme is facilitated through the MAP Themes panel. The dot density theme is an Adobe Illustrator effect applied to an area layer.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

As dot density maps are most useful for showing where particular data occur, they may only be generated for MAP Area type layers. Most often, symbols are used to represent data occurring within a bounding polygon such as a census tract, zip code or county polygons.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

Dot density effects are created on a per layer basis, based on various user defined settings. Data ranges can be determined from selected attribute columns and then a dot value can be assigned a corresponding symbol at which point MAPublisher will map the appropriate results. Users may apply default symbols or load custom ones based on Illustrator symbol sets

In this example, population tallies per county have been loaded, assigned a dot value of 10,000 with a designated symbol of a 2pt black dot.

This screenshot displays the map prior to applying the dot density effect.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

The screenshot below displays the map after having applied the Dot Density Theme using the parameters displayed within the dialog .

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

University of Montana Student Map Submissions

MAPublisher is popular with educators and students because, in no time at all, new users can begin to create great looking maps. Working seamlessly with the Adobe Illustrator environment, users can spend more time on map details and less time fighting with complicated importers and data format conversions.

Avenza Systems Inc. recently received student work submitted by the Univeristy of Montana’s Digital Design course. These maps show some excellent terrain shading, good colour choices, and a knack for making complex cartographic detail legible.

We wish to thank the students for generously allowing us to distribute their work, and we wish them luck in their upcoming mapping endeavours.

Click the maps to load high-resolution versions.

Buffalo Bill State Park Wyoming

by: Nathan TaylorBuffalo Bill smaller

 

Crown of the Continent

by: Nathan BaldingCrown of the Continent smaller

 

Lolo Pass Recreational Trails

by: Hal Bobbitt Lolo Pass Recreational Trails