Getting Started

Very Important: Before starting Manifold, go to the Windows Control Panel Display dialog Effects tab and make sure that the Show window contents while dragging check box is not checked. In Windows XP this option is found in the Control Panel's Appearances and Themes - Display choice under the Appearance tab by pressing the Effects button. Checking this box will greatly slow down the system when displaying complex maps and images because it forces a refresh of the window contents with each change in mouse position while dragging the window.




Manifold's main documents are projects, which use Manifold .map project file format (".map" = manifold project). Within Manifold the standard Windows menu items File - New, File - Open and File - Save commands will create, open and save .map project files.


Projects contain a portfolio of components. Components are images, drawings, tables, labels, charts, maps and other items.




Some components always have subsidiary components. Whenever a drawing is added to a project a subsidiary table for the drawing will also be automatically created. The table stores data fields for objects in that drawing. Surfaces will be created by default with a subsidiary terrain. The terrain shows the contents of the surface in a 3D window.


Creating a New Project


1. Create a new, blank project with File - New. This opens the project pane.

2. Using File - Import , import any drawings, images, tables and other components desired.

3. To add blank components, use the File - Create menu to add new blank drawings or other components.

3. Use File - Create - Map to create maps that show the components in the project.


By default, when Manifold System starts up it will open with a new, blank project. To open an existing project, simply use File - Open to open the new project.


The Project pane


The project pane shows all components we have in our project. Open/close the project pane with SHIFT-ALT-P or with View - Panes - Project.




In the default hierarchical view used for the project pane, components that are linked to other components will be shown indented below their parent component. Drawings, for example, always are linked to a table that contains the data fields for the objects in the drawing. Images that are palette images will have a palette linked to the image. Surfaces will have a terrain component created by default for the surface and may have one or more subsidiary terrain components.


Names of components are marked with an asterisk * if they have been added to the project or changed since the last Save command.


Manifold works with only one project at a time. To work with different projects (say, for example, to copy and paste data between projects) we can launch two Manifold programs and switch between them.




Images are photographs or scanned data composed of pixels and normally imported from "raster" file formats like .bmp, .gif, .jpg and similar. Most people are familiar with pixel image editors such as Microsoft Paint, Microsoft Photo Editor or Adobe PhotoShop.




Multichannel data sets will be imported as a series of images, one for each channel. Images can also be created from surfaces and other components. See the Tools - Make Image topic.




Drawings consist of points, lines and areas and are normally imported from "vector" file formats like .dxf, .shp, .mid/mif, .mfd/mdb, DLG, SDTS and other formats. What many older GIS systems call "maps" are called drawings in Manifold. Many people are familiar with vector editors such as classic CAD editors like AutoCAD, or from vector style graphics editors like Adobe Illustrator. See the Import and Export topic for more information on specific import dialogs.




Unlike simple CAD or vector graphics editors, Manifold can attach database information to objects in drawings. Every Manifold drawing has a table linked to it. Each row in the table is a record that corresponds to an object (point, line or area) in the drawing. Each column in the table is a data field. Tables linked to drawings have at least one field, the object ID field that gives the unique, numeric identification number for each object in the drawing.




Labels are components that contain text annotations that can be manually created or automatically created from the information in a drawing's table.




Manifold has a vast array of label capabilities to allow us to create labels using different fonts, colors, styles and other characteristics. Virtually every characteristic of a label can also be controlled automatically based upon information in a parent drawing. For example, labels can be placed on lines so they follow the shape of the line as seen in the above illustration.


Automatic creation and control of label characteristics is very important because many times the projects we create in Manifold will be seen through views that are automatically created. For example, if we create a map with many layers in Manifold and that map is displayed to people through a Manifold Internet Map Server web site, each view seen in that web site will be automatically created based upon however that particular user zooms or pans into the map.


In such cases, what is seen in the map view, be it the lines of drawings or the positions of labels, will be automatically created by Manifold. If we learn about Manifold facilities for the automatic control of labels we can create a map that will look good and serve its purpose regardless of how it is viewed.




Surfaces are like images in that they consist of pixels. Surfaces are used to represent continuously varying data such as terrain elevation data and are imported from a variety of formats such as DEM, SDTS and similar.




Manifold shows surfaces by default in 2D displays like the one above, where the surface is seen from overhead with shading to make the ups and downs of the surface more evident. By default surfaces are shown using grayscale coloring, but Manifold makes it very easy to color the surface by its height such as in the illustration above.




Terrains are 3D views of surfaces. Whenever Manifold imports or creates a surface it will automatically create a terrain for that surface as well.




By default a terrain is a ground-level view looking North from the approximate center of the surface, with the 3D terrain uncolored. It's easy to color the terrain as we like and to "fly" about the terrain to whatever view we like.




A map displays one or more drawings, images, surfaces or labels stacked up as layers. The "white space" in drawings is normally empty space that is transparent so objects in lower layers can be seen. Images and surfaces do not normally have any "white space" (although some images or surfaces may have regions of transparent pixels) so these are normally used as the lowest layer in a map or shown with partial transparency so that layers below them can be seen. Layers in maps may be made partially transparent using an Opacity setting.




Maps can show drawings and images in any projection desired. Even if a drawing was created in one geographic projection, a map using that drawing can show it in a different projection. Different maps using the same drawings or images can show those same drawings or images in different projections at the same time.




We can create as many maps as we like within a particular project, and those maps can mix and match components from the project however we wish. The maps do not duplicate the components they contain as layers. Maps are just a way of viewing and organizing components in layers. Maps can contain layers that are drawings, images, surfaces or labels.


Creating a New Map


We can create a new map using whatever source materials we like:


1. Create a new project using File - New. This opens a project pane.

2. Using File - Import, import any drawings and images into the project the new map will use.

3. Create a new map in the project using File - Create - Map. We must specify the name of at least one drawing or image this map will use. In the Create Map dialog, check all the drawings or images from the project you would like to appear in this map.

4. Double click on the new map in the project pane to open it in a map window.

5. Drag and drop any additional drawings and images from the project pane into the map window. This adds them to the map. To add layers to the map we can also right click on any existing layer tab and choose Add - Layers from the context menu.

6. If images are not already georeferenced, they must first be georegistered so that they appear in the proper geographic location at the correct size.

7. If desired, change the projection used by the map.


When a map is created it is always based on at least one drawing, image, labels component or surface. When a map is first created in a project it uses the projection of whatever component(s) it uses. If it was created using only one component the projection of that component will be used for the map. If a map is created using multiple components at the same time, then the map is created using the projection of the largest image or surface in the map. If there is no image or surface a random choice of one of the native projections of one of the constituent components will be used.


If we would like the map to use a specific projection that's used by one of the components it shows we can easily specify the projection to be used by right-clicking on any layer and choosing the Use Projection choice from the context menu. The map will automatically switch to using the native projection used by that layer.


Importing Drawings, Images and other Components


Use File - Import to import a new drawing, surface, table or image into a project. Importing a drawing will automatically create a table that is linked to that drawing. Import more than one item of the same type by using CTRL-click to choose more than one file when browsing in the Import dialog. We can also click on one file and then SHIFT-click on another to highlight all the files in between if we wish to choose several files for import.


Importing a component into the project copies the data into the project file. All of a project's components are normally kept in a single file, the project's .map ( map = manifold project) file. Importing an image, for example, copies the data from the original image file into the .map file, making the .map file increase in size. Keeping all components within one file makes it easy to copy projects and to send them to other people.


Database tables may be either imported into the project or linked to an external database file or data source. Tables that are linked to an external source are not copied into the project even though they appear to be inside the project just like any other table. Data in externally linked tables is fetched "on the fly" from the external file or data source as it is needed.


We can also create linked drawings that are automatically created based on external database tables. We can also create linked images that are brought into a project from a variety of external sources.


Finally, when using Manifold Enterprise Edition a project can include any component that is linked into the project from a Manifold Enterprise server.


To save a component from the project into a non-Manifold format, use the File - Export command. For example, any image in Manifold can be saved into popular graphics formats such as .bmp or .jpg, and drawings can be exported into popular GIS formats.


Creating New Components


The File - Create menu will insert a "blank" component. It is often used to create blank "layers" for incorporation into a map or to receive objects that were copied from another drawing and are now being pasted into their own drawing.


A nuance: drawings, images, surfaces and labels components within geographic systems must be created with an awareness of geographic location and scale to be used together in a sensible way. Manifold will try to do this automatically by using either reasonable defaults or by taking into consideration the location and scale of the component that is active when the new component is created.


If no component is open the File - Create dialog will create the new component with a default Orthographic projection centered at the 0,0 world latitude/longitude origin. If a map, image, drawing, labels or other component window is active when the new component is created, the new component will be created using whatever projection is used by that active window. This context-sensitive setting of default projection parameters makes it much easier to create new components using projection parameters that are hassle-free by default.


We can also create a new, blank layer in a map by right clicking on any existing layer tab and choosing Add - New Drawing or New Image or New Labels. This will create a new component of the desired type in the project and add it to the map as a layer just above the active layer. The new component will be created using the map's projection except in the case where a New Labels command is used to create bound labels from a drawing. In that case the new bound labels component will use the same projection as the drawing upon which it is based.




Components are items such as drawings or images that appear in the project pane and make of a Manifold project. The data for components is normally stored inside the .map project file; however, some components (images, drawings, tables and surfaces) can be linked components that are created based upon data sources, such as database tables or streamed data from image servers, from outside the project. In that case, the linked component's data is not stored within the project but is dynamically fetched from the source.


Note that linked components can also be created from local components stored inside the project. For example, we might create a linked drawing that is created based upon a query where the query acts on a local table inside the project.


Components include:





Often referred to as vector documents or vector "maps" in older GIS systems, drawings are used in CAD systems for blueprints or in vector GIS systems for mapping. Drawings are made up of objects that may be points, lines or areas based on specific coordinates. Every Manifold drawing is linked to a table. Every object in the drawing corresponds to one record in the table. Manifold can import drawings from a vast array of different GIS and CAD formats. Drawings that are automatically created from database tables are called linked drawings and are shown using an icon that includes a yellow "database" cylinder.



Themes are displays of a drawing shown using different formatting. Manipulating a theme is just the same as manipulating its parent drawing. Themes make it possible to show drawings colored or presented in different ways without having to duplicate the drawing.




Images are composed of pixels arranged in orderly rows and are often referred to as raster images in older GIS systems. Most of us know images as the familiar pixel-based images we edit in Microsoft Paint, Adobe PhotoShop or Microsoft Photo Editor. Images in Manifold can also be multi-channel raster data as well as visual images. Images are normally imported into a Manifold project. One special type of images, compressed images, may be linked into a Manifold project from external files or compressed image servers. Linked images may also be created from queries and database tables as well as from image servers such as TerraServer or OGC WMS servers, in which case they are indicated with an icon that incorporates a "database" cylinder.




Database tables may be included either within a project or linked from external database providers so that the data they contain is fetched "on the fly" as it is needed. Tables linked from external sources are shown with an icon that includes a yellow "database" cylinder. Manifold includes an immense array of database capabilities that work with tables and which may be used for database manipulation of tables from almost any database management system.



Labels components show text labels that are either entered manually or are automatically created from data fields linked to drawings. Labels components may be created in a variety of ways, such as making a Copy of drawing objects and then Paste As a Labels component.



Maps show drawings, images and text labels as layers in a map window. An important function of maps is showing the data they contain in projected form, where the native coordinates of drawings are transformed into a desired geographic or other projection and where images are referenced into the desired coordinate system and shown in projected form. Map windows are the main user interfaces within Manifold. Maps are used not only for geographic presentation but also for working with non-geographic images and drawings in many layers.




Surfaces are raster data sets that contain data values, such as elevations, for each location. They are almost exactly analogous to images except that instead of a color value for each "pixel" they contain a data value. The default way to show a surface is as a shaded relief 2D image. Surfaces are called "grids" in some GIS packages. Surfaces may also be linked from queries or tables, in which case they are indicated with an icon that incorporates a "database" cylinder.



Terrains are surfaces shown in three-dimensional views. Every terrain has a parent surface. Terrains are most often used to show 3D views of the surface of the Earth based on terrain elevation data; however, they may also be used to see abstract data such as population gradients, temperatures or other data as 3D surfaces. Each surface can have an unlimited number of terrain views created for it.



Profiles are subsidiary components of surfaces that show a path over the surface. They are used to compute elevations, which show the cross-section of height along the path. Profiles are visible in a project only if the optional Surface Tools extension has been installed.



Elevations are subsidiary components of profiles that show the cross-section of height through the surface along the path. Elevations are visible in a project only if the optional Surface Tools extension has been installed.



Charts allow database table visualization and data mining using a simple 2D charting style.



Certain types of images compress data by saving a single number for each pixel that is an index into a lookup table of colors. A palette is the lookup table that specifies what colors to use for different pixel values. Manifold allows different palettes for use with images. These may be kept within the project as separate components. This is especially useful when using "false color" to view multi-spectral raster data images.



Layouts allow the creation of different arrangements for printing the project or exporting a layout to a format such as .pdf or .ai.. One might save several different layouts for different sizes and resolutions of printers, for example.



Queries are saved queries written in Manifold SQL. Manifold includes a complete SQL engine as extended with high-performance spatial, networking, logical and "fuzzy" predicates. Query windows are unusual in that they support multi-level Undo / Redo.



Scripts are written in any Microsoft .NET language or any ActiveX scripting language such as Visual Basic Scripting Edition, JavaScript (both included by default with Manifold System) for which an ActiveX scripting engine is available on the system. Scripts may be used to extend the capabilities of Manifold System or to customize the appearance and function of existing capabilities. Script windows are unusual in that they support multi-level Undo / Redo.



Manifold includes the ability to create script-based forms or dialogs that provide various controls and call other scripts. Forms are often used to create simplified interfaces for inexperienced users.



Written notes and comments we wish to make. Comments components are also used whenever text reports are created within Manifold. For example, importing from formats such as SDTS will often create comments components that contain the metadata text embedded into the SDTS files. Comments windows are unusual in that they support multi-level Undo / Redo.


A Window for Everything


Double click on a component in the project pane to open it within its own viewing window. Alternately right click on it and chose Open. If a component is already open, double clicking on it in the project pane will bring that component window to the foreground. To open multiple copies of a component, right click on the component and choose Open in New Window.


Components will open in a window with characteristics appropriate for that type of component. Tables will open in table windows, surfaces will be seen in 2D shaded relief, terrains will be seen in 3D view windows and drawings, images and labels will be seen in their own types of windows.


Most Manifold windows will use progressive rendering, which enables other commands to function even while the window is still being painted. This is very useful with large, complex components that might take some time to render. For example, even before a large drawing finishes rendering we can begin zooming in to a region of interest. When a component is small enough to render very quickly, progressive rendering will not be noticed because the component will be rendered in a single pass.


Maps are seen in a special type of window that has layer tabs at the bottom. Maps are the main user interface in Manifold because maps show components like drawings, images, surfaces and labels components in layers. Maps show their contents in a stack of multiple layers and can apply a variety of effects such as opacity / transparency that work only with layers. Drawings and images are normally viewed through the map that includes them. Labels components are almost always used within maps.


If desired, we can double click directly on any drawing, image, surface or labels component and see it in its own window. There are two main differences between a map window and opening a component by itself in its own window:


·      Maps can contain multiple drawings and/or images in layers, so map windows have layer tabs and other controls for working with layers. Each drawing window or image window works only with one drawing or image so it has no tabs or other controls for multiple layers.

·      Maps can use projections that are different than the native projections of the drawings and images they contain. Map windows will re-compute coordinates on the fly so that all layers appear properly within the projection used by that map. A map window can work faster if the map and the components it contains all use the same projection.


We can open as many windows as we like, including multiple windows for the same map, drawing, image, table or other component. Each window may be operated independently to allow different views into the same component. All windows viewing a given component will be updated to reflect any changes made to the component as they are made in any window for that component. Components will "remember" their previous settings, such as selections that were made, and show them in any window in which they appear.


3D Rendering Speed


Terrain windows require a video graphics card using a reasonably modern graphics processor and OpenGL acceleration in hardware for smooth response in their 3D display. The cost of modern graphics hardware, like a graphics card using a fast nVidia graphics processor, is very low so it pays to get a really fast card.


No Scroll Bars


To navigate within Manifold image, drawing or map windows use the Center button, the Grabber or hot scroll commands using a ALT-right click. ALT-right-clicking near the edge of the screen will scroll it in that direction. Hot scroll works faster than scroll bars and requires less accuracy with mouse clicks. It also saves screen space that is wasted when many windows are open at once and each has scroll bars.


See the Windows topic for more information on hot scroll.


The Startup View


By default, component windows will open up to show the view used when the component was last opened. If the last time we opened a map the window showed a zoomed in view and then we close the window, the next time we open that map the view will also be zoomed in. This behavior is controlled by the Save last used view in component option in the Tools - Options - User Interface dialog.


If desired, we can also designate a startup view to be used whenever that component is opened regardless of how it was last displayed. See the Views pane topic for more information.




Some dialogs are so frequently used within Manifold that they are implemented as panes. Panes may be left open "always on top" or docked into the main Manifold window. The Selections pane, for example, shows any saved selections for the current component. The Layers pane provides a extended list-style presentation of layers that is easier to use than layer tabs when a map contains many layers. Panes will automatically update their contents to apply to whatever window has the focus.


Use SHIFT - ALT keyboard shortcuts to turn panes on and off rapidly. Experienced Manifold users will almost always turn panes on and off with SHIFT-ALT commands (such as SHIFT-ALT-S to turn the Selections pane on and off) instead of using the View - Panes menu. See the Windows topic for more information on keyboard shortcuts.


Intelligent Menus and Toolbars


Manifold knows which window is active. Toolbars and menus will automatically adjust so that the commands they present are appropriate to that window. Commands that do not make sense (such as pixel selection when working in a drawing window) will automatically be disabled. Panes that are left open will automatically update their contents to show status for the active window.


System Activity Indicator


images\btn_system_active_off.gif The System Activity indicator in the status bar at the lower right hand of the screen changes shape whenever Manifold is busy executing a command.


images\btn_system_active_on.gif When the system is busy it will show a 3D "bump".


If desired, unchecking the Quiet system activity indicator in the Tools - Options User Interface page will change the indicator to use colors.


images\btn_system_active_green.gif The default color for system idle status is green. This may be changed by changing the System Activity Indicator Idle color in the Tools - Options Colors page.


images\btn_system_active_red.gif The default color for system busy status is red. This may be changed by changing the System Activity Indicator Busy color in the Tools - Options Colors page.


Some users prefer a less-intrusive 3D bump, while others prefer a dot that changes color. Some users may want a quiet indicator when the system is not active but a colored indicator when the system is busy. To achieve this effect, uncheck the Quiet system activity indicator option and to specify the same gray color as is used for Manifold window frames as the Idle color. The dot will then change from a "quiet" indicator to red when the system is busy.


If not in quiet system activity mode, the system activity indicator will show a busy color indication if the system is doing something in background. For example, if the system is fetching tiles from an OGC WMS image server in background (see the Linked Images from OGC WMS Servers topic) it will show a busy indication.




At times we may launch a very demanding command that will take some time to accomplish. Some jobs may be so computationally intensive that they may require hours or longer to run. It is often convenient to set such jobs running while we continue work on another computer; however, in such cases it is also convenient to have Manifold play a sound or otherwise alert us when the job is done.


The Tools - Options - Sounds dialog allows us to specify whether or not we want a sound to be played at the conclusion of a lengthy process, how long the process must be before a sound is played and, optionally, a .wav file from which a sound can be taken.


The Status Bar


The status bar at the bottom of the screen displays information on command status, location and other useful information. The leftmost region of the status bar is used to display brief descriptive phrases or captions relevant to the current command, somewhat like extended tool tips. Not all commands will show such descriptive phrases.


The rest of the status bar provides readouts that apply to the currently active window. Not all readouts will be active for all types of windows. For example, the Location and Scale readouts will not be active for table windows. The Scale readout will be active only for projected components and maps. Options specified in the status bar page of Tools - Options may be used to turn on and off the readouts in the status bar shown below.





The name of the projection (coordinate system) in use.


The current location of the mouse cursor, usually in longitude and latitude. Can be in X, Y native coordinates for the projection. Locations are always given Longitude first and then Latitude in the traditional X, Y order, since longitudes are X, horizontal coordinate values and latitudes are Y, vertical values.

Scale or Size

Enabled only if the component is projected. Show the current scale using the format chosen in Tools - Options - Status Bar. Options are:

absolute scale (#:#) - Absolute scale in 1:xxx form.

relative scale - Relative scale as ratio between one centimeter or inch and the scaled number of meters/kilometers or feet/miles, as in 1 in : 364.84 miles

horizontal extent - Shows the horizontal size of the current window.

Choice of English or metric units is set in Tools - Options - User Interface.


The number of objects selected, if any in drawings, labels components and tables.

For surfaces, this status bar position will show the height of a surface layer at the current mouse cursor position. For map windows containing multiple surfaces, if a surface layer is active the status bar will report the height of the uppermost visible surface layer.


Shows "Snap" if a snap mode is active.

Selection Mode

Current selection mode: Replace, Add, Subtract, Invert or Intersect.


Name of the current mouse mode command.

System Activity

Changes shape into a 3D "bump" whenever Manifold is busy executing a command.


The location readout may be changed in Tools - Options to show the location in different ways. Likewise, a Tools - Options - Status bar setting allows switching between different styles of showing scale.




The illustration above shows alternate choices for location and scale readouts. The location shows the longitude and latitude in degrees, minutes and seconds format. The scale readout shows the width of the current view in kilometers.




The leftmost portion of the status bar has multiple uses. It normally is used to show extended messages that accompany tool tips when the mouse cursor hovers over a command button. With commands like the Tracker the leftmost portion of the status bar will show the tracker readout.




For some commands, like selection commands, the leftmost portion of the status bar will be used to show the dimensions of the area selected in the units used for the current projection taking into account the local scale and units settings in the Edit - Assign Projection dialog for that component. If the component is georegistered the sizes shown will be true dimensions.




"On center" commands that start with a central point and then draw a circle, box or ellipse will report both the dimension and the central location used by the command.




For example, in the Select Circle command seen above the circle fits into a box 8824 meters wide and high and it is centered at approximately -109 longitude and 25 latitude.




Manifold can work with data saved in both projected and unprojected coordinate systems from all standard GIS formats. Unprojected maps are usually easy to import automatically no matter how geographically unaware the GIS format being imported. GIS data saved as projected maps might require user intervention in some cases if the format does not save the projection parameters necessary to use the data.


Any image or drawing or map can be re-projected using a virtually unlimited choice of standard projections offered by Manifold. See the Projections and Imported Components and Projections topics for details.


Georegistering Images and CAD Documents


Many images and CAD documents that we would like to use in GIS projects will come to us stored in file formats that, unfortunately, fail to save the projection and georegistration information that is required to easily use such images and CAD documents.


Perhaps, for example, we have an aerial photograph of a school campus that we would like to use as a backdrop for a nice map of the campus. Or, perhaps we have architectural plans of a new factory that we would like to show within a site map. Manifold has tools to enable us to use such data even if it originates in formats that are geographically unaware.


The process of adding these non-geographic documents to a geographic map and moving, re-projecting or resizing them to the correct position is called georegistration and is covered in the Georegistration topic. Although the process is simple, it must be learned and correctly applied if images are imported from formats that do not save georegistration information.


Manifold will automatically apply a projection to all images and CAD drawings (by default, the Orthographic projection) imported from geographically unaware formats. This is the right starting point for most non-geographic images and drawings that are to be used in maps. If desired, another projection may be specified if it is a better fit to the data, or images or drawings may be georegistered into a more precise match to any given component.


Database Operations


Manifold includes a very rich set of capabilities for working with databases either as separate tables or as tables linked to objects in maps. Although a major use of Manifold is to work with tables linked to drawings within maps, the database capabilities of Manifold are so strong that many users will use Manifold to view, analyze and manipulate database tables that have nothing to do with drawings. Quite a few people use Manifold as a personal information manager, since tables are easy to create in Manifold.


Database operations are accomplished using a combination of table windows and the table commands used in table windows, the Database Console , SQL queries , transform toolbar , Active Columns within tables, and ViewBots applied to tables. Some of the menu commands used with tables can be quite large subsystems, for example, as in the case of the Decision Support System . See the Rank Columns / Decision Support System topic for an example using Decision Support.


A useful Manifold subsystem used with databases is the Chart system. Charts are created from tables and then configured using a variety of presentation options and data grouping options.




Manifold may be programmed in several ways:


·      "Ad hoc" programming using Active Columns in tables or ViewBots.

·      Using SQL queries to perform analyses, alter table structure and otherwise make updates.

·      Writing scripts using Visual Basic scripting, Javascript or other ActiveX scripting languages.

·      Calling Manifold System from external programs.


There is no additional programming language or toolkit to purchase in order to program Manifold. Every system includes the ability to use Visual Basic scripting or JavaScript to write sophisticated, forms-based programs using standard Windows controls. If you do have a programming environment such as Visual Studio, you can use that as well without the need to purchase any other options.


See the Programming Manifold topic for more information on programming.




There are two ways of printing within Manifold:


·      The contents of any component window can be immediately printed using default settings and simple options.

·      For more sophisticated control over print layout, a Layout is created and opened. Components that are to appear in the layout are dragged and dropped into the layout and then resized, moved and adjusted as desired. We can then print the layout.


The most sophisticated print layouts will normally feature a main compositional element that is a map. This map will consist of many drawing, image and labels components to create the visual effect desired. Because maps provide very rich editing capabilities they are the natural "console" within which to work when creating desired effects.


Experienced Manifold users will therefore often put most of their compositional efforts into arranging the main map as desired. They will then use that map as the main element in a layout and will add other components to the layout rather sparingly. It is often a matter of taste and convenience whether a particular compositional element is placed within a map or is dropped into the layout as a separate element.


Suppose for example we have a map of wetlands that is to be printed and we wish to have a title block that includes a main text title hovering over a corporate logo. We could create the entire ensemble with both the wetlands drawings and the text labels and image used as the title block as a set of layers in one map, as illustrated at the end of the Layers topic. This map could then be dropped into a print layout that consists of just that one component.


Alternately, we could create a map showing the wetlands and then create another map that just consisted of a few labels and image layers that made up the title block. We could then drop the wetlands map into a layout and also drag and drop the title block into the layout. We would then print the layout that now is made up of two components.


The former approach allows creating everything within the same map window so that all layers are immediately at hand to allow adjustment of any visual aspect of the map. The second approach allows us to create a standard title block that could be recycled into other print layouts. Most production print jobs will include a combination of the two methods.


Typical Workflow


The workflow in mapping projects aimed at visual presentation consists of a few basic steps:


·      Decide which drawings are to be used.

·      Import those drawings into the project.

·      Format those drawings for a pleasing and efficient basic appearance.

·      Arrange the drawings as layers in a map.

·      Project the map into an appropriate projection, if desired, and project the layers to match the map's projection (for speed).

·      Create any new drawing layers in the map as necessary.

·      Edit drawings to remove or adjust objects or to move them between map layers.

·      Working in the map window, refine the formatting of the drawings for the exact visual effect desired.

·      Improve the presentation with additional layers that contain text labels or images.

·      Create a print layout and drag the map into the layout.

·      Edit the print layout, adding any elements, resizing elements and placing elements as desired.

·      Print the layout or export it to a .pdf or other file format such as .ai for further processing in other programs.

·      If desired, publish the map to the web using the Manifold Internet Map Server .


Each of the above steps may involve nuances. For example, we will likely open and review various drawings before we decide which will be used in our project. If we don't have necessary drawings on hand we will have to locate them or create them.


Importing drawings from other GIS or CAD formats may be very easy, or it may involve some detective work to uncover what projections or other parameters were used to create them and manual adjustment of drawing properties.


It's often the case that drawings we use in a map will require editing. For example, perhaps we want to create a map of France and Germany but the only drawings we have available show all of Europe. We can copy only the objects for France and Germany and paste them into a new drawing that we will use.


Or, perhaps we are using a large, complex data set like TIGER/Line where part of the art of using the drawings is getting rid of very many unwanted items such as lines that show various grids or special zones in which we have no interest.


Editing will often make use of numerous Manifold tools and will require more advanced skills. For example, we might want to create a map of a single county that shows streams and rivers in the county, but perhaps the drawing of streams that we have shows streams as continuous lines that extend past the boundaries of individual counties. In that case, we'll have to learn enough about Manifold editing tools to "cookie cut" the streams with county outlines so that we can delete those parts of the streams lines that extend past the county boundary.


Formatting will often involve thematic formatting, which uses data fields from the table linked to a drawing to automatically color or otherwise format the drawing. Depending on the visual effects desired, we may spend a substantial amount of time making adjustments in formats, editing drawings, creating new layers (drawings) and moving objects between layers to achieve exactly the effect desired.


When Manifold is used for serious analytic work we will often work with tables and the data they contain. In addition to the above workflow steps we will usually open tables associated with drawings and make selections, create ViewBots or perform other analyses. For example, we might use drawings as a visual means of selecting data in tables and then export that selected data into external database tables or Excel .xls spreadsheet tables.


When maps are used for visual exploration of data we may add facilities such as Zoom Ranges to improve navigation or to better present the data.


.map File Compression


By default, .map files are automatically compressed when saved to disk and automatically decompressed when read into Manifold. The compression ratio achievable varies depending on the types of data (components) that are in the .map file. A typical mix of components and data will usually result in a factor of five or seven compression compared to the size of a .map without compression. .map files consisting of large, mostly empty images and surfaces can result in compression ratios of up to 1 to 100.


Compressed .map files will automatically be decompressed when loaded into Manifold. Uncompressed .map files will be read directly into Manifold.


Compression does require additional time when opening and saving .map files. Users blessed with very large disk storage space may wish to turn off compression (in Tools - Options ) to enjoy faster loading and saving of .map files. In addition, compression requires additional working space on disk because compressed .map files are first decompressed to a temporary file and then loaded into Manifold. One must therefore have enough free space on disk to have a copy of the fully decompressed temporary file on hand. Considering that a 20 megabyte compressed .map file can decompress into a 100 megabyte temporary file, one should always have ample free space on disk for temporary files.


Manifold's compression algorithms are lossless and do not cause any changes in the data. They are similar to the compression algorithms used in PC and UNIX "zip" style programs and result in similar compression ratios. When saving a compressed .map file to disk there is no gain to be had in further compressing it with a "zip" program. One can therefore send compressed .map files through the Internet without feeling a need to further compress them with WinZip or similar utility to save space and transmission time.


Setting Background Color


The default background color for all components is set in the Tools - Options dialog. Each individual component can have its background color set by opening the component in a window and choosing View - Properties.




The Tools - Options dialog contains many options to control Manifold configuration. For example, If desired, we can use Tools - Options to tell Manifold not to launch with a blank project.


Some options are very important. For example, the Import empty columns in tables option is not checked by default. Columns in tables that contain no values will not be created when a table is imported. To preserve identical table structure even if the table does not contain any data in some columns, check this option.