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UC Spotlight: Mapping in the Wild

Getting started with MAPublisher can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a background in cartography. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the staff at SafariBookings, the largest marketplace for African safaris, was facing. But with the help of Red Geographics they were able to quickly learn how to use MAPublisher to create their own maps. At the Avenza User Conference in May of this year, Hans van der Maarel, the owner of Red Geographics presented to us how this amazing feat was achieved. Hans is a long-time partner of Avenza and user of MAPublisher and Geographic Imager. He uses the products for a wide range of cartographic projects for international clients and offers training courses and consultancy projects aimed at developing workflows for clients. In addition to that, he is currently a board member of NACIS.

By using MAPublisher together with open data, Hans and his team were able to swiftly get SafariBookings up and running and producing their very own maps. They worked with two members of the SafariBookings team, both of whom had previous graphic design and Adobe Creative Cloud experience, but were not experienced with GIS or cartography. Red Geographics offered them a personal training plan and helped them source data allowing them to start producing high-quality maps in less than a month.

Check out the video of Hans’s full presentation at the Avenza UC 2023!

About Avenza UC

The Avenza User Conference is an annual free virtual conference for map makers, GIS enthusiasts, and geospatial professionals worldwide who share a common interest in Avenza mapping technology. The conference includes a combination of virtual sessions led by experts who will share their experiences with Avenza mapping products.

The Avenza User Conference is an annual event that grows each year with incredible speakers and participants. Get inspired by mapping and industry professionals by joining us for #AvenzaUC2024. Register here for next year’s conference taking place on May 9th, 2024.

Map Spotlight: Serengeti in Motion by Riley Champine

Serengeti in Motion by Riley Champine

In the Map Spotlight this time, we are highlighting a submission from the 2021 Avenza Map Contest. Serengeti in Motion by Riley Champine was a supplement to the December 2021 issue of National Geographic magazine, which featured several stories about the Serengeti and its wildlife. The map depicts the annual great migration of wildebeests, one of Earth’s last remaining large-mammal migrations. It also depicts the natural features of the landscape as well as the boundaries of several protected areas in the Serengeti region.

Each year over one million wildebeest (and other mammals such as gazelles and zebras) participate in a circular migration which starts in the southern Serengeti in Tanzania, loops through Serengeti National Park, and advances north toward the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Seasonal rains drive migration patterns as the wildebeest search for more grass to graze on. On this map, the migration has been illustrated using 340,000 points collected by an ongoing 20+ year biological study that uses GPS collars worn by wildebeest to track their location. The map also details the path of a single female wildebeest as she crossed multiple habitats, several rivers, and an international boundary (twice!) over the course of one year.

Select the images below to see a detailed look at Zain’s map

Serengeti in Motion by Riley Champine
Serengeti in Motion by Riley Champine
Serengeti in Motion by Riley Champine

Making the Map

To create the terrain of the map, Riley used Geographic Imager to reproject and then mosaic aerial imagery of the Serengeti region. This terrain imagery could then be saved and imported into MAPublisher to constitute the background for the map. Some of the data was prepared in other programs such as Microsoft Excel, QGIS and Natural Scene Designer, and then easily imported into MAPublisher.

Riley used the MAP Selections tool to select location points by their date attribute, and group them into three main categories: rainy season (January to April), dry season (July to October), and migration periods (May to June and November to December). He also employed the use of MAP Stylesheet Themes to symbolize these points as well as other data on the map. 

The MAP Point Plotter came in handy for Riley while creating the path travelled by the single female wildebeest on the map. The Simplify Art tool was also helpful in decreasing the detail in some line and area features, which helps in software performance when dealing with a large amount of data in one document.

Riley added the finishing touches to his map using his Stylesheet Themes to create legends as well as using the LabelPro add-on to easily place labels by attribute.

Learn more about the Avenza Map Contest and submit your entry here, and check out our other Map Spotlight blogs here!

Avenza Releases MAPublisher 11.2 for Adobe Illustrator

Toronto, ON, July 31, 2023 – Avenza Systems Inc., producers of the Avenza Maps® app for mobile devices and geospatial extensions for Adobe Creative Cloud®, including Geographic Imager® for Adobe Photoshop®, is pleased to announce the release of MAPublisher® version 11.2 for Adobe Illustrator®. This version comes with the brand-new Vector Basemaps tool and includes additional performance enhancements and bug fixes.

MAPublisher cartography software seamlessly integrates more than seventy GIS mapping tools into Adobe Illustrator to help you create beautiful maps from geospatial data. Import industry-standard GIS data formats and make crisp, clean maps with all attributes and georeferencing intact using the Adobe Illustrator design environment.

New features of MAPublisher v11.2 for Adobe Illustrator include:

  • The new Vector Basemaps tool: The new MAPublisher Vector Basemaps tool imports georeferenced vector data from an online server. Imported data is autostyled based on the zoom level and attribute information, but can also be configured or imported by users to create savable custom styles.
  • Additional performance improvements and bug fixes

Users require a valid Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and a compatible operating system to utilize the improvements and enhancements offered in MAPublisher v11.2. For questions and information on how compatibility requirements may affect your organization, please contact our Support Centre.

MAPublisher 11.2 is immediately available free of charge to all current MAPublisher users with active maintenance and as an upgrade for non-maintenance users starting at US$699. New licenses are available from US$1619. MAPublisher FME Auto and MAPublisher LabelPro are also available as add-ons starting at US$539. Academic, floating, and volume licenses are also available. Prices include one year of full maintenance. Visit for more details.

More about Avenza Systems Inc.

Avenza Systems Inc. is an award-winning, privately held corporation that provides cartographers and GIS professionals with powerful software tools to make better maps. Avenza also offers the mobile Avenza Maps app to sell, purchase, distribute, and use maps on iOS and Android devices.

For further information contact: +1 416-487-5116 –

Vector Basemaps are Now Available in MAPublisher 11.2

We are very excited to announce the release of MAPublisher version 11.2, the latest version of our MAPublisher® extension for Adobe Illustrator®

With MAPublisher v11.2, we are introducing our brand new Vector Basemaps tool! The update also includes several performance enhancements and bug fixes.

Here’s what you can expect with the latest MAPublisher v11.2 release:

Vector Basemaps are Here!

Sometimes in mapping projects we have all of our important datasets, but when it comes to putting together a map we need some surrounding context such as land use or water bodies. This is where the brand-new Vector Basemaps tool for MAPublisher comes in.

This exciting new tool gives you the ability to import georeferenced vector data to your maps from an online server. Imported data is autostyled based on the zoom level and attribute information, but can also be configured or imported by users to create savable custom styles.

Importing Vector Basemaps to Your Project

There are two ways to import vector basemap data into your document. You can choose to Select Data For MAPView, which requires an existing MAPView to pull boundaries from, or Select Data For Artboard, which allows you to specify the coordinates of a bounding box either by typing them in manually or selecting them on an online map.

After selecting your area, you can edit the zoom level (which is automatically calculated based on the size of your extents and artboard) and choose a style. The Vector Basemaps tool comes with one default style, which can later be edited and saved for reuse.

Configuring Vector Basemaps

If our default vector basemap style is not exactly what you need for your project, fear not! Once you have imported your vector basemap data, the Configure Vector Basemaps dialog box allows you to fully customize any aspect of your style. 

The Edit action allows you to make changes to any of the various stylesheets that are used to visualize your vector basemap data. The vector basemap stylesheets are edited in the same way as regular MAP Stylesheet Themes are.

The Save action allows you to save your customized basemap styles to your MAPublisher library for later use. To apply a saved basemap style, you can simply use the Apply New Basemap Stylesheets action and select your saved style from the dropdown menu. This is exceptionally helpful if you are creating a series of maps that require uniformity across their design!

Get started with Vector Basemaps by downloading our latest MAPublisher v11.2 update, and check out our support articles for Importing and Configuring Vector Basemaps to help acquaint yourself with this new tool!

MAPublisher 11.2 is Available Now!

If you would like to learn more about the new MAPublisher v11.2 features or have any questions, please check out our Support Centre.

MAPublisher v11.2 is immediately available today, free of charge to all current MAPublisher users with active maintenance subscriptions and as an upgrade for non-maintenance users. 

UC Spotlight: Vector Basemaps in MAPublisher!

At the annual Avenza User Conference a few months ago, one of our very own Avenza team members Riley Sweeney gave us a preview of the new Vector Basemaps tool for MAPublisher. As a member of the quality assurance team, Riley’s expertise was instrumental in the development of Vector Basemaps.

In this presentation, Riley gives us a sneak peek into the exciting future of MAPublisher. Her presentation sparks new ideas of how a map can be started, created, or even finished with the Vector Basemaps tool. Riley leads us through a demonstration of the functionality and workflow possibilities this new feature holds. The special thing about the Vector Basemaps tool is that you don’t need to be an experienced GIS user or cartographer to quickly get the hang of it. It is the perfect tool for those with Illustrator experience who are looking to get into the art of cartography. Hang tight, Vector Basemaps are coming very soon to MAPublisher!

Check out the video of Riley’s full presentation at the Avenza UC 2023!

About Avenza UC

The Avenza User Conference is an annual free virtual conference for map makers, GIS enthusiasts, and geospatial professionals worldwide who share a common interest in Avenza mapping technology. The conference includes a combination of virtual sessions led by experts who will share their experiences with Avenza mapping products.

The Avenza User Conference is an annual event that grows each year with incredible speakers and participants. Get inspired by mapping and industry professionals by joining us for #AvenzaUC2024. Register here for next year’s conference taking place on May 9th, 2024.

Stylizing Road Layers with MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator

An important component of any map that contains roads is the stylization of such roads, and ensuring that the end user can understand the way they are displayed. To go even further, it may also be important for the user to be able to differentiate between the various road classifications they are viewing. 

When a line layer containing road data is first imported into MAPublisher, all roads appear with the same appearance regardless of their class or type. However, with the help of MAPublisher and some native Illustrator tools, you can easily turn your roads from this:

…into this:

Getting Started

As stated above, this workflow uses tools from both Adobe Illustrator’s native toolbar as well as the MAPublisher extension. More specifically, MAP Stylesheet Themes and MAP Selections along with the Graphic Styles and Appearance panels. 

This process will only work if your road data contains an attribute on which you can base classification rules. For example, my road data has an attribute column named “CLASS” with four categories: Primary Road, Primary Ramp, Secondary Road, and Local Road. I have previously created a graphic style for each road type and saved them in a template document titled In my current document, I have simply imported these styles to the Graphic Styles panel by using the menu option for “Open Graphic Style Library”. For more information about the Graphic Styles panel, check out its Adobe help page.

Controlled Access Highway: Controlled Access Highway
Controlled Access Ramp: Controlled Access Ramp
Major Road: Major Road
Minor Road: Minor Road

These styles have all been created using the Appearance panel to overlay a stroke with a smaller weight over a stroke with a larger weight of a different colour. These road styles are usually referred to as cased roads. For information about the Appearance panel, check out its Adobe help page.

Now that the graphic styles have been created/imported, I can apply a MAP Stylesheet Theme I have created based on the road types.

Cleaning Up with Groups

Now that the main styles have been applied to each road class, we must perform a few more steps to perfect the appearance of our roads. If you zoom in closely on the roads you may notice that intersecting roads do not appear as seamless as you would like. Don’t worry; there is a way to transform your roads from looking like this:

…to this:

Why does this happen? 

This occurs because MAP Stylesheet Themes apply the graphic styles at the path level. To look like intersections, each road classification must become one object, whether by being grouped or by turning the various paths into a compound path. Grouping is the preferred method for managing these objects since a compound path will delete the attributes of all paths that are being compounded. For example, if I turned my road types into compound paths, the street names would be turned blank. This would make automatic labeling with MAPublisher LabelPro impossible. Regardless, using groups instead of compound paths will avoid this issue, as grouped objects retain their original attributes.

Grouping Road Classes

In order to group our road classes we will have to select the road paths belonging to each class. We can use MAP Selections to individually select each of our road classes. The expressions we created when defining our MAP Stylesheet Theme rules can be saved as Named Expressions to be used again through the Expression Library. Once selected the street classes can be grouped using CTRL+G on your keyboard, right-clicking and selecting “Group” or selecting Object > Group from the menu. The final step is to re-apply the graphic style appropriate to each group using the Adobe Graphic Style panel.

If we want to get technical here regarding what has happened to our artwork, using the Appearance panel we can see that each of the paths we initially imported now has a graphic style applied to it on two levels: at the path level (done through MAP Stylesheets) and at the group level (done by grouping and applying a graphic style to the group). It is possible to symbolize our artwork even further, at the layer level, by selecting the target icon for our roads layer. If desired we could apply a transparency at the layer level that would supersede all graphic styles used on objects in the layer. 

Our artwork now has symbolization that suggests intersections, giving our road map a much neater appearance.

Finishing Touches

Now that our roads are grouped together, they are much easier to manage in the Illustrator layers panel.

Groups can be easily arranged using the Layers panel. Many cartographers prefer to arrange their roads with major highways at the top and descending to reach local roads at the bottom of the hierarchy. Groups also make it easier to move objects between groups if necessary: simply select the path in the Layers panel and drag it to another group. 

With our groups, we can now apply some tweaks to finish off their appearance. There will be many instances where we will need to override the intersection appearances that result from grouping. For example, in the image below we have ramps that definitely do not intersect as suggested by their grouping.

To correct this error, we can select the road lines that will pass over the others and, using the Layers panel, drag the paths from their group. This will eliminate the implication on the map that these roads actually intersect.

The ungrouped roads can now be arranged relative to the other paths until we find a layout that is the truest representation of the road network.

Using MAP Stylesheet Themes to Create a Legend

So why do we use MAP Stylesheet Themes if we must manually group the objects again after use? For a few reasons: it keeps us organized, it allows us to add the Named Expressions to the Expression Library, and most importantly, we can use these MAP Stylesheet Themes to automatically generate a Legend for us that reflects our Stylesheet rule names.

A deeper understanding of the Adobe Illustrator toolbox can go a long way in helping you use MAPublisher to leverage the full potential of your GIS datasets to create customized road styles. Happy mapping!

Be sure to check out our tutorial for Creating Line Stylesheet Themes as well as the video tutorial. This tutorial also includes the instructions for creating cased roads!

Announcing the Winner of the 2023 Avenza Student Map Competition

We’re excited to announce that the 2023 Avenza Student Map Contest has now concluded. Submissions for the contest were accepted from December 1st, 2022 to April 30th, 2023. Over the last month we have selected the winner. As such, congratulations are in order for the grand prize winner!

Grand Prize Winner

The Impact that Created the Nickel City
Justin Jeff
Fleming College

From the creator: “My map displays the terrain and geology around the Sudbury Basin that was created by a meteorite impact. Furthermore, it shows the active mines around the Sudbury Basin using a proportional dot technique based on the mines production. Also it shows a timeline of the mining history in the Sudbury area. It will be used to gain insight and understand the significance of the Sudbury Basin.”

Justin used the MAPublisher import tools to import prepared data from other sources for the terrain and mine locations. The MAP Themes tool was used to create proportional dot symbols for the active mines and the MAP LabelPro add-on was used to label and style the active mines. Finally, Justin used the Layout tools to add and style the scale bar.

Congratulations again to Justin! Stayed tuned for the open version of the Avenza Map Contest starting soon…

Getting to Know the MAP Measurement Tool

In this blog, we’ll be highlighting a very useful tool that may fly under the radar to the average MAPublisher user: the MAP Measurement tool! This tool is great for measuring the distance between two or more points, azimuths, and even the perimeter and area of closed paths. It is a great addition to your arsenal of regular MAPublisher tools because it can be customized to suit a variety of measuring methods, units, and shapes. 

The MAP Measurement tool can be used to calculate the Euclidean distance between any two or more points on a map. This can be done using one of three calculation methods: geodesic (based on datum), cartesian (based on map projection) or Rhumb line. In the example below, I have calculated the distance between Paris and Shanghai using a geodesic method, which is why the line appears rounded rather than straight in the current Natural Earth projection. 

MAP Measurement tool between two points

I can incorporate multiple points in my calculation, and the total distance will continue to increase. You can also hold the Alt/Option key while drawing to display the length of each line segment in your trip. In my example, I have decided to add a point in Cairo to follow Shanghai, as seen below.

MAP Measurement tool being used on three successive points

Once I have finished adding points to my map, I have the option to convert the measurement line to art in my currently selected layer. This is a great way to quickly and accurately draw lines between points on certain types of maps that require it, such as a flow map or flight map.

MAP Measurement tool lines converted to Illustrator art

The MAP Measurement tool can also be used to measure perimeter and area of polygons. In the example below, I have calculated the perimeter and area of a triangle drawn between the points of Bogotá, Lima and São Paulo.

MAP Measurement tool being used to measure area and perimeter of a polygon

This blog only outlines a few of the use cases of the MAP Measurement tool, however there are countless other ways that you can apply this tool to your cartographic designs. The possibilities are virtually endless!

For more information about the MAP Measurement tool, check out our Support Centre article.

MAPublisher Virtual Training: June 12-14, 2023

Whether you’re new to MAPublisher®, an experienced user, or simply thinking about a purchase, Avenza software training is a worthwhile experience. Get hands-on training from Avenza product specialists at one of our training courses around North America or virtually from anywhere.

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Can You Create a Map in 5 Minutes?

The Day 13 theme of the #30DayMapChallenge was more of a question: can you create a map in 5 minutes? Well, we were up for the challenge! Here at Avenza, we used this as an opportunity to teach our marketing team (with limited GIS experience) the basics of cartography. In the weeks leading up to this day, we taught them how to perform a few simple tasks in MAPublisher to create a basic map of South America.

Simplified Steps for Creating a Map

We broke down the process of making this map into five general steps for the purpose of simplicity.

Import Data

The first step was to import country area data using the Import button on the MAP Toolbar. After import, the Artboard tool was used to adjust map boundaries to the desired position. The MAP View Editor could also be used to fine-tune the movement of the data. 

Stylize Data

The second step was to add a stylesheet to the countries using the MAP Themes button. From here a stylesheet was created by clicking the Add button and creating an area stylesheet. The stylesheet editor was then opened, and the style was assigned to the country layer. The Batch Generate Rules… button was very helpful in quickly creating categories for the data based on the desired attribute. For example, one map was created using the Population Density attribute. The categories were assigned a style based on a pre-selected colour ramp. Finally, a rule was created to create a grey style for the part of North America that attaches to South America.

Add a Legend

Using the hamburger menu button in the MAP Themes panel, step three included creating a legend for the map. Removing Rule 1 from the list and adding a title (if desired) were the only extra steps necessary here.

Add Labels

In step four, the goal was to add a label for the country names. We used LabelPro for this to make it quick and simple. We enabled leader lines to ensure all countries were labeled even if the label was too large.

Add Finishing Touches

Finally, we added a title and supplemental text and objects to the map. All of these elements were added to the document using native Adobe Illustrator tools.

Our process of creating a map in 5 minutes was recorded and condensed into a 30-second video. See it, and the other resulting maps, below!