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Feature Request: Print Large (Plotter Size) Maps of Ward
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:20 am
Currently the map function can print an 11"x17" page as it's largest area. I am trying to print that can be used by the missionaries in our ward. They wanted one poster sized. I have come up with creative, but time consuming ways of doing this for them.
It would be great if the printing function would recognize the larger paper sizes I have on my computer (30x40 for example). Also to have the map be able to be zoomed in to a point that the names of the streets can be read (our ward is rather large geographically, so the map on the 11x17 only labels major roads).
Printing a large map to PDF would be very handy and I can take the rest from there.
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:22 am
In our ward I use a commercial application, DeLorme Street Atlas USA Plus, to do this for our missionaries. I import geocoded lists of households as CSVs, as well as the ward boundary file converted into DeLorme's simple format. It's not too difficult to cut and paste the boundary coordinates from a KML file after editing them in a text editor and spreadsheet.
The DeLorme product is a little quirky to learn, and there is always some trial-and-error zooming, framing and formatting the map for printing, but it does the job. The software atlas is not very expensive, although one might need to buy updated editions every couple of years to keep up with new street development.
I output a PDF file of our large ward formatted for a large wall map (36" X 48"). Separately, I print a paginated PDF version, three-hole-punched for the missionaries' area books. Both maps have all household names printed alongside pinpoint markers, but the reader might have to squint to read them. The DeLorme application is able to handle multiple households at the same location, printing the names around a single marker.
One added feature that is very popular with our missionaries is to color-code the household names to distinguish the more active families from the rest (red type vs blue). For this, I crunch the export files from MLS to indentify households where at least one member serves in some calling or as a home- or visiting-teacher. It is not a perfect indicator of "active" and is not labeled as such, but it is a useful proxy. Then I import these two sets of households as CSVs into the DeLorme application to be color coded separately.
It would certainly be nice to do all this online, but I suspect that such a feature would be far in the future.
BTW, any printed map will grow obsolete. And unless you are blessed with free access to a large-scale plotter, it can become expensive to reprint updated wall maps frequently. I found a local architectural blueprint shop that prints a 36" X 48" map on plain white rolled stock for about $30. (They charge by the square foot.) That is much cheaper than I was quoted by some of the big-name office printing outlets.
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:59 pm
When did you try printing last? We have added new size options that include 34 X 44 in and 36 X 36 in as well as a custom page size feature.
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:41 pm
erinbourgeous wrote:When did you try printing last? We have added new size options that include 34 X 44 in and 36 X 36 in as well as a custom page size feature.
Thanks for that! I have been trying this feature in the beta since your comment, and I think it will be really cool when it is perfected.
The good news from my testing (Firefox 10.0.2, Windows 7, Cute PDF installed as printer) is that I could print something
to a PDF file that was 34 X 44. But I found that I was unable to navigate to print the map I need: Large-scale, title & map only (no directory), household name tags only, showing all 550 families in my geographically large ward.
In other words, I basically want to print a big map with all the names plotted on it. That means that I need to be logically zoomed in to a deep enough level that all the name tags are expanded from the automatic clustering, while logically zoomed out to the right scale and panned to frame my whole ward boundary. My biggest frustration is that while in the Printer Friendly view, I have practically no navigation controls at all, whether or not I have selected Fit to Screen mode to see the big picture. I can pan the slippy map with the cursor, and zoom in by double-tapping it, but then I am trapped and can never zoom out again. I have to start over completely, and so far I have never come close to success.
EDIT: Also it would be nice, having picked the map print size, to automatically center the unit boundary within that frame, and even automatically optimize the zoom level of the base map tiles for large-print formats that can accommodate more detailed map tiles stitched together. But the user still needs the ability to adjust that zoom level manually from a control within the Print Friendly view.
Although I have not succeeded in getting my whole ward with name labels printed on such a map, I am concerned that the heavy style of the markers (rather than just pinpoint icons and text type with a transparent background) would render such a whole-ward map too busy to be useful even on a plotter. That problem would be mitigated with a smaller ward roster than ours, of course.
EDIT: Tried testing again on a Vista machine, Firefox 10.0.2, using Adobe Distiller as PDF printer. I had some limited success in framing all or part of the ward in a large-format (34 X 44 or 36 X 48). But within the Printer-Friendly view I am still unable to get all the multi-family markers to expand to show all the names. Mysteriously a few of them do list multiple names. (This might be behavior that differs between explicit Groups and the dynamic multifamily clusters created by the beta maps application.)
When I do get all or part of the ward framed in this large-format Printer Friendly view, and then print to Adobe, the Google base map tiles all print fine but all the name markers I see on the Printer Friendly screen are missing. This behavior does not occur when I just print a small piece of the ward to Adobe as 8.5 X 11.
Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:41 am
I also have found no way to navigate so that I can get our geographically large ward in a single frame for an ANSI E (44 x 34) plotter sized print.
The automatic clustering is frustrating, but I would be willing to hand write in names for households where the automatically clustering occurs if necessary.
I tried both Safari and Chrome on OSX 10.7.3. I am zoomed out to such a degree that our ward is very small in the western part of our state. I can click on the ward and it zooms to a point that I can't get the entire ward on the single print out.
There is a lot of promise on this new map application.
I can provide screen shots if necessary to show what I have run into if there is any interest.
Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:40 am
sharicarnahan wrote:I also have found no way to navigate so that I can get our geographically large ward in a single frame for an ANSI E (44 x 34) plotter sized print.
Out of curiosity, what is the geographic size of your ward? Mine is irregularly shaped, and the rectangle that encloses it is about 16 miles N-S by 12 miles E-W. There obviously are some logic problems in the user interface of maps.lds.org when trying to print the household names layer and the base maps when wards get as large as ours.
Even beyond those flaws, at some point a unit can become so large that there are inherent problems scaling any map to fit and still show enough street detail to be readable. (Imagine the extreme case of a ward as big as the United States.) Further, the map layers generated by Google and Microsoft Bing are not optimized for this large-format printing. Their zoom levels are not continuously variable, but double the scale with each click. These base maps are stitched together from many raster graphic tiles prerendered with different detail at discrete levels.
I have found experimenting with other software that the online map tiles served from Bing, which look great when zoomed-in onscreen, can
be rendered into a single 36 X 48 PDF file fitting our ward. The legibility of the street names is acceptable -- but barely. The subjective quality of the cartography is just not as crisp when printed as that of the DeLorme desktop application I mentioned above. A further advantage of the DeLorme software atlas is that it has 8 times as many increments of map-tile scaling as the online map services do, so that setting can be fine tuned. In addition, once this "data zoom" level is selected, the final print magnification can be adjusted independently for framing the final printout. So while these tuning features take a little practice -- and the DeLorme user interface can be frustrating -- I can produce a map scaled optimally for printing in my desired scale.
Also, the DeLorme application is pretty good at placing multiple household-name labels around a single point automatically, and printing them as lightweight text with transparent background. The bottom line is that I am able to print 550 full
household names layered onto an expanded 36 X 48 map. Since our ward is numerically huge, I should think most others would fit under these limits easily.
So while I hope the maps.lds.org printing function benefits from as much perfection as it can get, so more units can use the online tool, for my purposes I plan to stick with the offline solution. It is not free, but it is inexpensive.
Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:51 pm
Our ward is roughly shaped like Oklahoma and about 15 miles (E-W) x 8 (N-S) miles with a panhandle that sticks into another stake. There is a large part of our ward that is forest land so doesn't need to be mapped. In the two stakes that we have bounced between we have always been the largest ward geographically.
I now have access to a plotter to print 44 x 34 maps as I need. If we end up with a bit more control on the printing aspect of this beta, I am sure that it will suffice for most of the needs in the ward, even if I need to hand write in names where the clusters occur. Because of the size of our ward I do notice clusters that are actually NOT the same household (the people live across the street or down the road, but the size of our ward they cluster into a group dot thing). So the clustering is actually a detriment on our ward map. I believe we have only 1 apartment complex in our ward boundaries. Half our ward is property 5 acres and larger the other half is single family dwellings with 10 feet or so between the houses. We have a few condo or townhouse places. This just makes the clustering less than helpful, in my opinion. I wish I could adjust the resolution on that independent of the map.
I may take a look at the DeLorme product, it sounds like it would allow me some additional flexibility for other mapping needs.
Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:49 pm
Our ward is roughly shaped like Oklahoma and about 15 miles (E-W) x 8 (N-S) miles with a panhandle that sticks into another stake.
That sounds like it should be feasible to print a map with sufficient detail.
Because of the size of our ward I do notice clusters that are actually NOT the same household (the people live across the street or down the road, but the size of our ward they cluster into a group dot thing). So the clustering is actually a detriment on our ward map.
If you export the geocoded records from maps.lds.org as a CSV file for processing in an external application, that dynamic clustering
households you see in the online output would not show up in the data. "Groups" that have been formed expressly, such as multiple families geocoded at the same apartment complex, have exactly
the same lat/lon values and are coded with a group name. But those group names are in separate columns that can be ignored. (Each household would have a lat/lon in the CSV file; the few that are in groups would just have the same lat/lon values.) Your external tool would need to handle labels for multiple households at or near the same lat/lon point on the map. I am satisfied with how the DeLorme application does that.
I may take a look at the DeLorme product, it sounds like it would allow me some additional flexibility for other mapping needs.
The only thing I use the DeLorme product for is the specific task you posited at the outset: large-format printouts for the full-time missionaries. They have a unique need for hardcopy because they mostly live in an alternate universe without computers. For most other mapping purposes, I think, electronic platforms are probably better. I do print some very complex but small-format custom maps monthly for fast offering routes, but the DeLorme product is completely unsuitable for that task because it has no programming interface. I use database tools, Google maps and custom scripts to produce that.
Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:09 am
I recently found a very useful commercial product which I think may be useful to sharicarnahan and other interested followers of this thread. Its called pdf995. You can google it. They have a free adware-supported version, and you can also buy a key at a very inexpensive price to eliminate the ads. You get your printer-friendly map set up on the church's beta map website, select print to custom page size, specify your desired page size, then select pdf995 as the destination printer, select printer properties -> custom page size, and give it the same size as you specified earlier, and just print. I was able to produce a pdf file for a 60.25 in. wide by 49.25 in. high map, and it came out fine. You can take the file to a commercial printer or an architectural services place with a plotter. Even if you don't need / want to create a hard copy printed output, I have found the file itself to be very useful. If you zoom in on the printer-friendly map to where the street names and residence name tags are clearly visible, then when you open the created pdf file afterwards, you can use Adobe Reader's zoom in / out feature to see your ward map at various levels of detail. When you have it at 100%, you can pan around on the map using the vertical and horizontal scroll bars, which I personally have found to be easier than dragging the slippy map around with the cursor. BTW - regarding getting the name tags on the printer friendly map -- I have found that you can get this by clicking on 'Display Options' and making sure that the "name tags (Map only) option is selected.
Then, you still won't see them unless you zoom in on the map to something a little less than 500 feet per inch or so.
Also, once you have created the pdf file, its a little more convenient to open up than going to the beta website, signing in,
selecting 'printer friendly map', zooming in, etc. Depending on the geographical size of your ward, you can also try som of the other common map sizes supported by the church website. Just select the same size on the website print options and the pdf995 print options. pdf995 map also be helpful with some of the other map creation management options mentioned here by others. Haven't tried any of those personally, so I can't say for sure. Hope this helps some people. Thanks.
Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:03 am
dennisn wrote:I recently found a very useful commercial product which I think may be useful to sharicarnahan and other interested followers of this thread. Its called pdf995.
You get your printer-friendly map set up on the church's beta map website, select print to custom page size, specify your desired page size, then select pdf995 as the destination printer, select printer properties -> custom page size, and give it the same size as you specified earlier, and just print.
I would note that there is nothing special about pdf995 in this regard. You can do the same thing with CutePDF or PDFCreator, or I would guess just about any PDF printer. As far as I know, they all have a way to set a custom paper size. I just did it with CutePDF (which is the standard PDF printer driver for clerk computers) and it worked just fine.