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Discussion: International specification for control descriptions updated

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 23, 2023 6:49 PM # 
International specification for control descriptions updated
Oct 23, 2023 7:12 PM # 

The list of major changes compared to the 2018-version looks like this:

● Now covers both ISOM and ISSprOM.
● Description Sheet should be printed in black.

I guess that answers that!
Oct 23, 2023 7:27 PM # 
I see they're still including the useless (but harmless) line to describe the start location.
Oct 23, 2023 7:53 PM # 
I guess that answers that! - my thoughts exactly, though I couldn't recall which thread that discussion took place in...
Oct 23, 2023 9:07 PM # 
I see it's now possible to describle controls in multi-level sprint areas but not in the way that I'd have imagined they'd do it (that should be fun for the next event set by certain members of our association). I mean, there was already an 'upper' and 'lower' in column C.

Use of Top and Beneath symbols extended to include a the Upper or Lower of two levels.
Oct 23, 2023 10:40 PM # 
It also took me a while to place the black vs purple thread-

I'm OK with this decree, however I think this issue is far from settled.
The ISOM is still at best ambiguous on this issue, and directly contradictory according to many semi-reasonable people, who are clearly supported by decades of precedent.
For me purple is prettier on the map, but if one color needs to be specified, I think black is more reasonable for the benefit of color-challenged people.

I am glad to finally see a solution for an area of distinct white within thicker green vegetation. (I believe my interest in this goes back to WOC 93.)
However, I think it would make more sense to apply the clearing symbol, because relative to the surroundings, this feature is a clearing, and the copse feature is exactly the opposite, thicker than the surroundings.
Still, I'm glad to see it addressed.

...and thanks Clint, for being on top of this and publicizing.
Oct 24, 2023 2:06 AM # 
It specifically says “description sheet” should be printed in black. To me, this references the loose description sheet. It does not seem to specify the color of descriptions printed on the map itself, or even if they must be on the map itself. As far as I know, there’s never been a requirement to print descriptions on the map itself.
Oct 24, 2023 3:23 AM # 
18.3 The control descriptions, given in the right order for each competitor’s course, must be fixed to or printed on the front side of the competition map.
Oct 24, 2023 3:30 AM # 
I think Mike's interpretation of "description sheet" as applying only to loose sheets is reasonable, but I am doubtful that this was intentional, since there is no mention of how any of these detailed rules apply to control descriptions if/when printed on the map.
Is the Rules Commission intentionally ignoring this option, and/or leaving this up to the Map Commission to regulate?
I doubt it. I suspect this is just imprecise language that should be cleaned up, perhaps by simply dropping the word "sheet".
We are still left with need for Map Commission and Rules Commission to coordinate the remaining loose ends.
Oct 24, 2023 4:59 AM # 
I'm with Mike...

I claim no expertise regarding map specs, but it is my understanding that anything added to -- effectively overlaid on -- the map -- eg, OOB, crossing points, course -- must be purple. In my slightly OCD opinion, since control descriptions fall into that category, they also should be purple.

I guess the difference is that descriptions completely cover anything already on the map sheet (I've seen examples where that was not the case, and they were UG-LY), so they are not really additions to the map itself. For this reason, while I prefer purple, I have no problem with black, and think the rule should be "control descriptions on the map sheet shall be printed in purple or black" -- just to be clear that they cannot be printed in green, blue, brown or yellow (even though that should be obvious).
Oct 24, 2023 10:54 AM # 
Also new is that 'If the clarification symbol in column C is not sufficient to unambiguously define the placement of the control flag then the feature is not suitable for a control site.' To some extent this answers tRicky's point if 'upper' or 'lower' does not unambiguously describe the location of the feature. Explanation of column C also defines that these should be used 'Where the control feature is directly above (or below) a similar feature.' Since the feature must be mapped there is a limited range of features that exist at both levels.
Oct 24, 2023 11:36 AM # 
Of no practical consequence, there is a now a map symbol (419, green X) associated with the clue: rootstock.

It was absent in the previous version and was the source of my favorite bit of "stump the chump" orienteering trivia: What clue has no map symbol...

Now I'm only left with the negative space trivia question: What are some control locations where there is nothing on the map at the center of the circle? Saddle, terrace, spur, reentrant...

In honor of the fallen (trivia question), I'm placing a single rootstock on the West Point map during today's field checking...see if you can find it at April's event. As usual, the meet notes will still say there are no rootstocks, regardless of size, on the map:) Now I just have to find one...that's big and far enough from more relevant rock & contour detail to be meaningful...
Oct 24, 2023 1:26 PM # 
Mapper games. :-)
Oct 24, 2023 1:36 PM # 
Isn't a rootstock the circle with the cross in it? I've seen both green and brown X used for that on a map.
Oct 24, 2023 2:00 PM # 
This shows how difficult it is to write directions and specifications. You try to simply state what color the control descriptions should be, and people immediately respond with, "Wait, no, there's a subtle language thing here and that's not what they meant!".
Oct 24, 2023 2:16 PM # 
Hence why impassable became uncrossable (but hey, I managed to both pass and cross the feature so the guidance must be wrong).
Oct 24, 2023 8:44 PM # 
So those little trees we call a copse which is a small stand of trees except when... uh never mind.
Oct 24, 2023 11:39 PM # 
The copse thing is weird. I agree with EricW that clearing makes more sense.

I like that they added something for map flip but wonder why they don't have a similar symbol gor map exchange other than the mandatory route with start triangle. Is that the only situation where a map exchange is allowed in the international rules?

Also... what about when 'map flip' is actually two small maps printed.on the same side of the page. I had that at a local event on Sunday and flipped my map over to see a blank page staring at me before flipping it back over to find the second half of the course. And I had seen the entire map before the start but I guess when things aren't the norm you fall back on habits...
Oct 25, 2023 12:05 AM # 
Agree with Canadian and Eric W - clearing would seem much more appropriate than copse. Or how about putting the copse symbol upside-down as a sort of anti-copse?
Oct 25, 2023 12:29 AM # 
I think it's more an anti-thicket no? A thinnet if you will. :)
Oct 25, 2023 5:37 AM # 
I'm with JJ on this one. The document says control descriptions should be printed in black, period. If they wanted you to use purple on the map and black on loose control descriptions, then they would have said so.

The use of the phrase "Description Sheet", while not super clear, presumably refers to the set of control descriptions (including the header lines, start, controls, map flip, finish). Given the absence of any instructions to the contrary, one can presume that it should be identical (including colour) whether printed on the map or given out loose.
Oct 25, 2023 11:35 AM # 
The problem is there are "instructions to the contrary" in the ISOM, as well as huge precedent.
This is an area of overlapping jurisdiction.
These two entities need to cooperate, which has been a problem in the past (the uncrossable /impassable issue?)
Oct 25, 2023 11:41 AM # 
The issue has been noted :-).
Oct 25, 2023 12:19 PM # 
Canadian’s “anti-thicket”:
Maybe model a symbol for “opening in forest” on 3.8 “firm
ground in marsh”? The thicket symbol with a round hole in the middle.

I still think clearing is far better than copse, but maybe in some language translations, that too strongly implies an opening to the sky rather than just more open at running level?
Oct 25, 2023 12:40 PM # 
Blair, glad to hear from you on this.
Oct 25, 2023 1:37 PM # 
Since we're now discussing specific symbols I feel like railway icon is too graphically complicated. If thr rails could be brought closer together and the humber of rail ties reduced to 4 ot maybe 5 (from 6) I thunk the symbol would be faster to recognize and therefore better.

Not sure if the IOF is open to that type of feedback at this stage or not...
Oct 25, 2023 2:21 PM # 
re the anti thicket,
I completely agree with Mike's suggestion of "thicket symbol with a round hole in the middle."
I'm slightly sympathetic to not wanting to create a new symbol for a seldom used feature, but if the "anti marsh" deserves one, so does this, and this proposal is the plain-as-day obvious solution.

Blair, can this issue be pragmatically noted? :-)
Oct 25, 2023 3:10 PM # 
This new "copse" symbol should at least make the bag-in-the-forest crowd happy, as it will open up all kinds of possibilities to put controls in the middle of green areas in little areas of slight breaks in the green that might or might not be detectable on the ground. Not that they were ever limited by the notion that a control placement could be problematic in the first place.

Separately, I wrote David Rosen, and his reply was completely clear: the new control description specification (descriptions to be printed in black) will apply to all control descriptions, both on and off the map.
Oct 25, 2023 7:38 PM # 
How often do you put controls on railways?
Oct 25, 2023 8:33 PM # 
NZOC - Sprint last week, could have used Railway Tracks and Upper/Lower Symbols.
Line surrounding the fenced pool area.

See Joe Lynch at 2:02 running on them
Oct 25, 2023 9:39 PM # 
Quantico has two mapped parks with little trains/train tracks like that. I don't think I've had a control on the tracks though ...
Oct 25, 2023 10:04 PM # 
@jjcote "Wait, no, there's a subtle language thing here and that's not what they meant!" and then come all the translations into other languages, and more "subtle language things are introduced ;)
Oct 25, 2023 10:08 PM # 
@Canadian - maybe they'll update the "map flip" symbol to represent all forms of "map exchange" whether as flip, exchange, or 2 or more mini-maps on a page
Oct 25, 2023 10:12 PM # 
Haha tRicky. But railways are sometimes disused, as in historical or theme parks. Aside - last week's one was mapped as a tramway, and as such near invisible:-((
Oct 25, 2023 10:29 PM # 
We've got a couple of adjacent maps separated by an active railway, and I've looked at the possibility of having courses cross between them, and keeping people off the tracks by using a control that could be described as "railway, under". But it would be more helpful to just describe it as being in the middle of a tunnel.
Dec 8, 2023 2:09 AM # 
Are the new descriptions available in CONDES or Purple Pen yet? In particular, I was looking for the “map flip”
Dec 8, 2023 3:35 AM # 
There is a beta Purple Pen that includes the new descriptions. It has a few more bug fixes and a Move/scale/rotate all controls , along with a higher resolution viewing capability (when supported by the monitor). Go to the download page on the site and look for “Show all downloads” for the beta link. Note that it is not “Signed” so expect Windows to warn you about installing leading to the zombie apocalypse.
Peter expects the non beta release by the end of the month.
I’ve only done some quick testing but all seems to work well so far.
Dec 8, 2023 2:30 PM # 
OCAD almost immediately had the update to OCAD 2018 to make printing of the control description boxes on the map in black instead of the previous purple. I had never thought about the purple but the black sure tooks clearer and crisper.
Thanks OCAD!
Dec 8, 2023 4:52 PM # 
According to, CONDES now has an update for the map flip.
Dec 8, 2023 7:47 PM # 
Condes also added:
Support for new IOF control descriptions symbol “Railway”
Dec 9, 2023 6:16 AM # 
But does OCAD include the option to print descriptions is purple?
Dec 9, 2023 1:21 PM # 
OCAD provides a lot of flexibility, you've always been able to print descriptions in any color you like if you know what you're doing.
Jan 10, 2024 9:18 PM # 
Update from the IOF:

The IOF Control Descriptions have been updated recently and it states that “The control description sheet should be printed in black.” This will be clarified in the next update because it is only the separate loose descriptions that must be black. The descriptions that are printed on the map can be black or purple. With offset printing, it would add significantly to the cost of printing if the control descriptions on the map had to be black.
Jan 11, 2024 12:03 AM # 
...don't let IOF know that nobody offset prints these days :)
Jan 11, 2024 12:27 AM # 
It's specifically spot-color offset that's the issue. There is some process-color offset going on, but you can use any color you want there. (I have no idea if there are underprivileged countries that are still operating single color presses somewhere, though.)
Jan 11, 2024 2:25 AM # 
I don't have a lot of experience with the cost of map printing but how is black more expensive than purple?
Jan 11, 2024 2:37 AM # 
I think the issue is that both colors would have to be used for the course overprinting stage, rather than just purple.
Jan 11, 2024 6:57 AM # 
My limited understanding - when I last had to work with an offset printer, the map itself is printed first, then a second run is made for the courses. Adding black is an extra colour. That means washing out and bleeding two ink delivery systems rather than one. Most offset presses were spending their days doing CMYK which meant no cleaning and bleeding. Spot colour became a pain, such that the last time we tried to get an offset map, the printer tried to outsource the job to a digital printer with a HP Indigo system without consulting with us. At that point we realised that in future our choice was process offset or digital. That was 12 years ago. The offset printery is defunct and the building occupied by a hire company.
Jan 11, 2024 9:45 AM # 
One of the things I really miss about offset printing is individually checking the accuracy of the course overprinting on 8000 maps as WMOC 2002 technical director...
Jan 11, 2024 10:41 AM # 
Something I miss from having to copy out your own course from a master map is when one of the orienteers copies his course from another orienteer rather than the master map and the original copier copied the course incorrectly. Hilarious!
Jan 11, 2024 12:37 PM # 
When we used to do offset printing here (the only option for many years) it was on a single-color press. The maps went through the press five times, once each for yellow, green, blue, brown, and black (I don't remember if it was that order or the reverse, but that all happened at the print shop and wasn't our concern). As noted above, the press had to be cleaned between colors. Sometimes there was also a pass with gray ink for bare rock. Typically we'd order 1000 maps, most of which would get courses hand drawn on them by the competitors, though for big events we'd use a finicky "stamp pad" manual course printer. A luxury that was rarely used was to send the maps through an additional time with purple ink to print courses, but if that were being done with maps that had been printed earlier, you had to have taken delivery of them as uncut sheets, because you couldn't reliably print onto trimmed maps. And uncut sheets often had other maps on them (maybe from other clubs, combined for cost savings). If you planned ahead and left blank space in the map layout, you could include control descriptions on the purple printing plate instead of just taping photocopied descriptions on, as would be done in all other cases. Offset printing of courses was rare in the USA, but standard (by necessity) for something like O-Ringen, where the numbers made it more practical.
Jan 12, 2024 9:35 AM # 
I don't miss hand drawing all the competition course maps for Badge events and state championship. Even worse was when another setter has poor eyesight and i had to redraw all his maps.

Tried the stamp out system but never seemed to get the circles to stay in the right spots so lots of wastage.
Jan 12, 2024 11:32 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I have lots of memories from the course stamp setup (it was a _huge_ improvement from the previous method of hand-drawing all the courses with a small template for the start triangle and control circles), particularly remember the very first time we had a forked relay in Norway, and I had to figure out a near-minimum number of changes needed to print all of the variations.

I really don't want any of that stuff back in my life!
Jan 12, 2024 12:56 PM # 
We managed to use a pen plotter for course printing (which wasn't bad) as well as an inkjet printer (which kind of worked), but neither really caught on. I used the stamp pad exactly once.

I really wonder if anyone is overprinting courses by any method these days.
Jan 12, 2024 9:45 PM # 
I doubt it. But the rules and specifications still contain many instances of the term "overprint". Kinda like all the banking websites and point-of-sale terminals which still talk about my "cheque account".

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