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.