Readme File



Mapmaker is a Python application for generating Mapbox compatible tilesets from a range of sources, currently Powerpoint slides, SVG diagrams, and segmented image files from MBF Biosciences.



We recommend that mapmaker is run in a Conda environment on a Linux or macOS system. This includes Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) for Microsoft Windows systems.


Install a miniforge environment as descibed here.


Apple macOS users may first have to install the XCode command line tools. Check if the command line tools are installed by running:

$  xcode-select -p

and if they are not, install them by running:

$ xcode-select --install


  • At a CLI prompt, and in a suitable directory, download the latest release in tar.gz format and extract it, renaming the top-level directory in the archive to mapmaker:

    $ curl -L \
    | tar xz -s /v1.7.0.tar.gz/mapmaker/
Setup the environment
  • Change into the mapmaker directory and install dependencies using Conda:

    $ conda env create -f envs/mapmaker.yaml


  • Activate mapmaker’s Conda environment:

    $ conda activate mapmaker
  • From the mapmaker directory use python to execute

    $ python ARGUMENTS
  • SciCrunch is used to lookup attributes (e.g. labels) of anatomical entities. In order to use these services a valid SciCrunch API key must be provided as the SCICRUNCH_API_KEY environment variable. (Keys are obtained by registering as a SciCrunch user).


  • Download and extract the archive of the latest release as above, overwriting the existing mapmaker installation directory.

  • With the Conda environment active, and within the mapmaker directory:

    $  conda env update -f envs/mapmaker.yaml

Command line help

$ python --help
usage: mapmaker [-h] [-v]
                [--log LOG_FILE] [--show-deprecated] [--silent] [--verbose]
                [--clean] [--clean-connectivity] [--background-tiles] [--id ID]
                [--ignore-git] [--ignore-sckan] [--invalid-neurons] [--publish SPARC_DATASET]
                [--sckan-version {production,staging}]
                [--authoring] [--debug] [--only-networks] [--save-drawml] [--save-geojson] [--tippecanoe]
                [--initial-zoom N] [--max-zoom N] [--min-zoom N]
                [--export-identifiers EXPORT_FILE] [--export-neurons EXPORT_FILE] [--export-svg EXPORT_FILE]
                [--single-file {celldl,svg}]
                --output OUTPUT --source SOURCE

Generate a flatmap from its source manifest.

  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --version         show program's version number and exit

  --log LOG_FILE        Append messages to a log file
  --show-deprecated     Issue a warning for deprecated markup properties
  --silent              Suppress all messages to screen
  --verbose             Show progress bars

Map generation:
  --clean               Remove all files from generated map's directory before
                        generating the new map
  --clean-connectivity  Refresh local connectivity knowledge from SciCrunch
  --background-tiles    Generate image tiles of map's layers (may take a
  --id ID               Set explicit ID for flatmap, overriding manifest
  --ignore-git          Don't check that sources are committed into git
  --ignore-sckan        Don't check if functional connectivity neurons are known
                        in SCKAN. Sets `--invalid-neurons` option
  --invalid-neurons     Include functional connectivity neurons that aren't known
                        in SCKAN
  --publish SPARC_DATASET
                        Create a SPARC Dataset containing the map's sources and the generated map
  --sckan-version {production,staging}
                        Overide version of SCKAN specified by map's manifest

  --authoring           For use when checking a new map: highlight incomplete
                        features; show centreline network; no image tiles; no
                        neuron paths; etc
  --debug               See `log.debug()` messages in log
  --only-networks       Only output features that are part of a centreline
  --save-drawml         Save a slide's DrawML for debugging
  --save-geojson        Save GeoJSON files for each layer
  --tippecanoe          Show command used to run Tippecanoe

Zoom level:
  --initial-zoom N      Initial zoom level (defaults to 4)
  --max-zoom N          Maximum zoom level (defaults to 10)
  --min-zoom N          Minimum zoom level (defaults to 2)

  --export-identifiers EXPORT_FILE
                        Export identifiers and anatomical terms of features as JSON
  --export-neurons EXPORT_FILE
                        Export details of functional connectivity neurons as JSON
  --export-svg EXPORT_FILE
                        Export Powerpoint sources as SVG
  --single-file {celldl,svg}
                        Source is a single file of the designated type, not a
                        flatmap manifest

Required arguments:
  --output OUTPUT       Base directory for generated flatmaps
  --source SOURCE       URL or path of a flatmap manifest

Manifest files

The sources of a flatmap are specified using a JSON file, usually called manifest.json. See Manifest Files for details.

Anatomical map file


Properties file


Shape markup




  • Python wheel available.


mapmaker uses poetry for dependency management and packaging. To create a development environment:

$ git clone mapmaker
$ cd mapmaker
$ poetry install

Building documentation

In development mode, and within the Python virtual environment:

$ cd docs
$ make html