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I appreciate the work you have done introducing the drawing program of Open Office, Mark. This seems like a good way to start for anyone who is interested in Drawing maps. While it lacks what Jim calls a "multi-point line tool", it draws lines just fine, if less rounded than non-free programs. It is possible if maybe slightly tedious to round out the curves so they are as good as anything in Freehand, Illustrator, or Corel Draw. However, even this might become easy if you were using it regularly.

I started with Corel Draw because I got a free copy of an ancient version, plus a few pointers on getting started from Phil Quinn. I say with no purpose to brag or complain that the learning curve is steep for the self-taught user. This is the barrier to not only Corel but most of the other programs. If the day comes that PDFs are accepted as the final map file format, Open Office Draw could be used by most anyone who is willing to spend a few hours with Mark's tutorial. We should expect younger measurers to be more software-savvy, too.

One advantage of Corel is that it is possible to save maps in a format that is acceptable for posting on as is. That is, as would have been scanned, but without the scanning process. This now poses the potential to post color maps. Duane believes that Illustrator does not yet have the same capability. Here is an example of a small color PNG that meets our specs - <400KB, 300 DPI 2550 x 3300 pixels PNG:
Last edited by pastmember
I don't believe I have said Illustrator won't save files in png format. I can save color files as png, and have the correct resolution and file size. Illustrator may not have the ability to specify page size. I have not explored that, as I have a better way to create the png files than to look through the Illustrator documentation.
Actually, OpenOffice will save in PNG format too. The problem is that it is not very efficient at it, so the size of the PNG files it creates are very large. I don't know if any of the drawing programs can compete with Acrobat at creating high-resolution PNGs that are small in size.
Maybe we could have a contest?
Of course, Duane. I apologize if I was not clear. I just meant that I took you to mean that if there is a way in Illustrator to save as a PNG to all the necessary specs, we have not seen it yet. The fact that Jim can do this in Freehand and that I can do it in Corel informs me that it is likely possible in Illustrator.

If I work at it, I can get a color course map down to ~ 200 KB, with all the required specs. But this is not intuitive. And it requires expensive software. Whereas, as Mark says, Acrobat does it effortlessly with free software.

Originally posted by Duane Russell:
I don't believe I have said Illustrator won't save files in png format. I can save color files as png, and have the correct resolution and file size. Illustrator may not have the ability to specify page size. I have not explored that, as I have a better way to create the png files than to look through the Illustrator documentation.
In Illustrator you can also "Save a Copy" as PDF. Many times, that becomes a file larger than 1M. However, if you make all desired layers visible and not locked, then copy all and paste into a new file, then save a copy of that new file as PDF, the file is very small. Also, before saving a copy, the whole new file can be grouped and re-sized to what ever page size or shape you want.

Another suggestion; Conversion (Save As) to GIF, ICNS, JPEG, JPEG-2000, MS-BMP
, MS-Icon, OpenEXR, POF, Photoshop, PNG, TGA and TIFF is available via Mac Preview.
I would guess I am probably the only Corel Draw user out here. Corel gives you the option of saving to PDF in several file sizes. All of these options create a map that looks good on screen and that prints clearly.

Corel also gives you the option of exporting your map to a PNG file at 300 dpi, 2550 x 3300 pixels, 8 1/2" x 11", at less than 500Kb - in color. To my amazement, a color map so created prints almost as well as a large PDF of the same map.

Knowing that Illustrator and Corel Draw are comparable programs, I am wondering how the latest version of Illustrator does not have a similar capacity.

I have now submitted 3 color course maps in PNG and I believe they have been accepted as is for posting. I just submitted another one yesterday.

Open Office Draw PNGs are too large, but they can be reduced to less than 500KB by adjusting the compression. However, O.O. Draw does this by reducing the pixels too much. As far as I can tell, there is no way around this in the current version of Open Office.
Maybe this should be a new post, but...
Since Adobe decided to change from individual software licenses (Illustrator) and force everyone into the monthly fee use of "The Cloud", I've been looking for a replacement. I'm sure that in a few years my Illustrator CS6 will need something that Adobe will not support.

I found a suitable replacement called iDraw ($24.99, from Indeeo). It does much of what Illustrator does, most important (for me) is layers. It also opens and can modify Illustrator files. It is for Mac OSX (including Mavericks and Yosemite) and there's a version for iOS.
The curve tool in OpenOffice is definitely difficult to use. For the most part I don't use it in my maps.

The other disadvantage that I've found is that there is no list of layers that shows their status (locked/unlocked, hidden/visible, printable). Changing these toggles in OpenOffice is cumbersome. I used to use EZdraw and that had a layers table that you could select and unselect checkboxes to change layer statuses. Much nicer.

The major advantages of OpenOffice are that it is free, and it has a very shallow learning curve.

I noticed a couple things said earlier in this thread two years ago that need corrected/clarified.

OpenOffice Draw DOES have a multi-point line tool. The icon for it looks like a arbitrary-shape polygon tool, but it works just like a multi-point line tool.

Lyman stated that you can learn OpenOffice by spending a couple hours going through my manual/help file. That manual is mostly about drawing maps with OpenOffice. If you already know how to draw maps, and have some previous experience with a drawing tool such as Illustrator, Corel, or even Powerpoint, the learning curve for OpenOffice Draw will be a few minutes.
Nathan Porch, who occasionally posts here, took up the Open Office challenge using Mark Neal's tutorial. Right away, he produced maps that are better than most I get from measurers. Since then, his maps have got better and better. I for one am impressed with what Open Office Draw can do in the hands of someone who follows Mark's guidance and who has the will to continue honing his/her skills.
Last edited by pastmember
If you're using Freehand on a Mac, DO NOT update your OS to Mountain Lion. Freehand uses the Mac's PowerPC feature which goes unsupported in the Mountain Lion release of OSX.

Fortunately, I backed up my HD before updating, then had to erase my HD and restore the earlier release of OS to continue using Freehand. I'm not sure what I'll do when my Mac goes to its final resting place.

I have been using Inkscape. It is FREE, has LAYERS and will work on both Windows and MAC.

I don't do cert maps very often, but do a lot of bike routes.

I start with getting a basic bit map of the route, from Microsoft Streets and Trips, Google Earth, or Google Maps.

Then I cut area of the image I want with the FREE Gadwin PrinScreen. A very good tool you can download here >

I import that into Inkscape as my first Layer. Then resizing and selecting opacity, I lock the Layer and work with lines, symbols and text on the next few layers.

It helps a lot to have a templates or a blank drawing setup with your standard paper size, for me US letter), and other configuration items already selected.

For regular projects I have templates with arrows, boxes and useful regularly used text on secondary layer set outside the printed page.
This allows me to easily drag pre-defiend and sized objects onto the drawing. Ones work area is much larger than the actual drawing, which allows parking useful stuff outside the boarders of the final work product.

I have stacks of pre-duplicated objects so pulling one off means there is more of the same for easy moving onto drawing.

It does help to have two monitors, one with the work,and one with some of the tools open, like the layer tool for easy layer selection, and the fill and stroke tool for control of the objects properties.

You should also have all the horizontal tool bars turned on, so when you go to select something quick icons for things like flip and rotate are there, and when you select points on a line, quick icons for split, link etc are readily available.

Don't be intimidated by tutorials that teach you keys strokes for this or that, it is all available through the mouse, menus and controls.
About the only keyboard commands I use are the + and - for zooming in and out.

Like all drawing tools this one has a learning curve. Learning how to size, flip and use objects, and learning property controls like stroke width, color, style and endpoint control takes time. Once mastered you have a very powerful tool.

To help there are LOTS of Inkscape tutorials both linked from within Inkscape, on Youtube, on Vemo and elsewhere on the web.

I find that from import of bitmap background to finished drawing of 15 mile route, with directions and streets identified in reverse color boxes takes about 60 minutes, but maybe only about 25 minutes if working fast.

Now and again I use it for doing race maps. Once you are comfortable with Inkscape, not a problem.

The ability to lock layers, and turn layers on and off for different versions of a map is very useful.
The tool allows things to be moved between layers, and in priority on a layer.

I also use it to layout plans for starting corrals, fencing, cones, etc.

Pro tool. Major plus that it is FREE, with plentiful tutorials.
I downloaded Inkscape on my MacBook Pro to give it a try. Started it up and get no menus, only Inkscape menu with only standard "Hide Inkscape," "Hide Others," and "Quit Inkscape" items available. I googled the problem and found that it has existed for some people since 2012 with no obvious solution that I can find.
Thanks Oscar, but I got it mostly working. On the Mac, Inkscape runs on top of another application XQuartz X11, and it appears to be an issue with how the two interact. If anyone else on a Mac is having trouble getting it to work I can walk you through what I did to make it work.

But anyway, any suggestions for online tutorials geared more to how we would use Inkscape to make maps? More on the practical side of drawing lines and manipulating objects, and less on the artistic stuff.
I'm still having issues with making files appear on my screen. It seems to be an problem with XQuartz X11 working incorrectly on the Mac. You're not having this problem Jim? I can create a new flie, but whenever I try to open an existing SVG file, it does not appear on the screen. The Finder says it's open, but it is nowhere to be seen.

But anyway, I'm pretty happy with using OpenOffice Draw for my maps. The one pet peeve I have with Draw is the way it handles layers. To toggle a layer's visibility or locked status you have to double-click the layer's tab, and then change the status of a checkbox. I would very much prefer a separate dialogue that lists all the layers with checkboxes for each for visibility, locking, etc.

Does Inkscape have something like the above for manipulating layers? If it does I might continue to pursue getting it to work correctly.
I've spent some time over the last week playing with Inkscape and was impressed. I'm frustrated, however, with my inability to save "styles" (not sure what the term is in Inkscape, which may be part of the problem). I.E., I want to create a "style" called "Road/Black" that is a black line, 10 pts. wide, another called "Road/White" that is white and 8 pts., etc. Is there an easy way to do that, so I can quickly apply style attributes to various lines and objects in a drawing?
I have not found a way to do that, Jim. You can copy an item with a desired style and then select an item you want and click "Paste Style". For words switching between layers, I frequently just copy a word in the style I want and paste it and type over that. Ugly but gets job done.
I start with a blank 3300 x 2550 template with layers set up as follows from bottom to top:
White Background - Easier getting rid of unwanted black - big white rectangle under everything
Layer 1 - Screenshot of GE mapped course.
Street Lines - Tracing of Streets maybe 20 in Black
Street Fill - Copy of Street Lines Change to White Stroke width say 18
Objects - Detail drawings, mile marks, etc.
Course Arrows - Detailed drawing of arrows all in same style
Alpha - all words all in same style.
Swatch of Oscar_11 which I gave to measuring partner/ certifer Dave Rogers who says he now easily gets our maps under 400K in Gimp. AND last couple have been VERY true to my "artistry".

GIMP Palette

Name: Oscar 11
Columns: 16#
0 220 0 Green
255 0 255 Magenta
255 255 0 Yellow
65 105 255 Blue
255 127 0 Orange
255 255 255 (white)
0 0 0 (black)
181 37 46 (usatf red)
1 38 57 (usatf blue)
96 96 91 (usatf gray)
142 146 149 (usatf silver)
If you're referring to drawing "curbs",
my method is to draw a white line for the curbs at the appropriate width (let's say 20)
then copy/paste that line. The pasted line should cover the first exactly.
Then I reduce the width of the pasted line by 1 point and change its color to a darker color (grey 7 is a favorite).
As far as the route line, I don't copy and past this because its route is particular (SPR) compared to the road and starting fresh with the polygon tool is a best practice for me.

other helpful tips here:
1.Draw the curb and the road on separate layers. It's imperative if you want to properly draw intersections and it'll prove useful later if you need to edit some part.
2.Use the polygon tool to try and draw the route in as few segments as possible
3.Save often, crashes don't come often but they do come unexpectedly

All told, I love the OpenOffice Draw program. Just when I think I've exploited the software, I discover a new tool or better method to achieve my goals.

Originally posted by Mark Neal:
Does openoffice draw have a tool to draw the parallel lines of road edges, or did you do that by copying, pasting, and shifting?
Nathan that question of mine that you're referring to is from 6.5 years ago!! Shortly after I asked that Jim Gerweck posted the double-think-line method of creating a network of roads that you mention, on a different thread. I used it for a couple years, but now I mostly create what Pete Riegel refers to as single line maps.

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