May 24, 2022

Customizing Vector Data Display in Global Mapper

Written by: Mackenzie Mills


Vector features in Global Mapper can be styled individually, as a layer, based on an attribute, or by assigned feature type. All these options for point, line, and polygon styles can be used to help communicate additional information and clarify the visualization of data to create better and more useful maps.

Individual features can be styled through the Modify Feature Info dialog. By selecting to use a custom style, the point icon, line width and color, or area color and fill can be applied. This level of customization can also be set for all features within a layer through the Layer Options dialog accessed from Global Mapper’s Control Center.

Individually setting styles for features and layers can be tedious when working with layers containing ten, hundreds, or even thousands of vector features. In Global Mapper, there are a couple of methods to streamline the feature styling process using attribute information for thematic map creation or set Feature Types with associated styles.

Thematic Mapping

A thematic map allows important attribute information to be communicated visually in the map display using variable feature color or size. In the Layer Options dialog, Global Mapper provides the opportunity to use an attribute as a determinant for the feature style. Using any attribute type, the color of the features can be manually set or randomly assigned to make a categorical thematic map.

Styling the counties of the continental United States by state name creates a categorical map.

When creating a choropleth map, vector feature classification derives the feature style from a numeric attribute value based on a user-selected number of classes and classification method. Built-in and customizable color ramps, along with options to create graduated symbol maps for point features, can control all aspects of the vector style based on a classification of the selected attribute’s value. For further information on vector feature styling, check out this previous blog post.

Vector classification based on a population attribute is used to create a choropleth map.

Feature Types

Feature types in Global Mapper can be used to define the style of a feature, making them a valuable tool in the map-making process. With a library of built-in Feature Types and associated styles, Global Mapper automatically displays features with different styles when the feature type is stored as an attribute. This is particularly evident when loading data containing different sets of features, such as Open Street Map vector data, into a workspace. Based on the Feature Types found in the data attributes, OSM data containing many different points, lines, and polygons is shown in the workspace using the default feature type styles. For features that do not have a recognized type, an unknown point, line, or polygon type is assigned with a generic feature display. This can be changed in feature creation or editing through the Modify Feature Info dialog, or for all features in a layer through the Layer Options.

Custom feature types for points, lines, and polygons can be added and removed in Global Mapper’s Configuration settings. Furthermore, when working with point data, custom symbols can be added and associated with an existing or new Feature Type. As with many options in the Configuration settings, the alterations and additions made to the feature type libraries will remain in Global Mapper and can be used for feature display from that point forward.

Setting the feature type for individual features and altering feature type styles in Configuration, the vector data display is easily customized.

If you would like to explore vector feature styling and thematic map creation in Global Mapper, download a 14-day free trial today! If you have any questions, please contact us.

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