User Maps

Maps produced by ReefMaster are not suitable for navigation, and should never be used for navigation.


User maps are editable maps that can contain contours, isobaths, shorelines, tracks and hardness areas, as well as custom (user drawn) paths and polygons. User maps can be exported for display on GPS units or Google Earth. User maps provide many more editing options for styling maps than a raw Map Project.


What is the difference between a User Map and a Map Project?

Whilst it is possible to create excellent maps by exporting directly from a Map Project, User Maps offer a number of extra features and options that Map Projects do not:


User map's component styles can be individually edited; the line colour and width of each individual contour can be changed, along with the fill and border colours and opacity of isobath areas. This makes it very easy to, for example, highlight a certain depth-range in a specific colour.

Components from multiple map projects, such as contours and depth areas, can be combined into a single user map. Map projects are limited to a single shoreline, whereas user maps are just a collection of components and are not limited in this way.

All edited style information in a user map is stored in the database; once a user map has been created and edited, it will always be available for export or further editing.

Map projects can take a long time to generate, especially if they are large in area or have a large number of contours. User maps simply store pre-generated map components, and do not need to be re-generated when ReefMaster is loaded. For example,  a common work-flow would be to work on a Map Project at a lower quality setting (less contours, higher contour grid resolution) until the map is as-required, then generate the map once with high quality settings and save the components to a user map.

Custom paths and polygons can be drawn on top of user maps. For example, a productive fishing area or marine park zone can be drawn as a filled polygon for display on a GPS unit.



User maps are made up of a collection of paths and polygons organised in to groups.





Polygons are closed shapes, with configurable border width and colour, and fill colour and opacity (transparency). Isobaths, hardness areas, shorelines and islands are all represented as polygons in user maps.



Paths are map components that are displayed as lines, such as tracks and contours. Paths are displayed as lines, with configurable width and colour.



All paths and polygons within a map are members of a group, which can contain either polygons or paths (but not both). A user map contains separate groups for isobaths, major contours, minor contours, shorelines, islands, hardness areas, custom paths and custom polygons. Group styles can be edited in the same way as individual component styles; any individual component that does not have a style attribute set will inherit the style of its containing group.


Colour Schemes

In order to provide exported maps with maximum compatibility on GPS units, User Maps are limited to the AT5 colour scheme, which is used in Navico GPS chart plotters. Using the AT5 colours in the user map provides a near "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) experience for maps targeted at Navico units.



AT5 colours are identified as a number, which is shown in the colour-selector alongside the colour. Note that colours may appear slightly differently on different units.


AT5 Colour Compatibility

AT5 colours are not all supported in all units; older units (such as pre-HDS Lowrance) may support only a sub-set of the full colour range. When targeting older units, the global setting AT5 Colour Compatibility can be set in the Global Settings to reflect this, which will limit the colours shown in the colour selector to just those that are known to be compatible with the target unit.


Creating a new User Map

Creating a new User Map and adding components to an existing User Map



Use the screen-level context menu of one of more selected contour lines or boundaries in the map project Contour View and select the option Add to map... All map components can be added, or a selection can be made from the available components. To create a new map, choose the New User Map option. Note that to preserve isobath or hardness colours shown in the Project, an AT5 compatible palette must be used (see below).

Use the New button in the user map header of the Asset Library or the screen-level context menu of the Global View to create an empty user map.

You can also create a new user map by selecting one or more tracks from the Asset Library and using the right-click menu option Add Track to User Map/New User Map.


Keeping Project colours in a User Map

Isobaths and hardness areas can be displayed in a project using either an RGB or AT5 palette, whereas user maps support only AT5 palettes. When adding components with fill colours from a map project, colours are only preserved if they are currently displayed using an AT5 palette. If an RGB palette is in use, then the components will not have any style values associated with them once they have been added to the user map.


Editing a User Map

Groups and individual components have style attributes, such as colour or line width, that can be edited at either the group or component level. If a component has a value set for a particular attribute (e.g. colour), then this value is used for the component. If no value is set for a particular component attribute, then the value is inherited from the group. In effect, group-level attributes provide default values for all members of that group. Note that some attributes, such as level for polygons or font size for paths, are available only at the group level.





Groups and components can be edited in the Edit Pane, which can be opened by clicking the Edit tab at the right of the application.


The name of the user map can be edited (1).


The group selected for editing can be chosen using the Group drop-down list (2). All items within the edit pane (other than the map name) belong to the currently selected group. Group-level attributes (3) are shown above the component list (4) which contains all components that belong to the group. The components list can be sorted by any column by clicking on the column header. Click again on the same column header to reverse the sort order.


Editing components

Component styles can be edited using the component list, or by selecting the component in the graphical view.



To edit a single component in the component list, select or enter the required value directly into the displayed value fields in the list row. Alternatively, right-click a single component and set the required values using the popup menu. Note that not all values are shown in the list; some values can only be modified using the menu.




To edit the values of multiple components at the same time, select the required components in the list (use the SHIFT or CONTROL key in conjunction with the mouse to multi-select), and modify the component values using the right-button menu.



To edit a component from the graphical view, move the mouse over the component so that it is highlighted, and using the right-button menu.


Group level attributes

Attributes set at the group level are used as the default for all group components. Setting an attribute in a component will override the group-level attribute for that component, whilst clearing attribute values for a component will revert the component to the default style.

Groups are either Path Groups or Polygon Groups. Different style options are available for the different group types.


Path Attributes

Major contours, minor contours, tracks and custom paths.




Path's have line width and line colour attributes, as well as a font size attribute that is available at the group-level only. Font size (1) refers to the size (in points) of path labels, and applies only to AT5 export (KML paths do have labels, but the size is not configurable). Specify a font size of 0 to disable labels for the path group. Line width (2) is specified in pixels from the range 0-5. Specifying a value of zero hides the line completely (this option is more useful when specifying the line style for polygon borders).


Polygon Attributes

Isobaths, hardness areas, shorelines, islands and custom polygons.




Level (1) is a group-level only attribute that specifies the z-order of the polygon group. The z-order controls the order in which polygons are drawn, and is specified as a number in the range 1-100, with lower values being drawn on top of polygon groups with higher values (note that path groups are always drawn on top of polygons). For example, a group with a level of 80 will be shown behind a group with a level of 70.


By default, polygon groups are assigned the following levels, from back to front:


80, Shorelines

70, Isobaths

60, Hardness areas

30, Islands

20, Custom polygons


If more than one group is assigned the same level, then the relative draw order of those groups is undefined.


Fill and line styles

Fill and line styles can be specified at the group or component level.

Fill (2) specifies the polygon fill colour, B/Width (3) refers to border width and can be used to add a border to polygons, with the width specified in pixels. A width of 0 removes the border. B/Colour (4) specifies the border colour and is only effective when the border width has been set to a value other than zero.


Note that border width and colour selectors are not shown in the component list; these values can be modified for individual components through the use of the right-button menu.


Opacity (4) refers to the level of transparency for a polygon fill colour.



Opacity is only supported on Navico devices with the NOS operating system, which includes all HDS (generation 1 and later), and Elite HDI models. Opacity can also be used for maps exported in the Google Earth KML format.

Opacity is expressed as a number between 1 - 255, with 1 being (effectively) transparent, and 255 being fully opaque.


Note that if the AT5 compatibility global setting has been set to any value other than NOS, then all opacity related fields will be disabled in the user map.


Auto scale opacity

Using opacity can be a very easy way to create great looking maps with a limited range of colours, by adjusting the relative opacity of isobaths or hardness areas depending on their values. The auto scale opacity function automates this process, and the simplest way of creating maps for Lowrance HDS (or later) units.


Auto scaling of opacity can be applied to all components within the group by clicking the Auto Scale Opacity button in the group attributes, or applied just to selected components by multi-selecting the required components in the components list and selecting Scale Opacity.. from the right-button menu. Note that this option is not visible unless at least two components have been selected.


Auto scaling of opacity assigns opacity values to each selected component based on that components lower value.



The Auto Scale Opacity dialog is shown. The range between which to scale the opacity value can be specified in the opacity range fields (1). By default, the full range of opacity, from fully transparent to fully opaque, is selected.

Opacity can be scaled so that it increases with value or decreases with the value of the components. Click one of the buttons (2, 3) to perform the scaling. The results will be visible immediately in the map. Once you are happy with the scaling, click the Done button.


Opacity scaling examples



Using scaled opacities is a very quick way to create great looking maps. In the example above, isobaths between 0m and 20m have been selected, and the opacity scaled downwards from 1-255. All components below 20m have been deleted, allowing the shoreline fill colour to show through, whilst the colour for all of the scaled components is taken from the group level fill colour. Using opacity in this way means that the colour of the map can be changed by simply changing the colour of the group:



Varying the background colour (in this case, the shoreline polygon) can give yet more effects, as the colour of the background shows through the semi-transparent isobath polygons:



Notes on exporting maps with opacity to Navico devices

As mentioned above, opacity is compatible only with Navico devices running the NOS operating system, which effectively means HDS generation one units or later (including Elite HDI units).


Opacity is only displayed correctly on Navico units when a raster background layer is present. ReefMaster is able to automatically generate a blank raster background that enables opacity to be displayed correctly. Ensure that the option "generate raster background" is checked in the Export to GPS window prior to exporting any maps with opacity for Navico NOS systems. Note also that the option "shaded relief" must be selected under Chart Options/Imagery within the Navico unit, in order for raster and opacity to be displayed.


Map exported to a first generation Lowrance HDS 5


Custom Paths and Polygons

Custom paths and polygons can be added to the groups Custom Paths and Custom Polygons. Custom components can be drawn and edited, and styled in the same way as other map components.


Importing a custom component

ReefMaster offers basic path and polygon editing, described below, which can be useful for drawing simple shapes on to maps. It is also possible to import polygons and paths from files in either the ESRI Shapefile or Google Earth KML/Z file formats.



To import a path or polygon:


Open the Edit pane and select the appropriate group (one of custom paths or custom polygons).

Click Import polygon/path.

Select the file(s) with the required components. Note that only components of the appropriate sort are imported; when importing polygons, all polygon objects are imported from the selected file. When importing paths, only path objects will be imported from the selected file.

Click Open in the file open dialog. The selected file(s) will be processed, and the imported components will be added to the component list. An imported component can be further edited within ReefMaster in the same way as an object created within ReefMaster (see below).


Adding and editing a custom component

Custom components can only be added to the custom paths and custom polygons groups. 




To add a new path or polygon:


Open the Edit pane and select the appropriate group (one of custom paths or custom polygons).

Click Add polygon/path.


A new component is added to the map, and is shown in the components list. The Drawing Tool will become enabled in the mouse-mode selector panel as long as a custom component is currently selected.


Adding New Path-Points

With the drawing tool selected, click the left-mouse button within the graphical area to add a new path point. The selected path is extended from the nearest end. Press and hold the left mouse button whilst drawing with the mouse to create multiple path-points along the described path.



New path-points can also be added in the edit window, by entering the required coordinates in the path-point edit area and clicking the Add button (circled).


Editing Existing Path-Points




Individual path points can be selected by clicking on them in the graphical edit area (1), with the mouse in select mode, or by clicking in the path-point list in the edit window (2). The details of the selected path-point are displayed in the path-point edit area (3) underneath the path-point list. Note that the path must be selected before the path-point list is show. Selecting a path-point in the graphical edit area will select the same path-point in the edit window, and vice-versa.


A path-point can be moved by clicking on the point with the mouse (in select mode) and dragging it to the required position. The coordinates of the selected path-point will update in the edit window as the point is moved.

The selected path-point can be edited in the edit window by changing the coordinates in the path-point edit area and clicking the Edit (pencil) button.

Path-points can be deleted using either the context menu in the graphical area, or clicking the Delete button in the path-point row within the path-points list in the edit window.



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