Database Installations

Manifold System is often used with database management systems. In particular, Enterprise Edition is often used with DBMS packages to create Enterprise servers, or to store drawings in databases to allow concurrent, multi-user editing. Manifold traditionally has supported the three top commercial enterprise class DBMS packages, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle.


All three of these DBMS packages may be used as a spatial DBMS either using built in facilities (Oracle) or using optional, free spatial extenders (IBM and SQL Server). In addition, all three packages at the present writing are available in free "Express" editions that as of the time of this writing anyone may download from the vendor's website and use at no charge. See the vendor's web page for current availability and for details on the terms and conditions of use.


Because of free availability and superb functionality, these three packages (as well as open source alternatives such as PostgreSQL / PostGIS) are great choices for use with Manifold. The Express versions are for the most part equivalent to the flagship enterprise versions of each DBMS, with some reasonable limitations as follows:


IBM DB2 Express-C Edition

Runs on up to two processors multithreaded using up to 4 GB of RAM. No limit on database size or on the number of users. Can be enabled as a spatial DBMS by downloading the free IBM Spatial Extender for DB2 from IBM's web site.

Oracle Express Edition

Runs on one processor using up to 1 GB of RAM. 4 GB limit on database size. No limit on the number of users. Supports full Oracle spatial SDO_GEOMETRY technology. Does not support Oracle Spatial GeoRaster technology.

SQL Server Express Edition

Runs on one processor using up to 1 GB of RAM. 4 GB limit on database size. No limit on the number of users. Impressive integration with .NET and Visual Studio. Can be enabled as a spatial DBMS by downloading the free Manifold Spatial Extender for SQL Server from the Updates page on the web site.


New users skimming this documentation for the first time might mistakenly think that to function correctly Manifold requires installation of a DBMS package. That is not the case. All editions of Manifold include within Manifold itself very sophisticated and powerful DBMS capabilities so that Manifold may be used without any need to install additional DBMS software.


However, in addition to Manifold's internal DBMS capabilities, Manifold can also utilize external DBMS packages like the three mentioned in this topic to provide additional benefits to users. Especially in an enterprise setting, the use of a standard DBMS can provide additional power and capacity, enhanced collaboration with many simultaneous users and greater interoperability with applications already working with that DBMS.


Although the use of a major DBMS package has traditionally been thought of as something of interest only to enterprise users, because the Express versions of the major DBMS packages are so easy to install and because the Manifold interfaces for working with such DBMS packages are so much simpler than was previously the case with older software, many individual users or small groups have found that using a DBMS as a centralized geospatial data warehouse makes sense for them even though only one person is doing GIS.


Three World-Class Choices


Recent years have seen the emergence of freely distributed "Express" editions introduced by the "Big 3" database vendors: IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.


These editions typically include the main features of the vendor's big-time "enterprise" database product but have been limited in some way. The idea is to make it possible for independent software vendors (ISVs) like Manifold to incorporate usage of such database products so that customers can get involved with the database product, fall in love and then ultimately buy the full-fledged, enterprise version of the database product as their needs grow.


It's a highly effective strategy, as Microsoft proved by giving away free versions of the "Jet" database engine used in Access for use by ISVs. The result was tens of thousands of software applications that all standardized on the database engine used by Access. Unsurprisingly, when it came time for users of such applications to buy a DBMS package, they mostly bought Access and competitors were extinguished.


When Microsoft entered enterprise DBMS markets with SQL Server, they tried to repeat that strategy by offering the SQL Server database engine in a free, limited edition of SQL Server. Both Oracle and IBM countered that strategy by introducing free Express editions of their own products that raised the stakes on the original SQL Server Desktop Edition


In a gutsy move, Oracle incorporated a significant amount of its elite spatial technology within Oracle Express. IBM entered the fray by introducing an Express edition of DB2 that has no limits on the number of users that may use the product or on the size of databases. Microsoft pushed forward with an enhanced free edition called SQL Server Express Edition that features especially tight integration with .NET and Visual Studio. The result is that all three Express editions deliver products of astonishing range, power and quality at no additional charge.


In the summer of 2007 IBM made available at no charge the IBM Spatial Extender for DB2 for use with DB2 Express-C, and the Manifold Spatial Extender for SQL Server became available at no charge for Manifold licensees. These developments migrated all three Express editions into competition as spatial DBMS packages as well.


The traditional way to limit a free DBMS version is to limit the number of processors it can use, the size of the database it can host and the amount of RAM it can use. This allows free, extensive use of the package in smaller applications while reserving the profitable, higher end applications for the paid version that has no such limits. Oracle and SQL Server both limit their Express editions to only one processor, one gigabyte of RAM and databases no larger than four gigabytes. IBM limits DB2 Express-C to two processors, four gigabytes of RAM and no limits on the size of the database.


Whichever DBMS Manifold users choose, the availability of three of the best enterprise-class DBMS packages ever created for free download is a testament to the extraordinary competitiveness, technical skill and confidence of these three DBMS vendors. Manifold users can install these database servers to create Enterprise servers for use with Enterprise Edition or as centralized data sources to save drawings that will be accessed by other users.


No Technical Support


Important: does not provide any support whatsoever for installation, administration, management, configuration or use of the DBMS products provided by IBM, Microsoft or Oracle.


If you download one of the database packages mentioned above, please keep in mind they are not supported by and usually they are not supported by the DBMS vendors, either. If you want a supported DBMS installation, you must purchase a supported DBMS product from one of the DBMS vendors or you must purchase support products, if such are available, for the free DBMS product you are using from the vendor of that DBMS product. does not sell support products for the free DBMS products citied in this documentation.


Please do not waste technical support tokens by sending in tokens for questions about the free DBMS products. Doing so will simply waste a token to no good purpose. See the Technical Support topic for general information on tech support and using tech support tokens.


Developer level support incidents may be used for questions about Enterprise Edition features used with these three database products, but only for the actual Enterprise dialog. For example a question about connecting with Enterprise Edition via Database Console to an Oracle data source will result in an answer limited to the use of the Manifold dialog, such as explaining the purpose of the Server, User Name and Password boxes. Support does not extend to explaining how you can configure users in the DBMS, how to determine what server name is being used or should be used or how to determine whether a given user has connectivity to a given data source.


The DBMS products provided for free by major vendors are each supported by a vast industry of training products. Hundreds of books, for example, have been written on SQL Server alone, ranging from texts aimed at "dummies" to those covering the most sophisticated uses imaginable. Users intending to take advantage of these DBMS products should acquire and utilize the appropriate educational materials. It's not that difficult and many resources are standing by to help people learn and use these wonderful products.


IBM, Microsoft and Oracle are each doing a really extraordinary thing by providing free access to their incredibly elegant and powerful DBMS packages. Each vendor obviously has good business reasons for doing so, in the hope that later sales of full versions will justify the expenses of offering Express editions at no charge, but that only works if the DBMS vendors are not overwhelmed by uncooperative folks seeking free support for the free Express editions. Let's all work together not to ruin a good thing.


See Also


Database Administrator Edition

Database Console

Database Installations

Enterprise Edition


IBM DB2 Express-C Edition

Oracle Express Edition

SQL Server Express Edition