Customising your map layers
This article is for Citizen Space Geospatial. Please speak to your customer success manager if you are interested in learning more about it.
This article explains what you can change when customising your different map layers and provides some guidance on things you might want to consider when making your choices.
All map layers
There are some customisable options which are common to all 3 of the map layer types. Once you've drawn or uploaded a map layer, for all layer types, you can:
- choose whether you want this layer to be shown by default or automatically switched off on the key
- add attribute labels to your layer, and
- choose what colour you want the layer to be.
The first 6 colours in the dropdown list are the most different from one another, and then some of the colours that follow may be a little similar to others, so try to choose colours that will stand out from both each other and the colours on your base map.
Below is further information specific to each different type of map layer, as well as some guidance on what order to organise your layers in:
- Customising polygon layers
- Customising line-based layers
- Customising points-based layers
- How should I organise my layers?
Customising polygon layers
Once you've drawn or uploaded your polygon layer, in addition to the colour, attributes and whether the layer is shown by default, you can also configure the fill style and thickness of the outer line.
The different fill styles make it possible for people who can't easily distinguish between colours to still be able to tell polygon layers apart easily.
We'd advise against using the solid fill option unless it's for very small polygons as it will obscure other details on the map.
Customising line-based layers
Once you've drawn or uploaded your line-based layer, in addition to the colour, attributes and whether the layer is shown by default, you can also configure the line style and thickness.
The different line styles (such as dashed, dotted, etc) make it possible for people who can't easily distinguish between colours to still be able to tell line layers apart easily.
Please note that with line-based layers, it's also really important to choose colours that will help differentiate the lines on your layer from linear features on the base map (such as from roads or rivers).
Customising points-based layers
Once you've drawn or uploaded your points-based layer, the colour, attributes and whether the layer is shown by default are the only options you need to configure.
For each points-based layer you add Citizen Space will automatically assign it a letter of the alphabet, making it possible for people who can't easily distinguish between colours to still be able to tell the different layers of points apart easily. The letters will be applied alphabetically based on the order of the layers in your key — that is the uppermost layer will be assigned letter A, and the next points-based layer below that will be given B, and so forth.
How should I organise my layers?
We'd recommend ordering your layers with the smallest or hardest to miss features (for example points-based layers) at the top of the key, so that these are the top layer on the map, followed by line-based layers lower down and bigger features like polygons at the bottom of the key.
The rationale for this is it helps to avoid smaller features getting overlaid by big features like polygon shapes and becoming harder to see.
Here are some examples to show what we mean. In the first example, the chosen order, with conservation areas on top and sites of historical interest at the bottom, is sub-optimal because the polygon layers at the top of the key are obscuring some of the points-based layers lower down on the key:
This is a more sensible order for the same layers, making it easier to see all features (with points layers at top, followed by lines, and then polygon layers at the bottom :
However this isn't a hard and fast rule and you may want to balance this against whether one or more of the layers on your map are more important than the other features.
For example, if site allocations within the New Forest National park are the main piece of information we want to show our respondents or ask them about, then it may make more sense for the National Park boundary and site allocation layers to be uppermost to give them prominence.