Working with SVG Graphics

SVG 1.1 files are editable vector graphic that can be ungrouped and edited in any way you wish. Objects can be saved as clip art and/or symbols.

To Open SVG Files:

In addition to the native file format, SVG 1.1 files are now supported. SVG files are converted into native files upon opening and can be saved as such.

So one of the following:

  • Choose File > Open from the main menu and select and SVG file to open.
  • In Finder, right-click an SVG file and choose Open With > (app) from the contextual menu.

To Import SVG Files:

  1. Similar to images, simply drag editable vector SVG 1.1 files from the Image Browser to your drawing canvas.
  2. Ungroup as needed to edit.

Important Notes About SVG Import:

It is important to understand how the SVG 1.1 standard is implemented, since in some cases results may differ from another product.

Mapdiva’s concept of graphic styles is rich and deep – substantially moreso than the classic “stroke and fill” concept of Postscript, which SVG largely mimics. Thus when importing SVG, we need to build graphic styles that match as closely as possible this simpler concept. By and large there isn’t much difficulty, but in some cases results will differ, because of a mismatch between the two approaches. This is most evident with gradient fills and pattern fills. Usually, these will work as expected and the visual result will be what you expect, but as we don’t strictly support the concept of SVG’s “global” (user space) gradients, for example, when we encounter such a style, we do our best to translate it to something meaningful that gives similar visual results.

The SVG 1.1 standard is implemented, and ignores any and all non-standard comments that other applications frequently use to “help out” when parsing SVG. This can be another source of discrepancy between interpretation of an SVG file, and another application’s. This is particularly problematic with files created by Inkscape, a popular open source application, since that heavily salts its SVG files with comments only it understands, and are not part of the SVG standard. The resulting files may fail to open entirely as expected, though in practice we find we do get good results most of the time.

Mac OS X includes an SVG parser as part of WebKit and QuickLook uses this to preview SVG graphics in the Finder and elsewhere. We don’t rely on this parser, but implement our own in order to convert SVG objects to equivalent vector objects and styles, not simply to render the graphics as an image. In some cases, the QuickLook parser fails to render an image at all, yet the file will import just fine. At other times, the small differences in rendering mentioned above may be evident.

The Image Browser uses its own parser to render the thumbnail previews for SVG files, so what you see in the Image Browser is what you get when you import the file. Our parser is not just rendering the graphics however, it is converting them to objects, then creating the image. This makes it slower than a pure SVG renderer such as QuickLook. The Image Browser therefore creates each thumbnail image asynchronously using a background thread, and as each conversion is completed it “pops” into view. Subsequently the image is cached on disk and will be displayed quickly. Therefore expect a folder full of SVG graphics added to the Image Browser to take a while to process the thumbnails at first. We also recommend keeping the number of files in a folder down to something reasonable (a few hundred, say) to avoid the thumbnail generation going on for extended periods which could interfere with your workflow.

Sometimes an SVG file may fail to import. This can be for many reasons, such as bad data in the SVG, unsupported elements, missing external resources, or simply because the import takes too long due to the file being very complex. In the Image Browser, you’ll see such failed imports displayed with an Error icon.

About SVG Import Errors:


Such failed imports are reattempted next time the Image Browser is shown. When dragging and dropping an SVG into your drawing, a failed import will cause the drag to “spring back”. When opening a file using Open…, an error message is shown.

Imports that timeout may sometimes succeed if tried again. Usually a timed-out import indicates a graphic that would be too complex to give reasonable performance subsequently. There are several possible reasons for this:

• A very large number of paths
• Paths having extremely large numbers of points
• Heavy use of blur filters
• Heavy use of shadows.

When creating SVG graphics, it is very easy to assume that objects can be duplicated and reused at will. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. We have seen many cases of SVG artwork where objects have been repeatedly duplicated and yet effectively contribute nothing to the finished graphic. If such hidden objects have blur filters applied, or shadows, then a huge performance penalty is being incurred for no good reason.

Frequently, paths can be combined into a single object and have a shadow or blur applied just once in order to maximise performance. Giving performance some thought when creating graphics can make life much easier later.

An occasional source of difference between our applications and another SVG application is with text rendering. SVG does not embed the fonts it refers to, so if an SVG file references a font that is not available on your system, we will substitute Helvetica of the same size. Other SVG parsers sometimes just give up or skip the text when this font problem is encountered. While we try to plough on, obviously the results may not be what you expected. I you want to use a fancy font in a graphic, it is good practice, once you’re done editing the text, to convert it to a path so that this font problem won’t be an issue. Note that this does not apply to PDF export, since PDF does embed the fonts it references.

When we import SVG text elements, we convert them to a graphic, for best visual fidelity. That means the text can’t be edited as text, though the graphical paths can be.

Insert a Scale Bar

In Ortelius, a scale bar is a dynamic object, and will adjust based on changes in scale from the Map Size & Units window. The scale bar is automatically calibrated based on the drawing scale settings and placed on the active layer.

To Insert a Scale Bar:

  1. Choose a layer in which the scale bar is to be placed.
  2. Choose Edit > Insert Special > Scale Bar from the main menu.

Related Topics: Using the Ruler to Measure and Set Map Scale

To Format the Scale Bar:

  1. Do one of the following:
  • Open the Object Inspector > Features pane. Use the Select [s] tool to select the scale bar.
  • Choose the Select [s] tool. Double-click the scale bar to select it and automatically open the Object Inspector > Features pane.

2. Edit the scale bar options as desired. The following settings are available:

  • TITLE – Show the scale title (map scale).
  • PRIMARY SCALE ENABLE – Show the primary scale. This item takes its units settings automatically from the current scale and index grid.
  • PRIMARY SCALE TITLE – The text label for the scale.
  • PRIMARY SCALE SKIP – Label skip interval. For example if 2 every other label is drawn, if 1 all labels are drawn.
  • PRIMARY SCALE DIVISIONS – Number of subdivisions of the primary scale.
  • SECONDARY SCALE TITLE – Show the secondary scale. This is a derivative of the primary scale.
  • SECONDARY SCALE TITLE – The text label for the scale.
  • SECONDARY SCALE UNITS – Select the units for which the map secondary scale is to be presented.
  • PRIMARY SCALE SKIP – Label skip interval. For example if 2 every other label is drawn, if 1 all labels are drawn.
  • SECONDARY SCALE DIVISIONS – Number of subdivisions of the secondary scale.
  • SCALE WIDTH – Vertical width of the scale bar.
  • EXTENDED MARKERS – Scale bar has extended markers when checked.
  • BARRED – Scale bar includes decorative barring when checked.
  • ALTERNATING COLORS – Scale bar uses alternating colors. Click the color wells to edit colors.

3. With the scale bar still selected, open the Fonts panel and edit text properties as desired.

Add a Map Legend (Map Key)

Legends, also called map a “key,” define the meaning of symbols and styles used on a map. The choice to include a legend depends on your map’s purpose and your audience. Maps do not need legends if the symbology is so common or simple as to be easily understood by the reader. However, it must be clear what the symbols represent.

Legends are created by laying out symbols, styles and text. When creating a legend, use guidelines to keep your layout tidy.

To Add a Pre-designed Legend from the Styles & Symbols Palette:

  1. Select the layer that will hold the map legend.
  2. Open the Styles & Symbols palette and type “legend” in the search bar to find a pre-defined legend.
  3. Use the Symbol Stamp [y] tool, or drag the symbol from the palette onto your map.
  4. The legend is a special symbol that is detached from its master automatically when placed.
  5. Ungroup the legend.
  6. Edit the symbols and text as appropriate.

Add a North Arrow

Maps typically indicate which way is north. Commonly this is done by a north arrow or compass rose. Orientation may also be shown by graticule or grid marks (e.g. lines of latitude and longitude). By convention north is towards the top of the page (thus some maps do not have north arrows), but the orientation is usually still given for a “proper” map. When north is not at the top of the page a north arrow is essential.

To Add a North Arrow from the Built-in Library:

  1. Open the Styles & Symbols palette.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Type “arrow” in the search field (be sure all items are available for searching).
  • Choose the ‘Map Elements’ category from the palette library drop-down list.

3. Drag an arrow from the palette onto your map.

To Rotate a North Arrow:

  1. Select the north arrow symbol.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • As needed, use the Object Inspector Geometry pane (or the Geometry panel) to type the specific angle of rotation.
  • Right-Click on North Arrow symbol and choose “detached from master.” The north arrow is now an object that can be further edited and rotated directly.

Saving Your Drawing

Ortelius is optimized for Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks, including auto-saving and versions. Auto-save will periodically save your work for you (these features require at least OS 10.7+ “Lion”).

Additionally, a user’s file may be saved as a template.

To Save Your Drawing:

Do one of the following:

  • Choose File > Save… to manually save your file.
  • With the release of OS 10.8 “Mountain Lion”, Apple has returned the “Save As” file dialog (yippie!). Hold down the Option-key and choose File > Save As… from the main menu.

HINT: If you prefer not to use Autosave and Versions you can disable it under Ortelius > Preferences > Options.

To Duplicate Your Drawing:

Choose File > Duplicate to create a new file that is a copy of the current file.

To Save a Drawing as a Template:


Choose File > Templates > Save Copy As Template… from the main menu.

HINT: Next time you open File > Templates > New From Template you will see your saved template files.

HINT: If you need to access your template files to rename or back-up the files, they are saved to a special folder:

  • In Mac OS 10.6 – located at ~/Library/Application Support/com.mapdiva.ortelius/My Templates, where ~ is your home directory.
  • In Mac OS 10.7 and greater, you can right-click a user template within the Template Window and choose “Reveal In Finder”.
  • In OS 10.8+ these files are moved to the Ortelius Sandbox located at ~/Library/Containers/ Support/ Templates

Exporting Your Map

Your drawing files can be exported to PDF, TIFF, JPEG and PNG file formats. PDF is a vector file format created by Adobe Systems and is the native file format for Adobe Illustrator(TM) – except with a different file extension (AI). Drawings exported as PDF are saved as vector files and can be opened and edited by other vector editing software, such as Adobe Illustrator (TM).

Export your entire drawing, or limit the export to the objects you have selected in your drawing by choosing “Selection only.”

File format-specific options are available, as well as the option to include the graph paper grid in your export.

To Export Raster and Vector File Formats:

  1. Choose File > Export… from the main menu.
  2. Type a name for the exported file and select a document location for it to be saved.
  3. As needed, click the “Expand’ triangle button to view the full export dialog.
  4. As desired, edit the following settings:
  • FORMAT – Choose the export file format from the drop-down menu.
  • RESOLUTION – Choose the export resolution from the drop-down menu.
  • SCALE – Optionally, change the scale of the export by typing a new percent scale. For example, to double the size of the exported drawing, change the scaling factor to 200%. This effectively allows any desired resolution or image size to be exported from your vector drawings.
  • GRAPH PAPER – Optionally, check the box to include the graph paper layer (otherwise it will not export, even if it is visible in your drawing).
  • TRANSPARENT BACKGROUND – For supported file types (TIFF and PNG), optionally check the box to make the background of the drawing transparent in the exported image (unless the drawing has a background fill). PDF automatically preserves background transparencies.

5. Click the ‘Export’ button.

HINT: Your export settings will be remembered each time you export.

To Export Selected Objects Only:

When you have one or more objects selected in your drawing, the “Selection Only” option is available from the export menu. When checked, only the selected objects are exported using the designated file format and settings.

HINT: Selected objects must be within the same layer.

Exporting for Print and Web:

For best results, consider your purpose and what format you will need during drawing setup. On any given project, determining from the beginning what file format is required is a best practice – particularly if you have publication standards that must be met! In the most general terms, static web graphics require a 72 dpi resolution and will typically use JPEG or PNG formats. Printing for publication typically requires 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution.

The file formats TIFF, JPEG, and PNG output raster-based graphics files. In general, JPEG and PNG files are useful for making a web images or graphics not intended for printing. For drawings that are primarily represented with vector graphics, PNG will typically give crisper results. ‘PNG’ stands for Portable Network Graphics format, a format for storing bitmapped (raster) images. Interlaced PNG files, though slightly larger file size than non-interlaced, can improve display times on slow (modem) Internet connections – perhaps less of an issue than in the old days. ‘JPEG’ stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group; it’s great for photographs but not really intended for representing vector graphics, thus is recommended when an image (such as a photograph) is the background of your drawing. ‘TIFF’ stands for Tagged Image File Format and is widely supported by image-manipulation applications, by publishing, and page layout applications. TIFF alpha transparency is a supported export option.

Apple’s Preview(TM) application is an excellent tool for viewing and adjusting exported graphics (and is a free application included with the OS). Several functions are available, such as clipping images, adjusting size, and matching image color profiles. A note about viewing exported graphics in Preview: The default preferences for images is to scale them to fit the document window. To view images at their actual size, set the Preview > Preferences > Images to actual size and to respect the image and screen DPI for scale.

To Export to PDF:


‘PDF’ stands for Portable Document Format and is the only export format that produces editable vector-based graphics. Drawings exported to PDF format retain their vector properties and are therefore scalable without loss in resolution. If your drawing will be enlarged or reduced for publication, PDF is our recommended export format. PDF is also a good choice for creating a zoomable image, and for example to view with Adobe Reader(TM) or Apple Preview(TM).

Exported PDF graphics naturally preserve their background transparency. Like other graphic formats, PDFs can be placed as graphics into other software programs, such as Microsoft Word(TM) and Apple Pages(TM), and will respect image wrapping settings. PDF graphics may also be placed into your drawings. For example, use the Image Browser to place a PDF graphic created in one drawing file, into another drawing file. Because it is vector-based, the graphic will scale without loss of resolution in your new document (though PDF files cannot be edited).

HINT: When copying a graphic to open or paste into other software, the image-PDF file format is the system default.

To Use Exported PDF Files with Other Vector Editing Programs:


Exported vector PDF files can be edited in other vector drawing software that are enabled to edit PDF, such as Adobe Illustrator(TM). This example shows a drawing that was exported as a PDF file. When opened in Adobe Illustrator, each object is an editable vector graphic, represented here on individual layers.

Note, PDF is a file format created by Adobe Systems and is the native file format for Adobe Illustrator(TM) – except with a different file extension (AI). As needed, you can change the file extension from .pdf to .ai without affecting the file contents.

To Share Your Drawing:


Click the Share icon in the toolbar to share a JPEG version of your drawing with others via Email, Message, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

HINT: Accounts must be configured to enable sharing. File sharing must be enabled via Apple > System Preferences > Sharing…
HINT: In Mail, you can change the size to small, medium or large.

Printing Your Map

A flexible print dialog offers single page and “poster-tiled” printing.

To Print:

  1. Choose File > Print to open the print dialog.
  2. Click Show Details to reveal the print options, including “Fit to Single Page,” “Graph Paper,” and “Crop Marks.”

HINT: Your drawing canvas can be larger than your actual printer paper size – if it is larger you can either “poster-tile” print your drawing over multiple sheets (default), or “Fit to Single Page” when printing. To make sure your printer is set with the proper paper size and page orientation, choose File > Page Setup… before printing.

Posters! To Tile a Poster Over Multiple Printed Pages:

Printed drawings come in all shapes and sizes, but you are limited by the size of paper in your printer. Drawings can be larger or smaller than the physical paper size that you have in your printer. If the drawing is larger, your drawing is automatically tiled over multiple printed sheets enabling you to print large posters, or ‘shrink to fit’ on a single page. If you’re feeling crafty, tiled sheets can be pieced together manually after printing. Choose “Crop Marks” from the print options to show the seams between printed sheets.

For best results, consider your purpose and what size you want during drawing setup.

To Change Printer Page Size and Orientation Settings:


Choose File > Page Setup… from the main menu to define your printer paper size and page orientation.

To Shrink to Fit to a Single Page for Printing:


When tiling a large drawing isn’t desired, you can change settings so a drawing will shrink to fit on a single page. Printing options include a simple checkbox for scaling the entire drawing to a single page.

  1. Choose File > Print… from the main menu.
  2. Check ‘Fit to Single Page’ in the application print options.

When fitting to a single page, all objects including text will be shrunk to fit.

Customizing the Ortelius Toolbar

The toolbar gives you one-click access to many of the actions you’ll use when working with drawings.

As you work and get to know which actions you perform most often, you can add, remove, and rearrange toolbar buttons to suit your working style. To see a description of what a button does, hold the pointer over the button.

To Show (or Hide) the Toolbar:

Choose View > Show (or Hide) Toolbar from the main menu.

To Customize the Toolbar:

  1. Choose View > Customize Toolbar, or right-click the toolbar and choose “Customize” from the contextual menu. The Customize Toolbar sheet appears.
  2. Make any of the following changes to the toolbar as desired:
  • Add an item to the toolbar, drag its icon to the toolbar.
  • Remove an item from the toolbar, drag it out of the toolbar.
  • Restore the default set of toolbar buttons, drag the default set to the toolbar.
  • Make the toolbar icons smaller, select Use Small Size.
  • Show only icons or only text, choose an item from the Show pop-up menu.
  • Rearrange items in the toolbar, drag them to position.

3. Click Done.

Alternative Ways to Customize Toolbar:

Do one of the following:

  • Remove an item from the toolbar by pressing the Command key while dragging the item out of the toolbar.
  • Move an item by pressing the Command key while dragging the item around in the toolbar.


To Open Preferences:

Choose Ortelius > Preferences… in the main menu.

The menu is tabbed for Editing, Performance, Options and Switches preferences.

To Change Editing Preferences:

  1. Click the Editing tab.
  2. Change one or more of the following settings:
  • Automatically close paths – When drawing Irregular Polygons, Bezier Paths and Freehand Paths the paths will automatically “formally” close when you finish a path at its starting point. Uncheck this setting if you prefer paths not automatically close (default – unchecked).
  • End points of closed-loop paths treated as a single point – Paths whose end points are coincident are treated as a single point when moving them or their control handles (default – checked).
  • Display dimensions when dragging objects – Displays page coordinates or object dimensions as object is dragged or resized (default – checked).
  • Freehand smoothness – Sets the smoothness of the Freehand Path tool to fine, smooth, or very smooth (smoothness is related to number of points) (default – Smooth).
  • Snap to Graph Paper when Graph Paper is visible – When Graph Paper layer is visible, the snap to graph paper setting will be active; when Graph Paper layer is hidden, the snap setting will be deactivated (default – checked).
  • Return-key inserts a new line when editing text boxes – Default behavior is the Return-key goes to new line when editing text boxes. Click outside of text box ends text editing (default – checked). If unchecked, Return-key will end editing; use the key combination CMND-Shift to go to next line.
  • Allow inline images in text boxes – Images can be dropped into text boxes from the Image Browser, becoming in-line with other text (default – unchecked).
  • Select text for editing when text box or path is created (default – checked).

To Change Options Preferences:

  1. Click the Options tab.
  2. Change one or more of the following settings:
  • Show template chooser when launching application – Template chooser opens automatically on application launch (default – checked).
  • Handles – Curve handles and rotation knobs can be displayed a normal or large size. Large size makes selecting object handles easier when zoomed out and on large format screens (default – Small).
  • Option – scrollwheel zooms drawing – Allows magnification of the view to be changed using Option-key + scrollwheel (default – checked). Check to invert scrollwheel zoom direction changes sense of scrollwheel zooming.
  • Track pad zooming gestures – Two finger pinch to zoom and two finger double-tap smart zoom enabled when checked (default – checked)
  • Auto-activate clicked layer – When checked, clicking objects automatically activates the layer they belong to (default – unchecked).
  • Style Dropper remembers last style used – Style dropper remembers last style it picked up (default – unchecked).
  • Tools remember styles individually– When switching between tools, the style will change to the last style used with the tool (default – unchecked).
  • Enable Autosaving and Versions – Enables Autosave and Versions support for Mac OS X “Lion” and higher. If unchecked, the classic document saving methodology is used (default – checked).

To Change Performance Preferences:

  1. Click the Performance tab.
  2. Change one or more of the following settings:
  • Faster, lower quality drawing when zooming and scrolling – Enables automatic use of low-quality rendering during operations that require rapid redrawing, such as zooming and scrolling, to speed performance (default – unchecked).
  • Anti-aliasing – Turning off anti-aliasing preference improves performance while editing large files (default – checked).
  • Hide Shadows above % zoom level – Turning off shadows at very high zoom improves performance while editing large files; note, the zoom scale can be set by the user (above 800%; default – checked).
  • Ignore Gaussian Blur filters when importing SVG – Related to the software in which an SVG file was created, occasionally Gaussian Blur filters may not be efficiently imported. Turn off filters when working with such SVG files (default – unchecked).

To Change Advanced Preferences:

  1. Click the Advanced tab.
  2. Change one or more of the following settings:
  • Reset All Alerts… does what you’d expect.
  • Empty Image Browser Cache…
  • Automatically check for updates – If checked, you will be informed when an update is available.
  • Record up to __ undoable operations – Sets the number of undo operations available when using the Undo command (the default is 24).
  • Don’t clear undo when saving – (default unchecked).

To Reset Preferences:

  1. Hold the Option-key down and choose Ortelius > Reset Preferences… from the main menu.
  2. When presented with the confirmation dialog, click ‘Reset Preferences’.

HINT: This restores everything to its original state as if the application were a new installation. It cannot be undone, and should only be done if absolutely necessary.


Styles and Clip Art

This product includes artwork sourced from the U.S. National Park Service: TrueType Font Symbols (last updated July 2007)
This product includes color specifications and designs developed by Cynthia Brewer

Graphics and Web

Application graphics designed by Michael Norman Olson, design+
Website powered by WordPress; web development by run skip, llc and busick design
All application graphics and vector retina icons created using Artboard® by Mapdiva, LLC

Trademarks and Copyright

Artboard® is copyright Mapdiva, LLC
Ortelius® is copyright Mapdiva, LLC
Apple, iWork, and Mac OS(TM) are copyright of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries
Adobe Reader(TM) and Illustrator(TM) are trademark Adobe Systems Incorporated
Word(TM) is copyright the Microsoft Corporation
This product contains the Generic Polygon Clipper (GPC) software library licensed from The University of Manchester Advanced Interfaces Group
This product contains code developed in cooperation with Fortunate Bear, LLC
iMedia Browser Framework  Copyright (c) 2005-2010 by Karelia Software et al