Help in exporting UK maps to AI


I want to get areas of the UK into Illustrator, in preparation for print publication. I need help in one of two ways: (a) advice on how to get it done, or (b) someone to do it for me for a fee.

I have read the instructions at It’s conceivable that I could get this process to work, but I don’t even understand what is meant by

So the first thing I need is a translation of that cryptic piece of advice. I also have no idea what is involved in getting Perl, the script and the module (referred to in the instructions) actually working. And I’m told I need “an .osm file covering the area”. Is this an osm .xml file, as offered by the export page? If not, where do I get it from?

As an alternative, I have successfully exported some map areas to pdf. I find that Illustrator freezes when asked to open the resulting pdf. I can open it in Acrobat, and saving from there into pdf/x format gives me a file that will open in AI. But (a) it’s all one layer and (b) the text doesn’t come through properly, even though I have downloaded and installed the DejaVu font (when I open the file, I get a message saying DejaVu Bold is missing, but my Mac thinks it is present and open).

My reading of the Illustrator export instructions is that the result of that process will be much more suitable for my needs. It sounds as if it will be layered, and each way is a single path, which is much more elegant than the pdf content.

Can anyone help, in either of the ways I mention?

Chris Gill

Hi Chris,

I can’t answer all your questions, but here are a few starters:

  1. .OSM files are in XML format. This is what is delivered by the export tab.
  2. If the area of the UK is large I’d recommend downloading one of the weekly extracts from Cloudmade or Geofabrik. The latter firm do some extracts for English counties which I personally find very useful.
  3. perldoc merely pushes out some text embedded in the program file. If you follow the link to the program you can read its document output at line 481 onwards. This provides most of the options available (input, projection etc.).
  4. I’ve just tried it on the perl environment on my machine and it breaks, objecting to library files.
  5. perl can be downloaded, but its very techie. Personally I dislike it, having learnt it about 10 years ago: its far too terse and encourages more or less undocumented code which is difficult to change or debug. It looks as if you need version 5.8.3 or thereabouts.
  6. Most OSM apps work more readily in a Linux environment than on windows. Not sure about Macs.

It strikes me that what would be nice is to have an example area of OSM data (like the Isle of Wight) and step-by-step processes for various tool chains.

Good luck,

Thanks SK.

Mac OS X is Unix-based (and apparently has Perl included by default), so in principle I may be in a reasonable position to go down the documented “Exporting to Illustrator” road - and if I do your notes will help greatly. Thanks.

But I am also making enquiries with Cloudmade about getting them to generate what I want, and I should perhaps approach some other possibilities such as Geofabrik.

I’m not sure how keen the OSM community is on the map being used in the wider world; it should be very keen, because that’s surely what the map is for. But if that is going to happen, the process of getting layered maps into Illustrator painlessly is crucial. I’d be happy to be involved in documenting the process as an editor - as is clear, I have no technical competence in this area, which makes me the ideal editor!

In the UK, most people professionally involved in publishing would be using Macs, incidentally. Less true elsewhere, I understand.


Well, I wrote the stuff, I use a Mac with Illustrator, and I work as a magazine editor. :slight_smile:

It’s not particularly easy to use, I’ll grant you that. It works for me and so I just put it up there so that others might be able to benefit. I’d like to add it in a user-friendly format to the Export tab, but right now I haven’t really got the time to work on that, unless someone can set up a read-only database on that you can query directly.

I know Frederik at Geofabrik has played around with the script because we’ve had some conversations about it - worth contacting him, I’d think.

Failing that, let me know what area you’re looking at and I’ll see if I can help.

Thanks Richard

Sorry about the long silence - various distractions.

I am about to have a go with your Perl script, and will report back.

Do you know anything about the German site that is now providing Illustrator downloads (sadly, only of Germany) - - and which seems an excellent model? I’ve had a go with it and the resulting file opened in AI but various aspects of the scale of the document were weird (the type, in particular, was disappearingly small although nominally huge)


In the first week of January 2010 we will provide Illustrator downloads for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Later in 2010 we will provide Illustrator downloads for all European countries.


Thanks #DWD*

That’s good news, especially if you can put the UK next in the queue after Austria!

Do you have any observations on the scale problem - particularly the type size problem - I encountered when I downloaded a map from your existing site?



Hi Chris,

the type size is not a bug - its a feature :wink: We decide to put all the names in the file on special type layers. In Illustrator you can change the type size for such a layer in a few seconds. So you are able to decide which of the names can be deleted and which to keep. If we decide (the algorithm decides) its no problem to produce maps WYSIWYG. But for many purposes the map producer wants to decide himself what to keep and what to delete.

The tiny scale bar is a bug. We will eliminate it with te next release in early January.


The UK is now Online. The layer names in Illustrator are still in German. I hope this will work for you.