Ortelius 2 Demonstration at the ICC2017

Art Kalinski from Geospatial Solutions visited the 28th International Cartographic Conference of the International Cartographic Association, held July 2-7, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Here he speaks with Jill Saligoe-Simmel of Mapdiva as she demonstrates Ortelius map design software for the Mac.

Mapdiva releases Ortelius 2 – Pro Map Design Software for the Mac

Indianapolis, Indiana – US-Australia-based developer Mapdiva today releases Ortelius 2 creative map design software for the Mac. This unique professional creativity app is a hybrid that lies somewhere between a vector drawing program, such as Illustrator™ and a geographic information system (though it’s decidedly not GIS). Ortelius adds tailored functionality for cartography, such as connectable track tools, powerful style engine, library of expert styles and map symbols, and robust templates.

If you’ve ever tried making a map in a standard vector drawing program, you know how tedious it can be. Or, perhaps you’ve lamented how difficult it is to make publication-quality map graphics in a GIS. Ortelius automates many of the tedious tasks in manual cartography with a clear eye towards high-quality graphics, so you can focus your creative energy on content and design.

Ortelius offers three workflows for map-making:

  1. Design hand-crafted maps using expert styles, symbols, and special cartography drawing tools.
  2. Create maps from beautifully designed world, regional and country templates to customize and make your own.
  3. For advanced users, build maps from shapefiles as a starting point for your next creation.

“We’ve modernized Ortelius top to bottom,” say geographer and co-founder, Dr. Jill Saligoe-Simmel, “from under-the-hood performance to forward-facing features like connectable tracks and automatic junctions.” For Mapdiva’s more advanced users, Ortelius 2 includes the highly-requested ability to align layers when importing georeferenced shapefile map data.

Ortelius uses layers to organize your map’s content. Draw roads on a roads layer, rivers on another layer, points of interest on another, and view them all stacked together. Layers are expandable and can be easily reorganized.

From cased (think double-line) roads to patterned fills, Ortelius’ powerful style engine lets you build expert stacked styles which can be as simple or complex as you desire. It comes with a library of over 1800 pre-built styles and map symbols, and these can be copied or cloned to use as a starting point for your own creations. Since it’s a full-fledged vector drawing program, you can even create your own graphics and map symbols, and save them to your user library to use again with future projects. Ortelius’ workflows are thoughtful and efficient, and features like ‘Global Styles’ let you quickly make changes across multiple objects at once.

Importantly, Ortelius lets you draw to scale. For example, 1-inch on your drawing canvas can equal 1-ft or 1-mile/km on the ground. That’s perfect for maps, landscape plans, floorplans and even technical drawings. Beyond crisp maps and graphics, it also has the ability to import and edit raster images. You can export vector PDF and a variety of image formats at a multiple scales and resolutions. Export your entire map, portions of the map in “slices”, individual layers, or selected objects.

Ortelius 2 is available today from Mapdiva.com for $149.99 (USD)/yr annual license or $399 (USD) perpetual license. It is made exclusively for MacOS. A free trial, get started videos, tutorials and multi-lingual user guide are available on their website.

How Artboard Is Influencing Our 2nd Generation Products

In 2008, Mapdiva delivered Ortelius – the creative app for custom map design. Our drawing engine proved so rich and powerful that many of our customers encouraged us to build a general purpose graphic design app. When Artboard was born in 2011, we didn’t anticipate its impact our company.

“Simple. Powerful. Fun.” was our mantra for Artboard from day one. Since Ortelius is a more serious niche product, we didn’t anticipate how much Ortelius would be informed by this thinking. But “Simple. Powerful. Fun.” keeps us focused on the customer. It forces us to carefully consider each and every feature; to balance functionality with usability. It is simplicity and power that make Artboard a joy to use. Since Ortelius and Artboard are built on the same drawing engine, this naturally spills over across products.

That is why this year we will release Artboard 2 before Ortelius 2. Development of our next generation products is well underway, and it is interesting to see how Ortelius 2 is being informed by our development decisions with Artboard. As a sophisticated app, Ortelius is by its nature more complex. Yet Ortelius 2 will simplify the UI while increasing functionality. With both apps, we are paying attention to workflow, putting everything in reach, and giving you rich new features for even more to love.

P.S. We can’t yet announce exact release dates. We know it always takes more time and more coding than expected to make a project work. To quote an adage about software development, “the first 90 percent of the work is easy, the second 90 percent wears you down, and the last 90 percent – the attention to detail – makes a good product.”  Well, we’re in the last 90%. We’ll start posting sneak peeks soon!

Ortelius Awarded Best Mac App: 2011 Swipe Design Awards

Mapdiva is the proud recipient of the “Best Mac Application” for our Ortelius cartography software. The Swipe Awards are an opportunity to recognize some of the best apps being created in Australia. We are truly honored by the recognition!

The Swipe Conference was held in Melbourne, Australia on the September 5-6, 2011.

Get Your Kicks from these Route 66 Maps!

We’d like to congratulate Tom Snyder, author of “Route 66: Traveler’s Guide and Roadside Companion,” on his recently published book edition. This fully revised and updated book includes dozens of elegant and easy-to-read new maps produced with the Ortelius software. It was a labor of love as Tom spent months meticulously creating over 92 maps, as well as completely updating and expanding the bestselling guide itself, for the fourth edition.

More than twenty years after the original publication of Route 66, this completely updated and expanded guide will make the trip along the Mother Road easier and even more exciting. Responding to requests from readers and travelers, Tom offers up-to-date routings, elegant and easy-to-read new maps, and revised information on roadside attractions. Filled with love, high jinks, and mystery, the stories Snyder narrates truly capture the flavor of the Main Street of America. Cattle rustlers, gangsters, hitchhikers, and ghosts all make appearances in these nostalgic glimpses of history-in-the-making along America’s most famous highway.

Prizewinning author Tom Snyder was an early advocate of a Route 66 revival and his 1990 Route 66 Traveler’s Guide & Roadside Companion for St. Martin’s Press was the first guidebook to the old road written in more than forty years, as well as the first to map the route since its decertification in 1985. He lives on the West Coast, dividing his time among British Columbia, Washington, and California.

The book is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

Congratulations Tom, we wish you terrific success!

AAG Session: Geography on the Mac

Mapdiva is pleased to present the “Geography on the Mac” session at the 2011 Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA on April 12-16.

Geography on the Mac is becoming an increasingly viable option in the geography curriculum as technologies continue to change and evolve. While Mac market share has been steadily on the rise, particularly among student bodies, the platform has historically been weak in supporting geography-related tool sets. That landscape is changing with new software being introduced and the opening of the platform to support the Windows operating system (OS). This session is designed to showcase a variety of geospatial Mac OS applications that are being used within the academic environment as integrated classroom research and learning tools.


  • Gaige B Paulsen, Using GIS for Crime Analysis on the Mac (Cartographica)
  • Kazimierz Zaniewski, Mapmaking with Cartes et Données
  • Larry Biehl, MultiSpec for Remote Sensing
  • Daniel Strebe, Introduction to Geocart 3 Map Projection Software
  • Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Introducing Map Design with Ortelius for Mac OS

Sponsored by the AAG Cartography Specialty Group.

Join Us at the North American Cartographic Information Society Annual Meeting

10.07.10 Mapdiva co-founder Jill Saligoe-Simmel will join mapmakers, map users, map librarians, and map enthusiasts in St. Petersburg, Florida this October to talk about the thing we all love – maps! Jill will demonstrate Ortelius’ map symbol creation and sharing tools at Practical Cartography Day on October 13th. 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.

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.

Ortelius Earns Apple Staff Pick

08.25.09 In the wake of Ortelius’ recent release to the world, the software earns listing as an Apple Featured 3rd Party Download and Staff Pick. Ortelius is a vector-based drawing and cartographic design program made especially for map design and presentation. 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, as well as serves to address a lack of mapmaking software for the Mac OS X platform. Visit Getting Started for a video introduction to Ortelius.

Ortelius Aims to Unleash Both the Art and Science of Geography

08.24.09 Spatial Sustain Magazine/Vector1 Media editor, Matt Ball, posts this article tracing our journey to Ortelius:

A new cartographic design tool called Ortelius was launched last week by Mapdiva. This tool addresses a lack of mapmaking software for the Mac OS X environment, and aims to make map design easier to learn and implement. The two principals of Mapdiva are the lead developer Graham Cox of Australia, and Jill Saligoe-Simmel, a professional geographer who is the past executive director of the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC), and represented the state of Indiana at the National States Geographic Information Council, and served on the board.

“I switched to a Mac a couple of years ago, and was really frustrated about the lack of mapping software that was available,” said Saligoe-Simmel. “I was also frustrated at IGIC at not being able to help people that didn’t have GIS skills use the Indiana Map . And finally, I was looking for more creativity in my mapping software, and wasn’t getting that out of the GIS programs that are available. I’ve really been focused on the technology and the policy, but I fell in love with geography for both the art and the science, and I’ve been missing the art.”

The software is designed for cartography with built in tools to make map design easier, with a shorter learning curve than graphics and illustration programs. The software simplifies the insertion of such elements as bridges, creates smooth curves, and automates the creation of  road junctions. The program also has a sophisticated labeling system that allows users to click on any feature and add a label using the attribute information of that feature. It can import JPG, PNG, GIF and TIFF files to build upon a base map, and can also output in these formats for publication or digital presentation.

“In my experience being a manager with GIS, I was seeing a lot of GIS people create maps for presentations in PowerPoint, because they just wanted to make a quick map, and make it look nice, but they didn’t want to create a database in order to do it,” continued Saligoe-Simmel. “I’ve talked to so many other professionals that have wanted to bring creativity back into their work. Now with the expansion of the technology, we’re ready to take on the cartography, the graphics, the art, and focus on how important presentation is for communication. And, that’s what we hope to accomplish with Ortelius, to provide a product that can let people unleash their creativity.”

Users have a broad choice of colors, fills and pen strokes to create their own map styles, with ColorBrewer palettes that are are designed for better map display. There are a large number of symbols included in the software, and easy tools to create your own. The software employs layers to keep map data organized and automatically creates layers from imported GIS map data.

Given the goal of making maps more accessible, there’s an emphasis on making the design process intuitive. The website contains a number of video tutorials to walk you through different aspects of the software, and there are plans to build on this educational resource base. There’s also the hope that this software might be incorporated into school curriculum to teach kids mapmaking skills.

“I’ve been involved in our geographic educator’s network in the state, and I understand the hurdles of trying to get geospatial technology into the classroom,” said Saligoe-Simmel. “I could never get my daughter who is in 7thgrade to sit down in front of GIS software to help her learn it, she just didn’t have the patience to get through the lengthy introduction to where you can start creating things. She’ll now sit down with Ortelius for hours making imaginary towns, and it’s rewarding to see that we have something that could take hold with middle and high school students.”

The standard edition of the software is available now for a single user license price of $79, and an education single user license price of $39. The company is in development on a professional edition with plans to include the ability to bring in GIS files in real-world coordinate space, as well as adding the ability to work with multiple layers and multiple projections. The professional edition will also include the ability to create choropleth maps.

“I hope that Ortelius can be a bridge,” asserted Saligoe-Simmel. “Professional GIS people are covered really well now with software, but when I have a graphic designer that comes to me and asks for a map, they don’t know what a Shapefile is, and there’s a steep learning curve. We hope to bring more people into the mapmaking fold.”

Mapdiva Launches Ortelius Map Illustration Software

Mapdiva, LLC announces the first release of Ortelius map illustration software for Mac OS X.  Ortelius is a powerful vector-based program allowing you to easily create floor plans, landscape plans, scaled drawings, and a wide variety of high quality custom maps.  Designed for ease-of-use, it allows you to draw directly with features such as roads, rivers, coastlines, buildings, symbols, and contours.

Read more

Ortelius Has Launched!

08.19.09 A big thank-you to all of our testers and reviewers – we’ve made it!  Check out our new web site for all the details on Ortelius, including a downloadable trial version.  We’ll continue to add tips & tricks and screencasts to our web site to maintain it not only as our product site, but also as a rich educational resource for map making.  To celebrate, we are offering an introductory special of $79 until September 30th.  Development continues and we’d love to hear from you.