AI 7.x Symbol Converter


This sample Visual Basic program is used to convert ArcInfo Workstation 7.x symbols to ArcMap style files. This sample is provided as an 'As is' example. Some symbols may not be converted exactly as they appear in Arcplot. This is in part due to some of the limitations noted below. This program only works with ArcGis revision 8.1 SP 2 or later and Workstation 7.x or later symbolsets. The information obtained from the Workstation symbolset is stored into an interim Access database. The information in this database is then converted to an ArcMap style file.

This program is not intended for use with symbolsets that utilize patterns from IGL, Intellifont or PostScript fonts. This program does not convert IGL, Intellifont or PostScript fonts. There is no direct conversion process for IGL or Intellifont to TrueType. This must be done as a manual process using a third party typeface editor. The symbols can then be recreated utilizing the Style Manager from ArcMap. ESRI has recreated IGL fonts 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. These should be in the Windows OS\Fonts directory as esri_216.ttf, esri_220.ttf, esri_221.ttf, esri_222.ttf, esri_223.ttf, esri_224.ttf and esri_225.ttf. These fonts will not match in the conversion program. The reason is that IGL fonts can and often do start with pattern 1. TrueType fonts start at 32 (space character). Therefore, the patterns specified in ArcPlot for an IGL font will usually not be in sync with those from a TrueType. As long no special patterns have been added to fonts 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25, symbols utilizing these should be able to be manually recreated using the Style Manager in ArcMap.

While every attempt is made to closely match the symbols from one program to another, there are limitations on exactly what properties can be copied. Most of these limitations are based on the design differences in symbology between the two products. Every attempt has been made to substitute a similar looking pattern for those types of symbols in 7.x that have no direct counterpart in ArcMap.

How to use:
  1. Start the program by double clicking the SymbolConverter.exe file. This will initialize the menu shown in figure 1. Select the type of symbol to be converted. Use the browse button to the right of the 'Input symbolset' field to search for the specific type. Next, select the output database by using the second Browse button to navigate to directory where the interim access database will be stored.

  2. If the symbolset was created using PageUnits Centimeters, change the 'Input units' to Centimeters. You can also type in a different category for the symbols. ArcMap uses the category field to group symbols of like values within the symbol selectors. Refer to the ArcMap documentation for more information. Press the 'Create Database' button.

  3. If the input symbolset utilizes a pattern from a TrueType font as a symbol, the following dialog is displayed. A list of the fonts found within the symbolset will be shown in the left hand column. Use the dropdown list of Windows installed fonts and the 'Add' button to create a one-to-one matching list of fonts. The match list must be in the same order as that of the symbolset list. You must have a matching font installed into the Windows OS\Fonts directory for this conversion to work. When the input symbolset contains IGL, PostScript or Intellifont fonts, these fonts must first be recreated using a third party typeface editor. Additionally, the pattern numbers from the input symbolset font must match the pattern numbers from the selected TrueType font. Press the 'OK' button after all of the fonts has a matching record.

  4. You may convert more than one symbolset into a single Access database. This is especially useful when converting grouped symbolsets (e.g. color.shd, color.mrk, color.lin). All symbolsets must be converted prior to pressing the Build Style button. Once the Build Style button is pressed the database is closed to all additions. Note than when the database is converted to the style, all symbols will be added to the same style.

  5. The Access Database can now be converted to the style format. Use the first 'Browse' button to select the database created in the previous steps. Use the second 'Browse' button to specify the new style file. Press the 'Build Style' button to begin the final conversion.

    For stipple fill symbols. Create a directory named 'references' under the same directory where the .mdb file was created. Copy all of the .bmp files necessary for a converted shadeset to this directory.

    Some bmp files created on a UNIX platform may be in the X11 format. These files are not compatible with ArcMap. The files must be opened in an image editing software package that supports X11 bmps and saved out again as a standard 24-bit bitmap file.

    The following 7.x linetypes are substituted as markers in ArcMap: scallop, diamond, scrub, dot and vertex marker. Zigzag is converted as a solid line. Slant is converted to hash. This will result in the above lines appearing slightly different between the two programs.

    The following 7.x shadetypes are converted as markers in ArcMap: rectangle, dot and randomdot. This will result in differences between the two programs.

    The positioning of patterns within marker symbols is handled differently between Arcplot and ArcMap. Once converted, the offsets for markers will need to be readjusted through the Style Manager.

    Input symbols have a maximum of 51 layers.

    Mark/gap templates for marker lines and hash lines do not translate from Arcplot to ArcMap. An estimate is made and entered into the output style. It may be necessary to modify the template from the Style Manager.


Minimum ArcGIS Version Required: 8.1.2

Difficulty: Advanced

Visual Basic
File Description
SymbolConverter.bas Module for the Symbol Converter.
MakeTables.bas Module for creating the interim Access database.
SymbolConverter.frm VB form file used as the main interface within project.
FontMatch.frm VB form file used to match fonts within the input symbolset.
OutputMode.frm VB form file used to determine the output option for existing files.
SymbolConverter.vbp Visual Basic project file.
SymbolConverter.exe The compiled symbol conversion program.
MakeStyleApp.exe The compiled style builder program.

Key CoClasses: Workspace, Database, Recordset
Key Interfaces: IAISymbolSetReader, IAI70MarkerSymbol, IAI70LineSymbol2, IAI70ShadeSymbol3, IAI70TextSymbol, IAISymbol