Guidance Notes for OS VectorMap Local


These notes provide guidance on using OS VectorMap Local in GIS in order to create maps and analysis using the data.

These notes refer to the vector version of OS Vector Map Local.

Feature Descriptions

Features contained in VectorMap Local are differentiated by Feature Code. Every feature type has a unique feature code that is described in the User Guide.

Detailed information and feature descriptions can be found in the VectorMap Local User Guide.

The data includes the following features:

Lakes, ponds, rivers and streams
Mean high and low water
Administrative boundaries
Urban extents
General line detail
Names and cartographic text
Ornamental features
Archaeological and antiquity information

Data Format and Conversion

The data is supplied by Ordnance Survey in GML format. For ease of use EDINA has converted the data into 2 other formats:


The data has been split into a number of feature classes:

Feature Classes (all possible)



The full list of feature codes in each feature class is in this spreadsheet.

Not all feature classes are in every tile so the exact number of feature classes will change depending on which tile you load.

A simple set of Layer files has been created that can be downloaded here. To use these Layer files, open ArcMap 10.1 and use Add add the VML.lyr file to the map frame. You will see there is a red exclamation mark next to each Layer. You should select each Layer and then right click and select Properties and go to the Source tab. On the Source tab select Set Data Source.. and navigate to teh location of the appropriate Shapefile for each Layer. Repeat for each Layer.


DWG is commonly used by CAD systems. As with Shapefiles we have created Layers in the DWG file to hold groups of data. Attributes are stored in the DWG as Extended Entity Data (or XData). This data can be viewed in AutCAD Map 3D by using the Express Tools --> Tools --> List Object Xdata or typing xdlist in the command prompt.


VectorMap Local is also provided in the native GML (Geography Markup Language) format. This is a non proprietary data format, therefore data requires conversion in order to be fully utilised in GIS such as ArcGIS, MapInfo, gvSIG, QGIS etc.

Native Support

Most GIS and CAD (ArcGIS, AutoCAD, QGIS etc.) will read the GML directly using either their Add data... options or Import Data (as long as GML is selected as the import format). This will allow you to work with the data and save it to a native format. However, it will probably not make it very easy to handle the data because, by default, VectorMap Local is in five feature classes:



Rolta UK have created a free data translator tool (Rolta VectorMap Local Loader) which converts VectorMap Local GML into ESRI Shapefiles or MapInfo TAB files. The VectorMap Local Loader tool also provides the means to apply styling to converted data. This is covered in the Styling section of these guidance notes.

To install Rolta VectorMap Local Loader:

Note: Rolta VectorMap Local loader does not work on 64 bit machines

  1. Download the software from, save the zip file to your computer and unzip.
  2. Double click the MSI or EXE file to start the installation and follow the on screen instructions.

To convert VectorMap Local GML data:

  1. Start VectorMap Local Loader and select SHP or TAB depending on which format you want to convert the GML to.
  2. Navigate to where your GML data is saved and select the file to be converted (NB: input data can either be .gml or .gzip)
  3. Choose a location to save your converted data to.
  4. Click OK.

NB: When converting to TAB files, there is the option to have styling applied to the TAB files during the conversion process. This means when you load the data into MapInfo, the data will automatically be styled. Simply select which style you would like to apply under the TAB option.


VectorMap Local data can be styled in any number of ways in order to highlight important features and add context to user's own datasets. Rolta UK and the Ordnance Survey have provided styling information which can be applied to VectorMap Local data to add standard styling, or to provide a template for users to get started with creating their own ways of displaying the data.

Rolta's VectorMap Local Loader can apply styling to TAB files during the conversion process which will enable MapInfo to automatically style the TAB files when loaded into a MapInfo session. Layerfiles (.lyr) are also provided for use with ESRI Shapefiles in ArcGIS.

Using Rolta's Layerfiles to style Shapefiles in ArcGIS:

  1. Convert VectorMap Local GML data to SHP format as above.
  2. Start ArcMap and go to Add Data.
  3. Navigate to the location of the Rolta Layerfiles on your computer. This will be the destination specified when the software was installed, it will be something like C:\Rolta\RoltaVectorMapLoader\Layer_Files
  4. From one of the folders (e.g Style1) select all the Layerfiles and click Add.
  5. The Layerfiles and their symbology will be listed in the Table of Contents in ArcMap, but with small red exclamation marks. This because the Layerfile needs to be pointed at the converted Shapefiles to read the data. Right-click any of the layers (e.g. Text) and go to: Data > Repair Data Source.
  6. Navigate to the location of your converted Shapefiles.
  7. Select the relevant Shapefile (e.g. Text) and click Add. Providing all the Shapefiles the Layerfiles are looking for in are in the same folder, ArcMap will automatically repair the data source for all the Layerfiles. All the red exclamation marks should now have disappeared.
  8. Right-click any of the layers and select Zoom to Layer to refresh the view and zoom to the data extent.

Using the OS stylesheets

Ordnance Survey have provided XML and XSL stylesheets which can be used as a guide to styling VectorMap Local data. The stylesheets are available from the Ordnance Survey VectorMap Local website. The XML and XSL stylesheets can be used with third part software to produce SVG files from the GML. This can be quite tricky, therefore, most users are more likely to manually derive the cartographic styling from the XML files and apply in GIS. Users can open the XML files in text editing software (e.g. Textpad or Notepad) and manually input the styling (e.g. colour, line width etc) into their chosen GIS. This method is useful if using open source GIS which do not support Layerfiles or the TAB file styling.