Connectable Tracks

Creating smooth and automatic junctions between tracks is a hallmark of Ortelius. Ortelius’ exclusive Cartography Tools are vector drawing tools made specifically for map design. Connectable tracks have special cartographic properties that allow intersecting lines to form smooth junctions, accept adornments, termination styles, feature labels, special overlay styles, and more. These connector tracks look similar to regular drawing objects, but they are indeed special.

Ortelius tracks are smarter – tracks know about other tracks, and automatically form networks that represent a road, street, rail or even waterway network. When a track is connected to another track, it forms a junction.

This User Guide provides steps to accomplish different tasks with Ortelius’ cartography tools. We highly recommend users review Ortelius: Best Practices
for Editing Track Networks (3.8mb PDF) for an in-depth perspective of how tracks work and how to use them for best results.

Overview of the Cartography Tools Palette:


Straight Track, Curved Track, Polygonal Track, and Freehand Track tools are the available cartographic drawing tools.

Linear Select is a unique tool used in combination with connectable tracks. The Ruler tool is used to measure and interactively set scale.

To Draw with Tracks:


This example shows how connectable tracks form a ‘parent – child’ relationship.

  1. Choose a track tool, such as Curved Track [k] used in this example.
  2. Choose a style from the Styles & Symbols palette.
  3. Draw the first track, this is the ‘parent’ track (drawing with track tools is much like drawing with path tools).
  4. Draw a second track (the ‘child’) beginning your track away from the parent and working towards it so the end point is where you want the junction to be formed. When you click onto the parent track, the track will end automatically and the junction will be formed. Alternatively, double-click or press the Esc-key to end a track.

Once you have junctions of multiple tracks, all feeder junctions move if you adjust the first line’s curve handles (the “parent”). When junctions are made among several connectable tracks, an interconnected network of tracks is created. In particular, child lines will move together with their respective parent line.

To Split and Connect Tracks at Intersections:


Sometimes roads cross over or under each other and you’ll want to maintain that visual relationship. Other times, roads will intersect and you’ll want your map to show nice clean, connected junctions. This example shows a grid of roads, with crossing tracks overlapping each other.

  1. Choose the Cut Path [u] tool.
  2. Click onto the desired intersections to cut the track and form automatic junctions with the underlying track.

To Disconnect Connected Tracks:

Occasionally, it may be undesirable to have tracks in a network move with a selected track.

With the track selected, open the Object Inspector > Features pane.
Click the ‘Disconnect All Junctions’ button to disconnect all junctions associated with the track.

To Change Track Termination Styles:


Connectable tracks can have different termination styles at their start and end points. By default, the end termination style is open-ended (none). The start and end points can also have either round-ended, closed bar, or a “turning circle” termination.

  1. Selecting the track or tracks to accept the new termination style.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Terminate Start (or Terminate End) from the main menu and choose a termination style.
  • Open the Object Inspector > Features pane and choose start and end termination styles from the drop-down lists.

To Convert a Regular Path into a Track:

  1. Select a path to be converted.
  2. Choose Graphic > Convert To > Connectable Track from the main menu. It will now be able to accept other track connectors (you will need to adjust the end point positions to “snap”).

To Cut a Track:

Do one of the following:

  • Use the Cut Path [u] tool and click, or use a cutting motion, on the track to be split.
  • Highlighting the track with the Linear Select [n] tool and choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Split from the main menu.

To Join Tracks:


When joining two tracks of different styles, a transition is made between the two styles, similar to how style transitions are applied using Linear Select.

  1. Select two tracks whose end points are very close together or touching.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Join from the main menu.
  • Press the Command-J keyboard shortcut.

To Add a Buffer Distance Around a Track:


Buffers are new polygons that represent an area of specified distance around another object. Buffers can help map readers visualize what other features are near or far from another feature. For example, you can create a 1-mile buffer around a road. Buffers can be created around paths or tracks.

  1. Select a path or track to be buffered.
  2. Choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Buffer from the main menu. A dialog appears.
  3. Enter the distance for the buffer (note that buffer distance is related to the scale of the drawing) and click OK. A new buffer polygon is created and can be stylized appropriately.

To Reverse Paths & Tracks:

When paths and tracks are drawn, they inherently have a direction, progressing from the start point (the beginning of the line) to the end point. The proper display of some styles (such as a single-ended arrow) and text labels is dependent on the direction of the path.

  1. Select a track(s) or path(s) to reverse.
  2. Choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Reverse.

HINT: Text labels flow in the direction of tracks. To reverse text labels, you can leave the track as-is and right-click the label to choose Flip Label. Adornments can be rotated by right-clicking and setting the relative orientation by choosing Rotate > [angle]. Related Topic: Using Map Text Labels.

To Smooth a Track:

Smooth is used on paths and tracks consisting of linked straight-line segments, such as vector paths imported from shapefiles.

  1. Select a track(s) or path(s) to smooth.
  2. Choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Smooth to replace these segments with Bezier curves which are calculated to smoothly interpolate between the points.

HINT: Smoothing a path that already consists of curve segments has no effect.