GIS 295 Term Project Blog #3


When taking GIS 203 (Cartography), my final project was creating an orienteering map with GIS Desktop using the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) cartographic standards. The map’s purpose is to teach orienteering to first year Scouts in order to pass specific requirements.  As a result, the map is part of a two-page product containing information about calculating a bearing, estimating height, and space to enter control point information.

For GIS 295, I want to explore how to create the same map with the same features with a general purpose map creation tool such as ArcGIS Online and a specific orienteering map creation tool called Open Orienteering Map ( I plan to use the three blogs required to describe how the orienteering maps are created with each system – ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Online, and Open Orienteering Map.

OpenOrienteeringMap V2.4 Description

OpenOrienteeringMap (OOM) is a custom version of Open Street Map created by Oliver O’Brien that uses many IOF cartographic specifications (IOFmapping). The purpose of OpenOrienteeringMap is to easily create orienteering maps using the OpenStreetMap spatial data set of the world and the map rendering toolkit Mapnik. The displayed view is dynamically created in one of four base map configurations as the user pans or zooms in or out in supported fixed-scale intervals. Scales 1:7000 and 1:14000 (zoom levels 16, 15) are most commonly used for orienteering maps. The displayed scale can be used to generate PDF files with associated features.

To view any region in North America, the “Global” button located at the top of the main frame must be selected to display everything but the UK and Ireland. The following shows the opening screen with the Global button selected (note that like, the first map displayed is always Europe:


Base Maps

Four base maps are available: Street-O, Street-O Xrail, Pseud-O, and Urban Skeleton. The Street-O map setting originates from the Street-O maps used for informal orienteering races in London and other areas around the UK. Only roads, tracks, paths, rivers/lakes and railways are shown; the maps are high-contrast (black on white) and have little color. The few colors that are on the map – for major roads, park land, and water features use the “official” ISOM standard colors for these features. The Pseud-O base map emulates the look and feel of standard orienteering maps, but in many regions, does not have the detail necessary in OSM. The rendering is done on-the-fly, but with caching. The two styles are available from zoom levels 12 to 18. Levels 15 & 16 roughly correspond to scales that would be used for conventional orienteering. The following screenshot shows a Street-O view of the Fraser Preserve in Great Falls:


The only difference in Great Falls is the open woodland designation for the non-park land regions, where they are shown as white in Street-O. The following screenshot shows a Pseud-O view of the Fraser Preserve in Great Falls:


The following screenshot shows an Urban Skeleton view of the Fraser Preserve in Great Falls:


Map Creation Procedure

Perform the following steps to create an orienteering map, control point clues, and generate the PDF files to be incorporated into a finished product:

  1. Select “Global” for North America and focus on the Fraser Preserve in Great Falls, Virginia, at 1:5000 scale.
  2. Select base map for “Pseud-O”
  3. Select Landscape or Portrait, click in the desired map center. If necessary, drag the blue marker to re-center the map. A frame will appear over the base map in portrait or landscape orientation.
  4. On the right, click the pencil edit icon to display the map title. I entered Camp Fraser Orienteering, then press OK.


5.  Select the next edit icon to modify the race instruction title:


6.  Click on the Start/End point on the map to display the following dialog:


7.  Click on the next Control point on the map to display the following dialog:


Enter the numbers and descriptions for each control point. Set the location of the number label by rotating the label angle control. Repeat for all the control points resulting in the following map:


8.  Click on “Save & Get PDF Map” button and the following message appears:


Click OK and save the automatically downloaded oom.PDF file located in the Download directory.

The completed map appears on screen within a map frame containing the control points:


9.  To retrieve the above map, enter the code 5668f7ca777e5 into the “Load saved map #:” and select the “Load” button.

10.  To delete the above map from the display, select the “Delete Map” button.

Output Options

For orienteering applications, the created map product will have to printed and used off-line. OOM makes PDF map file generation easy using the “Save and Get PDF Map” and “Show Clue Sheet” buttons.

  1. To view the generated PDF file when “Save and Get PDF Map” button selected, search for OOM.PDF in the download directory and display:


2.  Click the “Show clue sheet” button to display the seven generated control points:


3.  Click “Print clue sheet” to display the print prompt and output the file as a PDF.

4.  Incorporate the two PDF files into a complete orienteering document.


As evident from the above procedure, it is easy to create a usable orienteering map. The base map is at a small enough scale to map a small area. Many cartographic features, including trails, roads, control points, start/end point use IOF cartographic standard.   There are some things missing from the map however; 5 meter topographic lines, exact IOF-specified land features, and free text labeling. Since the Open Street Map doesn’t have topography, it would be too processor intensive to dynamically render topo lines.  Because of this dynamic rendering of the custom maps, a high-speed Internet connection is necessary.

Creating custom maps using the free OSM spatial data set and a private data set containing unique cartographic features makes OOM possible and a powerful paradigm. As a result, thematic, web-based mapping that addresses the needs of specialized communities is now possible.

Reference Summary:






GIS 295 Term Project Blog #2


In my first term project blog post, I described how I used ArcGIS Desktop to create an orienteering map in the Fraser Preserve, located in Great Falls, Virginia, to be used as part of a two-page instructional product for first-year Scouts.  This map was my term project for GIS 203, Cartography. I used the International Orienteering Foundation (IOF) cartographic standard for land features, control points, trails, and roads.  This term project blog #2 describes my efforts to recreate the same map using ArcGIS Online (AGO).

Choosing the Base Map

Several base maps are available in AGO, and I needed one that included topographic lines, water features, roads, and trails at a very small scale, but not labels. USA Topo Maps, at its smallest scale layer (1:25,000), shows the USGS 7.5 minute topographic maps as a seamless layer, which is not detailed enough for the needs of an orienteering application.  Problems with the USGS maps include the coloring does not conform to the IOF cartographic standard, and the labels cannot be removed. The following screenshot shows Fraser Preserve as a 7.5 minute USGS topographic map:


Another base map considered is the USGS National Map, which includes topographic contours, water features, and roads with minimal labeling of man-made structures.  According to the AGO description, this map service is a combination of contours, shaded relief, woodland and urban tint, along with vector layers, such as geographic names, governmental unit boundaries, hydrography, structures, and transportation. Data sources are the National Atlas for small scales, and The National Map for medium to large scales. Unfortunately, the terrain is portrayed with shadowing to give it a 3-D effect, which is not wanted in an orienteering map.  In addition, the minimum scale is too large. The following screenshot shows Fraser Preserve using the USGS National Map base map:


The base map ultimately selected is called Topographic. Supplied by ESRI, the map service includes administrative boundaries, cities, water features, physiographic features, parks, landmarks, highways, and roads overlaid on land cover and shaded relief imagery. The advantage of this base map is the 1:4000 scale, which provides good detail for an orienteering application.  Unfortunately, this base layer has 3-D shading and has a color distinction between private and public land, which isn’t compatible with the IOF cartography standard.


Creating and Integrating ArcGIS Desktop-Generated Shapefiles

To add the orienteering features necessary that match what was created on the ArcGIS Desktop, I determined the best course of action is export the features as shapefiles and upload the generated zip files to AGO.  CampFraserControlPoints, CampFraserMarsh, CampFraserOpenLand, CampFraserStartEnd, CampFraserTrail, and InterpromentaryRoad are the point, line, and area features uploaded to AGO.  These features are added by choosing the “Add Layer From File” from the AGO Add drop-down menu and navigating to the uploaded zip file.  As a result, the following map contents are part of the orienteering map:


Modifying Control Points, Adding Labels

Once the above listed features are added, they are displayed on the Topographic base map when they are checked. Unfortunately, for the point features, simple dots were displayed and they are not compatible with the IOF cartographic standard.  To modify the control points, I clicked on the shape icon to display the drawing options, then click the Symbols link to show the following web dialog:


I discovered the salmon colored co-centric circle symbol in the cartographic set is the closest in color and shape to the IOF standard, which calls for a purple co-centric circle figure with a dot in the center.  The orienteering course start and end point triangular symbol was selected from the cartographic set. Again, this salmon colored triangle symbol with a diagonal line does not match the IOF symbol, which should be a purple triangle.  The symbols size and opacity can be changed, but the color is fixed.  The “Map Notes” AGO layer is the method I used to add control point number text.  The size, color, and placement are modifiable and colored purple to conform to the IOF standard.

Creating a Map Output Product

This map will not be used embedded in a web page or online, but will be exported to a PDF with other content and printed to paper.  Unfortunately, the only two methods I found to capture the map is printing or capturing the screen.  The print function is very limited by spawning a browser instance with an arbitrary sized portion of the map (see below):


The size of the map does not seem to be modifiable.  As a result, the most viable option available is to perform a screen capture, and then write the data to a JPEG or PDF file.  The following figure shows the edited screen capture of the map itself with all the map elements displayed that could easily be incorporated with the text previously created:



The following issues were encountered while making the above map:

  • I could not make the map look exactly as the ArcGIS Desktop version as there were not as many modifiable features.
  • The open area regions were overlaid on the base map and opacity was set to allow the background features to be visible, which causes the colors to be merged. The private property Camp Fraser section is displayed as white, which is not compatible with the IOF standard.
  • The only viable AGO output option is doing a screen capture. Another possible option is open the AGO data using ArcGIS Desktop.
  • Reliance on ArcGIS Desktop is still necessary to generate many map features, making AGO not completely an independent web-based application.
  • Performing these operations required a lot of AGO training and practice, probably not what a casual orienteering organizer is willing to undergo.