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ISOM 2017 Colour Test

ISOM 2017 colours

ISOM 2017 colours for digital printISOM 2017 cover

In July 2017, OCAD Inc added their ISOM2017 orienteering map template. When you File > New and select an ISOM 2017  template, you can read in the displayed Map Notes;

ISOM 2017 – International Specification for Orienteering Maps
CMYK color values optimized for digital printing with Heaven Soft paper on Xerox Versant by frey-print & design, CH-Birr. Copyright OCAD AG 2018-01-18

With a continued move to digital print of orienteering maps, OCAD had decided that it was time to explore a CMYK colour range suited specifically to that medium. (Note that templates are still provided with the original colour table which is more suited to offset CMYK printing). In conjunction with leading Swiss O map printer, Frey Print, they  optimised the CMYK colours for Heaven Soft paper printed on a Xerox Versant digital press.

Heaven Soft is a high white paper and thus very similar results will apply on any high white stock. I found no change is required for printing on Pretex.

Xerox Versant is these days as common in medium to large print centres as Konica Minolta 6000 was 10 years ago. These two appear to still be the key brands in such print centres throughout Australia. As in the past, it is likely that little, if any, CMYK change is required to print ISOM 2017 on a Konica Minolta.

ISOM 2017 colour naming
ISOM 2017 colour naming

I must mention that I really like the naming of the ISOM 2017 colour table. Instead of colours specific to a use the colours are

according to what ISOM 2017 allows and they are ordered for appropriate use. I suspect this will help avoid that map you inherit having a long and oft puzzling list of myriad duplicated colours assigned specific uses.

Test results

In preparation for the VIC MTBO Champs, I prepared some tests using my current colour table (as tweaked for digital by Jim Russell and myself some years ago) and the ISOM 2017 colour table. These were printed by Stay in Control (Jim Russell) on an older Xerox (not a Versant) but one that many Vic clubs use.

My report was;

ISOM 2017 digital print colours  vs current
I also submitted the Creswick Forest map with the colours that OCAD Inc developed specifically for digital print. These are the OCAD colours when you select a new ISOM 2017 O map.
Those  greens, blues, and 401 yellow appear more intense which is worthwhile for MTBO. However the blues don’t  make any difference to the legibility of the very small ponds previously mentioned.
Brown appears slightly darker – it is noticeable on some blocks of contours and on others only slightly so.
Contours appear through rideable orange although stronger is both desirable and achievable judging by other maps I have seen. Will test strengthening contours both overall and just under the orange.

In most colours there was not a significant difference but enough for me to assess the ISOM 2017 colour table as worth adopting.

The exception was the brown. It appeared weaker under the rideable orange than I am used to and also had a slight orange tinge.

So I then tested the brown that Jim Russell and I had developed some years ago and which we used for MTBO maps and trail maps – see 2016 Barkstead MTBO map if you rode there. The result was exactly what I hoped for – contours stand out better and are  clearer under the rideable orange.

So why this concern with brown for MTBO maps? Well, MTBO maps have to be read at a fixed and greater distance than foot-o maps. Contour legibility is arguably as important as track legibility on an MTBO map. The darker brown is a noticeable assistance in that respect.


From the tests I have done, admittedly confined to three MTBO maps, I would definitely use the ISOM 2017 colour table for new maps. However, at least  for MTBO maps,  I would substitute what I term as Bitter Brown – C10 M56 Y100 K25.

In my opinion, the work of OCAD Inc and Frey Print has indeed been worthwhile.


Talking of brown contours – last year in discussion of colours, OCAD Inc sent me printed  JWOC maps. The relays were printed on a digital press, the other events on a CMYK offset press — except that the Long event contours were printed with Pantone brown (PMS 471) to provide greater clarity in a detailed area.

7 station press
Heidelberg offset press 7 stations

But isn’t PMS offset printing more expensive than CMYK offset printing? Yes – however these days many larger CMYK offset print centres have print stations on their press additional to the four needed for C, M, Y and K. Station 5 is used mainly for finishes such as matt, satin or gloss. If there is a 6th or 7th it may well be used for PMS colours to provide a brilliant colour in a brochure. Thus it is relatively inexpensively available to deal with what one European expert believes is orienteering’s most problematic colour along with grey. I rather think brown and yellow are the most problematic on a digital press.

Converting a map to ISOM 2017

ISOM 2017 swatch
Changing the colour table via ISOM 2017 swatch

Converting older maps is not as onerous as I expected. I converted the three 2018 Vic MTBO Champs maps to ISOM 2017 using the ISOM 2017 swatch method. I didn’t use OCAD’s ISOM 2017 utility because the maps’ colour tables bore the fingerprints of a long history of mappers. It took only 30 minutes per map including checking afterwards.

Ensure you turn off at least Options Overwrite overprint and Overwrite opacity. These, because the sequence of some colour instances you are changing is critical to that map, as is the opacity.  I also turned off Overwrite colour name as the existing names were clues to how that instance of colour is used in the map.

Then taking each ISOM 2017 colour in turn I sought related uses in the current map and made the change. In some cases I had to resort to the ISOM 2017 document for correct colour application to a symbol. I didn’t change any existing colour where the percentage value does not exist in ISOM 2017 — the purpose of these updates was not to get ISOM 2017 conformance but to get better colours.


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A Closer Look at OCAD 2018 Features & Pricing

OCAD Inc logo

OCAD 2018 release

OCAD 2018 is planned to release mid March. Thirty years after Hans Steinegger released the first version of OCAD, the regimen of minor and major updates is changing.

No longer will major updates be held over to the 3 yearly version update. Instead, with the advent of a current practice software subscription model, every scale of update will be released when it is ready.

The subscription service

The two key points about the subscription service are;

  1. Subscriptions are annual or tri-ennial
  2. Subscriptions are individual or team

OCAD Inc’s FAQ on OCAD 2018 comprehensively covers the ins and outs of subscriptions and pricing.However, in analysing the pricing, I discovered some aspects that may save you some time in research.

Pricing – reading between the linesTutorial

Usually, ‘reading between the lines’ has a negative connotation. Here it is very much the opposite. My analysis of the pricing throws up some very positive aspects that may not be evident on first read. In essence, there has never been a better time to update or subscribe anew.

The analysis is in Swiss Francs (CHF) so that you can relate directly to detail in OCAD Inc’s FAQ. A$/NZ$ prices will be loaded when OCAD 2018 is released.

Lower prices

For frequent updaters

If you are one of the majority of OCAD users who updates to the new version every 3 years, then you are onto a winner with the tri-ennial subscription. An OCAD update from v11 to v12 costs you CHF 380 (lower if you took the limited time offer). Your update from v12 to v2018 for 3 years is just CHF 221 if you update by 31 October.

Even v11 to v2018 is just CHF 294 for early update.

For infrequent updaters

Of course if you don’t update with every edition then the comparisons above are likely  of limited value. However, here are a couple of observations;

  • it is far lower cost to update to OCAD 2018 direct from OCAD 11 than update to OCAD 12 then OCAD 2018
  • there are no version updates available for editions earlier then OCAD 11
  • if you are in the habit of updating every 2nd or later version then subscription will be dearer n about the 5th year.

If you have OCAD 9, be aware that the earliest version that OCAD 2018 will save to is OCAD 10. So if you need to maintain maps in OCAD 9, then to get there from any OCAD 2018 produced maps, you will need OCAD 10 or OCAD 11 for that final step. Thus consider  retaining (instead of updating) an OCAD 10 or 11 version if your club really needs to retain an OCAD 9 library.

For prospective new purchasers.

And the lower pricing doesn’t stop with the updates;

  • A new OCAD 2018 tri-ennial licence at CHF 367 is over 35% less than OCAD 12 new price of CHF 580.
  • A new OCAD 2018 annual licence extended twice is still over CHF 100 less than an  OCAD 12 licence.

This steep shaving extends to Professional/Mapping Solution.

But not to Starter nor Course Setting which nevertheless remain good value.

For clubs and projectsTeam

You know what a club is — but a project? Take the recent WMOC in NZ. A batch of OCAD licences were purchased for WMOC mappers and course setters to assure cohesion in presentation and compliance with ISOM. This also facilitated easy and efficient exchange of map files.

The Team licence therefore is ideal for clubs and projects. The first set of two is already over CHF 100 less than two individual licences. Then each licence after the first set of two, attracts volume discount if bought in that first order. A club 3-mapper tri-ennial licence will now cost over 3 years CHF 957 instead of CHF 1,566 (new licence) or CHF 1,180 if OCAD 12 was able to be updated to the current style of licence.

A licence can be readily transferred to another club/team user although not within a 24 hour period since the last transfer.

Volume discounts apply to Team subscriptions. These are built into the Team 2x licence price. Beyond that they are;

  • 3 licenses 10%
  • 4 licenses 15%
  • 5+ licenses 20%

The discounts apply to all licences bought in the one order including Starter and Course Setting. See section 1.3.2 of the OCAD 2018 FAQ for the formula to apply discounts to Team orders. If further licence subscriptions are later purchased then they are priced according to the volume of that additional order.

Then when the main licence subscription is due fore renewal,the additional licence(s) are added to the team licence subscription and volume subscription pricing is changed accordingly. A rebate is given for any remaining term of the additional licence subscriptions at time of merging the subscriptions.

Other value

For new features read

So what is not to like?

Licence change

OCAD 12 gave you two activations so you could install on your desktop and laptop. From OCAD 2018 you may install on only one of those (the original 2018 FAQ should have said ‘desktop or laptop’). However, you may submit a justification for a further activation.

I have checked the software subscriptions that I have for permissible installs. I  have only 3 such recent products. Snagit and Camtasia, both by TechSmith, allow 2 activations but only one may be active at any one time. Memory-Map allows 2 on computers and one on mobile. There does not appear to be any restriction on concurrent use.

I also have a number of web based subscription softwares. Although most or all can be accessed simultaneously, each subscription is controlled as to how many apps it can be used with. The default is generally one and I pay more for use in conjunction with  multiple other apps.

Infrequent updater cost

As mentioned above, by year 6 the subscription cost is likely to outweigh the cost of your occasional updating under the existing pricing regimen.

If you believe there are other downsides that I have nor perceived, then I will be most interested to hear via Comments, email or in person at an event. Queries also welcome.

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Improvements to ISOM 2017 in OCAD

ISOM 2017 cover

ISOM, ISSOM, ISMTBOM, ISSkiOM symbols & colours

Color Swatch
Color Swatch screen

The release of ISOM 2017 symbol templates and colour tables by OCAD Inc has engendered a fair amount of discussion. Mostly to do with why the IOF Mapping Commission decided this or that. However, there have been some queries on the implementation by OCAD Inc.

A few of these resulted in changes that should appear in the next OCAD 12 service update. If you need to be on song now or if you use earlier versions of OCAD, then here are some of those changes. You can thank Michael Wood for his attention to detail and persistence in checking aspects of ISOM 2017 implementation and OCAD inc for their prompt responses.

Note that these changes may well apply to some or all of ISSOM, ISMTBOM, ISSkiOM.

107 Blue colour – earlier ISOMs

In OCAD’s ISOM 2000 colour table, this colour had the overprint ticked which causes it to appear green when overlaid on yellow. ISOM 2017 and other new O ISMs have overprint unticked for the equivalent Blue such as 14 Blue in ISOM 2017. If you have an earlier version of OCAD and are fairly new to orienteering mapping then it may be advisable to check that overprint is unticked for 107 Blue or whatever Blue was used for water line features if you are unsatisfied with how it looks in use.

19 Black colour, ISSOM

This black for passable walls and tramways will change to have overprint turned off. This means it will remain distinct regardless of the colour underneath.

Fence symbol – tags, old OCAD versions

In some much older OCAD versions, the fence symbol tags are the other way. So if converting maps from  those older OCAD conversions, it is advisable to check whether the re-orientation of the tags affects clarity of the map in some situations.

301.004 symbol,  ISOM 2017

This symbol which has a border will now have an accompanying symbol without border. Michael Wood found that there are occasions where a symbol without border is required;

  • where the symbol adjoins an impassable marsh.
  • when exporting part of a map, if the edge of a partial area cuts a lake, it creates an artificial border.
  • converting lakes without border lines to lakes with border lines may end up with two border lines.

Symbol Set conversion tool

And a reminder about my recent post on converting to ISOM 2017.

Aiming off…

Kyneo GNSS project image
Kyneo GNSS project

Build your own GPS receiver and data logger

Kyneo of Spain is the Open Navigation Platform for the GNSS of Things. Your youngster could join an open-source project building on the readily available Arduino system to develop you a portable GPS/Glonass GPS receiver, logger at a reasonable price.

OCAD  mappers who produce recreation & tourism maps

Jon Sutcliffe has just released the new SutMap series of Snowy Mountain Maps. Printed on waterproof stock like all good outdoor maps, the range comprises Kosciuszko, Schlink Pass and  Jajungal. For buskwalkers, mtb riders, skiers, trail runners …

Mark Roberts and Gillian Duncan of Organised Grime now have four outdoor recreation map books for visitors to SE Queensland. The maps are detailed for the use yet uncluttered and are accompanied by useful commentary. We will be taking three next time we visit the area;

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail
Brisbane Valley Rail Trail map book

Over the ditch, Jim Lewis of Jim’s Cartography Services produces recreation and tourism maps of his Taupo region plus specialised maps. And if you need a map graticule (romer in old terminology)  then he is your guy.

Back to Oz where Melbourne’s Andras Bogdanovits of has produced the Outdoor Recreation Map Dandenong Ranges. Also check out Andas’ smart searchable online version produced with OCAD.

Yours truly Ken Dowling through Spa Country Explorer offers trail maps of the Wombat Forest (VIC) and environs for mtb riders, bushwalkers and trail runners. On Pretex water proof  stock. The Wombat Station map is soon to be joined by the Dry Diggings map. Free local A4 maps are downloadable.

Free listing for OCAD licenced mappers

Flick me an email info at with brief details of the mapping services and/or products you provide along with your OCAD licence #. If there is sufficient interest I will get back to you for more info to compile a listing on a new services and product page.  You can have acquired your licence from me or direct from OCAD. No charge.








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Updating to ISOM 2017

ISOM 2017 cover

Having troubles with ISOM 2017 update?

Many mappers are updating archive maps to ISOM 2017 and using ISOM 2017 for 2017 events. Some mappers have experienced issues in converting so this post provides links to useful information. And in Aiming off below, check out Mesa2, a top device for OCAD mapping in the field. Continue reading Updating to ISOM 2017

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Working collaboratively on OCAD

Could be a great nmtbo area

Three situations for working collaboratively on OCADCollaboration image

The primary reasons I see for using this facility are

  1. collaboration between mapper and course planner
  2. collaboration between multiple mappers of an area
  3. for a major event, monitoring by the mapping co-ordinator of mapper progress and compliance

Continue reading Working collaboratively on OCAD