Ortelius 1.1 Introduces Professional Map Symbol Management

07.27.10 Indianapolis, Indiana – Today Mapdiva, LLC released Ortelius 1.1 map design software for Mac OS X. Ortelius 1.1 is a major update which introduces a professional-level symbol Library Manager and many workflow enhancements. This update is free for existing users.

Ortelius is a vector-based drawing program made especially for map design and presentation. Ortelius offers a creative solution for floor plans, landscape plans, scaled drawings, and a wide variety of high quality custom map graphics.

Experience a greatly improved approach to managing large collections of cartography symbols. With Ortelius 1.1, Mapdiva has paved the way to some exciting developments, including web-based cartography collections supplied by Mapdiva and shared by Ortelius users themselves. This update greatly enhances symbol management performance and work-flow flexibility.

Ortelius 1.1 enhancements include:

  • Quick application of new symbols with double-click action in Symbols Palette
  • Tightly integrated Symbols Palette and Library Manager
  • Improved navigation of Libraries and Collections
  • Symbol Library featuring flexible categories and smart categories
  • Enhanced JPG, PDF, PNG, TIFF, and export options
  • Advanced style & symbol views, including info with optional descriptions
  • Improved performance and workflow for style and symbol creation
  • Ability to copy layers among documents

Ortelius 1.1 ships with over 1700 built-in styles and symbols, including architecture, boundaries, land cover, transportation, trees and plants, water, and weather. Users can create the maps they want using the built-in Mapdiva Library, as well as create and share their very own symbol collections.

Features of Ortelius 1.1 Standard Edition:

  • Drag-and-drop interface
  • Dozens of fully editable vector map templates
  • Automatic junctions and style transitions
  • Direct intelligent labeling
  • WYSIWYG drawing and editing
  • Layers and layer groups
  • 20 special drawing and cartography tools
  • Advanced typography tools

Pricing and Availability:
Ortelius software is a dedicated map graphics program for Mac OS X. Ortelius Standard Edition is available for $99 (USD). A free trial download is available from Mapdiva online.

Release Notes: http://www.mapdiva.com/products/ortelius/md_update_110.htm
Download Ortelius: Ortelius Trial Version

About Mapdiva, LLC

Mapdiva makes mapping easier. Founded in 2008, Mapdiva, LLC offers creative mapping software for Mac OS. Mapdiva, LLC has offices in Indianapolis, IN USA and Armidale, NSW Australia. Ortelius is a Registered Trademark of Mapdiva, LLC.

Drawing City-Block Style Maps

City-block style maps (sometimes referred to as “European-style”) are characterized by their use of negative space. Shapes – in the form of city blocks – define the positive space, whereas the road areas are negative space. Ortelius excels at designing modern style road maps, with connectable tracks and built-in symbols, and it also has great tools for creating city-block style maps.

Tutorial Details

Program : Ortelius 1.x+
Difficulty: Intermediate
Topics Covered: Combining Objects
Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes

Source Map


In this example, we trace city blocks from this 1892 map of Odessa (Ukraine, formerly Russia), Wagner & Debe. Some cartographic sleuthing: the map is undated, but was possibly produced earlier than 1892, as the Protestant Hospital, completed in 1892, is not shown (source: North Dakota State University Library online).

When setting up our drawing file, the source map is placed on its own layer and a new layer is created, called “Blocks,” to hold our new drawing objects.

Drawing With the Irregular Polygon Tool


Any of Ortelius’ drawing tools can be used when creating city blocks. Your choice of tool will often depend on the layout and orientation of the blocks you are drawing. The Irregular Polygon tool is an extremely flexible choice when blocks are irregular in shape and orientation. Use the Irregular Polygon tool and a color-filled style to draw individual city blocks, clicking on each corner of the shape. When your final point is placed on top of your first point, the polygon will close automatically. Making sure polygons are closed will assure proper display, particularly if blocks are outlined.

Hint: To clip blocks neatly to maps edges, temporarily disable Layer > Clip Objects To Map Layer in the main menu and draw shapes slightly beyond the map border. Enable it again when you are finished drawing your blocks.

Drawing With the Bezier Path Tool


People are sometimes (quite pleasantly) surprised at how advanced Ortelius’ Bezier Path tool is for drawing shapes with straight lines and curves. Choose the Bezier Path tool and a color-filled style. Although you are drawing a path, it will be represented as a filled object when an area style is applied. Single-click on corner points to trace corners; click and drag curve handles to draw curves; hold the CMND or OPT modifier keys while adjusting the curve handles. Placing your last point on top of the first point automatically ends the path. Optionally, you can formally close the path by choosing Edit > Paths & Tracks > Close from the main menu. Curve handles can be further adjusted as needed.

If you are unfamiliar working with Bezier curves in Ortelius, try your hand with our hands-on exercises.

Hands-on exercise. See Ortelius File > New From Template > Exercises & Demos > 2-Paths Exercise.

Combining Objects


When faced with situations such as this circle with an internal median area (a classic doughnut!), try drawing the circle using the Oval tool and a line symbol then clipping the area out using the Combine > Difference command. Begin this technique by drawing the positive space (the road) and then subtracting it from the background to create your negative space. This technique is described in detail below.

Draw ‘Positive Space’ In Gridded Areas


Where city blocks are laid out in a regularly gridded pattern you can quickly create blocks using path outlines and a few Combine operations. Begin by drawing the road grid with Paths or Tracks. Note you can draw roads of varying widths. Next, draw the background shape (shown here in green) and send it backward under the roads by choosing Graphic > Send To Back from the main menu. We draw the background shape last so you can see your source map while tracing the roads ;).

Edit > Paths & Tracks > Outline


Next, select the roads and choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Outline from the main menu to turn the roads from lines into polygons.

Combine > Union


Combine all the new road polygons into a single object by selecting them and choosing Combine > Union from the main menu.

Create ‘Negative Space’ Combine > Difference


With the background and foreground polygons selected, choose Combine > Difference from the main menu. The roads will be subtracted from the background polygon creating negative space. The blocks are a single object when selected.

Combine > Break Apart


If further editing is desired, select the blocks object and choose Combine > Break Apart from the main menu. Each block is now its own individual shape object. Optionally, even further refinement is achieved by selecting a block and converting it from a shape to a path (chose Graphic > Convert To Path from the main menu). Each individual corner node can then be moved and edited. Path objects can be converted back to shape objects at any time.

Working with all blocks as a single object is the most efficient way to re-color and symbolize the map. Once you are satisfied with the layout of the blocks, select all and choose Combine > Append to combine all blocks into a single object again.

Add Text

Unlike road features drawn with the Track tool, roads in a city-block style map are not objects – they are negative space. Use the Text Box and Text On Path tools to add label text for roads. To label city blocks and other features, right click the objects and choose Add Label.

Some differences between maps with roads as primary feature vs. blocks as primary feature…
neither “right or wrong” it just depends on the style you’re looking for > both use in large scale (local scale) mapping good for showing neighborhoods, towns, small cities;

some applications of city block style > tourism maps, land use planning maps, location maps, campus maps, pedistrian maps, etc.

Differences (pros/cons)
1. blocks can be easily attributed, e.g., land use/land cover or districts, and new styles applied; can add style components such as shadows to enhance look; because they are negative space and not repersented with objects, street text must be placed with Text tool rather than labeling function associated with point, line, and polygon features;
blocks as focus can result in a more organic looking map with irregular shaped blocks and streets – show nooks and cranies, etc., tends to feature the city blocks as the most prominent feature so good for applications where this is important
2. road maps (with tracks) are more easily labeled using tracks; similar look can be had using cased line styles and connector tracks (show example) though result is more regular spacing; can have background ploygons behind road network to show land use or districts; tends to feature road network as most prominant feature so good for transportation/navigation purposes


Using the techniques described above, you can create your own fully editable European-style city block map. With Ortelius’ slick style swapping, the look of your map is easily updated to create unique versions of this classic map style.

Ortelius 1.1 Now Available

Ortelius 1.1.1 Now Available

On the heels of our latest update, Ortelius 1.1.1 is a minor update that adds iPhoto integration to the Image Browser, provides additional keyboard shortcuts, and fine-tunes the Library Manager’s Open Documents collections.

Ortelius 1.1 is a major upgrade that introduces many enhancements and a brand new Library Manager for managing map styles & symbols. This upgrade is free for existing users. All of the many new features are extensively documented in the Ortelius built-in Help Book (also available User’s Guide). Here we highlight a few of the most notable features…

Symbol Palette

Ortelius 1.1 provides improved usability with the Symbols Palette and tightly integrates it with the new Library Manager. Here are the major new features:

Double-Click to Apply Symbols & Styles

No more accidentally applying styles to your selected objects. Now, double-click is required on any style or symbol to apply it to the selected objects instead of a single click. An alert will ask you to confirm the application of the new style. The alert can be turned off and on in the Ortelius > Preferences menu as desired. What’s more, the double-click to apply style now works with all tools so you can use it while you draw without switching to the Select tool. Click-hold and drag can also be used to apply styles and symbols to objects.

Integrated Symbols & Styles in the Palette

Styles and symbols now reside together in the Symbols Palette without the need to switch between panes. The palette is sensitive to your active tools. Styles are active – indicated with highlighted buttons – when you are using tools that are appropriate to working with styles. Symbol are active, for example, when using the Symbols Stamp tool. Inactive styles or symbols are still visible, but are slightly grayed out.

Drop-Down Menu and Navigation

The Symbols Palette is now tightly integrated with the new Library Manager. In the Symbols Palette, the drop-down menu reflects the libraries, collections, categories, and subcategories of the Library Manager. Forward and back buttons assist you to quickly navigate among previously used styles and symbols. Bread-crumb navigation at the bottom bar help to quickly recognize which library is active. A list view is now available so you can see symbol and style names.

Library Manager

Ortelius 1.1 introduces a professional-level Library Manager that greatly improves the management and sharing of map styles and symbols. The Library Manager provides the interface for you to manage your symbol collections, as well as create and edit new symbols and styles. Here are the major new features:


The Library Manager contains three libraries – the Mapdiva Library, My Library, and Open Documents Library. Ortelius delivers with the Mapdiva Library containing a Built-In Collection with over 1700 styles and symbols. Items in this library cannot be edited, though they can be reorganized into various categories and subcategories, and also copied (cloned) by dragging into My Library for further editing. My Library is the primary location of user-created symbols and styles. User styles and symbols created in pre-version 1.1 of Ortelius are automatically migrated to My Library on first launch of Ortelius 1.1. The Open Documents Library is populated with temporary ad hoc items (styles and symbols that are not part of any permanent Libraries) that are read when an existing file is opened. Temporary collections are automatically assigned for each open document using the same name as the document. Dragging items from the Open Documents Library to a collection in My Library automatically copies (clones) the items and saves them for future use.

Collections, Categories & Smart Categories

Ortelius 1.1 introduces the ability to create and share discrete collections of styles and symbols. Collections are added to My Library to manage items by project, theme, or otherwise as defined by the user. Collections can be exported and shared from the Library Manager – Action Menu. Categories and smart categories (think of these like “play lists” in iTunes) help to keep your collections organized. Collections and categories can be printed from the Library Manager – Action Menu.

Items and Info

Symbols and styles can be displayed in icon or list views. An Info button on the toolbar will display detailed information about each item, including its description if available. Double-clicking any item opens either the symbol editor dialog or Style Inspector, for symbols and styles respectively.

Symbol Creation

Symbol creation is now tightly integrated with the Library Manager. When you create a new symbol using Edit > Create Symbol…, it is immediately added to My Library in the Library Manager and a dialog is opened to name the symbol, add a description, and apply settings.

Many More Enhancements…

We’ve been busy! Several other feature enhancements, bug fixes, and performance improvements are included. An exhaustive list of changes is available here. To learn more about any feature, visit the built-in Help Book or the User’s Guide.

Search and Destroy – Book Illustrated with Ortelius

It is with much gratitude we offer our congratulations to Richard Brummett, Mapdiva’s very first customer, for the publication of Search and Destroy by Keith W. Nolan and published by Zenith Press. Upon the author’s untimely death, Richard Brummett (Keith’s friend and associate) saw the book through to completion. A large part of that effort included making the four maps, three charts of military vehicle silhouettes, and a page of crests and patches that illustrate the book, which were created with Ortelius cartography software for Mac OS X.

In fact, Richard purchased his license of Ortelius slightly before the official public release in order to work with the demo without the watermark. He worked with the patience of a saint as we flushed out pre-release bugs and continued the final stages of development. Richard’s input was invaluable toward the documentation of Ortelius as he asked questions about (at that time) undocumented features, offered encouragement, and inspired us to keep plowing forward. It is a perfect demonstration of how Ortelius’ development is truly a partnership with our customers.

About Search and Destroy: The Story of an Armored Cavalry Squadron in Việt Nam: 1-1 Cav, 1967-1968” [Hardcover]

The 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, of the 1st Armored Division deployed to Việt Nam from Fort Hood, Texas in August 1967. Search and Destroy covers the 1-1 Cav’s harrowing first year and a half of combat in the war’s toughest area of operations: I Corps. The book takes readers into the savage action at infamous places like Tam Kỳ, the Quế Sơn Valley, the Pineapple Forest, Hill 34, and Cigar Island, chronicling General Westmoreland’s search-and-destroy war of attrition against the Việt Cộng and North Vietnamese Army. Exploring the gray areas of guerrilla war, military historian Keith Nolan details moments of great compassion toward the Vietnamese, but also eruptions of Mỹ Laị-like violence, the grimmer aspects of the 1-1 Cav’s successes. Search and Destroy is a rare account of an exemplary fighting force in action, a dramatic close-up look at the Việt Nam War.

About the Author

Keith W. Nolan studied the Việt Nam War for twenty-five years and has published articles on the subject in Leatherneck, the Marine Corps Gazette, Proceedings, and Vietnam magazine. He is also the author of eleven Việt Nam War combat histories, all of which have been Military Book Club selections. Keith died in February 2009 at age 44 and this will be his twelfth and final book on the Việt Nam War.