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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Friday, July 18, 2008  

Pasting City Maps Onto Atlas Maps

In yesterday's post, I highlighted some of the graphics which are available in various Library 8 modules. I talked especially about how much I like the reconstructions of ancient cities in the Holman Dictionary and Holman Charts modules. Then it occurred to me that it would be cool to take those graphics showing city-level detail and display them with the Accordance Bible Atlas. To do this, you simply need to copy those images from their various sources and paste them into a User Layer of the Atlas.

User Layers are sort of an unsung feature of the Atlas, but if you really want to create custom maps, they open up an incredible range of possibilities. A User Layer works just like the pre-fab Site, Region, and Route layers included with the Atlas: you simply select a user layer from the User Layer pop-up and whatever features it contains will appear on your map. The difference is that the features included in a user layer are those which you have drawn or otherwise created yourself.

The first thing you need to do is to create your user layer. This is done simply by selecting Define User Layers... from the User Layer pop-up menu of the Atlas window. In the dialog box which appears, click the New button to create a new layer, enter the name you want to appear in the pop-up menu, and click OK. I'll name this layer "First Century Cities."

Now that I've created a user layer, Accordance automatically displays that layer on the map, because it assumes I will want to edit that layer right away. To edit my user layer, I simply choose Edit User Layer from the user layer pop-up, or I can use the keyboard shortcut command-U (the same shortcut you use to edit a user note or a user tool). This will open a palette of drawing tools which I can use to draw lines, shapes, bezier curves, text labels, etc. In this case, I don't want to draw anything, I just want to paste in some pictures. For example, I copied the reconstruction of "Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus" from the Holman Charts module, and then pasted it into my user layer just above Jerusalem. I also did the same with the reconstruction of New Testament Jericho as well as a picture of the Qumran caves I found in the Holman Dictionary.

When you paste an image into a user layer, it will scale with the map as you zoom in and out, so it's important to paste it into the layer at a zoom level that will be appropriate. For example, if I zoom way out before pasting my Jerusalem image in, that image will appear at a very large scale, likely covering a large portion of the map. As I zoom in, it will get even larger. Since I want the Jerusalem image to appear near Jerusalem without taking over the entire map, I will zoom way in to Jerusalem before pasting my picture in. Now the image will get smaller as I zoom out, and come into greater and greater focus as I zoom in.

In the screenshot above, you can see what the images look like when I'm zoomed way into Jerusalem. Notice that I dressed them up a bit by drawing a thick black line around the edges of each picture, as well as a line from each image to the site it represents. In the following screenshot, you can see what these images look like when I've zoomed out and combined my user layer with a region layer like New Testament Palestine.

Once I'm done editing my user layer, I just click the Done button on the drawing palette to save my changes. Now, any time I place my "First Century Cities" layer on the map, those images will appear; and whenever I don't want them, I can simply choose not to display that layer. Pretty cool, huh?

These are the kinds of features that need to be sung about more often! Other software products tout their maps, but when you get down to what you can really do with the maps in each software package, Accordance Atlas is the best, hands down.

Nice feature! How hard would it be to do something with Google Maps/Google Earth overlays & Accordance? Talk about neat!

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