Ortelius to Present at North American Cartographic Information Society Annual Meeting

09.29.09 Mapdiva co-founder Jill Saligoe-Simmel will join mapmakers, map users, map librarians, and map enthusiasts in Sacramento, California this October to talk about the thing we all love – maps! Jill will demonstrate Ortelius map illustration software at Practical Cartography Day on October 7th. The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), founded in 1980, is an organization comprised of specialists from private, academic, and government organizations whose common interest lies in facilitating communication in the map information community. More information on the conference can be found on the NACIS website.

Mapdiva to Present at Silicon Valley WebMapSocial

09.29.09 On October 6th, Mapdiva co-founder Jill Saligoe-Simmel will present at the WebMapSocial monthly meeting in Mountain View, California. Mapdiva is excited to be joining the WebMapSocial friends for a talk about the role of Ortelius in the map production workflow and a look toward the future. The WebMapSocial Silicon Valley Meetup Group is about sharing, teaching, learning, and networking around current and future web-related geospatial and social networking applications and technology.

Ortelius: Final Days of Introductory Offer

Ortelius is a vector-based drawing and cartography program made especially for map design and presentation. Ortelius is offered at an introductory discount price of $79 through September 30, 2009 (regularly $99). Through its drag-and-drop interface, Ortelius offers a creative solution for floor plans, landscape plans, scaled drawings, and a wide variety of high quality custom maps. Ortelius serves to address a relative lack of mapmaking software for the Mac OS X platform. Check out Ortelius today www.mapdiva.com.

Make a Dot Screen Pattern Map Style

Ortelius is loaded with styles and symbols. You can also create your own. Here we show how to create a dot screen pattern.

Start With a Basic Shape


Draw a basic shape, such as a rectangle, using a basic fill style. Open the Style Inspector – Expert pane and use the action menu (looks like a gear) to Clone Style.

Add a “Hatch” Fill Style Component


Note that in this example the units of measurement are shown in millimeters. The units of measurement are set in the Drawing Setup, and displayed based on your settings in View > Display Units (points, drawing units, or map units) in the main menu.

Change Hatch Settings for Repeating Dot Pattern


Adjusting the “Density” setting will automatically generate a dot pattern. Changing “Line width” with a dot pattern will adjust the dot diameter. Changing the “Angle” will adjust the orientation of the pattern.

The density of the pattern is controlled by the “Density” setting. Alternatively, this can be fine-tuned by changing the “Spacing” setting to adjust the pattern spacing in one direction along a line. Then adjust the other direction by changing the “Dash” settings. Choose “Other” from the Dash setting and adjust the spacing of the dash pattern.

Name and Save Your Pattern to the Symbol Library


If you would like to save your new style for future use, name your new style and add it to the Library. When you click “Add Style To Library” you will be presented with the option to assign it to an appropriate category(s), such as “My Styles & Symbols.”

Ortelius Labels Add Smarts to Map Design

09.17.09 Ortelius map illustration software for Mac OS X makes map design easier with special cartography tools, high-quality graphics, and hundreds of vector-based styles and symbols. One of the most powerful features of Ortelius is its innovative what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) labeling system.

Ortelius gives designers the ability to add labels using map attribute information from existing map data – information behind your map – such as from Ortelius’ royalty-free vector map templates, an imported GIS Shapefile, and from information added on-the-fly.  For the designer, smart labels can take countless hours off the time it takes to make a map, meaning higher productivity with top-notch results.The Ortelius labeling system includes the following features:

  1. Labels use map attribute information, such as road names, when that information exists behind the scenes,
  2. Labels are placed automatically based on cartographic conventions and can be adjusted for perfect positioning, and
  3. Label styles, including font, size, alignment, and color, go hand-in-hand with many map styles and support ad-hoc label styling.

Unlike labeling in drawing programs using hundreds of pieces of free text, Ortelius labels are tightly associated with a map’s features. When a map feature is moved, its label moves with it. When a label is moved, it adjusts itself to follow well-recognized cartographic conventions for label placement. This means road and river names automatically flow along the path of their line or curve. Point labels are placed in one of nine standard click positions, and can be free-positioned with leader-lines. Area labels are placed in the visual or geometric center of their polygon and can be adjusted to spread across an area. Unlike labeling within a GIS, all labels are immediately available for repositioning and ad-hoc styling, providing superior cartographic control.

Labeling using attribute information is ideal for quickly making simple or complex map graphics. To see intelligent labels in action, view Mapdiva’s video tutorials on their web site (Getting Started).

More About Ortelius Map Illustration Software:
Ortelius software is designed as a dedicated map graphics program for Mac OS X. Ortelius Standard Edition is available for $99 (USD). Introductory pricing of $79 is available until Sept 30, 2009. A free trial download is available from their website.

How To Draw Complex Road Networks, Automatic Junctions

Lay out your next road map using Ortelius’ special cartography tools. Create a complex road network with smoothly joining intersections following these three simple steps:

  • Draw roads using Ortelius’ Cartography tools
  • Optionally, name your roads in the Object Inspector
  • Use the Cut Path tool to form automatic junctions at desired intersections (new with v.1.0.3)

Establish the Road Network

media_1253127460051The first step in establishing your road network is to lay out your roads. Sometimes roads cross over or under each other and you’ll want to maintain that visual relationship. More often, roads will intersect and you’ll want your map to show nice clean, connected junctions. When using Ortelius’ Track tools, end points of tracks will form automatic junctions. As seen in this example, crossing lines will overlap each other. That’s what you want in the first step, we’ll finish off these intersections in step #3.

Use the Ortelius Track tools to draw road features. Select an appropriate road style from the Symbols Palette and draw or trace your roads.

Name Your Road Features


If you’ll be labeling your road map, this is a good time to add road names. Adding road names now will assure that the names carry over to tracks even after they are split in step #3.

Add names to your road features in the Object Inspector. Open the Object Inspector and choose the Attributes pane. When you select a road segment its attribute information will be visible in this pane. Click the “+” button in the bottom left corner of this pane and add a text “string.” The identifier “Name” will be added to the table and you can type in the feature name. Click onto the next road feature and repeat.

Note that in this step the road name labels are not added directly to your map. Using the Object Inspector is a quick way to this build information behind your map. With your feature information in place, adding labels to roads will become a joy rather than a burden, as it offers maximum versatility for label placement, style, and editing.

Related topic: Intelligent Labels (this video tutorial shows how to add attribute information to point features – use the same method for linear and shape features).

Click Intersections to Finish Automatic Junctions


Choose the Cut Path tool and click once onto the top track at each road crossing where you’d like connected intersections. The road’s path will be split and junctions will be created fully, automatically.

HINT: If you are creating a map for an area that you will want to re-use later, you can save your drawing file as a map template. Choose File > Save As and choose “Save as a Template” in the main menu.

Editing Roads in a Network


As you continue to work, an interconnected network of roads and junctions is created. When a single road is moved, its connector (child) roads move with it. To prevent roads from getting tangled, if you need to move a road with many connectors, use the Object Inspector to disconnect all junctions before moving it.

Search and Select By Attributes Using Find and Advanced Find

Use Ortelius’ Find and Advanced Find toolbar to find and select features by their attribute information.

Find Objects

The Search Bar on the toolbar is used to find objects. Type in a search term and Ortelius will find and select any matching objects on the currently active layer. Objects are searched by default based on: 1. visible text, such as text boxes or labels, and 2. the “searchable text” of objects, which may include their attribute values.


For example, a simple search for “china” (note, not case-sensitive) quickly finds and selects the country from the active layer.



Operators available from a drop-down list are used to define the search.

Advanced Find


The drop-down menu on the Search Bar is used to open the Advanced Find window. Advanced Find presents a drop-down list of the fields that are available for searching. These include object and style properties, such as style name and any available attribute identifiers.

By default, the active layer is searched. As needed, check the option to search all layers. A search can be saved as a Smart Search for later use.


Hint: The “sounds similar to” operator finds text that sounds similar when pronounced in English – for example searching for “Fosfer” will find “Phosphor.” All other searches find an exact (but case-insensitive) match based on the actual characters.

Import Shapefiles

How do I Import Existing Map Information?

Professionals often use digital mapping software called “geographic information systems” (GIS) to manage and analyze mapped data. These data, in the form of Shapefiles*, can be imported from other sources into Ortelius from Menu > File > Import Shapefile with some limitations.

Shapefiles are map data built and maintained by GIS professionals. Shapefiles provide vector map graphics and contain attribute information. For example, a Shapefile of a state with its counties may contain attribute information including the county names, population, and size of area. Ortelius map templates are created from Shapefile map data, consisting of the graphic map objects and the attribute information “behind the map.” Please note, Ortelius does not support georeferencing or re-projection, therefore manual registration is required to align more than one Shapefile.

Required Files

A Shapefile is actually a collection of at least three files with ‘.shp” “.shx” and “.dbf” file extensions. All three files are required to actually use a basic Shapefile, and they must be identically named (except the file extension) and stored in the same folder/directory.  The “.shp” file is the Shapefile that gets opened in Ortelius, the other files are referenced.  A handful of other files may also be included, such as “.prj” for the projection information. Most GIS data providers will zip the Shapefile files for download.

Group Objects

Ortelius Standard Edition places the Shapefile as a set of separate graphical vector objects. To move and re-size the map layer, group the objects first.

With the new Shapefile layer active, choose Edit > Select All from the main menu. Next, choose Object > Group.

Move and Resize

Now the Shapefile objects can be moved into position and resized using the group’s object handles. To maintain the aspect ratio when re-sizing, be sure to hold the SHIFT key down on the keyboard.

As Shapefiles are imported as separate graphical vector objects in the Ortelius Standard Edition, use move and resize to manually position and align map features.


Once the map is in the desired position, ungroup the Shapefile to work with the object features, including adding styles and labels.

Repeat as Necessary

Use caution when adding more than one Shapefile. Ortelius Standard Edition places each new Shapefile as a set of graphical objects on their own layer in the map projection defined by the data provider. This means that even when resized and repositioned, the map layers still may not align correctly. This is not an error of the Ortelius software, rather it is based on the way the Shapefile data were provided.

Performance may suffer with large file sizes and is a limitation with the Ortelius Standard Edition. Turning on “Drawing Quality Modulation” in the Ortelius > Preferences menu substitutes bitmaps for vectors when rapid redrawing is needed, such as when scrolling, dragging and resizing, and may speed performance.