Control description symbols | Logos | Descriptions on map | Re-arranging Colour Layers | Importing DXF files

Control Description Symbols

The standard set of control-planning symbols that comes with OCAD 8 doesn't include all of our favourites. If you are the designated planner for an event and you've installed the BF copy of OCAD, only to find something missing then you'll have to add it to the symbol set (eek !).

Concentrate. It is possible to import a replacment set of symbols from another OCAD file. Maybe we'll eventually put such a file here. But for now, you are up a creek and these instructions are your paddle. To avoid going too far wrong, create a copy of the course-planning file and save it somewhere safe.

Open the course-planning file. Look at the available symbols and pick one that is very similar to what you want. For instance, if you wanted to add a symbol for between a boulder and a crag, then select the existing symbol for between a boulder and a cliff (319.1). Right click on the symbol and select Duplicate from the pop-up menu. Magic - you've created a new symbol which you can use in your control descriptions.

So far, so good - now you need to customise the new symbol to meet your needs. Right-click on your new symbol and select Edit... from the pop-up menu. Change the text in the Description field to reflect your new description. For example, in the case above, we'd change this to be "Boulder and Crag". Next, click on the Icon... button and alter the icon to reflect what the new symbol will look like. Click OK when you have done this. Finally, click on the Edit... button and fix up the copied symbol to depict your new symbol. Click on Apply then Close when you've finished. OCAD may go a bit funky at this point - save the file and re-open it if all else fails. Don't be afraid that you might break something - you did back the file up first didn't you ? Once you've completed this, our work here is done.


If you want the Big Foot or MTBO logos used on our maps to include on an event flyer, you can grab them from here. The foot logo is also available as an OCAD file on map-archive - http://www.bigfootorienteers.com/drupal/map-archive.

Foot logo


MTBO logo

Descriptions on map

If you've used OCAD to set the courses using the course-setting features then you may as well go the extra inch and print the descriptions on the map, rather than having to deal with a hundred pieces of small paper that have to be kept in sync with the said map. Here is a quick look at how to do it.

While editing the course-setting OCAD file, place a control description object on the map where you want the descriptions to be. On the symbol palette its usually the symbol just after the drinking cup. Now when you preview a course, you will see that the descriptions are plonked on the map. Its about that easy. You may find that if the underlying map area wasn't blank, then it rears its non-transparent head through the descriptions. To fix this, read on.

To make the background behind the on-map control descriptions blank, you need to have the couse-setting ocad file open. Select the symbol "Background Control Description", normally the last pink symbol in the palette. aving selected it, pick one of the drawing tools back on the left hand side something like "Rectangular Mode" is probably appropriate. Now draw a rectangle. When you do a preview, the rectangle should be blank (except for the descriptions above it). If you haven't used OCAD for any mapping this may be a bit fiddly, but persist, its worth it.

Once you have the hang of doing this, you can get real fancy and put both English and IOF graphical descriptions on the same map.

Re-arranging Colour Layers

Right, it seems that some people forget how this is done each year. You know who you are.

To re-order the colours (e.g. so that black is printed above or below a specific colour), use the Symbol menu in OCAD and select Colours..., or Colors... if you have the dodgy North American OCAD. You can now re-order colours to your hearts content. If you really, really get stuck doing something fancy, remember that you can just add another colour for your fancy doo-dah and order it where you like. It doesn't matter if its the same real colour as an existing colour.

Importing DXF files

These notes are intended to accompany an article about producing MTBO maps from DXF files. I hope they make a bit of sense standalone. Anyway, lets assume that you have taken delivery of some DXF data and you want to get it into OCAD. If you have more than one file, its probably a good idea to process them one at a time up to the point where you got have them in OCAD form with the area you aren't interested in omitted.

When you import a DXF file into OCAD, you can get OCAD to translate the layers in the DXF file into OCAD symbols. The alternative is to import all of the data as a kind of neutral symbol and then assign symbols to it manually. This is very tedious - the automated approach is great for giving quick results, even if you have to alter most of the symbols later.


To get OCAD to translate the DXF file into OCAD, you must provide it with a file which provides a mapping between the DXF layer name and an OCAD symbol number. These files have a suffix of ".crt" and their content is a list of space separated pairs, each one of which is an OCAD symbol number followed by a layer name. For example:

:          :
518 TT
816 TTOU0
:          :


To extract the layer names from the DXF file, you can write a script or program. The DXF format is widely documented. If you can't be bothered doing that, you can download a quick-and-dirty program Andy wrote to do the job from here - no warranty or quality provided (it will work your PC quite hard when you specify the DXF file). This program will sort the layer names and eliminate duplicates.

Now, lets assume that you have a list of all the layers. You now have to assign OCAD symbol numbers to them. A quick way of doing that is to use a spreadsheet program. Load the file of layer names into a spreadsheet (or just paste it from Notepad or something). In an adjacent column, enter the symbol numbers - just like the example above.

A neat trick that you can pull at this point in time is to add index contours. If you have a DXF file with individually labelled contour layers, then (if you have them sorted), when you assign contour symbols, just make every 5th one an index contour. For example:


 :   :
101 120
101 130
101 140
102 150
101 160
101 170
101 180
101 190
102 200
101 210
101 220
 :   :


Having set up your table in the spreadsheet, you need to export it back into a text file (with a .crt suffix). If your spreadsheet program won't Save As.. a space separated file, just create an extra column with the two pieces of data in, space-separated, and paste this into a text file (you can use Notepad here, in Windows). For Excel users, something like =CONCATENATE(A1," ", B1) should work.

Import the file into OCAD using the CRT file you have created. Be amazed at the result. Copy the area you actually need into a new OCAD file and save both files.

Repeat these steps with each DXF file. Use a sensible naming convention for all the files you are creating.

Merge/overlay the mini-maps you have created to produce your masterpiece. Save the map after each merge step with a different name, as this is a bit fiddly and you may not realise you've messed up until later. At this point in time, a visit to the area often reveals that you have produced a base map rather than a masterpiece. This is a lose-lose situation - if you don't actually visit the area, you'll think that your work is done, but will be sadly embarassed come the first event on the map. If you do visit the area you may be disheartened by how much work there is still to do... like orienting the map to magnetic North.