Map Maker 4Base map dataOther softwareWho we are
Map Maker 4 is software for professionals who need to make maps; people like foresters, estate managers, archaeologists, emergency services, ecologists, and many others. It has been designed so that you do not have to be a "GIS" professional to use it. The program comes in two versions - the "Pro" edition and a free version called "Gratis". We have been selling Map Maker Pro since 1996 in over 100 countries. Over the last two decades it has evolved in response to our user's needs. Version 4, released in 2016, is the latest manifestation. The price remains the same at 225 UK pounds (+ VAT in the EU) for a single-user licence. Existing users of Map Maker Pro are entitled to a substantial discount (see the Upgrade page of the shop). Download the full program for a 30 day free trial period.

Map Maker is designed for Microsoft Windows. It will run under Windows XP but we recommend Windows 7, 8 or 10. The program is supplied in both 32 and 64 bit versions. The minimum practical screen resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels but we recommend using a higher resolution.

For people who are already using Map Maker version 3.5 or earlier there will be much that is familiar in version 4. However, there are many enhanced features. The following are the principal differences:

Top ten differences between version 4 and version 3.5

Attribute data in DRA files

In earlier versions of Map Maker attribute data associated with a DRA file had to be stored in a DBF file or some other external database. In version 4, while you can still link to external data files, the DRA file can contain its own attribute data making data easier to manage - everything can be in one file. DRA files produced in version 4 are still compatible with earlier versions of Map Maker.

Improved styles

There are many more options for styles. The new style files are simple text files making them easier to edit externally or to generate from third party programs. Custom symbols are easier to create in a dedicated symbol editor and are included in the style set rather than as separate files, as was required in earlier versions. Legends are now part of the style set making them easier to transfer between maps. Style sets can include colour "ranges" which were formally separate data filter files. Version 4 also introduces "smart boundaries" which assign different line styles to boundaries between polygons in a hierarchical organisation e.g. in a forest plan where you have compartments, sub-compartments, and stands. Apart from using style files, style sets can be embedded in DRA files. The project style set is now embedded in the project file.

Persistent live layer

The live layer is now stored as part of the project file. This means that when you load a project its current live layer is automatically loaded. Similarly you no longer need to remember to save the live layer as a separate operation to saving the project. By default the last project that you were working on is automatically loaded when you start Map Maker. This means that if you have a live layer when you close down Map Maker then when you next start the program you can simply resume where you left off.

Modify and erase

There are various enhancements to the drawing tools. In particular the polygon tool can now be used in three different modes: draw (default), modify, and erase. When the modify mode is selected then drawing a new polygonal shape, starting in an existing polygon, the result will be the original polygon but modified to include all the area of both the existing polygon and the new shape. This is a lot quicker and easier than moving the vertices of the original polygon one by one. Similarly, the erase mode subtracts the new shape from the original polygon.

Simpler graphic editing

In earlier versions a double-click with the Edit tool was used to put an object into edit mode. This "edit mode" has now been discarded and the edit tool is used directly to drag and delete vertices as well as introduce new ones. When using the Edit tool the location of nearby vertices is highlighted. The Edit tool can also reposition and rotate captions. The "arrow object" has been discarded as now an arrow is an option associated with all captions. An option of an on-screen style palette allows you to drag and drop styles to assign them to existing objects. Among various new options you can choose to highlight areas where polygons in the live layer overlap.

Page view

Each project can now be viewed in two different views: "Map" and "Page". While the map view is for day to day map editing and interrogation, the "page" view is like the earlier page template editor but it lets you see the map as it will appear on the printed page. You can add and edit map furniture and alter the scale and position of the map relative to its frame. By default the page size is the current printer paper size, however you can specify a larger size. When you come to print, Map Maker will determine how many sheets are required and you can choose to print all or some of them. Earlier versions required a "composition printer driver", this has been discarded.

Lat/Long files viewed without the need to convert

In earlier versions any data in Latitude and Longitude coordinates, such as GPS data, had first to be converted to projected XY coordinates, compatible with your map. Now you can simply load the GPS data as a layer and Map Maker will automatically translate the data into the correct projected coordinates. The same applies to other lat/long data such as KML (Google Earth) and OSM (Open Street Map) files.

Rotated views

It used to be that north always had to be at the top of the map. You can now rotate the map to any orientation.

Save to PDF

In earlier versions, as with any program, you could save maps to PDF by installing a PDF printer driver and "printing" to file. A disadvantage of this was that translucent polygons generally came out opaque because PDF printer drivers did not support that element of Windows graphics. The new version of Map Maker contains its own PDF writer allowing you simply to save to a PDF file where issues such as translucency are correctly rendered.

More formats supported

Over the years some once common file formats have fallen into disuse and new ones have grown in popularity. Version4 of Map Maker attempts to reflect these changes. For instance, MySQL and MS Server databases can be used for attribute data. While long standing vector formats such as SHP, TAB, and DXF are supported so too are new standards such as GML, OSM, KML, and GPX.

File compatibility between version 3 and version 4


DRA files. Any DRA file produced in v3 will be readable in v4. The one exception is that "arrow objects" are no longer supported. In v4 all object labels can have arrows so there is no requirement for arrow objects. DRA files produced in v4 are readable in v3 but v3 cannot read the attribute data or styles that v4 can embed in a DRA file. Where in v3 you have a DBF file associated with a DRA file you can import the data from the DBF file so that it becomes part of the DRA file.

Style files. v4 uses an entirely new and more flexible form of style file. v3 STL files are not used however they can be imported. When a v3 STL file is imported the resulting v4 style file will not necessarily look entirely the same but the major attributes such as fill colour, line thicknesses etc will the same.

GEO files. Both v3 and v4 use GEO files to record the project. A GEO file produced in v3 can be imported into v4. Apart from map layers GEO files also contain "map furniture" title boxes, north points etc. In v3 there was both "on screen" furniture and "page" furniture. In v4 there is just page furniture which is displayed in the new page layout window. The types of page furniture are slightly different so when importing furniture the imported furniture may need some manual adjustment.