Mapnik 3.0.22 Release Jan 22, 2019 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.21 Release Oct 08, 2018 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.20 Release Apr 12, 2018 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.19 Release Mar 06, 2018 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.18 Release Jan 26, 2018 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.16 Release Nov 16, 2017 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.12 Release Sep 08, 2016 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.10 Release Feb 29, 2016 | Artem Pavlenko
Node Mapnik 3.5.0 Release Feb 29, 2016 | Sam Matthews
Mapnik 3.0.9 Release Nov 26, 2015 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.7 and 3.0.8 Releases Oct 26, 2015 | Artem Pavlenko
Mapnik 3.0.6 Release Oct 08, 2015 | Artem Pavlenko

latest news

Summer of Code 2012 - Summary

Oct 06, 2012

Google Summer of Code 2012 is over now.

Here is a list of all the previous posts:

All the previous posts where rather technical so I would like to talk about applications and show some beautiful images in this post.

First of all: If you live in a region where names are spelled using only characters from the ASCII set you will not notice this work very much. It was one design goal not to change the behavior for texts that are already correctly rendered. There are some minor differences but nothing big. However it is still worth to read on as I added many more cool features.

Rendering complex scripts

Mapnik can render any script supported by HarfBuzz now. If something is rendered incorrectly check if the font supports the characters you want to use, as this is the most likely cause of any problems. Especially do not use Unifont! It doesn’t support any of the features required for correct rendering of most complex scripts.

I don’t publish example images here because I can’t judge which images would show the most improvement. If a native speaker wants to add samples where text that was broken before is really good now please open an issue on and I will publish it here.

There are some new features and bug fixes not related to complex scripts as well:

Improved line placements

Line breaks

Since a long time Mapnik is able to handle line breaks in the text (either automatically created or supplied in the input data) but this feature never worked for line placements. You could render a long town name very well, but long street names were a problem so far. This situation is improved by enabling this for line placements as well.

However there is one important limitation: You have to set wrap-width to a certain value or provide input text with line break characters (‘\n’). There is no function to automatically select the right wrap-width value depending on the line length yet. Automatic hyphenation of long text is also not available yet. This will be implemented at some later time.

Example image

Multiline street labels


<TextSymbolizer wrap-width="100" >[name]</TextSymbolizer>

Correct offsets

Mapnik already supported offsetting text on lines, but the algorithm was very simple and only worked well for almost straight lines. The new code uses the offset converter class to produce real offsets which works for every line shape.

This feature can be used to produce labels for e.g. borders.

Example image

Country labels


<TextSymbolizer dy="10" >[name]</TextSymbolizer>


For certain applications it is desirable to have a fixed orientation of the text with respect to the line direction. In the “offsets” example above you might have noticed that “Country 2” changes the text direction at one point in order to keep it upright.

This is useful behavior in most cases, but there are applications (like contour lines) where you don’t want to switch the direction. Therefore a new parameter “upright” was added to TextSymbolizer to choose the desired function.

Example image

contour lines


<TextSymbolizer upright="auto" >[name]</TextSymbolizer>
<TextSymbolizer upright="left" >[name]</TextSymbolizer>
<TextSymbolizer upright="right" >[name]</TextSymbolizer>

Rotate displacement

Mapnik supports rotating text via the orientation parameter to TextSymbolizer. As long as the text is centered on the point being labeled the question which center to use for rotation is trivial. But once the text is moved from this position there are different possible points.

Up to now Mapnik always rotated around the label’s center but now one can also select to include the displacement when rotating text. This feature is best described by the following two images:

Example images

Rotate displacement: Off (default) rotate displacement off

Rotate displacement: On rotate displacement on


<TextSymbolizer dx="5" rotate-displacement="true" >[name]</TextSymbolizer>

Kerning & Ligatures

Kerning and ligatures are two features you probably won’t notice if you don’t know about them. But they improve the text rending in subtle ways:

Kerning reduces the spacing between characters when one of them is top-heavy and the other one is bottom-heavy.

A ligature is the combination of two or more characters into a single glyph for improved visual appearance.

Example images



With ligatures:


Without ligatures:



This feature is always enabled.

Shield Symbolizer

New syntax

ShieldSymbolizer syntax was documented and updated to reflect actual behavior. However it was noticed that the current syntax is rather counter-intuitive so a new, better one was defined. Previously “shield-dx” moved shield and text and “dx” moved text only. This was reversed so that “shield-dx” moves the shield only.

For “dx” (and “dy”) the behavior depends on the value of “unlock-image” (which had an undefined function before).

  • unlock-image=”false”: dx moves text and image
  • unlock-image=”true”: dx moves text only

This parameter is especially useful with the alternate positions functions described below.

Label position tolerance

Mapnik moves labels a bit when there is a collision at the designated place, however this feature only worked for TextSymbolizer but not for ShieldSymbolizer. This is fixed now.

This feature can be used for better labeling of highways with multiple names.

Example image

multiple shields


<ShieldSymbolizer label-position-tolerance="100">[ref]</ShieldSymbolizer>

or automatically enabled for Symbolizers with non-zero spacing:

<ShieldSymbolizer spacing="200">[ref]</ShieldSymbolizer>

Alternate positions

ShieldSymbolizer was extended to support the alternate placements mechanism already implemented in TextSymbolizer. This feature is similar to the one above, but has different uses. It doesn’t simply move the shield along the way, but allows to set completely different parameters. You can change the font, offset, position, etc. (Selecting a different shield image or shield-offset is not supported, yet but will be in the future. You can use dx and dy in combination with unlock-image to get the desired effect in most cases.)

Example image

Labeling multiple bus routes at the same bus stop: bus routes


    <ShieldSymbolizer placement-type="list" horizontal-alignment="middle" vertical-alignment="middle">[ref]
    <Placement dx="50"/>
    <Placement dx="100"/>
    <Placement dx="0" dy="35"/>
    <Placement dx="50" />
    <Placement dx="100"/>

This syntax is not optimal but an placement algorithm supporting grid placements will be added some time.


Download and install harfbuzz:

tar -xjf harfbuzz-0.9.4.tar.bz2
cd harfbuzz-0.9.4/
./configure "ICU_CFLAGS=`icu-config --cflags`" "ICU_LIBS=`icu-config --ldflags`"
make install

Download and install mapnik

git clone -b harfbuzz --depth 1 git:// mapnik-harfbuzz
cd mapnik-harfbuzz
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