Today we released version 1.2.2 of Cartographica, and one of the features we think people are going to find really useful is the ability to use any character from any font available on your Mac as a symbol on a map.
We debuted a new symbol technology in 1.2 that made use of Drag and Drop and introduced our new Symbol palette. Rick gave some great instructions in his article, Introducing 1.2: Color and Palette Management]
For 1.2.2 we've upped the ante again, and are now providing support for just about any font character to be used as a map symbol. Those familiar with the Macintosh font system know that the Unicode character set contains a large number of interesting symbols: everything from a variety of stars to pictures of airplanes and other points of interest. Instead of reinventing the wheel for each of these, Cartographica makes it easy for you to use the fonts and images you already have on your Mac to be symbols on your map.
Even better, there's barely anything new to learn. When you have the Style Set window open for points, just drag a single character (or some text if you want to use more than one) into the symbol well. Cartographica will ask the system how to draw it and turn it into a scalable symbol for use on your map.
And if you're wondering how you can find all of these great characters, the answer is built right in to your Mac. By bringing up the System Preferences and going to the Keyboard panel, you can check the "Show Keyboard & Character Viewer" box, which will add a new menu to your menu bar (look for it in the upper right corner) that give you access to the Character Viewer, which allows you to browse and search for characters in all of the fonts on your system.
Here are a few things to try (type these into the search box at the bottom of the window):
And those are just using the standard fonts. For more sophisticated map symbols, look on the internet for map symbol fonts and you'll find there's a lot to choose from. Some are free, and some are licensed, but they can all be used with Cartographica.
The Character Viewer window looks like this: