Draw stairs

In this article we present different ways of drawing stairs in OCAD and what to look out for.

If stairs are drawn too small or too narrow, this greatly impairs legibility and the staircase can easily be mistaken for an impassable object (especially if the print quality of the circles is poor).

How is the stairway symbol defined?

Steps of a stairway shall be represented in a generalized manner. Contour lines shall be cut out for better legibility, if they touch stairways.

This means that when you are drawing stairs you should make sure that…

  • (1) treads are not drawn with too little spacing (min. 0.4mm)
  • (2) contour lines are cut out
  • (3) stairs are not drawn too narrow (min. 0.4mm)
  • (4) more than 2 steps are drawn (min. 3)

By the way: In addition to the symbol definition, the IOF O Map Wiki also contains images with correct and incorrect examples.

Draw steps individually or use stairway symbol

There are basically two ways to draw steps:

  • Use the symbol Step or edge of paved area (symbol 501.100) to draw steps individually
  • Use the symbol Stairway (symbol 532.00) to use a predefined stair width.

Use stairway symbol

The stairway symbol is suitable for straight staircases. The minimum width and tread width comply with the IOF specifications. The stair filling (colour. 44 Brown 30% – stairs) covers the contour lines, so no cutting of contour lines is needed.
Problems arise with curved staircases (2) or staircases with varying widths. Often the predefined width does not fit and leads, for example, to thick edges (3). In such a case, the predefined stair symbols can be duplicated and the width changed afterwards. The whole width of the staircase should be visible and if not, building, walls, etc., should be reduced in size (4).
When drawing, it is also important to note that the beginning and end of the stairs (1) must be examined and edited if necessary.

Draw steps individually

You get the most flexibility when you draw steps individually. For that, you can use the symbol Step or edge of paved area (symbol 501.100).

  • With the Stairway mode you can easily specify length, width and now also the tread depth (step distance). This is displayed at the bottom left of the status bar.
  • Individual steps can be copied (Ctrl + C), pasted (Ctrl + V) and moved to the correct position with the mouse or arrow key.
  • With Move Parallel and simultaneously pressed Ctrl + Shift key, stairs or line objects can be moved in parallel and duplicated at the same time.
  • To cut contour lines, use the Cut icon. A virtual gap can be inserted by holding down the Ctrl key.

Compare two OCAD files

This blog post is about how to compare 2 versions of an OCAD file.

What are possible ways to find out what has changed at object level between two versions of a file?

#01: Select by Date

You can select objects by their Creation date or Modification date in the menu Select > Select by date.

You will get a list of all objects which have been created or modified during a specified period of time.

  • It’s possible to sort the values in the list by double clicking on the top row.
  • Click on a object in the list to move the view to the corresponding object.
  • You can save this selection, reload it and loop through it with the Find Selected Objects icon.

#02: Load as background map

Another method is a visual inspection by loading one map as a background map.

  • Open one version, e.g. Bürenflue_V01.
  • Go to menu Background Map > Open.
  • Open the other version as background map, e.g. Bürenflue_V02.
  • Go to menu View, set the Draft Mode and adjust the transparency for the map and the background map with the slider.

#03 Tile window

You can also open both files and tile the window vertically for visual inspection.

Create Digital Elevation Models in OCAD

To use the OCAD Route Analyzer 2.0, course setters need a current map as well as a Digital Elevation Model (DEM).

This is loaded into the map or course setting file and ensures that the climbing and slope gradient are included in the route calculation. The DEM is typically created by the cartographer and has traditionally required a lot of memory.

The DEM can now be optimized and compressed without loss of quality for route calculation. This significantly reduces the file size of the DEM and makes it easier to share. The optimized elevation model can also be embedded directly into the map or course setting file, as is already possible with layout images.

How to create an optimized DEM (Video)

More information (Wiki)

Scale during mapping on mobile devices

On mobile devices, you can zoom in and out at will. Zooming in is appreciated by the map makers as it allows more precise drawing and sketching and more accurate display of the background map.

However, by zooming in and out, map makers are not working at a fixed scale and so the sense of distance within the map is lost. This was easier when mapping with pen and paper where the scale was fixed.

A few things can be done to improve the feeling for the scale on a mobile device:

Working with the OCAD Sketch App

  • Make use of the scale bar that has been added in the latest update of the app. The scale bar can be turned on or off in the settings.
  • Adjust the distance between the north lines. You can do so in the settings.
    E.g., set it to 1mm in a project with a 1:10’000. This gives you every 10 meters a line. In a 1:4’000 project, use 2.5mm to get a line every 10 meters.
  • Know the different line widths. It is advantageous to know the line widths and to sketch objects accordingly. E.g., an impassable wall on a sprint map with a line width of 0.4mm and contour lines with a line width of 0.21mm.

Working on a Windows Tablet

  • In OCAD Desktop, it is also possible to check directly during drawing whether the drawn line or area object corresponds to the minimum dimension of the IOF, as we explain in this blog post.


OCAD Route Analyzer 2.0 Released

The OCAD Route Analyzer 2.0 has been released as a beta version.

Thanks to the consideration of runnability and relief, the Route Analyzer 2.0 can find the fastest routes between two controls in urban as well as in classic forest terrain.

The fastest calculated routes (blue) and alternatives (red).

The previous version of the Route Analyzer is limited to 2D sprint maps, because it assumes a constant speed and only distinguishes between passable and impassable map objects. The shortest route is displayed as the result.

Comparison between the old and the new version of the Route Analyzer. The left route option is shorter, but has more meters to climb than the right option.

Consideration of runnability and relief

To find the fastest route, the Route Analyzer takes into account the distance, the relief and the runnability.

Therefore, resistance values are assigned to the individual map symbols. These are based on assumptions and can be changed in the settings. It is well known that the forest is not equally runnable depending on region and season.

The influence of the relief must be divided into two factors: The difference in altitude in the running direction and the slope transverse to the running direction. The latter causes a reduced speed when running along a steep slope.

In order to take the elevation into account, a DEM has to be loaded. For runnability, each OCAD symbol is assigned a resistance value, which can be adjusted manually.

Taking these influencing factors into account, the algorithm calculates the fastest route from one control to the next. Alternative routes can be added with via points, which are mandatory to pass. In OCAD, the distance, climbing and expected running time are displayed for each route.

The fastest calculated routes (blue) and alternatives (red) in the WOC 2023 Women Relay.

Up-to-date map symbols and elevation model required

A prerequisite for correct functioning with the new calculation method is a map with a current set of symbols and a digital elevation model (DEM). When assigning the resistance values, OCAD accesses the map symbols. If their properties (symbol number, color values, line thickness, etc.) are within a range defined by OCAD, an assignment is made. An up-to-date symbol set that complies with the specifications of the International Orienteering Federation is therefore advantageous.

The DEM is normally created by the map maker to calculate e.g. contour lines or a hill shading map. Newly, the DEM can be more easily passed on to the course setters as an optimized and compressed Course Setting DEM (ocdCsDem) due to the greatly reduced file size, or even directly embedded into the map file or course setting file.

Resistance Layer and hill shading map.

Many application possibilities

Thanks to the relative time difference between route variants, the Route Analyzer 2.0 can be used as an aid for planning exciting route choices in all orienteering disciplines. In addition, it can be used to calculate distance, amount of climbing and expected running time along the ideal route of an entire orienteering course at the push of a button. Besides, the Route Analyzer 2.0 can also point out undesirable or dangerous routes, e.g. due to missing restricted areas or unclearly drawn maps.

Whether the displayed route is actually the fastest route depends on individual factors such as personal strengths, in addition to those already mentioned such as region and time of year. With the help of GPS routes, the fastest route can be determined in retrospect or at least guessed. Nevertheless, it is exciting to compare the personally favored routes with the calculated results.

Route comparison by Jan Kocbach (World of O) WOC 2023 Women Relay.