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Mapping Policies

High-level discussion that non-mappers (eg club elders) should be able to take an interest in. Some overlap with OCAD (Software arrangements) and non-mappers may also find Course Planning useful.

This page covers from 2011, for earlier discussion see Mapping Policies to 2010

MT: Michael Posted: 22 March 2011, 12:52 PM

Looking for advice on cheap/free software to put circles and numbers onto a pdf. Tending away from putting up maps with course on, if you know what you are doing you want to design your own. Found PDFill at $20 (or free if you can put up with a watermark). What else?

MT: Dwayne Posted: 1 April 2011, 10:21 PM

Foxit Reader (Free) can add circles, lines and text to pdf files (and save them).

MT: Michael Posted: 2 April 2011, 9:37 AM

Can you install it without making “Ask” your default search provider?

MT: Michael Posted: 16 March 2012, 2:53 PM

An issue which bothers my conscience. I've raised it with my NZOF councillor but I think that wider discussion is needed.

On the one hand, I would like to see OCAD on the computers of lots of members, to spread expertise and the mapping load. “Mapping” is no longer just the business of an expert taking some brand new area through to maps on the shelf. It is also the week-by-week preparation of maps with a slightly different window from last time, a bigger scale for some courses, and the odd tweak for a new track etc.

On the other hand the good people at OCAD have created an awesome piece of software and they want to get a return on their investment and fund continuing development. They have only ever sold one-person licences. I think this is widely ignored in New Zealand and probably elsewhere too. There are many copies of OCAD on other computers, for the above very practical reasons.

Since version 9-point-something, OCAD requires an online activation to run, and this electronically prevents a copy from running on more than two computers. The second copy is allowed for backup purposes, I don't think it is intended for a second person.

What this means is that many people are using version 8 or early version 9's. They may be using it beyond the terms of the licence, and they are certainly missing out on later features such as importing GPX files. The software is moving on and version 11 will soon be out.

I believe we should try to find a solution that meets the needs of both clubs and OCAD. This would require negotiation with OCAD for some sort of club licence. We would get nowhere by ourselves, it would have to be through the IOF. We might begin by chewing it over with Australia.

MT: Michael Posted: 27 March 2012, 7:35 PM

This may look like an advert but it is not. I hope that Maptalk remains commercial-free.

Former Dunedin orienteer now working in Melbourne, Ken Dowling, has been appointed by OCAD as its Australian retailer. This doesn't change the retail price or stop anyone dealing with OCAD directly, I think the move is about putting more effort into marketing particularly to non-orienteering users.

New Zealand doesn't have a retailer and Ken may market here too. He first suggested I might wish to become an OCAD retailer. I have decided not to. The main reason is my wish to see OCAD on as many computers as possible, see above. Being a retailer would give me conflicts of interest. (That's if there IS any interest in solving the licensing issues:-))

In Australia Ken uses the business name MapSport, but there is no connection with my MAPsport business in New Zealand. Ken was among NZ's first OCAD users and I frequently consult him on knotty questions. Through other interests in a printing business he is particularly expert with printing issues.

MT: Dave N Posted: 2 April 2012, 12:43 PM

I was in Beijing for 3 years, there is O at university level, and at high school level, but official events rigorously collect the maps at the finish. If they don't, some one sells his map and next week, there's an informal event on the same ground, run commercially. Or at least, by students who make some money. I volunteered to update on old map, but was given money because that's what they do. Doesn't seem to be an easy path between IP and easy access to maps… Dave

MT: Dave N Posted: 2 April 2012, 12:46 PM

Someone asked me, do O clubs archive their maps? And it's a good question. Maps define the history of a chunk of land at a known date and are thus a historical record of the landscape, and they are 'published' in a sense or two.

Is any club deliberately keeping copies and/or passing them onto the local library historical room/National Library ?? Dave

MT: HeadHoncho Posted: 2 April 2012, 3:07 PM

You can search the National Library online and there are some O maps in their archives - from memory early Central/Auckland maps and some others; Bryan T. is/was interested in archiving maps and started an Omaps project; some clubs (e.g. Hawkes Bay) take care of their own patch quite well (see their website)

MT: Michael Posted: 2 April 2012, 4:08 PM

Sometime after the use of short-run (digital) printing the concept of “a map” as an entity started to disappear. We now have “mapped areas” which continually evolve. We produce an extract for an event which may have the same name as previous “maps” but with different boundaries and minor or major differences in the underlying detail.

So Dave, what exactly would we keep and/or pass on to a historical organisation? More important than any collection of previous versions is the need to strictly ensure that the latest version of each file is maintained somewhere:-))

MT: Bryan Posted: 2 April 2012, 4:57 PM

I have scans of hundreds of old maps - only some are on omaps. Auckland/Central (thanks to Craig Pearce) have also scanned all their old maps and sent me a copy). At some time in the future I plan to come out with a production version of omaps (it's really only beta with some (privacy) concerns from some clubs over allowing public access to old and/or more recent maps and how the data and maps could be used/abused). The site should contain all the scans and info I have on old maps. Over time I would then try to encourage other clubs to send to me (as Statistician of NZOF) a scaned copy or digital copy of all their maps which are not on the site or not in the NZOF archive. At some point after this I would like to approach the National Library and allow them to have a copy as well (they have many - obtained on an ad-hoc basis as they are the official government keeper of all published maps). I would also like to keep a copy of all Ocad files and versions which are used (published) for an event.

That's my view - and I may be able to help anyone with a manual request at the moment - but the online version will take some time (years) and I'm pretty busy with Oceania / World Cup at the moment so can't really pursue my pet project in anger for a while.

MT: Rolf Posted: 2 April 2012, 9:08 PM

Hawkes Bay keep low res copies of all historical club maps thanks to the phenomenal efforts of Dave Fisher. You can find it under the Resources/History section at

MT: Linley Posted: 9 April 2012, 10:28 PM

Have you seen the book: Map New Zealand; 100 Magnificent maps from the collection of the A. Turnbull Library (ISBN9781869621261)?. Have a look at page 204 for a 1986 Orienteering Map of Auckland Domain. Beautiful… and it must mean that at least one orienteering map has made it into that collection!

MT: Michael Posted: 1 June 2012, 11:06 AM

OCAD has announced the release of Version 11 on Monday. There are continuing advances which will be valuable to some users - best discussed in the other “Mapping” thread.

More generally, they have taken a partial step towards a “club licence”. There's a “starter version” with limited facilities (not quite sure how limiting they are yet) at E150 (approx NZD250) and a bundle of 5 for E560 (approx NZD930).

I'm not sure it goes far enough, but clubs should look at it to ensure compliance with licence terms. There may still be a need for federation and international action to get OCAD on lots more computers.

MT: superOman Posted: 1 June 2012, 9:06 PM

MT: Michael Posted: 6 June 2012, 1:57 PM

The starter version has pretty good functionality, perhaps the 10,000 maximum on the number of objects might be the biggest limitation. I like continuing line objects such as contours and my typical orienteering map is 5-10,000 objects, some are over. Some cartographers draw lines in lots of small segments, and colours in many small patches.

MT: Selwyn Posted: 7 June 2012, 6:08 PM

Linley, glad you discovered the old Domain map in the Turnbull Library Collection book. It was Robert Jessop who thought to supply the Library with maps. They did get permission from our club to publish it.

MT: The Map Guy Posted: 8 June 2012, 10:54 AM

That Auckland Domain map has been superbly reproduced - even enlarged a tad to fit on the page. What is even better that it was professionally hand drawn in the old traditional method (prior to OCAD)by Jack Maitland. Had to look at the road borderlines to see that it wasn't computer drawn. The map date of 1986 confirms it too.

There was a time that a copy of all printed documents (including maps)had to be deposited with the Alexander Turnball Library. Now that we laser copy maps I doubt anyone has supplied a copy to the AT Library in years - if they ever did it to start with.

MT: Michael Posted: 20 November 2012, 7:41 PM

I'm pleased to see that NZOF has agreed with my concern over the restrictions of OCAD licences. It has written to the IOF to seek wider support for an approach to OCAD. My goal - every orienteer able to prepare simple close to home maps.

MT: Keith Posted: 23 March 2014, 7:26 PM

Is it really needed to add things to OCAD, or will OCAD be superseded by OpenOrienteering?

IMHO OCAD has fallen behind in it's licencing and features. The fact that in this age it doesn't have a floating licence server is ridiculous. Each club should be able to buy say 1 or 2 licences, to be able to be used by any club member connected via the internet. Or to checkout a licence for a short period of time offline. This is how most (all?) commercial engineering packages work.

Also when OCAD got into wide usage (around OCAD 5/6 ~ late 90’s) it really was quite cutting edge. Although I don't own OCAD 11, i believe a lot of the feature development since OCAD is relatively incremental. If I compare OCAD 11 to a general CAD package (Catia in my field), it really is quite poor now.

I predict that in the next few years OCAD will die and be replaced by OpenOrienteering or a similar opensource pacakage. A tool written by users for users. This is happening in a number of fields.

In fact in Orienteering, Purple Pen is a great example of an open source Planning tool which for normal events IMHO is significantly superior to CONDES & OCAD.

MT: addison Posted: 24 March 2014, 6:02 PM

I think your comments Keith are really on the money. It is interesting that pretty much all clubs in NZ are currently sitting on a version of OCAD 9 due to the licencing drama.

Majority of clubs do use OCAD for course setting. I know Hawke's Bay uses Condes - what do the other larger clubs use?

MT: Michael Posted: 30 August 2014, 1:13 PM

Sad to read that NZ Aerial Mapping is in liquidation. It has been a pioneer in aerial imagery and I would guess in LIDAR surveying too. I trust that the crown imagery library that it holds is protected. It may still be needed for areas outside LIDAR coverage.

MT: Michael Posted: 9 September 2014, 11:45 AM

Writing things down is a help to refining ideas. I reserve the right to change my mind!

Some mappers are grappling with “the scale/detail problem”. We want to put more stuff in but the IOF insists that the “gold standard” is the 1:15,000 map. (1:10,000 is just a 150% enlargement so you don't get any more room for details.) The draft revision of the mapping speci confirms this approach - no more detail. We have to be even more careful because digital printing isn't as crisp as offset.

Now it seems that orienteers actually LIKE detail, and clubs seek out ever more detailed terrain. When they advertise events, clubs make a big thing of how intricate the terrain is. No-one ever uses words like “soft undulations with very few features”. We look for rocks, sand dunes, erosion. Then we find a lot of stuff that is just under the minimum sizes and there is pressure to fit it on the map. So we use under-size dots, and thinner lines (just a few!) And then some people find it hard to read. And they say “why not just increase the scale, orienteering shouldn't be about vision.”

And that is what has happened over the 100 years of orienteering. The Routegadget guy has a nice little graph on his Facebook page at

But the IOF Mapping Commission is standing its ground. 1:15,000 it says.

I think this is not so much about mapping styles as orienteering styles. There is a certain beauty about navigating across vague terrain, and finding yourself on the other side. The IOF defines this as the LONG DISTANCE course style. And mapping for this may hold us back from doing the best job of intricate terrain.

Well why don't we (as a country) just abandon the long distance. The IOF has actually made it quite hard for us and other B nations to get runners into the long distance world champs. Why don't we just concentrate on the middle (and sprint) distance styles, both in our events and our competitive focus. We would continue to seek out detailed areas (hard to stop a 100-year trend anyway) and adopt a mapping specification that suits it: say 1:10,000 without symbol enlargement. Maybe even larger.

Notice I said middle STYLE. Nothing wrong with a 90-minute course in the middle distance style, with electronic punching and butterfly loops the problems of the map being too large have gone away.

And those who enjoy the long distance navigation style can always go rogaining. Where there is a gradual move from off-the-shelf topo maps, to corrections, to specific rogaine maps, to increasing the scale and …

MT: Michael Posted: 31 March 2015, 1:32 PM

I can't remember the kiwi ever being so strong against the euro. Could be a good time to buy/upgrade OCAD. By my calcs OCAD Std would be $710, OCAD Starter $220. Ken Dowling the Australasian agent may even be able to do better. (PS I have no business connection with Ken and think that in the long run OOM might win out. But there are still some obstacles.)

MT: addison Posted: 19 September 2015, 1:56 PM


What is the best arrangement for clubs these days with OCAD? Many still sit on OCAD 9 for multi user purposes.

What about for an individual?

MT: Michael Posted: 21 September 2015, 3:06 PM

The only thing I can say in a public forum is that the OCAD licence is individual one. The NZ and International federations seem to have made no progress in seeking a better arrangement for clubs.

An OCAD 11 licence is about $950 at current exchange rates. There's a starter edition at $300 which would be fine for starting, but it has some restrictions. It can't import a GPX file for example.

I don't think we'll make progress until Open Orienteering Mapper fixes some issues to do with the real-world links. Which might have happened, have you got anything to add, Fraser?

MT: fraser Posted: 21 September 2015, 9:09 PM

I believe the issue you are referring to Michael is “Opening and aligning .ocd maps”. The project has now moved to github and the bug report is here

This is scheduled to be fixed in version 0.6.1, no date set for that, but v0.6.0 is due by end of October.

Shouldn't be any problems if you are starting a new mapping project with OpenOrienteering though.

MT: Michael Posted: 30 October 2015, 11:33 AM

OCAD version 12 is now available. Price is about NZ890, or NZ740 to upgrade from v10, or NZ580 to upgrade from v11. There may be advantages from ordering thru Ken in Australia, will probably depend on the vagaries of the exchange rates. Checking now.

MT: mcroxford Posted: 30 October 2015, 2:50 PM

And still an individual licence rather than a club one?

MT: Michael Posted: 30 October 2015, 4:25 PM

Yes, organisational licence only available for academic bodies. Ken says his price is no more than the listed OCAD price, and you can pay by NZ bank xfr. But he hints that a maintenance fee is in the wind, he doesn't have details yet.

MT: Michael Posted: 13 December 2015, 12:37 PM

There's a final draft of a revision of the international mapping specification ISOM, out for comment. (See mapping thread.) ONZ has referred it to the Mapping Committee, but I think there are some issues that affect how we run the sport of middle to long distance orienteering. The following are not solely “mapping” matters since mappers can do whatever you want in the following areas: declaring a number of features “not to be crossed”, the number of greens that we represent runnability with; larger control circles on 1:10,000 maps; and of course the elephant in the room is the widespread use and enjoyment of detailed terrains that cannot be mapped at 1:15,000. They deserve wider debate than just by mappers.

MT: Rolf Posted: 19 March 2017, 4:36 PM

I am interested to know what clubs are using for mapping software and how you manage this within the club. Do you purchase a few (how many?) OCAD licenses and only give this to the mapping enthusiasts?

What do you do when someone else wants to have a go at mapping? Do you tell them to bugger off? Or do you skillfully manage licenses all over town?

If you are still using OCAD, they why havn't you moved to Open Orienteering Mapper? Its free and there are no license issues?

MT: pete s Posted: 24 March 2017, 9:19 AM

am also keen to know how other clubs are managing this. Our club is still using OCAD 9, but with OCAD no longer supporting this (cant save into version 9 from 12), then we have a major decision to make about map software. At over $800 a pop for each single licence user that is a big investment for clubs with 5 plus regular OCAD users. V keen to know what other clubs are doing…cheers

MT: comatose Posted: 24 March 2017, 6:11 PM

Hey Pete, you can save version 9 from 12, but not any earlier. So this is likely to disappear with the next release too I suspect. For less complex mapping there is the Starter option ~$250, and the course-setting only option ~$70 if you buy bulk copies. But still pretty expensive to buy for part-time use.

AOC relies on 9 for club course setting projects, but most people who want to actually make or modify maps have private copies of 11 or 12. I found Starter too limiting for even modifications of large forest maps.

I agree the licensing is making OCAD less attractive for club purposes, and I'm keen to explore other options like OOM too, especially to get Juniors involved in the process too.

MT: Paul I Posted: 24 March 2017, 8:18 PM

My suggestion would be for the club to own one ocad for the mapping and map updating, and then for course setting use the free to download and user friendly purple pen for course setting. Controllers and planners using ppen can easily share their course ideas via email. Once you have a 'map file'(ocad or OOM) you import for the ppen course setting. The map file can be updated and changed as you work and you just open the newer updated map file. Very easy. All control description creating and placing is simple as is the creation of final pdf's for printing etc etc. The course setting experience using Purple pen is a very visual experience compared to ocad CS. Give it a try!

MT: comatose Posted: 24 March 2017, 11:33 PM

Yes, PP is great for course setting. But it's not a solution for encouraging mapping within the club. For clubs to build technical capability and encourage members to give mapping a go, what is the best solution? I've found OCAD 12 great, but it's expensive and with “single user” licenses, it is difficult for clubs to distribute copies around multiple users. The Starter version is pretty limiting. However, maps are integral to our sport, and good mapping software is as important as other technical gear. I found mapping in 12 is a much better experience than in 9, and it would be great for this software to be more widely available to club members who would like to have a go at mapping, without them having to outlay $$$ personally. This affects every club in the country, so maybe it's a topic to discuss at the national level. Would there be merit in looking at coordinating a large multi-club order to try to negotiate a bulk discount?

MT: Svend Posted: 25 March 2017, 2:49 PM

A few years ago SOC bought two OCAD 11 licenses and we would be happy to buy any number of new OCAD 12 licenses if only we could get someone to use them. An OCAD 12 license is less than $ NZ 1000.00, a small amount compared with the total cost of a new map. I have started to teach 2 club members how to map but it is a slow process as the people concerned have a full-time job. Our members who retire always move to another part of the country rather than making themselves useful to the club. Our course planners use PP and I can endorse everything Paul Ireland says on the subject.

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