ISOM migration – v2000 to v2017

Maps, Orienteering, Sport

The biggest news in the orienteering world now is easily the official sanctioning of the newest successor to the International Specification for Orienteering Maps. ISOM 2017 will come into force on 1 May 2017, less than 3 weeks later; the transition period will end on 1 January 2018, at which point all forest (middle/long distance) events must use the new standard.

Although there are eight months left before you’ll be required to adopt the new standard, I strongly recommend you to make the transition from ISOM 2000 to ISOM 2017 as soon as possible – especially if you don’t have events to hold for the rest of April – by converting your maps to the newest symbol sets. OpenOrienteering Mapper has not updated its symbol sets yet; OCAD has released an update which is also compatible with OOM (use the zip package for OCAD11).

Of note, the ISOM 2017 document is licensed under CC-BY-ND-4.0, probably the first IOF map specification to be released under any Creative Commons license.

A crude sum-up of the biggest symbol changes (very crude so don’t punch me for inaccuracies):

ISOM 2017 vs ISOM 2000

Okay so you’ve decided to make the “small” step to convert your symbols (to accomplish the “great” step for orienteering) – you’ll soon find out the hard part being that the bulk of the symbols have their numbers changed! No worries – I’ve made the following correspondence guide below to help you. The ISOM 2000 set on the left is the default from OOM while the ISOM 2017 set is from the OCAD update.

ISOM2000to2017 p1ISOM2000to2017 p2ISOM2000to2017 p3ISOM2000to2017 p4ISOM2000to2017 p5ISOM2000to2017 p6

1. The discrepancies in decimal digits – being variants of the same symbol – are not significant and simply reflects differences in symbol handling between OOM and OCAD
2. Ignore the reversed directions of the cliffs and earth banks – again it stems from differences between OOM and OCAD
3. 521 Building – Black 65% is recommended for large buildings in urban areas. For small buildings or buildings in non-urban areas, the original black 100% can be used
4. 532 Grave – I wrote “custom symbol in Hong Kong” since it has been used with such frequency in Hong Kong, I speculate that the Orienteering Association might just decide to keep this as a special local usage. It is important to note that this symbol is gone from ISOM 2017 (from the 2015 draft onwards).

Last but not least, remember to factor in the transition when you coach orienteering – remind your students/cadets how the symbols will change in less than a year’s time!

Release of the ISSOM passability placard for public use

Maps, Orienteering

Today I am releasing the ISSOM passability placard, which adorns my sprint orienteering maps since 2015, for public use under the CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.

The license means, in short, that you are free to use the placard in any of your works as long as you attribute it to me (there’s an attribution in the files which you should keep) and use the same license to release the placard.

The placard describes which features are allowed to be crossed and which are not. It helps beginners identify passable and impassable features. Symbols are at 1:4000 scale.

ISSOM passability placard (600dpi)

22 Feb 2014

Maps, Orienteering, Running and athletics, Sport

Now I know what happens when one gets a sub-3 in marathon – not just my running and orienteering friends, but also my music friends, kept asking in the past week if I did get a sub-3 in marathon. To many a sub-3 marathon is an impossible dream, and difficult even for a marathon finish. If you are willing to try, there are always some way or another you can make it. (And by the way, my official time is 2h59’05”, quite a lucky sub-3.)

Tomorrow is the first orienteering ranking race in Hong Kong, and my first in the elite class. Trying not to give pressure on myself. Let it be.

The open space near the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui (adjacent to the Sogo store, which closed down not long ago) recently underwent a revamp in anticipation of the renovation of the Art Museum, during which the museum will close its doors for three years (?) and hold exhibitions in that space. This necessitated an update of the Cultural Centre orienteering map which I made a full year ago. Minor updates are also made. (The updated map and the before/after comparison below)



Newly completed map – Tsing Yi Park


The map was completed yesterday with some fine tuning done tonight. The place is Tsing Yi Park, on the island of Tsing Yi opposite to Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. The size of the paper is A5.

Despite its small size, the park includes some knolls as well as entry-permitted lawns and woods. Adjacent villages (St. Paul’s Village and Fishermen Village) are included on this map.


Working map preview – Taipingshan district


The Taipingshan district is an “old city” area in Central/Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island. It is named after Victoria Peak which towers behind it.

In the 19th century it was densely populated with poor living conditions, and one of the most horrid memories of the city originated here: the bubonic plague, which eventually lead to demolition of whole street blocks, the resulting open land becoming today’s Blake Garden (named after a governor of Hong Kong).

With the outward expansion of the city, population density in the Taipingshan district have (seemingly) decreased and today the area is a quiet one. Heritage (e.g. Man Mo Temple) and curios shops remain important tourist attractions, and certain restaurants and dai-pai-dongs are famous among Hongkongers for their delicacy. Together with numerous small shops they give the district a lovely character. The myriad of backstreets, cul-de-sacs and staircases offer possible exciting orienteering possibilities – the reason I am making this map.

The following is a part which has been done (1:4000, 2m contour interval).