CARTOGRAPHY Henri Saijos, Aug 11th, 2014

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Labeling is one of the most difficult task in modern cartographic production. Still today, most of the complex labels in many special maps are constructed manually using a various graphic techniques and elements. Those elements are not tied to a real GIS data or attributes and thus, a maintainability and automation support is very low. In this article we are introducing a simple and efficient way to visualize complex label elements using a new multivalue element type provided by Mapnor Cartographer ArcGIS Extension.

Multivalue Label

Multivalue Label Element is the most advanced label element type in Mapnor Cartographer. It is constructed using unlimited number of separate sub label elements, which are tied up, aligned and decorated together. Sub elements can be added, deleted or re-ordered. Each sub-element location and other properties can be adjusted to construct exactly the required entirety. Like other label elements, each sub-element can contain a value from a true underlying data. Also expression is supported so the visibility of each sub-element can be controlled using a true data values.

To create our example label: Aeronautical VOR label with 6 sub-elements, first thing to do is to add six sub elements and set the basic properties like names, fonts and colors.

Adding six subs and setting a basic properties.

Placement and Other Sub Properties

Sub Element locations are set using a General Tab Placement settings. Offsets are controlling how the active sub is located within the previous sub. On the other hand, End Line property will allow us to keep subs located in same row.

Setting properties for each sub: General, Style and Content.

To set basic properties for a sub is simple. Just select the correct values and set applicable values. The most important setting is a sub content. Normally the content is extracted from selected data field, but it can be get from domain or even an alternative domain as well. The value can be also modified using a format option.

Using Custom Styles will allow us to set even more complex subs to our element. In our example we need to add sub, which is indicating a VOR identifier using a morse code. To create this sub we are using a morse code font with a vertical custom sub style. By setting sub offset and sub character (vertical) spacing we can place the vertical morse sub to exact location in our element.

Element Decoration

The whole multilabel element can be decorated using a pre-defined styles like boxes or brackets. The decoration boundary can be specified using each sub element setting: Part of the element boundary. By setting this property off, we can exclude the active sub from the boundary. In our VOR label example we are dropping first and last sub out the the common decoration box to get the desired result. On the other hand we are adding a sub element hook decoration to our last sub to create a proper FSS Voice Communication element.

Decoration Examples: Transparent Box, Curly Brackets and Square Brackets


Like all other element types, our multilabel can be a part of the advanced masking supported by Mapnor Cartographer. In our example we are adding our element to a Mask 1 specified in our map. This same mask we are then using to mask our host feature: Aeronautical VOR Rose as well as feature geometries from other layers.

Specifying the element mask and mask properties

To set mask, we can use options single or separated extent: With single extent the whole decoration box area is masked. With separated extent, only the specified element extents are masked. In our example we are using separated mask setting to mask only the sub extents with no buffer. In this way the host feature is interfered as little as possible but the result is still readable and cartographically acceptable.


Using a Mapnor Cartographer Custom elements we can easily create a very complex but still dynamic and editable elements to our maps. The whole content of the element is based on true data so the same element in other feature will automatically show the right values. If our data is updated we don't have to do anything. Just check that the cartographic properties like element locations are acceptable even with a changed data.

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