Create Your First Layers and Start Drawing

Create your first layer and start drawing.

Video Transcript

This video shows you how to start with a blank map and start drawing a sewer and water network.  If sewer and water are not your thing, these exact same steps can be used to draw gas, electric, signs, or whatever you want to map. 

If you don’t already have a diamond maps account, you can create a free trial account by going to and clicking the start free trial link here.  If someone else on your team already created an account, have them add you as a user on their account.  Either way, you should get an email with a link to your map. Click that link to take you to your map which will look like this.

First let’s create some layers.  Click on the layers button, then click Add, then select the type of layer you want to create.  I’m going to create a sewer manholes layer, …and then secondly, I’m going to create a sewer lines layer.  Thirdly let’s create a water lines layer …,and lastly let’s create a water meter layer. 

In the first part of this video, we will focus on a technique I call “map from your desk” where you are sitting at your computer with your paper maps laid out on your desk beside you.  In the second part of the video, we will briefly talk about how to use a GPS to map your assets out in the field.  You can choose either approach or a combination of both.  But regardless, it starts with creating your layers like we just did.

Let’s start with mapping our manholes.  According to my paper map here next to me there should be a manhole on the northwest corner of this intersection.  Sometimes you can actually see the manhole in the aerial photography which make it easy to mark.  So, I zoom in on the map, click the draw button, choose the manholes layer, click the draw point button, and then click on the map where I want to mark my first manhole.  A form will popup where I can enter information such as a manhole number. Then I click Add and that one is done. Looking to my paper map again as a reference I see that there is supposed to be another manhole down the street near this intersection, so I pan over here and mark the next manhole in the same way…

Next let’s draw some sewer lines.  To do that I go up to my draw toolbar and change the layer to sewer lines.  Then I click the line button.  For gravity mains it is important to start drawing at the up-stream end and draw the line in the down-stream direction.  So in this case I know that it flows towards the right so I start by clicking on the left side manhole and then I click my second point on the downstream manhole.  Now I could keep clicking a chain of points to trace this sewer lines path all the way to the sewer plant, but for reasonsI’ll show you here in a second, its best to draw just a segment at a time.  So, to end here at the last point I clicked I move my mouse up to the draw toolbar and click “Done”.  A box then pops up asking you to describe this segment of line.  The reason we only drew just one segment of sewer line is because you will want to be able to assign different information to each segment independent of the other segments.  For example, in the future you may want to mark this one segment as needing cleaned.    Let’s use that same process to draw another segment of sewer.

We draw water lines in the same way.  According to my paper map, a water main runs along the south side of this street.  My paper map is not real clear on exactly where this line is located but my personal knowledge says that it is just a couple feet in from the curb.  So, I choose the water lines layer.  click the draw line button. Click and release the left mouse button to mark the starting point, then click additional points to mark the path of the line. If you reach the edge of the screen but want to keep going you can press down and hold the left mouse button while you drag the screen over, then continue where you left off.  We are going to mark our last point right here because this is where the line changes size.  So, I click Done.  Then enter some information about this line such as its size and material.  Then click Add. 

A lot of people create different layers for their different size water lines, but I recommend putting all of your waterlines on the same layer.  Then later you can watch the Color Coding video to see how to configure the layer to show the lines in different colors based on their size.

Lastly let’s mark some water meter locations.  By the way, if you have or can obtain a spreadsheet listing the latitude/longitude coordinates for all your water meters, we can import those onto your map for you.  But if you don’t have that you just click draw, choose the water meters layer, click the point button, and then click on the map where the first meter goes. If you have a lot of landmarks such as sidewalks and trees, your meter reader can probably plot a couple hundred of these in one sitting and with reasonable accuracy.  Notice that the map automatically records the latitude/longitude coordinates of each meter as you click on the map.  If you want to move any point or line that you have already drawn then choose Adjust Points on the action menu, then drag the point to its correct location and click Apply.

Lastly let’s talk about the option of using a GPS to build your map.  The first point I want to make on that subject is DON’T USE YOUR PHONE’S GPS.  Either use a high-accuracy GPS or don’t use one at all.  The accuracy of your phone’s GPS is about 15 feet. I would argue that you can visually point and click on the map with a lot more accuracy than that. 

So, assuming that you have a GNSS device with an uncertainty better than 1 meter, you will first need to interface it withDiamond Maps.  We have several articles on how to do get your GNSS device to wireless talk to your Diamond Maps software running on your phone or tablet. Go to menu – Get Help – Search Help, and then click GPS.  After doing the one-time setup, take your phone and GNSS device out to the street. Click the GPS tracking button and you will see a yellow dot follow you on the map.  Stand over a meter, click the draw button, choose the meter layer, click the GPS point button, and you will see that it marks the meter at our current location, fill in any information about the meter such as the account number, and then click add.  Now walk to the next meter and repeat. 

For more help on getting started, click the help button in the bottom right corner.  Go to the video training library, or search for a help topic here, or click the ask tab and live chat with one of our team or give us a call during Eastern US business hours. 

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