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Home - General / All posts - big print job in Manifold - some questions

3,370 post(s)
#04-Jan-23 19:12

I am actually using Manifold to develop the Department schedule (finding out classrooms have a conflict, if our core courses are conflicting with one another, and making sure a professors isn't scheduled to teach in two places at the same time. It's actually pretty cool.

The other thing I am doing is using the GIS portion of Manifold to generate each professors's schedule, and the overall master schedule for each room.

With multiple room schedules and multiple professor schedules, it would be nice to write a script that calls the SQL (i.e. pass the professor name), generate the new tables, and have the Map and Layout (of the schedule) refreshed and printed.

So, the question is, does Manifold have the ability to:

1. refresh layouts by a script

2. print the layout from a script

I've searched, and haven't found anything yet. If it can't do this, I'll probably just go back to 8, and rewrite the queries there where I know I can automate the refresh and the printing - and, I can also create a simple Form, allowing a secretary to select the name of a professor or a room, and generate the report

perhaps 8 isn't dead just yet :-)



3,370 post(s)
#04-Jan-23 21:42

Forgot to mention - that .pdf is the schedule generated by my SQL, with area features representing each of the time slots.


511 post(s)
#04-Jan-23 21:50

I think you are correct on v8 being the automation path.


2,050 post(s)
#04-Jan-23 21:58

What a great project. Isn't this how Bill Gates got started?!

I'm not sure about M9, though if not, I hope that it is something Manifold add as it was a wonderful feature of M8 and someone on the forum (sorry I can't remember who now) provided a beautiful example of layout automation which I adapted and used for many years.

The biggest problem I had with this was automatically moving the legend out of the way of the important map layers and I have been thinking about asking for this as a feature request for M9 given the recent legend additions.

Let us know where you get to with your project if you get chance as this is a really interesting use of the software.

Landsystems Ltd ... Know your land |


3,370 post(s)
#05-Jan-23 02:16

Yes, I’m probably going to give a presentation at the AAG meeting someday called

Using GIS for academic planning

I think it will be a big hit among GEOG department chairs. From there, I hope to spin it to other department chairs on campuses.

I have it working in 9 just fine. I just can’t automate things, and I don’t have a nice little form that a non-GIS person can use to run the program. 32 bit manifold 8 is great with the form tool.


3,370 post(s)
#07-Jan-23 15:32

the SQL was pretty easy, so it only took about an hour to rewrite the SQL in Manifold 8. It's a cool little program in that it:

  • allows easy entry to times, rooms, instructor, and credit hours, and course number
  • finds all instances where a professor is teaching at the time twice
  • finds all instances where a room is occupied by two different courses at the same time
  • calculates each faculty member's course load and overload
  • calculates the entire department course offerings and credit load
  • generates a room schedule for each classroom and lab and exports the results as a .pdf and sends the results directly to the printer
  • generates each faculty members schedule and exports the results as a .pdf and sends the results to the printer

I just have it as a separate script, but once we get the Fall 2023 schedule entered, and the pressure off a bit, I'll turn it into a form.

I do have to say that returning to Manifold 8 was a pleasant experience:

  • The Layout was really nice to work with (very easy, as the elements weren't as granular),
  • turning the SQL queries into a PARAMETER query and passing faculty name or room number in the script was super convenient
  • copy/paste of results of the queries to the clipboard and then into a Word document was much more convenient than writing to a new table, exporting the table to .csv, and then using Word or Excel to open the table up.
  • and I can't even begin to tell you how nice it is to get intellisense, keyword highlighting, and meaningful error messages in the SQL engine and VBScript engine.

Dan, you'll really appreciate this part: I have the schedule as Area features for each hour (9:00 - 10:00). Some classes obviously span 1 hour, so there are two boxes that indicate the same class (9:00-10:00; 10:-11:00). That's kind of ugly. So, I used the dissolve function to dissolve the area features that were adjacent to one another, and was the same class number. (see the attached .pdf) Talk about space/time analysis :-)

I did have to brush up again on the UI scripting in order to call the dissolve function, but there were some good examples from years ago that made it very easy to do. There is still a lot of really good stuff in 8, and its copy/paste capabilities of tables, drawings, etc. make it very user friendly.

I also did all the new maps, tables, and figures for my book update using 8 - for those tasks, it was just easier than using 9.

I'm finding for hobbyist kinds of things (like my book, creating powerpoints, or even this schedule thingy), 8 is so convenient and easy to use.

I find 9 to be more complicated and less convenient. But, for my work with the bathymetric data project where I am plowing through 10s of gigabytes of data, and over 100 million objects, 9 is indispensable, and the only product that can get the job done.

So, 9 is my tool for big data analytics, and 8 is my tool for hobbyist activities with less than 100,000 objects. I know that 9 will add more of those nice little conveniences in time, but for now, I'm glad I have both.



2,076 post(s)
#08-Jan-23 08:25

Very interesting Art, particularly as I recall the tedious manual process my high school headmaster father undertook back in the olden days (1950's). I do take polite exception however to my being branded as a hobbyist because I predominantly use M8 in my professional ecological consultancy, facilitating government approval of multi-million dollar projects. M9 is invaluable for big data such as state-wide data but not yet nimble enough for me to change to; part learning curve under continuing deadline pressure, part not quite there yet for my needs.

Aussie Nature Shots


3,370 post(s)
#08-Jan-23 23:25

Exception noted, and corrected. I think a better term is hobbyist and sole proprietor.

You perfectly described where the two products are at, and it is exactly the same way that I handle it. I could not have explained it any better.

Years ago, manifold had a meeting with trusted users, who all signed an NDA, where we had extensive talks about the direction of the product (I actually hosted that meeting at Cornell, and another one at Salisbury). Having face-to-face meetings with back-and-forth dialogue was very productive. I even recall the group voting on one or two items that would definitely make it into the next product. That was a fun exercise. I also remember drawing out the D8 algorithm on a napkin during lunch, and within a week or two, manifold had built the flow accumulation, flow direction, and watershed delineation tool!!

I have found in my administrative role at the University that we can exchange dozens of emails over many days, but a simple five minute face-to-face conversation accomplishes so much more. I think a number of us have found areas that we deem critical in order to make 9 productive in our work environments. But, articulating them, and advocating for them would require walls of text, and loads of back-and-forth.

It would be fun to get the band back together again and hash out ideas.

Feel free to contact me offline, Colin. We can probably work out the time zones and have a zoom call.

200 post(s)
#09-Jan-23 03:53

8 then and now:

I was at those great meetings Art organized--a bit intimidated by all the high power GIS people there even though Manifold has been my mainstay over the past 20 years.

64-bit 8 could use every bit of a CPU to get a great amount of work done even though the computer was useless for anything else for the duration. With the large datasets I worked with disk access made that duration very long.

Today even with cheap memory and SSDs 8 still takes time working with ~1 GB files but with multicore processors one can do other things while it is working like doing work with 9. 9 often requires many steps to get things set up so 8 has time to finish,

More and more tasks I needed to do in 8 are now doable in 9. The main two left I do in 8 since they are so easy there are clipping/cropping an area from a large raster DEM and copying components of one type to paste as another (table with lat/lon to drawing, drawing interpolate to surface).

. . . I don't know about getting the band back together but in my semi-retired old age I have fantasies of a GIS tour of New Zealand and Australia.


3,370 post(s)
#09-Jan-23 04:33

good assessment. I wouldn’t even touch 50GB-+ GB projects with anything but 9. And more things are getting checked off my list in terms of what it does.


10,447 post(s)
#12-Jan-23 14:17

More and more tasks I needed to do in 8 are now doable in 9. The main two left I do in 8 since they are so easy there are clipping/cropping an area from a large raster DEM and copying components of one type to paste as another (table with lat/lon to drawing, drawing interpolate to surface).

Regarding drawing interpolate to surface, try using the Interpolate transform. It can operate on the selection if needed, too. (We understand that you might have become accustomed to doing this via copy and paste, we all have habits like that. But feature-wise, the transform is richer than what we had in 8, there are more interpolation methods, you can use Z values stored in the XYZ geometry, etc. There's also a preview, saving the transform as a query for later re-use and several other things traditional for 9.)

Hear you on the rest.

736 post(s)
#09-Jan-23 04:58

Hi Art, This is a very innovative use of Manifold. A couple of questions, what does a room-time conflict look like? Perhaps over-printing? But does auto-labelling interfere and hides a label to avoid interference?

Second question, do you work with one day, one class room/lab at a time? So you generate the timetable for one room/lab for one date, copy to word, then repeat for another date for that room? Otherwise you have to have one grid of areas for each calendar date and each classroom. Suppose there are 50 classrooms/labs and 125 academic days in a year, not counting summer session. That would be 125 academic days/year X 50 = 6,250 iterations?


3,370 post(s)
#09-Jan-23 12:16

A room conflict might mean I teach in 156 on MWF from 11:00 - 12:00, and you are scheduled to teach from 10:00 - 11:15 on MW. So, we overlap for 15 minutes. We would have to adjust the schedule to remove that.

These are weekly schedules, so we only have to generate a 1 week master schedule for each room (9), and each faculty member (11). We have about 70 class/lab combinations.


10,447 post(s)
#12-Jan-23 14:19

So, the question is, does Manifold have the ability to:

1. refresh layouts by a script

2. print the layout from a script

No. :-/

We'll try to add this in the future. (We won't need 1 = refresh, just 2 = print.)

We already have means to create layouts and customize their content in every way, thanks to all of this being stored openly as component properties. We are only lacking a call to print a layout. We agree this would be a good thing to add.

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