Ortelius 1.8 Release Notes

The update to Ortelius 1.8 requires downloading the software from our website. Before you do, we recommend quitting the current version of the Ortelius.app on your computer and renaming it (for example, “Ortelius (old).app”). This will allow you to keep the previous version until you are ready to delete it. A major update recommended for all Ortelius users. Release date: 7 August, 2013

New Features & Enhancements

User Interface & OS Support


  • Ortelius is optimized for “Retina” display — all app artwork is now either resolution independent or includes @2x versions.
  • Ortelius is now full 64-bit native.
  • Mac OS 10.8 “Mountain Lion” support, including full-screen viewing, share, resume, versions and autosave (as desired, users can disable Autosave and Versions in the Ortelius > Preferences – Options pane).
  • A new shorter file extension is now supported. New files will be saved with the “.ortl” file extension. Previous file extensions are still supported.
  • A new Format Bar is located along the top of the Rulers and replaces the “Simple” pane on the Style Inspector. You’ll now be able to reset and clone simple styles without having to open palettes.
  • Added support for trackpad gestures for zooming and two-finger double-tap “smart” zooming. Supports laptop trackpads and “Magic Trackpad”.
  • The Select [s] tool now uses the [s] shortcut bringing it on par with other professional drawing software. The Spacebar offers quick activation of the Pan tool for repositioning the drawing canvas regardless of the currently active tool. Linear Select [n] now uses the [n] shortcut.
  • Objects can now be precisely adjusted using numeric input in the Geometry panel located in the lower left sidebar under the Layers list. This is in addition to the object geometry editor within the Object Inspector.
  • The Tools palette is reorganized to better group standard “Graphics” tools and specialty “Cartography” tools, and to provide a preview of the currently active style.
  • The Toolbar default layout now includes the ‘Combine’ commands. Align middle and center are there too. To add others, right-click the toolbar and choose ‘Customize’ from the context menu.
  • Share‘ is available on the Toolbar (available with OS 10.8+).
  • Dramatically faster Pan and Zoom by adding a preference to control the display of shadows at very high zoom levels.
  • Added layer ‘Duplicate‘ command to the Layer menu which duplicates the selected layer and all of its content.
  • All color wells in the Style Inspector and Format Bar now implement the convenient drop-down menu behavior as well as interacting with the Color Pane.
  • The user can now set a preference to enable and disable ‘Snap To Graph Paper’ automatically when the grid becomes visible or is hidden.
  • Contextual menu in Layers sidebar is now much better – the actual row right-clicked provides the context and the menu is worded appropriately for various actions. You can now access the graph paper and drawing settings from here, as well as use a right-click in the general layers area to create a Layer group.
  • Save dialog for saving templates revised to more elegantly prevent the user from navigating outside of the designated area.
  • Moved ‘Snap‘ submenu commands from the View > menu to the Graphic > menu.
  • Enhanced Help.

Boolean Operations

  • Boolean operations now use a new algorithm which preserves original bezier path elements instead of reducing them to flattened paths.
  • Boolean operations ‘Intersection’ and ‘Difference’ can now operate on any number of paths at a time, not just two.
  • Boolean operations are now much smarter and perform appropriate individual conversions or other operations as necessary on a per-object basis.

Object Editing

  • Users now receive “visual feedback” in the form of a darkened point when selecting any point along a path, track, or any curve handle.
  • Looped paths and tracks now treat the two end points and curve handles as a single point if they coincide. Move the end point over the start point and it will “couple” the points and their handles behave correspondingly. Hold the CMND-key to uncouple the end points. This is in addition to being able to formally close paths and tracks.
  • On paths and tracks, the keyboard arrow keys now “nudge” individually selected points and curve handles in any direction.
  • Added ability to directly collapse and expand handles on a path.
  • Path and track objects now return their geometric mid-point as their “location” instead of their top, left point. This means that image and other adornments are aligned relative to the mid-point of the object which is a more useful and expected result.
  • ‘Cut Path’ tool now operates on Arcs and Wedges in a sensible manner by dividing the shape into two parts sharing a common center point and radius.
  • Bezier and Irregular Polygon paths and tracks will end when the user clicks outside the drawing canvas area. This is in addition to all the other ways you can end the path creation mode.
  • Polar Duplicate now has an interactive way to simply set the desired center point (plus improved dialog layout and tooltips added). Polar Duplicate also now automatically calculates the angle needed for a circle based on the number of duplicates.
  • Quick edit mode — double-click any path or special shape to quickly convert between shape and path edit modes. For example, draw a regular path and double-click it to switch to edit its shape mode. Double-click it to convert it back to a path object. Note that special objects, like stars and rounded rectangles, lose their special status when converted to regular shapes. Because they are more often associated with map features, regular shapes and track objects open the Object Inspector when double-clicked (though they can still be converted to other object types via the Graphic > Convert To… commands in the main menu).
  • New preference added for changing the freehand drawing smoothing factor.
  • Direct controls in objects such as round-rect corner radius and image scale are now rendered using a new control handle style which looks nicer, is clearer in function and is easier to use.
  • Direct controls handles now support a small or large handle interface for ease of use. This setting is accessed via the Ortelius > Preferences – Options pane.
  • Rotation knob handles adopt a similar appearance to the new direct control knob.
  • Dragging the handles of shapes now shows an appropriate cursor.
  • Dragging the “rotation center” target of shapes will now snap to the center of the shape unless the shift key (constraint) is pressed.
  • Double-clicking the “rotation knob” of a shape now resets the object’s angle to zero if it’s not already zero.

Image Editing

  • Ortelius now offers more efficient image handling. NOTE: Some images added in early versions of Ortelius may appear “flipped”. While this is unavoidable due to code improvements, it is easily corrected. Please select the image and choose Graphic > Flip from the main menu.
  • Images and Groups can now accept a clipping path that is not required to be fully aligned to the bounding box. In conjunction with Boolean operations such as ‘Intersection’ this enables powerful new clipping effects.
  • Image shapes now support direct cropping and scaling. Double-click an image to enter edit mode where the image can be directly dragged to crop it, and where there is a direct scaling control. Resizing the image frame in this mode operates to crop the image rather than resize it. In this mode, the excluded part of a cropped image is visible in a partially transparent area outside the image frame which has a special yellow/black dashed highlight.
  • The Image Kit image editor panel is now supported for image shape editing. This is shown in the above “edit” mode, e.g. when ‘Edit Image’ is chosen in the menu or the image object is double-clicked.
  • Users can now change image opacity of image objects directly from the Geometry panel.

Styles & Symbols

  • Style Inspector and Format Bar buttons renamed from ‘New’ to ‘Reset’ to better reflect the action of resetting the style to the default basic fill and stroke.
  • The Style Inspector has been simplified removing the “Simple” and “Expert” tabs to reflect the addition of the Format Bar and improve the user experience. ‘Reset’ and ‘Clone’ buttons added to the main section of the Style Inspector; reset Text styles now available under the drop-down Action menu.
  • A style’s style components list in the Style Inspector can be right-clicked to copy, paste, and duplicate them via their contextual menu.
  • Ad-hoc styles are automatically allocated a name (“untitled style n”, where n is incremented each time a new style is needed) instead of having no name, making it easier to see when a style has been cloned. In addition, it is no longer necessary to name an ad-hoc style before it can be added to a collection.
  • Added ability to ‘transform’ many style components types and have multiple copies applied automatically. This yields a wide range of additional effects.
  • Tapered stroke effect more versatile – allows individual settings for each end of the stroke, as well as cap and join settings.
  • Added graphic display of arrow head types in drop-down menu and added ‘bar only’ option to arrow heads.
  • Added master opacity for styles.
  • ‘Outline Path’ operation made smarter and enhanced to work with special stroke styles such as arrows, tapered, tagged and rough strokes.
  • Wording of ‘locked’ styles and clip-art changed to indicate ‘editable’ instead, to make it clear what locking really means. Unlock/Lock icon changed to a pencil or crossed pencil.

SVG Support

  • Added support for import of SVG images. SVG images can now be browsed by the Image Browser and dragged to a drawing, or SVG files can be opened from File > Open or dragged in from Finder.
  • Added preference to disable import of SVG “filter” elements. When used indiscriminately, these filters drag performance down dramatically, even when they contribute no visible effect.
  • Added source viewer for SVG images in Image Browser (right click on selected svg image > View Source). This is intended for checking SVG source, not editing it. Text can be copied and pasted from here however.

Template Browser, Image Browser, Printing & Export

  • Image Browser and Template Browser now include a search field to filter the selected folder by name.
  • New folder watcher based on FSEvents allows image and template browsers to update when the folder on disk is updated externally. This replaces the buggy kqueue()-based functionality that has been removed.
  • Export now supports only exporting the selected objects.
  • Export now features an arbitrary scaling factor for raster images. This allows any desired resolution or image size to be exported.
  • Transparent gradients are now exported correctly for JPEG, TIFF and PNG formats. When exporting to PDF and printing, gradients with alpha transparency are now supported.

Other Changes

  • Menu keyboard equivalents rationalized for Boolean ops so that shift-command-D is now ‘Difference’ (q.v. Union and Intersection) and Polar and Linear Duplicate no longer have keyboard equivalents.
  • Tool keyboard shortcuts made case insensitive.
  • Menu wording for ‘Paste Path On Object’ made consistent between Edit main menu and contextual menu. When selected object is an image, menu wording is “Paste Image Clipping Path”; for a group, “Paste Group Clipping Path”, for text “Paste Text Clipping Path”.
  • General improvements and simplification to overall menu layout, and full consistency between a menu’s text and what appears as an ‘Undo’ command.
  • General improvements to the overall appearance of the UI in numerous places.
  • Added paper background textures in the drawing setup dialog.
  • On Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), the main window background now uses a grey linen texture.
  • Image Shapes no longer incorrectly allow the ‘Reset Bounding Box’ operation which sometimes ended up skewing images.
  • Menu arrow shown in color well buttons now draws in a contrasting color when the displayed color is dark.
  • Transparency gradient buffering for PDF export is now done using double resolution previously used (now 288dpi) to reduce pixelization with retina displays, etc. As before this is only done if absolutely necessary to work around lack of PDF support.
  • The ‘Layers’ toolbar item is replaced by a new ‘Sidebar’ item which more accurately reflects the function it performs, since the sidebar is no longer only used for layers. Similarly, the View > Show/Hide Layers menu item is now worded Show/Hide Sidebar.
  • Graph Paper layer can no longer be made active. There is no sensible reason to activate it, and it is now excluded from the menu listing activatable layers.
  • Moved Undo preferences to ‘Advanced’ tab to make room for more Editing settings.
  • Default for image shape’s ‘image on top’ setting is now YES. In addition, this can be toggled from the contextual menu if a style is applied. The default (clear) style applied to images can no longer be copied as it has a special class within the app.
  • Auto-activation of layers with content selection is now a preferences setting rather than a menu item (access this setting in the Ortelius > Preferences – Options pane). This helps to make the general UI simpler.
  • Zoom pop-up menu moved into button bar to leave scrollbar area clear.
  • Better precision in the mouse coordinates toolbar widget.
  • Numerous minor bug fixes.