In the stylesheets the rest of the CartoDesign team and I create at OS, we have offered a default style for more than you might think. Just because countours and boundaries are not shown by default doesn’t necessarily mean that we haven’t done the hard work of styling them for you! Read on to find out more…
Making full use of OS stylesheets
A stylesheet is simply a set of instructions to visualise or style data, often automatically.
There has been a lot of buzz around OS of late with some new styles we have created for digital products, i.e. our web and mobile apps and services. A consumer-friendly yet practical appearance, we are very happy with these styles. The first public release of these can be seen on OS Maps.
But in this post I want to reiterate that we haven’t forgotten or abandoned the existing ‘full colour’ and ‘backdrop’ styles which we provide as stylesheets for our vector products, with the most explicit use occurring in our OS VectorMap and OS OpenMap contextual map products.
Moreover, I wish to demonstrate their importance and share how you can make better use of them.
Over the past decade we have witnessed a huge increase in the use of geographic or location-based data being displayed over maps. Many of the maps that one sees on the internet or on phone and tablet applications – everything from push-pins to heat maps to third party cartographic datasets – fall into this contextual category.
As cartographic designers and developers, we are all trying to find a better way of visualising these overlays, but we believe that in many instances the larger proportion of blame lies with an inappropriate base map.
For increased consistency across our contextual product range, we developed a consistent map style to cover the whole scale range of our products. To provide for as many of our customer needs as possible we decided to create two versions.
The full colour style is intended to be a complete map that works across all screen types and digital printers to provide context to geographic information. The backdrop style is intended to provide a base map for customers who wish to overlay their own geographic data onto the map.
Both styles offer customers map hierarchy without using prime or pure colours, so even the full colour style will facilitate the addition of logos. Additionally the colour palette of the backdrop style offers a better context than practices such as converting raster to greyscale or applying a transparency. The two colour palettes have been crafted by assigning colours to each feature, calculating their relative brightness and then repositioning each feature to the desired level within a hierarchy.
Yet the stylesheets don’t have to look like the above. For a road atlas for example you may wish to combine the full colour roads style with the backdrop style of other features. This will highlight the roads as the focal point of your map.
Note that we have also been selective in what ‘other features’ are shown. Any unnecessary layers can simply be turned off in a GIS. In many of our stylesheets you will see layers or labels that are switched off by default. However in many such instances these ‘missing’ features have a ‘hidden’ style that the customers can ‘turn on’, we have provided a style that just needs to be activated.
The simplest example is where additional layers are pre-styled and can be turned on if required: For example Heritage Site and Public Amenity in OS VectorMap District.
Another example is where a pre-styled feature type within a layer has been effectively turned off: For example boundary lines in OS VectorMap Local.
To activate these double click on the feature required in the Layers or Table of Contents panel. Navigate to the style tab and double click on the apparently unsymbolised feature. Click on Color and change the Opacity to 100%. You will see the feature is now symbolised, so OK all the windows.
If we wanted to show all boundaries then repeat this for all the boundary features. You will find other ‘hidden’ styled features such as contours.
In OS VectorMap Local, we have extended this to an alternative road style – on the basis that some customers prefer to use the road centrelines rather than ‘general road text’ for road labelling.
To change to the other road labelling style firstly we need to turn off the general road text. To do this, double click on Text in the Layers or Table of Contents panel to bring up the Layer Properties window. In QGIS, go to the General tab and under Feature subset there is a button called Query Builder. Click on this and enter the following expression: “featureCode” <> 15701. OK both boxes.
Next we can turn on the road centreline labelling. To do this, double click on RoadCLine in the Layers of Table of Contents panel to bring up the Layer Properties window. In QGIS, go to the Labels tab and check (cross) the box ‘Label this layer with’.
You will see the feature is now labelled, so OK all the windows.