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Wikitravel talk:How to draw a map

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This is very, very heavily based on Image talk:Paris.svg, by Wikitravel's resident map-master Mark. Jpatokal 06:29, 1 Jan 2006 (EST)

Thanks a lot for this. I am trying out some stuff and it is surprisingly easy. --Ravikiran 00:10, 3 Jan 2006 (EST)
Please add in any feedback. I'd also like to develop a "palette" of standard symbols etc to set a standard and enable drag'n'drop easy map creation. Jpatokal 00:43, 3 Jan 2006 (EST)
On the basis of reading this article, I have been playing around with Map Making using InkScape and it is remarkably easy to get the hang of (though haven't had the patience to build a complete city map just yet). One problem though - I followed the link to the Blue Highway font but am unable to see where to download it for free from. Can someone who knows update the link to a more suitable site please?
Also, I am in the process of developing a template SVG, based on jpatokal's Singapore map, which groups the different types of graphic (e.g. street, label, buildings) into distinct layers so that a user can copy and paste the elements and not need to draw from scratch / worry about setting colors etc. Once I get the font issue sorted out (above) I will post this template on the Expedition page. --Stuart Edwards 19:52, 7 Jan 2006 (GMT+10).
I found a free one here [1]. --Ravikiran 04:18, 7 Jan 2006 (EST)
Regarding the template, please use Mark's Lausanne map as a base instead, he's much better at this stuff than I am. Jpatokal 05:10, 7 Jan 2006 (EST)

Rights to Google Earth

Mark, I don't understand your deletion -- Google hasn't copyrighted the planet, why do you think using their satellite data for mapmaking is not within our 'rights'? As long as the data is not visible in or attached to the image, I don't see what the issue could possible be. Jpatokal 22:15, 13 Feb 2006 (EST)

Sadly although Google has no copyright to the Earth the people who supply them with photographs and map data do have copyright to those images and that data. Taking a photo of the Earth is no different whatever in the eyes of the law from taking a photo of a building. The photo belongs to the photographer.
There's a longer explaination over at OpenStreetMap if you don't believe me.
No, I understand that the photographs are copyrighted, that's not the issue. Jpatokal 01:26, 14 Feb 2006 (EST)
Now that said, the data itself (ie. where the streets of a town are) is not subject to copyright, but there is and unfortunate "database" right in European law. Still I think it would be awfully difficult to prove that a given map was traced from a given aerial photo unless of course the map were to appear in a project where it's suggested that people use photos from a given source. So I think it's best we not do that.
The link above says that whether derived works (eg. a map) from aerial photography are allowed or not is still disputed. However, I don't think the EU's database rights can be stretched to include raw, unannotated satellite imagery, or otherwise I could argue that any digital picture is a "database" of pixels. Jpatokal 01:26, 14 Feb 2006 (EST)
I think you're underestimating how hard the map data companies are likely to fight. They make it very clear in their terms that they believe that they have the rigth to limit derivative works. Of course I'd welcome a favorable resolution, but I don't really want to put my energy and resources into the test case. You? -- Mark 02:01, 14 Feb 2006 (EST)
A further word of advice: aerial photos often introduce subtile distortions since they are rarely taken from an exact plum line position above the subject area. Therefore it's necessary to apply some skew to the photo before starting to trace streets in order to make it match a local map projection more closely. This skew if done with a little artistic license can pretty much totally break any possibility of proving a particular photo was traced. Not that I'm saying anybody should disrespect any photographer's rights of course. -- Mark 00:31, 14 Feb 2006 (EST)

Using NASA Worldwind solves the copyright problem by using only public-domain data. It's currently Windows-only, but being ported to Java. -- Colin 02:29, 15 February 2007 (EST)

Yahoo aerial photos

There's another cool bit of news on http://openstreetmap.org. I haven't had time to look into it myself, but it looks like Yahoo has gifted their aerial photography to the project. -- Mark 12:33, 15 February 2007 (EST)
Here's the OpenStreetMap page in question -- Mark 08:39, 16 February 2007 (EST)

Metro/rapid transit lines

I have been using a solid blue line, as thin a possible, for rapid transit lines (0000ffff) as it seems to stand out from all the other map colours used. For above ground stations I use the same colour, in a rectangle or whatever in roughly the shape and size of the station. For underground stations I use a small blue circle. Annotations are also blue, in very small italic text (Arial) to stand out, and make it obvious the annotation is attached to the station. I wonder if underground lines should be dashed, and surface level/above ground lines solid, or if it matters. I am throwing this out here to guage some opinion, and see if anyone can agree to standardize how to represent metro lines in our maps. For examples see the maps in Vancouver/City Center, Toronto/Downtown and Toronto/The Annex. - bulliver 00:51, 15 March 2006 (EST)

For Singapore, I've been using a thin dotted red line (for underground sections) and the station symbol copied directly from Mark's Paris map. I'm not entirely happy with it though, both are a bit too small. Jpatokal 01:20, 15 March 2006 (EST)
I really like the way both of your sets of maps look, including the rapid transit lines.
The Metro symbol on the Paris map is a caracature of the Métro logo, I would imagine it to be sort of Paris specific. I agree that it would be better for it to be a bit bigger. For Lausanne I used an uppercase M in Courier Bold, which is the logo of their Metro system.
As for the routes, I haven't done them yet for Paris, but I've been stuck on the 18th for about a year... I keep meaning to get back to it. For Lausanne I used red for M2 and blue for M1 which is what the city uses. -- Mark 03:08, 15 March 2006 (EST)
So can I draw from this then that we should _not_ standardise, and rather try to coordinate the colours with the official maps depending on the city? - bulliver 17:21, 17 March 2006 (EST)
No, I think we should standardize. I think transit maps (big lines, bright colors, simplified routings) and transit lines on street maps (station locations in detail, but connections just thinly dotted) should be kept distinct. Jpatokal 23:38, 17 March 2006 (EST)
The only problem is that transit lines in many cities are color coded, so if we don't use their colors it could be confusing for people trying to use the transit system, even if it results in prettier maps. I suppose use of the local color-coding is most important for the schematic transit maps than it is for street maps. -- Mark 02:20, 18 March 2006 (EST)
I guess I should have made clearer, in the above I was talking only about our city/district road maps. I full-on agree the subway/metro schematic maps should be colour coded as per the official lines. -- bulliver 03:19, 18 March 2006 (EST)
I think I do agree with you guys. After all one of the reasons that I haven't added metro traces to the Paris map is that I hadn't resolved this question in my own mind. I'm also thinking that it would be good to come up with a common metro symbol. I'm afraid that the Parisian "M" could be confusing where the metro is called something like "The subway" or "The El" or "U-Bahn". In SF for instance there are two systems, one of which is called "Metro" and the other of which is "Bart". -- Mark 03:31, 18 March 2006 (EST)
Just thought I'd chip in to say that I've done symbols for light rail and underground rail stations and added them to Wikitravel:Common map symbols. Hopefully the underground symbol should solve the above problem. --Paul. 23:31, 6 October 2006 (EDT)

Altitude into map scale?

My turn to ask a question — how can I convert Google Maps' "eye altitude" into the scale of the map? Jpatokal 13:05, 4 April 2006 (EDT)

Are you talking about Google Earth? If so, it has a measuring tool (it's on the menu) that will tell you how far it is between two points. - Todd VerBeek 13:39, 4 April 2006 (EDT)

Isle Royale map

I started by capturing a satellite image of the island, and used Adobe Illustrator's Live Trace function to approximate the shoreline. (Inkscape has a trace feature too, but I've never used it.) I had to play around a bit with the settings to get something that got the shape right, and then simplified it to two colors. I ended up having to do a lot of smoothing and tweaking (such as reconnecting peninsulas to the mainland or separating inland lakes), so it might have been easier to trace it by hand (which is what I'm doing for my map of Sleeping Bear Dunes... which is also a simpler shoreline). As it is, most of the little details, such as the curvature of a small peninsula or inlet, were made up by Illustrator trying to interpret and simplify a pixelated satellite image. But I figure if some hiker really needs to know the geography, they'll get a professionally-made map.

From there it was mostly a matter of drawing the trails in (using a couple maps as reference and taking care not to try to be too detailed), adding symbols and labels, etc. I put each major kind of element (e.g. the land, the trails, campsites, geographic labels) on its own layer to make it easier to manage them. I did all the work in Illustrator, then exported to SVG (which flattens everythign to one layer). I used Photoshop to import the Illustrator file, then scale it, crop it, and export it to PNG. (GIMP could've done the same with the SVG file.) Hope this helps. - Todd VerBeek 11:22, 6 April 2006 (EDT)


Help me export my new map

I created it with Inkscape, but .png is apparently not one of the export options. It's all finished except for cropping and exporting. (can't figure out how to crop either) Took me all day to make this silly map and now I can't figure out what to do with it. Can someone please help me? Texugo 07:27, 8 August 2006 (EDT)

  • Here's what I've got so far. [2] I need to trim the extra white space around the edges, as well as the extra grey box, then I need to export it to a different file format and re-upload it to wikitravel.
In my Inkscape it's just "File -> Export bitmap" and it'll automatically save as PNG. To crop, select a correctly-sized object and choose "Selection" in the export dialog. You sure you're not hunting for PNG under "Save as...", which only saves vector graphics? Jpatokal 08:25, 8 August 2006 (EDT)
  • thanks a lot.. Yeah, it was something like that.
Great looking map, by the way! Jpatokal 08:34, 8 August 2006 (EDT)

How to obtain satellite images

Hi guys,

I have a very simple question. Reading this help page, I see:"The first step is to obtain satellite imagery of your chosen location".

Ok, very easy, I thought. I choose a location (done) and I want to obtain satellite imagery. But... can someone explain me how to do this??? Because I still do not understand how to do it!!! Is there any webpage where I can just take the satellite images?

I guess there isn't. So If images from sites like GoogleMaps are copyrighted, how can I do this? Do you expect people taking a space shuttle and take pictures from the space? ☺

I hope someone can explain me this a little bit. Thanks84.160.214.30 17:17, 4 October 2006 (EDT)

You can just use Google Maps or Google Earth, or any other mapping site. While the maps are copyrighted that doesn't mean you can't use them as a guide for creating your own maps. --Paul. 23:33, 6 October 2006 (EDT)

I think that this section of the article could really use some beefing up - what are the best sources for satellite imagery available? For much of the world Google Earth/Maps is not an option because it won't render most non-Western countries in sufficient detail. I'd really like to plunge forward on making some maps of principal cities in the Caucasus, but without the satellite images, the rest of this article isn't going to help! --Peterfitzgerald 17:59, 4 March 2007 (EST)

Map Template

Having a map template in shared will make map drawing easier and help to keep maps more consistent. At a minimum it should contain a number of layers: greyback (with a grey background), oceanback (with a blue background), tempback (for temporary satellite imagery), object area (blank, to be used for the main outline of the city/park etc), roads(blank), water(blank), mayor cities(blank), minor cities(blank), annotation (with a standards sidebar, WT logo etc), spare parts (with all the objects from Wikitravel:Common_map_symbols correctly colored). An additional layer with hints and help text might also be a good idea. Wikitravel:How_to_draw_a_map can then be adapted to refer to the layers and objects already in this template, making those instructions a lot easier to follow for new map builders. I'll start putting one together, but any additional input will be useful. --NJR_ZA 00:39, 20 February 2007 (EST)

Jpatokal, just noticed that you have already started a template. I'll build on the work you have already done thanks.

Cincinnati map

Things identified for fixing on Wikitravel:How to draw a map

  • Don't tell people to delete the Spare parts layer, it should stay so it can still be used during future edits to the map.


The maps refered to during this discussion


Sapphire, I was rather taken by surprise by a couple of things you have done here, but that is a good thing; if you let me pick your brain we will be able to use that info to improve Wikitravel:How to draw a map.

First questions:

  • What software are you using?
  • You decided to create a new svg file (MapB) rather than just updating and re-uploading the one I prepared (MapA). What was the reasoning behind that?
  • I only see 3 layers in MapB. That makes the map is bit less generic and flexible. With multiple layers one can export different types of png maps (depending on requirements) by switching visibility on different layers on or off, i.e. if one only need a street map one can switch off all annotations etc. Is there a specific reason why you would like fewer layers?

--NJR_ZA 02:41, 7 March 2007 (EST)

  • Inkscape (Latest version)
  • I still have Image:Map-USA-Cincinnati01.svg, however, because of the problems I was running into I created the latter image to mess around with it, rather than mess up the map saved under the original name.
  • I actually added layers, for whatever reason Inkscape wasn't showing all of the layers. I know there were additional ones because several random clicks would display the name of the layer I was working on, but if I went back to working on a different layer, then the others would disappear and would not be listed in the layers box. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 13:46, 7 March 2007 (EST)
OK, I think I might be on an older version of Inkscape. Left my laptop at work, but I'll check tomorrow and see what I am running. The problem might be with the version you are using. I also had a problem accessing the layer containing the streets on MapB. Might be that your version of Inkscape was messing the file. --NJR_ZA 15:22, 7 March 2007 (EST)
I'm on version Inkscape version 0.44 on windows. I have added your annotations to Image:Map-USA-Cincinnati01.svg and re uploaded it. I have also uploaded a screenshot of the map open in Inkscape showing all the levels that you should be able to see Image:Wikitravel-how_to_draw_a_map_Cincinnati_test.png. Won't you try and open it and see if it works now? --NJR_ZA 02:18, 8 March 2007 (EST)

Region maps

This article does a good job as a guide for city maps, but what about region/country maps? Are there any standards that Wikitravel encourages for region maps? Any tips on how to create them effectively? --Peterfitzgerald Talk 15:48, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

I was sooo struggling with the same thing last night. I would start by checking out Nick's maps for South Africa, I think those look pretty great. He made 1 svg file, and then all of the various regions are different layers. I'm still trying to dissect a bit and figure out what's what, but would surely benefit from a little more how to... I have even more respect for you map makers now that I'm attempting it myself... it's a lot of friggin work! – cacahuate talk 01:56, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
Some of those South African region maps are rather old, they were the first ones I started drawing and probably not the best. It is probably best to look at the newer ones: Image:Map-India-Goa01.png, Image:Map-USA-Regions01.svg and Image:Map-South_Africa-KwaZulu_Natal.svg seems to have worked quite nicely. --NJR_ZA 04:22, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
Ah yeah, I was admiring your USA map earlier today when I was looking for models. What would be most useful for me is a breakdown of the major steps you would go through in creating a map like that, e.g., I assume you started by tracing a public domain map? Getting well defined subregion borders from traces (in Inkscape) is something I have been really struggling with. I'd like to redo my rather amateurish Russia#Regions map and have grandiose plans of creating maps further down Russia's geographic hierarchy, but I'd like to have a clearer idea of what I'm doing before I get too far ahead of myself. Thanks! --Peterfitzgerald Talk 04:33, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
Most I trace, but the USA one I did not, I used a svg map from commons as a base to work from. You might find some license compatible work under SVG maps of Russia and SVG maps of the world that can save your the bother of haveing to redraw from scratch.
A good tip for anyone that wants start drawing maps would to be avoid city maps and rather start with region maps. Region maps contain a lot less information and takes a heck of a lot less time to complete. Image:(de)Map-USA-Manhattan01.png took me forever and it is still not complete. Entering hundreds of street names is boring repetitive business and one really need to be in the mood for braindead work to do it; Image:Map-India-Goa01.png on the other hand took me less than 2 hours in total.--NJR_ZA 04:58, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
One more thing. Your Russia#Regions map is actually not bad, but you can make it look a lot more professional simply by reducing the width on the border strokes. --NJR_ZA 05:24, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
I hate to bring this up, but it looks like the .svg base for your USA map is licensed under GNU — is it possible to use GNU svg files from Commons as a base for maps on this site? If so, that would save me a lot of time. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 10:28, 25 April 2007 (EDT)
Hold on, I specifically used one that was Public Domain, that is why I also uploaded my USA region map under Public Domain rather than the usual CCSA 1.0. I did have a number of window open when I was looking for a map to use and it is possible that I copied the wrong url. I'll check which one I really used on my desktop when I get home. If I did mess up and used the GNU licensed one, then we will have to vfd the map and I'll redo it using one of the public domain maps as base. --NJR_ZA 11:33, 25 April 2007 (EDT)
Damn, you are right, I messed up and based this map on GNU licensed work. I'm removing it from the article and will redo it over the weekend based on a Public Domain map ([3]) will do. Just audited myself quick as well and the only other 3 maps that I based on existing work (Hawaii, Africa and Time_zones) seems to be in the clear. --NJR_ZA 15:59, 25 April 2007 (EDT)
Ah, that sucks. I'm sorry I had to be the one to break the bad news. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 16:30, 25 April 2007 (EDT)

Blue Highway Font

Seems the link to the Blue Highway font is broken again. Found an alternative here.

I think we need a page that hosts the Blue Highway fonts, something like Wikitravel:Blue Highway font

It can contain the 4 ttf files (Blue Highway, Blue Highway (Bold), Blue Highway (Condensed), Blue Highway (D Type)) and Ray Larabie's readme.txt and licence for the fonts, installation instructions for Wikitravel users and pointers as to when to use each of the fonts.

Who do I speak to in order to get .ttf files allowed for uploading for a short period of time in order to upload those?

--NJR_ZA 12:18, 30 April 2007 (EDT)

Automated tracing potrace vs. autotrace

copied in from user talk:peterfitzgerald

I've been looking at autotrace and it seems to do a rather better job than potrace (the tracer embedded in inkscape). It has a centerline option that results in the output generating a path rather than an enclosed shape, exactly what you wanted earlier.

You might want to give this one a try.

Best results so far are on black and white images and they are not perfect yet, but definitely workable; I'll continue testing.

Command line options are quite easy to use \autotrace-0.31.1-w32>autotrace -output-file testout.svg -output-format svg -report-progress -centerline testin.gif


I just ran a test over one of the maps you found using the following options:
D:\Download\autotrace-0.31.1-w32>autotrace -output-file m.svg -output-format svg -report-progress -centerline -background-color fce0ec "\WikiTravel\maps\tmp\BlankMap-RussiaDistricts-Mercator.png"
You can find the result at Image:Map-Russia01.svg. Obviously the paths will have to be manually combined to create usable objects, but the trace looks rather good. This will save a heap of time. --NJR_ZA 09:54, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Scratch that, it get's better, way way better. Autotrace is far better than I ever expected any tracing program to be.
I did some cleanup of the source png in the GIMP to make it a nice clean black and white image. Then I ran autotrace without the -centerline option and it was bright enough to create perfectly traced objects for each district. The command was simply: autotrace -output-file Russia02.svg -output-format svg -report-progress BlankMap-RussiaDistricts-Mercator-BW.png and I ended up with a nice svg that I imported into our template and created Image:Map-Russia02.svg.
Because everything was so easy and working so nicely I then went ahead and coloured the regions as per your existing map. Image:Map-Russia03.svg
Autotrace rocks! --NJR_ZA 14:35, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

Hey, I wanna join the party! Am I right in seeing that it's only for Windows? If I have to manually trace another map I'm gonna have a meltdown... just finished Asia... uggghh.... – cacahuate talk 21:48, 4 May 2007 (EDT)

My dream come true would be something similar to the magic wand tool in Photoshop... I don't have Adobe Illustrator (yet), but is there a similar tool there? Or is it possible to create the traces in Photoshop somehow and export them? I do see a "export paths to Illustrator" option in Photoshop, but I have no idea how to make use of it. There's got to be a simple and quick way to be doing these traces... seems like you guys are on the right road to discovering it, so I'm gonna sit back and wait for the magical answer to appear  :) Anyone else got any ideas? And for the love of God, make your solution Mac compatible... – cacahuate talk 23:28, 4 May 2007 (EDT)
Binaries are available from the site for linux and win32, but I don't see any mac version there. The source is however available, so you might be able to build from that, maybe use fink to assist in the build. fink does have autotrace listed in the unstable section, but that does not mean it will be unstable on your mac, it generally just means that they have not had enough feedback on it yet.
The windows version crashed every time I tried autotrace --help, but other than that worked fine. On linux (kububtu) I had no issues.

--NJR_ZA 04:00, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Unfortunately everything you just said flew straight over my head, so I don't think that option is for me  ;) I'm hoping to get Illustrator soon, and hoping that between it and Photoshop I can sort out a fast way of doing traces... hmmmm... – cacahuate talk 15:22, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Asia map

Moved here from User_talk:NJR_ZA#Asia_map

I'm attempting to copy the sleek style used on the Texas#Regions page for the new map I just added to Asia#Regions, but it doesn't seem to be rendering the colors correctly... any ideas? – cacahuate talk 22:19, 4 May 2007 (EDT)

I also stumbled about trying to do this yesterday. The problem is that Inkscape assigns values to colors for RGBA (i.e., red, green, blue, and A=opacity?, e.g., FFFFFFFF), whereas the colors you can specify in that table are limited to the 6-digit RGB (e.g., FFFFFF). So just getting rid of the last two digits of the color code from the svg when you input it into the wikitable should cause it to render the color correctly (e.g., ffe680ff --> ffe680). One other thing that Stacey brought up is that the colors you use should probably be html safe colors[4], although I'm not sure how important this really is. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 03:37, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
That Asia#Regions map looks great. The last two color digits in Inkscape are indeed for opacity/transparency, generally you will just set them to ff. Sticking with html safe colors on the maps is a good idea if we intend to use the same colors in html as we use on the maps; that is the only way that you will be able to render the colors correctly. However, I don't think it is a very good idea to create complex tables and specify colors in the articles as was done on the Texas#Regions page, it looks good, but does make the page very difficult for most people to modify. Since we are a wiki and we want everyone to be able to contribute and make changes, we really should keep complex tables and html out of the articles. --NJR_ZA 03:51, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
In general, I would agree with that, but I think for macro-level indexes like Asia, the html table might be appropriate because A. any changes to the regions layout should anyway be proposed first on the talk page and would not be possible without map-editing, which would be beyond the scope of what most editors are willing to do; B. we don't have one-line descriptive entries for each region (as we would with smaller, less known regions), which editors might want to modify. So, perhaps scrap the table for Texas, but use it for Asia and other macro level regions like Africa or Europe? --Peterfitzgerald Talk 13:20, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, I brought this up before at Wikitravel_talk:Manual_of_style#Region_maps_.2F_color_key, I'd be happy to not use this style altogether as I don't think it's all that necessary... especially if we create a color key on the map itself, which we all seem to be doing. I think Nick's right, let's just keep it simple, clean and easy to edit! And then we don't have to worry about HTML colors, etc... easier on everyone... – cacahuate talk 15:06, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
Though I just looked at Asia#Regions where Nick corrected the colors, and is does look pretty sexy... it's lonely up here on the fence... also then you can see the color and read the region names without clicking on the map (the text on the map is too small to see within the article) – cacahuate talk 15:17, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
I agree that the big advantage to this scheme is that you don't have to click on the map—having to click the thumb seems like a big extra step that we shouldn't need. If we did get a template together for this purpose, I think that should put to rest html concerns. Although, I confess I don't know how to make said template ;) --Peterfitzgerald Talk 15:45, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
Ah, yes, a template will remove my concerns as it will reduce the complexity again. I'll put one together for us. --NJR_ZA 16:38, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Template:Regionlist

I have added a template to draw the region list with colors Template:Regionlist. Africa#Regions has been updated to use the template. The color values can be either standard html color names or #RGB codes. --NJR_ZA 06:45, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

Increasing color contrast for better printing

Wikitravel's maps look pretty enough on screen, but they print badly as black and white because too many colors have about the same lightness (on the hue-saturation-lightness scale). For white=255, black=0, the present template uses:

Object Now Proposed
Road 255 255
Water 181 180 + texture?
Footpath 163 220 + dashes
Building 141 120
Park 127 75 + texture?
Road names 88 0

I've created a proposed template at Image:Wikitravel-map-template-hc.svg and Image:Singapore-Chinatown2.png uses the revised template. One thing I'd like to add is simple pattern textures to water (waves) and maybe park (trees?) to make them stand out more -- however, despite spending an embarrassingly long time trying to create tiled patterns with Inkscape, I couldn't make it work, nor could I find anything suitable on the Internet. Comments and help welcome! Jpatokal 09:40, 9 September 2007 (EDT)

I think your high contrast maps looks far better than the existing temple, even on screen. --NJR_ZA 11:57, 9 September 2007 (EDT)
Agreed. It looks great! I really like the texture idea. -- Mark 12:08, 9 September 2007 (EDT)
This seems very sensible. Not looking forward to recoloring existing maps though ;) --Peter Talk 03:50, 10 September 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, please go ahead! I'm waiting for the new guidance. -- Tatata 00:23, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
One other color I'd like to see defined is our "sand" color. I'm not sure how many district articles will use this, but I've found it useful to have a different color to mark out the beaches in Chicago. I have been using #f8f27a - is that a good color to be using? See File:South Chicago Shore for an example. --Peter Talk 22:08, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
Easy test: export your file to PNG, then switch to "mode" to "grayscale".
And turns out that the reason I was having problems with patterns in Inkscape wasn't me, but a bug in Inkscape that's been open for three years now and basically means pattern fills on non-white backgrounds don't work. Garr. Jpatokal 04:42, 15 September 2007 (EDT)

So, I eventually got the patterns to work by the simple expedient of create a huge block of pattern and ignoring the lines -- they look fugly on screen, but are pretty much invisible when printed.

Another bigger change is that I concluded that, alas, Blue Highway is not very clear when used at small resolutions. Instead, I've opted for Bitstream Vera Sans [5], which is not only very clear even at teeny sizes (especially when bolded), but is open source [6] and comes bundled with most Linux and Windows distributions.

I've uploaded a new template on top of my previous one, comments welcome. Image:Singapore.svg has already been reworked to use it, and barring major uproar I'll make it the "official" WT template next week. Jpatokal 07:59, 23 September 2007 (EDT)

I've been unable to download the Singapore.svg file. --Peter Talk 13:53, 23 September 2007 (EDT)
Scratch that, it's available at shared:Image:Singapore.svg. --Peter Talk 00:27, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
The Bitstream Vera Sans font works wonderfully—the Blue Highway clarity problem had been a bit of a headache for me as it was. Just one objection to making this the "official" template, though. As of now we recommend the template that is fully Public Domain; this template uses icons that come with clunky attribution requirements per CC-by-SA. This recommendation was based on the discussion at Image_talk:Wikitravel-map-template.svg. --Peter Talk 13:17, 25 September 2007 (EDT)

Railways

As long as we're trying to come up with new patterns, one other thing that has been on my mind is that it would be nice to show railways. What I think would work best is a patterned line that looks like a railroad track. I don't know how to do this, though. --Peter Talk 12:47, 12 September 2007 (EDT)

I did that on the Pakistan map, it's pretty rough but you could make it look better if you took the time... see here. Just draw a regular line as you would a road, then in the "fill and stroke" box go down to the mid-markers pull down menu.. there's a few options that could look like a train track – cacahuate talk 23:46, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
Thanks, that does work. Not perfectly though, since it's not really feasible to get all the mid markers to space evenly. I'll try this out with the map I'm currently working on. --Peter Talk 23:59, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
For the original Paris maps way back when I just used a solid black line for railways. Of course that was way back when. -- Mark 16:47, 26 November 2007 (EST)

The starting map.

I thought of making a map of Pyin U Lwin but am stymied by the fact that the only two maps I can find are in LP and at a site online. I assume it is not ok to start tracing a map from the LP version, nor is it ok to do that with the online thing - so how does one start if there is no map to trace from? Or is there some half way thing I can do with existing maps that gives me a start on a new one?--Wandering 17:43, 13 September 2007 (EDT)

If there's no decent satellite imagery online, there's not much you can do. Jpatokal 23:50, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
Well, if you know the place well enough and have extremely high spacial intelligence, you might be able to make one off the top of your head. Failing that, any high-res overhead photo could work—helicopter shots? Another thing to look into are old Soviet maps, if you can find them. The Soviets produced some pretty incredible maps in their day and there are usable PD street maps available for cities/towns that were of especial strategic importance. Lastly, I think that if you were very careful about it, you could use several maps as a reference for creating a free-hand map, but you absolutely could not trace copyrighted maps. The only other thing I can think of is to check whether there are any maps made by any government agency or other group that might be willing to relicense a map to the public domain or CC-by-SA, and then shoot them an email. We managed to get such permission from the Swedish Embassy in Azerbaijan of all places. --Peter Talk 14:49, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

I could probably sketch out a map of the principle roads quite easily (using the other maps for reference). But, of course, such a map would not be to scale. Would that be consistent with wikitravel's policies on maps?--Wandering 14:59, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

An out of scale map is definitely better than no map, so I wouldn't worry about that. But perhaps it would be wise to wait a bit and see if anyone objects to a freehand drawing, using copyrighted maps as a reference. --Peter Talk 17:06, 14 September 2007 (EDT)
For small places a freehand map is definitely ok, but do add a clear "Out of scale" notice to it. Jpatokal 23:08, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

PD symbols for maps

I am just about to start making a couple of new maps, but noticed that the public domain map template contains symbols that do not look so good, especially when scaled to a small size. I think that NJR_ZA has done great things with the template, but there's still some room for improvement. Especially the eat, buy and sleep icons become just quite unrecognizable when scaled down. I still think that the old non-PD ones, ie. simple icons that had room for a number inside, were better. I'd think that it would be very easy to create something similar or find some suitable PD clipart. What do you think? Most of the maps seem to use the cc-by-sa icons without actually crediting the authors (Mark and Paul. mostly).

Also the ATM logo is rather unrecognizable (not many know the ¤ symbol). Also, would a simple @-character be better for internet cafe? -- Trsqr 12:41, 27 September 2007 (EDT)

If you come up with some or find some I'd love to see them, as an alternative... but I think what we have works fine until we have something else to compare it too... but I agree about the @ sign... I'll probably start using that in the future – cacahuate talk 14:27, 23 October 2007 (EDT)
I would argue that the sleep icons actually do work well at small scales, but while the current eat and buy icons suffice, they are a bit clunky and difficult (albeit certainly possible) to distinguish from each other in black & white at small scales. I would definitely like to see alternate icon suggestions as well. Most existing maps do use the cc-by-sa icons without attribution, and I think the chances of legal action being pursued over this are about 0%, but this still is a legal violation. --Peter Talk 17:26, 23 October 2007 (EDT)
Maybe we can create a PD section on Wikitravel:Common map symbols and start organizing some usable PD symbols there? --NJR_ZA 17:46, 23 October 2007 (EDT)

OpenStreetMap

So I was poking around on OpenStreetMap today, and I'm really impressed with what they've done. Look at this! Not only do they have offline GUIs for whipping your GPS tracks into maps, but they've even got a pretty usable online tool for drawing and annotating maps on the fly!!

So instead of reinventing the wheel constantly, I'd really like to see Wikitravel work to integrate better with OSM. This is going to require a serious change of mindset though: instead of fiddling about with hand-drawn SVGs, we'd need to figure out ways to layer WT data onto OSM maps and get that onto our site. As an experiment, I'll try building up a Jakarta map in the next month or so and then exporting the data as image tiles for starters. Dynamically loading OSM content onto WT would be even neater though. Jpatokal 10:35, 23 October 2007 (EDT)

FYI, OSM starts importing US-gov maps. [7] -- Tatata7 23:12, 11 November 2007 (EST)
I think integrating OpenStreetMap Maps is an excellent idea, but our bigest stumbling block will probably be the fact that they use Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 rather than version 1.0. They are doing some excellent work over there and I am actually busy setting up my laptop and bluetooth gps to start contributing to the project. Adding WT data to OSM maps is not a huge technical problem; it's all just xml and some simple xslt transformation can easily merge our templates into it. If we can somehow resolve the license issue, I'd be happy to spend some time on the translator. --NJR_ZA 00:03, 12 November 2007 (EST)

I've been playing around with exporting the Helsinki map, but this stuff isn't quite as easy as it seems.

  1. SVG exports are huge, even a smallish city like Helsinki is >5 MB and renders agonizingly slowly in Inkscape.
  2. SVG exports have major problems with cropping: coastline rendering is dodgy and eg. exporting Helsinki also brings along a few 70-km ferry routes to Tallinn and long-distance expressways that just happen to start in Helsinki.
  3. The SVGs aren't really designed to be human-editable, there's all sorts of weirdness like cloned copies of objects on top of each other and the white borders around texts being applied as separate objects. Fine if you want to export immediately to PNG, not so fine if you want to change anything.

An intermediate solution might be to just do a static export of the map to high-res flat PNG, and then apply Wikitravel annotations on top as a separate layer...? Jpatokal 00:17, 12 November 2007 (EST)

If nothing else, that would be a great source for traces, but it wouldn't allow us any control over color schemes. --Peter Talk 21:43, 12 November 2007 (EST)
The Tigre/Line data from the US gov at comes in layers to make it a bit easier to do this kind of work. I haven't played with OSM data yet, but I imagine that we can probably move OSM policy toward layering or whatever else is required to automate our map generation.
I do recall however that I wound up buying more RAM so that I could finish the Santa-Fe maps. That's also the reason that each Arrondissement of paris is on its own layer.
Anyhow, I'm in favor of OSM integration, but it's going to be a lot of work up front, and I don't have time to take on another project right now, as much as I'd like to. -- Mark 08:43, 13 November 2007 (EST)
Wikitravel map of Helsinki, generated with OpenStreetMap data

Enough talk, time for action. Here's the first OSM-based Wikitravel map and I no longer have any doubt that this is the wave of the future.

How I did that:

  1. Downloaded raw OSM data for the Helsinki region with Tiles@home.
  2. Used Osmarender with a Wikitravel-customized XSLT template to generate a (ginormous) "map" SVG. The template is really flexible: you can choose what types of objects you want to render, what colors to use, line thicknesses, fonts, etc etc. Currently I'm using the standard "z16" (zoom level 16) template with only minor tweaks, mostly just removing road coloring and increasing contrast for parks and water.
  3. Exported a section of the "map" SVG into a flat PNG file.
  4. Imported the PNG as a layer of a new "Wikitravel" SVG.
  5. Added annotations.

Steps 1 through 3 can be automated, but will usually only need to be performed once (a complete city map isn't going to change too often). Ideally, even step 5 could be automated, since OSM data also includes objects like restaurants and hotels, but you'd need to add little Wikitravel toggles to the OSM data (wikitravel.draw_me=yes/no) and the annotation box and numbering would still have to be added somehow.

Any feedback welcome. I'll publish the step-by-step instruction and WT template once they're a little more polished, and may even set up a server to allow remote generation of the map SVGs (setting up the OSM software is kinda hairy). Jpatokal 08:47, 10 January 2008 (EST)

Wow, great job! I'm looking forward to instruction and WT template. And remote generation server is very much helpful, since my map was garbage when I tried Osmarender a month ago... ;-) -- Tatata7 01:54, 11 January 2008 (EST)

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