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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
In this blog post we’ll look at how you can control the order of layers in MAPublisher when using FME Auto.
FME currently doesn’t provide a way to explicitly define the output order of Feature Types in a workspace. In the Navigator you can reorder Readers and Writers to control the order in which they are run, but unfortunately you cannot do the same with the Feature Types they read and write respectively.
By default when you write layers to MAPublisher from FME using FME Auto, the layers are arranged first by geometry (text first, then Points, Lines, Polygons and lastly Images), then alphabetically by layer name. This behaviour can be changed by unchecking the FME Auto Parameter “Sort Layers by Geometry”. Once this has been turned off, MAPublisher will display layers in the order they are received from FME. Using this behaviour, some FME transformers and a Feature Type fanout (or new to 2015.1, specifying the Feature Type name) we can control the order of the layers in MAPublisher for optimal cartographic output.
The first thing we want to do is to add some input Feature Types.
We will then create a template AttributeCreator Transformer to give each layer two attributes: MP_LayerName and MP_Order. MP_LayerName will define the name of the layer in MAPublisher and MP_Order will determine the order the layer is passed to MAPublisher; hence the order in which it is displayed.
Each Feature Type will be connected to a copy of the AttributeCreator Transformer and the values will be populated for that layer. The layer with an order of 1 will be on top with larger numbers descending below.
Once this is done, all the inputs can be connected to a Sorter Transformer. The Sorter will be set to numeric and ascending.
Finally, the MAPublisher writer is added. The Sort by Geometry parameter needs to be set to No and the Feature Type name should be set by the MP_LayerName attribute we created earlier. This replaces Feature Type fanouts and has slightly new behaviour at FME 2015.1. It is explained more fully (here).
Once we run the workspace, we’ll see the layers in the Adobe Illustrator Layers panel in the exact order we specified.
One of Adobe Illustrator’s powerful yet occasionally confusing features is the ability to apply fills, strokes and Graphic Styles to art at either the Object level or the Layer level. This is extremely useful because you can effectively use Layers to set up symbology templates so that any art that is drawn on a Layer inherits its appearance from that Layer. Confusion often arises when users combine art styles at both the Layer and Object levels, and cannot figure out why their map does not look how they expect it to look. Most of the examples here are going to be based around using the Appearance panel to apply strokes and fills.
Selecting Objects or Selecting Layers
The first decision you have to make is how you select your art. You can either select the layer that the art is on or directly select the art itself. This determines where the changes you make get applied. In order to select the layer, click the circle to the right of a layer name in the Layers panel. You will see that the layer is selected (also known as targeted) by the addition of another circle around the first circle.
To select all the art on a layer you can either click in the space to the right of the circle, or Alt-click the layer name.
If you expand the layer you can see that the art is targeted rather than the layer.
Whichever method you use, you will see the art on the canvas appear as selected.
Of course you can select individual art using the Selection tool or clicking to the right of the circle next to the object name in the Layer panel.
Changing Strokes and Fills
One advantage of selecting art at the layer level over selecting art directly is the access to the strokes and fills in the Appearance panel.
If you select the layer, you do not get direct access to the art’s strokes or fills, however if you select the art you do.
You can add more strokes or fills in the Appearance panel, but if you want to add strokes or fills at the layer level, they are additional to the strokes or fills that are defined at the object level. We can see this if we style the fields individually with different fills, perhaps representing different crop types. We could also add a stroke to each object, or we can add the stroke to the layer. Adding strokes or fills like this is useful when you want to ensure that all art on that layer shares the same symbology.
Directly changing the appearance of objects is reflected both in the Appearance panel and the object thumbnails in the Layers panel.
However, if you add extra strokes or fills at the layer level, these are not shown in the objects thumbnails.
One important consideration is that it is not possible to use the Appearance panel to adjust several pieces of art with different fills or strokes that are applied at the object level. For example, suppose we have changed the colours of several building outlines, and now want to change them back to black. If we select them all, we will see that the stroke option is not available in the Appearance panel, rather it says Mixed Appearances. The fill is still available to be changed as it is the same for all objects.
Altering appearances can have different results if applied to objects or layers. A good example is a street style that is created with two strokes. If this is applied at the object level, each object is considered separate and you end up with overlapping paths.
However, if this style is applied at the layer level, the paths are styled at the same time and appear to be merged.
Applying Graphic Styles
Graphic Styles are great to easily add combinations of strokes, fills and effects to art, and these can also act differently when applied to objects or layers. In the Graphic Styles panel we have a Graphic Style with null fill and stroke, but a drop shadow added. If we try to add this directly to the building art, the null fill and stroke will cause the buildings to disappear.
However we can add it to the Buildings layer and the effect is successfully combined with the object level appearance.
Resolving Appearance Confusion
As mentioned earlier, it is possible to combine object level and layer level appearances. This can get complicated if you have different objects on the same layer with different appearances as well as appearance modifications at the layer level. Trying to work out why you cannot adjust the style of your paths because you are getting Mixed Appearance in the Appearance panel can be frustrating.
The easiest method to fix this is to use the Clear appearance button in the Appearance panel. Keep in mind that this will totally remove any appearance formatting that you have applied to your layers or objects, so it is worth creating Graphic Styles of the appearances you want to retain. Just like changing appearances, this button works at both the object and layer levels.
An example of how layer and object appearances can get confused is multiple white strokes applied to different text objects in different ways. The user has created several text objects labelling fields and added strokes to them in various different ways. However, he’d like to remove the strokes from all the text now. You can see that the different labels all have black fills and white strokes, but are subtly different.
The first thing to do is check the Layers panel. We can see that the target indicator for the Field Labels layer is raised. This indicates that an appearance has been applied to this layer.
Once we click on this we can use the Appearance panel to remove it with the “Clear Appearance” button.
That has removed the stroke from the layer and one of the text objects now has no stroke, but some of them still do.
If you expand the Field Labels layer in the layers panel you will see that some of the objects on the layer also have appearances applied directly to them.
You can select these objects and use the Appearance panel to remove its strokes as well by clicking the Clear Appearance button.
This leaves us with one final label down in the bottom right corner that still has a stroke, but has not had its appearance modified via the Appearance panel.
The easiest way to remove the stroke from this object is just to make sure the stroke is in front of the fill at the bottom of the main toolbar and click on the “None” option. Now all our field labels have a simple style.
How MAPublisher works
MAPublisher styling tools all work on an object level. This is because MAPublisher has the ability to independently style objects by attributes they possess. For example you can create a new MAP Theme for the Fields layer based on an attribute called “crop”. This will style each field differently using depending upon its crop type.
Objects will be styled using standard fills and strokes, rather than using the Appearance panel.
The MAPublisher FME Auto add-on connects the analysis and processing capabilities of Safe Software’s FME Desktop with the cartographic design and publishing environment of MAPublisherand Adobe Illustrator. Since MAPublisher 9.5, it has been possible to import georeferenced raster layers as well as vector data. This adds an extra layer of power and convenience to the FME and MAPublisher integration. The ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) power of FME can be used to pre-process raster images and load them into MAPublisher where they can be overlaid with cartographically styled vector layers.
Several components are needed to load a raster from FME into Adobe Illustrator. This example uses a generic reader for the input features. It then gets the bounding box coordinates and sends them to a second workspace that connects to a Web Map Service (WMS) and downloads Toronto imagery. The information necessary to run the second workspace is stored as attributes that are passed to published parameters in the second workspace. This imagery is stored in an intermediate GeoTIFF, which is then read by the first workspace and sent to the MAPublisher writer along with the original data. The WMS source and working coordinate system are already set, but can be modified if the study area is in a different location.
Several of the key parameters for executing the workspace are exposed as published parameters to make running the workspace easier. The user can set the desired pixel size and the pixel dimensions for the WMS request are automatically calculated. The bounding box can be buffered if required to provide extra imagery around the input data.
MAPublisher MAP Themes are stored in an Adobe Illustrator file that the MAPublisher writer uses as a template. In this case, these MAP Themes are linked to the names of the layers stored in the input data. More flexible themes could be created that bases its symbology on geometry or attribute values.
The example FME workspaces, input data and template illustrator document are attached below in the useful resources section.
MAPublisher® FME Auto™ is a new add-on that connects the GIS data processing environment of FME Desktop to the cartographic design and publishing environment MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator.
The MAPublisher FME Auto add-on was developed with Safe Software to support both FME Desktop and FFS (FME Feature Store) file format into Adobe Illustrator using MAPublisher. FME users can now effortlessly move their data from FME Desktop into the MAPublisher design environment to easily create stunning maps.
Visit our YouTube channel for more videos about the app and other Avenza products.
Geographic Imager is not compatible with macOS 11 Big Sur yet. The upcoming release will be compatible with it.