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Sorting MAPublisher Layers with FME Auto

In this blog post we’ll look at how you can control the order of layers in MAPublisher when using FME Auto.

FME Auto to MAPublisher

FME currently doesn’t provide a way to explicitly define the output order of Feature Types in a workspace. In the Navigator you can reorder Readers and Writers to control the order in which they are run, but unfortunately you cannot do the same with the Feature Types they read and write respectively.

By default when you write layers to MAPublisher from FME using FME Auto, the layers are arranged first by geometry (text first, then Points, Lines, Polygons and lastly Images), then alphabetically by layer name. This behaviour can be changed by unchecking the FME Auto Parameter “Sort Layers by Geometry”. Once this has been turned off, MAPublisher will display layers in the order they are received from FME. Using this behaviour, some FME transformers and a Feature Type fanout (or new to 2015.1, specifying the Feature Type name) we can control the order of the layers in MAPublisher for optimal cartographic output.

The first thing we want to do is to add some input Feature Types.

Natural Earth Shapefiles
(Click for larger version)

We will then create a template AttributeCreator Transformer to give each layer two attributes: MP_LayerName and MP_Order. MP_LayerName will define the name of the layer in MAPublisher and MP_Order will determine the order the layer is passed to MAPublisher; hence the order in which it is displayed.

AttributeCreator Transformer to add MAPublisher Specific attributes

Each Feature Type will be connected to a copy of the AttributeCreator Transformer and the values will be populated for that layer. The layer with an order of 1 will be on top with larger numbers descending below.

Layer Name Order
Border 1
Graticules 2
Pacific Groupings 3
Tiny Countries 4
Coastline 5
Lakes 6
Countries 7
Rivers 8
Glaciated Areas 9
Land 10
Ocean 11
AttributeCreator Transformers connected to input Feature types
(Click for larger version)

Once this is done, all the inputs can be connected to a Sorter Transformer. The Sorter will be set to numeric and ascending.

Sorter Transformer
(Click for larger version)

Finally, the MAPublisher writer is added. The Sort by Geometry parameter needs to be set to No and the Feature Type name should be set by the MP_LayerName attribute we created earlier. This replaces Feature Type fanouts and has slightly new behaviour at FME 2015.1. It is explained more fully (here).

MAPublisher writer added with Sort by Geometry Set to No
(Click for larger version)
Output Feature Types are defined by the LayerName attribute

Once we run the workspace, we’ll see the layers in the Adobe Illustrator Layers panel in the exact order we specified.

Layers in Adobe Illustrator are in the correct order
The final map after some cartographic styling
(Click for larger version)

Styling Your Map in Adobe Illustrator: Objects vs Layers

One of Adobe Illustrator’s powerful yet occasionally confusing features is the ability to apply fills, strokes and Graphic Styles to art at either the Object level or the Layer level. This is extremely useful because you can effectively use Layers to set up symbology templates so that any art that is drawn on a Layer inherits its appearance from that Layer. Confusion often arises when users combine art styles at both the Layer and Object levels, and cannot figure out why their map does not look how they expect it to look. Most of the examples here are going to be based around using the Appearance panel to apply strokes and fills.


Selecting Objects or Selecting Layers

The first decision you have to make is how you select your art. You can either select the layer that the art is on or directly select the art itself. This determines where the changes you make get applied. In order to select the layer, click the circle to the right of a layer name in the Layers panel. You will see that the layer is selected (also known as targeted) by the addition of another circle around the first circle.

Selected Layer.

To select all the art on a layer you can either click in the space to the right of the circle, or Alt-click the layer name.

Selected Art.

If you expand the layer you can see that the art is targeted rather than the layer.

Targeted Art.

Whichever method you use, you will see the art on the canvas appear as selected.

Selected Buildings.

Of course you can select individual art using the Selection tool or clicking to the right of the circle next to the object name in the Layer panel.


Changing Strokes and Fills

One advantage of selecting art at the layer level over selecting art directly is the access to the strokes and fills in the Appearance panel.

Selected Layer’s Stroke and Fill are unavailable.

If you select the layer, you do not get direct access to the art’s strokes or fills, however if you select the art you do.

Selected Art’s Stroke and Fill are available.

You can add more strokes or fills in the Appearance panel, but if you want to add strokes or fills at the layer level, they are additional to the strokes or fills that are defined at the object level. We can see this if we style the fields individually with different fills, perhaps representing different crop types. We could also add a stroke to each object, or we can add the stroke to the layer. Adding strokes or fills like this is useful when you want to ensure that all art on that layer shares the same symbology.

Object level Fill and Layer level Stroke.

Directly changing the appearance of objects is reflected both in the Appearance panel and the object thumbnails in the Layers panel.

Object appearance is shown in thumbnails.

However, if you add extra strokes or fills at the layer level, these are not shown in the objects thumbnails.

Layer appearance is not shown in thumbnails.

One important consideration is that it is not possible to use the Appearance panel to adjust several pieces of art with different fills or strokes that are applied at the object level. For example, suppose we have changed the colours of several building outlines, and now want to change them back to black. If we select them all, we will see that the stroke option is not available in the Appearance panel, rather it says Mixed Appearances. The fill is still available to be changed as it is the same for all objects.

Objects with mixed appearances.

Altering appearances can have different results if applied to objects or layers. A good example is a street style that is created with two strokes. If this is applied at the object level, each object is considered separate and you end up with overlapping paths.

Overlapping stroke styles.

However, if this style is applied at the layer level, the paths are styled at the same time and appear to be merged.

Merged stroke styles.


Applying Graphic Styles

Graphic Styles are great to easily add combinations of strokes, fills and effects to art, and these can also act differently when applied to objects or layers. In the Graphic Styles panel we have a Graphic Style with null fill and stroke, but a drop shadow added. If we try to add this directly to the building art, the null fill and stroke will cause the buildings to disappear.

Object disappears when this style is applied.

However we can add it to the Buildings layer and the effect is successfully combined with the object level appearance.

Graphic style applied to the layer.


Resolving Appearance Confusion

As mentioned earlier, it is possible to combine object level and layer level appearances. This can get complicated if you have different objects on the same layer with different appearances as well as appearance modifications at the layer level. Trying to work out why you cannot adjust the style of your paths because you are getting Mixed Appearance in the Appearance panel can be frustrating.

The easiest method to fix this is to use the Clear appearance button in the Appearance panel. Keep in mind that this will totally remove any appearance formatting that you have applied to your layers or objects, so it is worth creating Graphic Styles of the appearances you want to retain. Just like changing appearances, this button works at both the object and layer levels.

The Clear appearance button is a useful way to remove appearance properties.

An example of how layer and object appearances can get confused is multiple white strokes applied to different text objects in different ways. The user has created several text objects labelling fields and added strokes to them in various different ways. However, he’d like to remove the strokes from all the text now. You can see that the different labels all have black fills and white strokes, but are subtly different.

The first thing to do is check the Layers panel. We can see that the target indicator for the Field Labels layer is raised. This indicates that an appearance has been applied to this layer.

The embossed circle (or meatball) shows an appearance has been added.

Once we click on this we can use the Appearance panel to remove it with the “Clear Appearance” button.

The Clear appearance button is a useful way to remove appearance properties.

That has removed the stroke from the layer and one of the text objects now has no stroke, but some of them still do.

The layer strokes have been removed.

If you expand the Field Labels layer in the layers panel you will see that some of the objects on the layer also have appearances applied directly to them.

Some of the text objects have modified appearances.

You can select these objects and use the Appearance panel to remove its strokes as well by clicking the Clear Appearance button.

Clicking on the clear appearance button will remove the stroke.

This leaves us with one final label down in the bottom right corner that still has a stroke, but has not had its appearance modified via the Appearance panel.

Some of the text objects have modified appearances.

The easiest way to remove the stroke from this object is just to make sure the stroke is in front of the fill at the bottom of the main toolbar and click on the “None” option. Now all our field labels have a simple style.

All of the text objects have a simple appearance.

How MAPublisher works

MAPublisher styling tools all work on an object level. This is because MAPublisher has the ability to independently style objects by attributes they possess. For example you can create a new MAP Theme for the Fields layer based on an attribute called “crop”. This will style each field differently using depending upon its crop type.

Area Stylesheet theme.

Objects will be styled using standard fills and strokes, rather than using the Appearance panel.

Applied theme.

Using MAPublisher FME Auto to Load Raster Layers into Adobe Illustrator

The MAPublisher FME Auto add-on connects the analysis and processing capabilities of Safe Software’s FME Desktop with the cartographic design and publishing environment of MAPublisherand Adobe Illustrator. Since MAPublisher 9.5, it has been possible to import georeferenced raster layers as well as vector data. This adds an extra layer of power and convenience to the FME and MAPublisher integration. The ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) power of FME can be used to pre-process raster images and load them into MAPublisher where they can be overlaid with cartographically styled vector layers.

Raster Layer in Adobe Illustrator

Several components are needed to load a raster from FME into Adobe Illustrator. This example uses a generic reader for the input features. It then gets the bounding box coordinates and sends them to a second workspace that connects to a Web Map Service (WMS) and downloads Toronto imagery. The information necessary to run the second workspace is stored as attributes that are passed to published parameters in the second workspace. This imagery is stored in an intermediate GeoTIFF, which is then read by the first workspace and sent to the MAPublisher writer along with the original data. The WMS source and working coordinate system are already set, but can be modified if the study area is in a different location.

Primary FME Workspace

Secondary FME Workspace

Several of the key parameters for executing the workspace are exposed as published parameters to make running the workspace easier. The user can set the desired pixel size and the pixel dimensions for the WMS request are automatically calculated. The bounding box can be buffered if required to provide extra imagery around the input data.

Published Parameters

MAPublisher MAP Themes are stored in an Adobe Illustrator file that the MAPublisher writer uses as a template. In this case, these MAP Themes are linked to the names of the layers stored in the input data. More flexible themes could be created that bases its symbology on geometry or attribute values.

The example FME workspaces, input data and template illustrator document are attached below in the useful resources section.


Useful Resources

WMS provided by the City of Toronto here
Primary FME Workspace: Download
Secondary FME Workspace: Download
Input Data: Download
Template Illustrator Document: Download
Example completed Illustrator Document: Download

Updating Multiple MAPublisher Templates with FME Auto

Drawing inspiration from this Safe software blog post we have developed an FME workflow that allows the user to update multiple MAPublisher templates with additional layers using two workspaces and a workspacerunner transformer.

The folder structure for the project follows one possible standard arrangement. A data folder contains the shapefile that is being added to the existing .ai files. An output folder gathers the intermediate .ffs files generated by FME that pass the data to MAPublisher. The templates folder contains the .ai files that will have the layer added to them. Finally the workspaces folder contains the two workspaces required for the transformation.

Folder Structure
Data Files
Output Files
Templates Files
Workspaces Files

The runner workspace uses a path reader to get the filenames and paths of the .ai files. A filter is applied to make sure only files with the extension “.ai” are read. After the path reader an attribute creator adds the path for the output .ffs files as an attribute. This is dynamically calculated based on the filenames of the input .ai files.

Runner Workspace
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Attribute Creator
(Click for larger version)

The full paths to the template files and the paths to the output ffs files are passed as published parameters to the worker workspace. Two published parameters have been created in the worker workspace and linked to parameters in the MAPublisher writer. This allows the writer to take the values passed from the runner workspace. The worker workspace is run once for every file that is in the folder of ai files, and these published parameters update dynamically for each one.

Published Parameters in the Worker Workspace
Workspacerunner Parameters
(Click for larger version)

The worker workspace has a shapefile reader that reads in the layer that is going to be added to each template. At this point multiple readers or other transformers could be added to increase the complexity of the transformation.

Worker Workspace
(Click for larger version)

When the runner workspace is launched each template is opened up, the shapefile is read and added to a new MAPView in the MAPublisher document. Equally it could be added to an existing MAPView with a matching coordinate system. These documents can be left open as shown here, or with the addition of another published parameter new output .ai files could also be specified.

Output AI Files
(Click for larger version)

Useful Resources

Example files (Adobe Illustrator CC2104 and FME Desktop 2015)

Using MAP Themes to Automatically Style CanVec+ Data on Import in MAPublisher

Creating multiple maps that share cartographic styling is a common requirement for MAPublisher users. The most effective way to accomplish this is the use of MAP Themes. MAP Themes are a collection of thematic cartography tools designed to increase productivity by automating how styles and symbols are applied. Creating a number of MAP Themes based on regularly used layers with standard attribute schemas can greatly reduce the amount of time spent styling maps.

This guide will walk through creating and setting up MAP Themes to automatically apply to the appropriate layers upon import. If done correctly, rather than seeing this:

Unstyled CanVec+ layers


You will see this when importing data to MAPublisher:

Styled CanVec+ layers

1. Data Source

The data used in this guide comes from the publically available CanVec+ topographic database. CanVec+ contains a comprehensive set of layers optimized for display at 1:50,000 that are perfect for topographic mapping. In fact, many of these layers are used in the construction of the CanTopo Topographic mapping series available here.

The layers you receive from the CanVec+ download service will vary depending on what features are present in the extent chosen. The Geogratis Geospatial Data Extraction tool is the most convenient method to retrieve CanVec+ data. This guide uses a selection of CanVec+ layers styled similarly to the CanTopo maps.

All vector data was downloaded in an unprojected geodetic coordinate system and projected into a UTM projection MAP View.

The map shown above contains 12 vector layers and one raster layer, but we will only discuss the styling and configuration of three layers as the process is similar for the rest. You can download the Adobe Illustrator file at the bottom of the page if you want to examine the different layers, their graphic styles and MAP Themes.

MAP Themes are the primary method for applying attribute based cartographic symbology. A powerful feature is the ability to automatically do this on layer import based on geometry type or file name. By defining one or many graphic styles and a MAP Theme for each layer the layers can be automatically styled on import.

CanVec+ themes have a consistent naming scheme that makes them especially suitable for this sort of automated styling. Because each style is always named the same, it is simple to set up the MAP Themes to automatically apply when the layers are imported. The theme names are consistent but somewhat obscure, as are some of the attribute names and values. Luckily there is a specifications document that provides a guide to the various themes, datasets and attributes that are available. A link is provided in the useful resources section below. While the style guide is helpful, it can be difficult to navigate, so it has also been translated into a more easily readable Excel spreadsheet, which also available in the useful resources.

A CanTopo symbology guide is available for download and was used to help define the styles for the different layers used in this map. A link is available in the useful resources section at the bottom. The University of Toronto also hosts an old specifications guide, but as it is almost 14 years old it should not be assumed to be accurate. If you are looking for inspiration though, it is useful.


2. Example A: Building point locations

Building Symbols

2a. Building Point Symbol

The Graphic style for the building symbols is a black square rotated to match the value in an orientation attribute. Using the CanTopo symbology guide a correctly sized square was created and then added to the symbol library.

Buildings Symbol

2b. MAP Theme

A new Point Stylesheet MAP Theme was created called Buildings. The appropriate layer “bs_2010009_0” was added to the Theme and a rule was created named “All” as it will apply to all the building point locations. The Rule Expression is set to apply the Theme to all artwork as we want all the building points to look the same.

Buildings Rule Expression tab

The Visual Properties tab was used to determine how the buildings would appear. The Symbol property was set to use the Building black square symbol created and added to the Symbol library earlier. The Rotation property was set to use the “orientatio” attribute. This ensures the buildings are oriented correctly.

Buildings Visual Properties tab

Finally, and most importantly for the MAP Theme automation, the Auto-assign option was set so that any layer that matches the filename of the imported shapefile would automatically be styled using this theme.

Buildings Auto-assign setting


3. Example B: Contours


3a. Contours Graphic Style

Two Graphic styles were created for the contours: one for the regular contours and one for the index contours at intervals of 100m. Both are grey, with the index contours slightly thicker (although it is hard to tell in the Graphic Styles panel.)

Contours Graphic Styles

3b. MAP Theme

A Line Stylesheet MAP Theme was created called Contours. The layer “fo_1030009_1” was assigned to the MAP Theme. Two rules were created, one for index contours and one for regular contours. For the index contours, the Advanced Rule Expression builder is used to select any contour where the elevation is a multiple of 100, and the converse for the regular contours.

Index Contours Rule Expression

The Modulo (MOD) function makes this simple. For the index contours, the expression built as: “MOD(elevation,100)=0”. For the regular contours, the expression is “MOD(elevation,100)!=0”. The != operator means not equal to.

Contours Rule Expression

The Modulo function will be available with a future release of MAPublisher. If you are using an earlier version of MAPublisher, the same result for index contours can be had with this expression:


If you do try and apply this MAP Theme with an earlier version of MAPublisher without changing the equations, it will not work and you will get errors.

Each rule is assigned the appropriate graphic style applied in the Visual Properties. Creating Graphic Styles in advance is much easier than trying to remember specific stroke/colour combinations and makes them re-usable.

Index Contours Visual Properties

It is worthwhile organizing them in the Graphic Styles panel and naming the Graphic Styles appropriately so you can easily remember which is which later.

Contours Visual Properties

The layer is then set as auto-assigned so that when it is imported in the future this MAP Theme will automatically be applied.

Contours Auto-assign setting


4. Example C: Roads


4a. Graphic Style

The Roads layer is the most complex as there are multiple different classes of roads, that are then broken down into sealed and unsealed surfaces, and can be at grade, tunnels or bridges. Several of the road classes are assigned the same Graphic Style, so each style was named after a representative road class and assigned to several MAP Theme Rules.

Roads Graphic Styles

4b. MAP Theme

There are defined styles of roads in the CanTopo specifications, but these do not map directly to the attributes that are present in the CanVec roads dataset. There are several attributes that hold information about the composition of the road, but the ones that were used to define the MAP Theme Rules were:

  1. roadclass: a heirachy of road types
  2. structype: defines if the road is a road, a bridge or a tunnels
  3. pavstatus: contains information on the road surface, if it is paved or unpaved.
Roads Attributes (many others are hidden)

A Line Stylesheet Theme was created called Roads. The layer tr_1760009_1 was assigned to this Theme. Each road class has its own rule. The rule expression determine what class of road it is, if it is a bridge or a tunnel, and if it is paved or unpaved. An example of this is “Arterial: Paved: Bridge” with the expression:

roadclass=3 AND pavstatus=1 AND (structype =1 OR structype =2 OR structype =3 OR structype =4)

which simply says select art that is an Arterial Road (roadclass=3) is paved (pavstatus=1) and one of four different types of bridge (structype 1 through 4).

Roads Rule Expression

As in previous examples, each rule is assigned a Graphic Style in the Visual Properties tab.

Roads Visual Properties

The layer is set to auto apply on import.

Roads Auto-assign setting

Once rules are created and applied to all the imported layers the end result looks like this:

Styled Layers overlaid on hillshade


5. Hillshade

In addition to vector data, the GeoGratis portal has raster terrain data available for download. There are digital elevation models, digital surface models, and a variety of derived products such as slope and aspect. For this map we downloaded a hillshade and adjusted the opacity so it would blend with the map style. The forest cover layer and the built up areas layer also had their blending modes adjusted so the hillshade would show through.

The hillshade was downloaded in an unprojected geodetic coordinate system and Geographic Imager was used to transform it into the UTM projection used for this map.


6. Final words

In order for the defined MAP Themes to be automatically applied to any imported data, the imported layer filenames must match those defined in the MAP Theme Rules as discussed above. If you would like to try it out with your own CanVec data extract, do the following:

  1. Download the “” file linked below for the version of Illustrator you are using. Have a look at the data structure, layer names and MAP View properties of this document.
  2. Also download the appropriate “” file to use as a template.
  3. Download an extract of CanVec data as shapefiles.
  4. Use the Advanced Import functionality to import the shapefiles into the empty document. Reproject the map if desired.
  5. The imported data have the styles applied automatically. However, you will probably have a few layers that have no style. Use the methods detailed above to create new styles for those layers.


7. Useful resources

CanVec Demo. (Created with MAPublisher 9.5.3, AI CC2014) – File Download
CanVec Demo – No Layers. (Created with MAPublisher 9.5.3, AI CC2014) – File Download
CanVec Demo. (Created with MAPublisher 9.5.3, AI CS6) – File Download
CanVec Demo – No Layers. (Created with MAPublisher 9.5.3, AI CS6) – File Download
GeoGratis Website
GeoGratis FAQ’s
CanVec Style Guide for Adobe Illustrator – File Download
CanVec Feature Catalog
CanVec feature Catalog Spreadsheet (Unofficial, non-maintained. For information only.) – File Download
University of Toronto Topographic Cartographic Symbols Archive

Making a Map Without Knowing What the Final Extent or Scale Will Be

Ever have the problem that you want to make a map and you are waiting on the final extent or scale, but you want to get started adding data and working on the layout? Here are a couple of tips to make your life easier.


1. Move artboards around without moving your data

Geographic features in Adobe Illustrator are generally referenced to a known coordinate system. This coordinate system is mapped to Adobe Illustrator’s “Global Coordinate System” which has its origin at the top-left corner of the first artboard in a document. What this implies is that artboards can be moved around within this reference system in order to show different geographic data on the page. However, by default, moving an artboard moves any art that overlaps it as well. Obviously moving any referenced data around is going to ruin its spatial accuracy so this is something we want to avoid. Luckily there are two ways of doing this.

The first is to select the Artboard tool and click the Move/Copy artwork with artboard button to the right of the artboard name in the control panel above the document window.

Active artboard tool at the top left.
Deactivated Move/Copy artwork with artboard button at right.

With this option turned off, you are free to move the artboard around without disturbing any of the geographic data.

There is one downside to this though: you may have map elements such as titles, legends, grids, masks etc. that you want to stay locked in place on the artboard while you move it around the geographic data. The easiest way to do this is to simply lock any layers that contain geographic features, unlock the map elements, and activate the Move/Copy art with artboard option.

Non-map layers are unlocked while the layer that contains geographic data is locked.
Activated Move/Copy artwork with artboard button at right.

When the artboard is repositioned, your data will stay in the correct geographic location and your map elements will move with the artboard, keeping the same relative position.

Three images showing an artboard moving while the geographic data stays put.

2. Set up a clipping mask in conjunction with a grid

The previous example used a white polygon with a hole in the middle as a mask to provide whitespace around the edge of the map. Another way to achieve this is to use a clipping mask to hide geographic features outside the extent of the mask. This works well by itself, or when combined with a grid or graticule layer.

We have taken the previous example, deleted the mask and adjusted the colour of the background polygons slightly. We have also added an AOI polygon that will serve as the clipping mask extent.

Artboard extents are visible along with some data, a title, a scalebar and the clipping polygon.

To create a clipping mask, the first thing we’ll make a new layer called Clipped. Make sure that it is a non-MAP layer (verify this in the MAP View panel).

The new Clipped layer can be seen in both the Layers panel and the MAP Views panel.

Next, drag both the AOI layer and layers that contain geographic data into the Clipped layer making sure that the AOI rectangle is above the layer holding the geographic features.

The AOI layer and the MAP Layer are added to the Clipped layer.

Now if we select the Clipped layer and click on the Make/Release Clipping Mask button (Second from the left at the bottom of the panel) we should see the AOI rectangle become invisible and the MAP layer is visible within the extent of this path.

The clipping path gets underlined in the Layers panel and the geographic features are clipped to its shape.

We can now add a grid over the top of the clipped area using the Grids & Graticules tool. You will find that the default extent of the grid is the same as the spatial data. You will need to resize the grid to match the clipping mask.

Index/reference grid overlaid on the map.

If you want to change the spatial extent of the map you have to adjust both the clipping polygon and the grid. It would be nice to group them and resize it together, but Adobe Illustrator doesn’t allow groups to span multiple layers. One way around this is to use a saved selection. To do this, select the clipping mask and the MAPublisher Grids, then choose Select | Save Selection. Give the selection a name like Grids and Clipping Mask.

Grid and Clipping Mask selected.
New MAP Selection
Art Selection

Now if you need to adjust the spatial extent of the map you can quickly choose the saved selection and resize the clipping mask and grid or move them both around the artboard simultaneously.

The saved selection can be applied by clicking the Apply as New Selection button on the left.
Map grid and clipping mask have been enlarged together. The scale has also been made smaller.

Split Layer using Unique Values in Attribute in MAPublisher

MAPView with One MAP Layer

Do you have some data you would like to divide into multiple layers using unique values in an attribute? If so, you might want to try using the Split Layer feature in MAPublisher.

MP931: Split Layer

For example, we have a MAP Layer of the world (world_area layer). The world_area layer has many attributes and one of the attributes is about “Continent” information. With the “Continent” attribute, there are eight unique values: 1) Africa, 2) Antarctica, 3) Asia, 4) Australia, 5) Europe, 6) North America, 7) Oceania, and 8) South America.

To split this world_area layer into eight different layers based on unique values in the “Continent” attribute, we simply specify the Continent layer in the Split Layer dialog box.

Attribute data for the world data

Open the Split Layer dialog box. Choose the world_area source layer, then select the option “Split art to new layer(s) by unique attribute value:”. If you have a specific word you would like to include with the eight layers, enter the value for the “New layer prefix” option. Here, we entered the word “continent” as the prefix.

MP931: Split Layer

Now you have eight new MAP layers created based on the unique values of the “Continent” attribute. The attribute scheme, structure, and attribute values are inherited from the source layer to the split layers.

MAPView panel with the Split Layers

Optimizing Adobe Illustrator Documents with MAPublisher for Geospatial PDF Export

Adobe Illustrator documents with GIS data can be exported to georeferenced PDF files thanks to the MAPublisher Export Geospatial PDF feature. A geospatial PDF is an Adobe Acrobat file that contains geospatial coordinates. With coordinates, users can view and interact with the PDF to find and mark location data. MAPublisher exports all the MAP Attributes data in an Adobe Illustrator document into the geospatial PDF. Attribute values can subsequently be accessed and searched in Acrobat 9 (and 8 with limitations).

In order to ensure the best interoperability and geospatial PDF output results from your MAPublisher documents, the following work practices are recommended:

Convert document color mode to RGB

To ensure predictable color results, it is highly recommended to convert the documents color mode to RGB prior to exporting to Geospatial PDF. This is advisable especially if generating geospatial PDF documents to be used in conjunction with the PDF Maps app for IOS devices. The document color mode can be changed in Adobe Illustrator through File > Document Color Mode > RGB Color.

Colour mode

Crop data to the required extents using the MAP Vector Crop Tool

Remove any extraneous data not required for the geospatial PDF document by cropping the map using the Vector Crop Tool (located in the Adobe Illustrator Toolbar). If necessary, exclude data from being cropped by locking the its the appropriate layers.

Vector crop

Remove unnecessary layers

Delete any map layers that are not required for the final PDF map document. This may include raster layers, hidden layers, and layers that are outside the mapping extent or art board. Not only will this decrease file size, it will also simplify your layers list and improve organization. Delete layers in the MAP Views panel or the Layers panel.

delete selection

Preserve data contained within sublayers

If your document contains map data organized within sublayers it will be necessary to reorganize/move this data to it’s parent layer if you wish to preserve it when converting to and from geospatial PDF. This is necessary because data contained on sublayers are forced into their parent layer by the Adobe Illustrator PDF exporter. Layers are also required for importing a geospatial PDF back into MAPublisher in order to assign a schema.

Remove unused attribute information

Data sets, especially those available through various data portals and government agencies can contain attribute information not suited or required for our mapping need, or perhaps we are only interested in the geometry of the data for representational purposes. In this case it is advisable to delete any attribute information that does not fulfill a purpose as this will unnecessarily increase the resultant file size. Select your data, open the MAP Attributes panel, and click the Edit Schema button. You may delete and organize your attributes using this panel.

Edit attribute schema

Assign MAPublisher attributes to Adobe Illustrator Object names

This recommendation is not necessary but may be useful in some cases. In MAPublisher the #Id attribute column is a unique identifier MAPublisher uses internally to associate attributes with unique pieces of art. By default the art will have a name of “path” or “compound path” however it may be desirable to tag the object with a unique identifier from an existing attribute column for the purposes of making it easier to differentiate art objects within the Acrobat tree list, for example.

To do this we can use the “Apply Expression” option in the MAP Attributes panel. Simply designate the #Name column as the “Apply to” option while entering the name of the attribute column you wish to derive the attributes from as the “Expression”. For example in the screeshot below we are renaming the art objects contained in the #name column with values stoed in the “ROUTE” column with the results being reflected in the artwork listed in Illustrator Layers panel.

Use the Simplify Line Tool

Reduce the number of vertices available in MAP Line and Area layers by using the Simplify Line tool (located on the MAPublisher toolbar). This differs from the Adobe Illustrator Simplify Path tool because it takes into account X and Y coordinates. The proximity value or simplification tolerance is based on the vertical difference between the begin-end line and points off a line, not the distance between anchor points on the line.

Simplify lines

Geospatial PDFs derived from or include images should be generated as 72 DPI

This has particular relevance when dealing with geospatial PDF files, especially those generated with Geographic Imager. When a 200 DPI (dots per inch) georeferenced image is converted to a geospatial PDF, the image will be embedded in the PDF as a 200 DPI image. However, when displayed by PDF viewing applications such as Acrobat or Illustrator it will appear as a 72 DPI image. Due to this, on export, MAPublisher converts the referencing to 72 DPI format since it must be imported back as 72 DPI

Geospatial PDF at 72 DPI

Following the above recommendations should help ease the transition of your MAPublisher documents to and from geospatial PDF.


Aligning data with different coordinate systems in MAPublisher

When first creating a map, very often you will find yourself having to align GIS data, especially if it is found or supplied by various sources. You might find that the coordinate systems assigned to each of the datasets might be different. This can prove challenging for many cartographers and GIS users. However, with MAPublisher, you can transform and align your datasets to one coordinate system very easily using the MAP Views panel.

Imported maps have different coordinate systems

For example, we have five layers with three different coordinate systems. After importing them into MAPublisher, the result is three different MAP Views. The MAP Area layer (Province) is in a Lambert conformal conic projection. The MAP Line Layer (river) and MAP Area layer (lake) are in a Robinson projection. Lastly, the MAP Point layer (cities) and MAP Line layer (roads) are in a geodetic coordinate system WGS84.

5 MAP Layers with 3 different MAPViews

Let’s decide that the map we are creating here will have a Lambert conformal conic projection (the MAP View with the province area layer). Now, simply select the two layers in the Robinson MAP View, then drag them to the “Lambert Conf. Conic – 1: 30,000,000” MAP View.

MAPublisher trick: Drag and Drop Transformation

The rivers and lakes layers are now transformed and aligned to the province boundary layer.

Two map layers are transformed and aligned properly.

We will do the same for the cities and roads layers in the “WGS84” MAP View. Select the two map layers (cities and roads layers) then drag them to the “Lambert Conf. Conic – 1: 30,000,000” MAP View.

MAPublisher trick: Drag and Drop transformation for two map layers

The cities and roads layers are projected on-the-fly. Now every layer is transformed to a Lambert conformal conic projection and aligned appropriately.

Every map layer is transformed and aligned properly


Related topics

New in MAPublisher 8.4: Image MAP Layer feature type for georeferenced images

MAPublisher 8.4 introduces two new related features: to import supported image formats directly from the MAPublisher Simple and Advanced Import dialog boxes and the Image MAP Layer feature type. To import a georeferenced image into the current MAPublisher 8.3 (and earlier) requires you 1) to create a new MAP Layer for an image to be placed, 2) use File > Place to place an image into the Adobe Illustrator document, and 3) to use MAPublisher Register Image to align with the vector work. With MAPublisher 8.4, these steps are streamlined and it will be much simpler to deal with georeferenced image files.

Below is the Simple Import dialog box. The new Format option, Image, is added to the drop-down list. Supported images include: PNG, JPG, TIF, GIF, JP2, PSD, PDD, and BMP.

MAPublisher 8.4: Import dialog window

The VancouverDowntown.tif file was selected from the MAPublisher Quick Start dataset. The source coordinate system of the image, “NAD 83 / UTM Zone 10N”, is automatically detected because it is a GeoTIFF and contains the georeference information of the image.

MAPublisher Simple Import: Coordinate System identified for the selected data

When the georeferenced image is imported by MAPublisher, it is stored in a new layer called “VancouverDowntown_image”. MAPublisher 8.4 introduces a new MAP Layer feature type called “Image”, a purple icon with the letter ” I “. From now on, all images should be placed on Image MAP Layers.

MAPView: New data type "IMAGE"

Remember that images placed in Adobe Illustrator using MAPublisher cannot be transformed or reprojected into another coordinate system. To transform an image from one coordinate system to another, it must be done using another software such as Geographic Imager.

MAPublisher 8.4 will be released very soon. Thanks for sending us feature requests like this one. If you have any feature requests for MAPublisher, Geographic Imager or PDF Maps, please feel free to drop us a line at We’re always happy to hear from you!