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Parts of the screen

NorthStar Mapper's screen is divided into several parts, as shown in the diagram:

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Navigation Menus

In the upper left-hand corner, use the 'Navigate To' menus to find an area of interest. From the ‘Destination’ pulldown menu, choose County, Township Name, City, or Township&Range number of the Public Land Survey. A list of all available features of that type will then appear in the second pulldown menu.

For example, if you choose ‘City’ from the first pulldown menu, then the second pulldown menu will give you a list of all cities in Minnesota. Once you select a city, the map window will zoom-in to the area surrounding that city.

Township Names are the recognized civil (political) township names for an area.
Township&Range numbers
represent the township location as found in the United States Public Land Survey (PLSS). Minnesota lands were surveyed between 1848 and 1907. For example, Crooked Lake Township in Cass County has the Public Land Survey address of Township 139 North, Range 26 West.

When searching by Township&Range Number, check the box next to the "Township and Range (PLS)" map layer to show the boundaries of townships and also of sections. The township/range/section label will appear in the middle of each section.

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Map Layer Window

Many different map layers are available for viewing.

Hints for making maps

  • Click in the checkbox (gray box) next to a map layer name to turn it on. Some layers are automatically turned on as you enter the application. Many map layers can be shown at the same time. 
  • Map layers are grouped by theme and stored in group folders. By default these folders are open to display all map layers, but they can be closed.
  • Use the "Refresh Map" button below the list of map layers to redraw the map with the current layers selected.
  • Some layers only appear at certain scales (indicated by the magnifying glass icon), or show more or higher resolution as you zoom-in (for example, roads, rivers, and elevation).
  • To see the air photo or base map layers, you need to have the opaque layers (land use and elevation) turned off. If they are turned on, they will cover up whatever air photo or base map layer you have turned on.
  • Left-click on a layer to bring up another page with more information about all the layers.
  • Whatever layers and area you have specified for viewing you can use to create a map for printing or for pasting into a document.
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    Map Legend Window

    Click on the Legend button to open the Map Legend Window. Legends are displayed for all map layers that are visible in the map window. To return to the Map Layer window, click on the 'Map Layers' button.

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    Report and Documentation Window

    This window is used to display information about a map when you have used the (Information) map tool. To return to the Map Layer window, click on the 'Map Layers' tab.

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    Use the Map Tools

    Click on a picture of a tool with the left button of your mouse to make it active.

    Overview Map Show an overview map of the state, highlighting the area selected. The overview map appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and is automatically turned on when you start NorthStar Mapper.
    Zoom In Zoom into the map to show a smaller area. After left-clicking on the zoom-in tool, draw a rectangular box on the map-viewing screen with your mouse. To draw the box, left-click your mouse in the upper-left-hand corner of the area you want to zoom into, then drag the mouse down toward the lower right-hand corner, drawing a box that is outlined in red. When the box includes your area of interest, release the mouse. The map area will automatically be redrawn to match the box that you drew.

    As you zoom in, more layers may become visible on the screen.

    Zoom Out Zoom out of the map viewing screen to show a larger area. Left-click on the Zoom Out tool, then left-click in the map viewing area on the point from which you want to zoom out. The actual extent of the zoom is determined by the system.
    Previous Extent Go back to the previous map area viewed. This option can be used many times.
    Full Extent Show the full extent of the map (the entire state of Minnesota).
    Pan Move sideways around the map in any direction. Left-click on the Pan tool, then left-click the mouse at a point within the map view screen, and drag the mouse to pull a new area of the map into view.  (There are additional map navigation options built into the map window itself: see the arrows at the top, bottom, sides, and corners of the map window.)
    Information Find out more about particular features on your map. Click on this icon, then left-click on a spot on the map for which you want information. Information will be returned for all of the layers you have turned on. This information is displayed in the right-hand panel, where the map layer information is normally displayed. To get back to the map layer information, click on the 'Map Layers' button.
    Get Elevation Click on this icon, then left-click on a particular location on the map to get an elevation reading for that location. The answer appears just below the map window and is given in both feet and meters above sea level.
    Share the View Save the web address for this particular map view. The URL (web address) in this window can be copied and pasted to a file for saving, pasted into another browser or sent to another user. Or you can right-click on the link and use your browser menu to bookmark, copy, or send this link. You can use this later to bring up this view – just as you currently see it – in another application or save it for a graphic.
    Print Create a map of the area and data themes currently displayed in the map window. When you left-click on the print, a popup window will display which asks for a title for the map. Enter a title in the textbox. Left-click on "Create Print Page" to open a new browser window with the Map Image, Overview Map Image, and Legend displayed. You can then use the File/Print menu item to send the display to your printer. Or use your browser's Save options to save the page for future uses.
    Download Data Draw a box and download data for use in geographic information systems (GIS) software.

    Note: For the download to work, you need to disable the 'popup block' for this application in your browser.

    To download layers, left-click the icon to activate this tool. Then draw a box on the screen around the area for which you want data.

    A popup window will appear with a list of all downloadable data layers. Check the boxes for whichever data layers you want. Click on the 'Download' button. The system will process (extract) your data layers, create a zipfile of all of the layers, and in a new popup window ask you whether to open or save the file. Check the 'Save' button. Browsers may differ from here. Some browsers ask you where you want the file saved. Indicate a download address on your computer and click ‘OK’. Others just save the file to your desktop.

    Vector data sets: Vector data sets (showing lines or polygons such as roads, rivers, lakes, city boundaries, or park boundaries), are in shapefile format. The "clip" option used will include all polygons which are fully or partially contained within the bounding box. Partial polygons are not clipped to coincide with the bounding box because some attribute information associated with the clipped polygons might be corrupted.

    Raster (grid cell) data sets: Raster data sets such as imagery or land use are clipped to the bounding box, to the nearest whole raster cell. Output formats are as follows:

    • Air photos:  JPG
    • Land cover data:  TIFF with world file (.tif and .tfw)  This option is currently not available.
    • Elevation data:  BSQ with world file (.bsq and .bqw)  This option is currently not available.

    Due to the large size of raster data sets, the raster data zipfile has a size limit of 25 megabytes (downloading air photos covering the area of a section or a township should work, but the area of a whole county would be too large). If you exceed the limit, break your download request into smaller map areas. It is also possible through other applications to download most of these data sets for the entire state or to download some imagery in county files.

    More Information See a page listing the source and scale of each map layer. For full documentation about a specific map layer, click the symbol in the 'More Detail' column for that map layer.

    To get back to the 'More information' page from a metadata report, use the back button in your browser. Closing a metadata page or the  'More Information' page will bring you back to the main mapping page.

    Help View this help page.


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    Set Scale

    Type the scale you wish the map displayed at in the map window. Click the "Go" button to re-display the map at approximately that scale. Note that the scale is only approximate because the user can change the size and resolution of the map display window.

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    Problem Solution
    "Response from previous requests not received" This message displays when NorthStar Mapper is still working on an earlier request. In the status bar at the lower left of the screen, you will see "Waiting for geoserver.state.mn.us..." or "Transferring data from geoserver.state.mn.us..."

    Just click OK in the error message box, and let the program finish what it's doing. When the status bar says, "Done", you can click on something else.

    A common way to get this error is to double-click on the map when the Zoom-in, Zoom-out or Pan tools are active. Just click once and you will not get the error.

    "Unable to display MapService. (ERR0923) Unknown ArcIMS Service NorthmapAQLite" This error means there's a problem with the service and that MnGeo needs to restart it. Please contact us at:  gisinfo.mngeo@state.mn.us

    The error will also display between 5:30 - 5:40 a.m. when the services are restarted each morning.

    "Form for posting request not found. Unable to communicate with server" This error appears if you double-click the map when the Information or Elevation tools are active.

    Hit the OK button to close the error window and try again, this time using just one click.

    The map window appears distorted;
    The upper half of the window shows a background layer such as air photos, and the lower half shows the reference map;
    The pan arrows are no longer at the corners of the map window;
    The zoom and pan tools don't produce expected results.
    Any of these problems can result if you change the size of the NorthStar Mapper window.

    To fix this, first resize the window until it is the size you want, then hit the Ctrl key and the F5 key on your computer keyboard at the same time. This will reload NorthStar Mapper so that everything is in the right place. If you subsequently resize the window, repeat the Ctrl and F5 key combination.

    When trying to download data using the Internet Explorer browser, a warnings are displayed saying that downloads are blocked from this site, then "To display the webpage again, Internet Explorer needs to resend the information you've previously submitted. If you are making a purchase, cancel to avoid a duplicate transaction. Otherwise click retry to display the webpage again." Change your Internet Explorer security settings so that under Tools/Options/Security Tab/Custom Level/Downloads, the setting for "Automatic prompting for file downloads" is Enabled.
    Buttons on my browser, such as Back or Print, don't work right. Do not use your browser's buttons. Instead, use the navigation tools and the print tool that are built into NorthStar Mapper.

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    NorthStar Mapper is a service of the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo), MN.IT Services, State of Minnesota.

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    Questions or Comments?

    Email gisinfo.mngeo@state.mn.us

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