I have used Mapinfo since version 4, I have not upgraded to version 10 as of yet.
I have used Manifold since version 6, and have the latest version.
Manifold handles many more file types than Mapinfo for all of the importation routines. (Tables, Drawings, Images etc..)
Mapinfo has used the Universal Translator from Safe Software to translate other drawing types to native
Mapinfo Tables and Drawings. (I generally only receive Shape files from outside sources, on occasion a DWG/DXF file)
Manifold is much better at spatial analysis.
Mapinfo is much better a printing maps.
You cannot analyse Imagery in Mapinfo, and reprojection was not possible until version 8.5.
You can set a default map projection in Mapinfo for the entire project. (Once my project is set up, I only work
in that projection/datum.)
The freedom to reproject in Manifold is very nice, however the inability to set a default project projection costs me time. (Button clicks, scrolling, and more button clicks. Too much redundancy of action. It would really be
nice to be able to select multiple drawings simultaneously and set the default projection, or have the default projection saved to a settings file for the project)
Importing of tables and creating drawings from those tables is very similar between the two.
Exporting with Mapinfo uses the Universal Translator when it comes to drawings, it works fairly well, Manifold still has some minor issues when exporting projected shapes, and MID/MIF files, and I have had some goofy
things happen on occasion when exporting a DXF file, but that could have very easily been my problem.
You have more control of point, line, and area styles in Manifold, however you can get the work done much faster in Mapinfo.
(I would like to see Manifold go to a single line button, point button, and area button, then have a dialog where the styles are all set from that single dialog box. It would save on toolbar space if you are using a tablet, and it would reduce my confusion at least.)
Thematic Maps are possible in both, Mapinfo allows for multiple parameters in a theme (combinations of fields)
I would like to see Manifold allow for persistent thematics. What I mean by this is I choose the field(s)
for the border style of an area, and I would like those field choices to carry over to the fill, hatching, backgrounds, and so on for those areas. (I have short term CRS, so unless I write everything down, I will forget
everything I was doing or thinking five minutes ago.)
So in other words, set the theme parameters for the points, lines, areas once in the dialog, then set the styles.
Querying tables or drawings, Mapinfo has a Query Builder Dialog that while it is limited, it is very nice.
It seems to have just enough tools for me to get my job done. (Quickly.)
Querying in Manifold takes skills, and while it has made me improve my SQL skills a great deal, there are times that a little visual help along the way would be very appreciated.
I would also like to see Manifold allow for a third type of imagery usage, one where the image is displayed simply , to be overlayed upon, instead of importation and control of the pixels, pixel by pixel, just a simple picture referenced at the corners. I know you can link images, but it seems that I have little luck in linking geotiffs or tiffs with tfw files in Manifold.
Labelling in Mapinfo is easy but weak, rotation of the labels is not possible without an external routine.
I typically create a layer then generate text objects in Mapinfo rather than using the labelling dialogs.
I create the text using a point coordinate plus a directional offset and rotation, along with the font, color, size, border or box then just carry on with what I need to do.
This also works when you need to create a great number of text objects for something like a seismic exploration grid. I will choose the points that I want to have the numbers displayed for by the modulus of the number and the specific numbering interval I desire, and generate the associated text objects.
I have a great deal more control over a text object than I do a Label.
Manifold has much better labelling, but I still get strange things at times. I would also like to just be able to plant some text in a drawing layer without it being a label, similar to a sticky note. I do this quite often in Mapinfo, it is very handy.
Surfaces, with the surface extension in Manifold they are handled quite easily and very well, you need Vertical Mapper for Mapinfo to do this. This adds another $1000.00 to the cost of your Mapinfo seat.
I have used Manifold quite often for slope analysis, to determine if vehicular access is feasible or cost effective.
You cannot do this in Mapinfo without Vertical Mapper. (You can, but I won't go into detail, it just isn't expedient)
Scripting, Mapinfo needs MapBasic. It was purpose built for Mapinfo, and it gives you very good control over the objects you are working with. The criticisms of it are that it is purpose built and limited to use with Mapinfo, it also has a 64K program text file size limitation. You can create multiple program objects and link them together, but it takes a bit more thought.
I have written many very productive and time saving routines with MapBasic, so I am kind of biased, it has fed me and my family for the past fifteen years, and will continue to do so for a long time to come.
Manifold uses external programming environments such as Microsoft Visual Basic, Visual C#, Java, etc.
You already knew this. It is good that it is open in that matter, it makes for more versatile users and developers.
It does take more time to develop a script in my opinion this way, there is just more to learn, and there is much more syntax involved. This is a worthwhile tradeoff in my opinion in most cases. Unless you are a noob. Then, good luck, and I hope you are a quick learner.
When it comes to paper map production there is no comparison, Mapinfo runs away from Manifold.
Mapinfo is relatively weak cartographically, but it is easy to put together a nice layout with legends positioned
neatly and get it to print/plot quickly.
I am still fighting with Manifold on this one, and I shouldn't have to fight this hard.
When it comes to printing actual maps with the same data, imagery and similar layouts styles the render time with Manifold is too great to be in a production map generation environment.
I typically print between 20 and 40 maps a night, usually 36" by 36" or greater with imagery, tabular data, legends, and mapping data. It usually takes Mapinfo five to ten minutes to render the map and send it to the plotter, I have waited hours for the same map to be printed with Manifold. (Same computer, same plotter, same data, all print data was printed in computer memory to avoid too little memory errors in the plotter, also this is comparing Mapinfo to 32 bit Manifold, there have been plotter driver issues in 64 bit Windows.)
Manifold will upload waypoints to a Garmin GPS unit, Mapinfo will not.
The GPS consoles are pretty even when it comes to usage.
Mapinfo uses the Geographic Tracker by Blue Marble, it is fairly simple to use after setup, it is somewhat limited in its functionality but we have worked around that.
Manifold has more functionality in its GPS console, but it is a bit more complicated in its use. It does not have a persistent position indicator which can be very frustrating at times, but it does collect a great deal of data from NMEA compatible equipment that Mapinfo does not. (Water Depths, Temperatures, Dome to Transducer heights, etc..) If you are using Manifold on a small screen, you will have to move your tool buttons around to be able to use them, hence the above suggestion regarding single style buttons.
I use both of these packages nearly daily for some reason or another.
I find that I use Manifold to get answers, do analysis, reproject images, and import unsupported file types in Mapinfo. I also use Manifold to verify my results from other software packages.
I use Mapinfo to make maps, lot and lots of maps.
I will never be without either of these packages.
Manifold will make improvements and one day it might be the only package that I use, but for now, I need them both.
I hope this helps.
Manifold has travelled a greater distance in a much shorter period of time, what I mean by that is, they have made much more progress and added many more features than Mapinfo in the time that I have used them both.
In fact I have used Mapinfo nearly twice as long as I have Manifold, and Mapinfo looks like it has been standing still compared to Manifold. There are some signs of life at Mapinfo since the buyout by Pitney Bowes, but there are also so pretty irritating developments of late. The one true irritant is now they are forcing you to buy support on top of the software license, so now a $1600 dollar package costs you $2000 dollars, that disturbs me a great deal.
I have never used a tech support token with Manifold, I have gotten a great deal of help here on this forum.
Just Remember, You are unique, just like everybody else!