See the Installations topic for instructions on installing and activating Manifold.
Watch tutorial videos for a fast start:
Manifold Tutorial 1 - Navigation and User Interface
Manifold Tutorial 2 - Add Data and Create a Map
Manifold Tutorial 3 - Export Data and Print a Map
Visit the Videos page for many more live action videos.
For an overview of 9, see the Introduction.
To start work right now, go straight to Getting Started.
See Changes and Additions for what is new in the latest build.
Release 9 is the BFG of GIS. Do not make the mistake of thinking it can be learned by poking at toolbar buttons. Instead, watch the videos and read basic topics in order starting with Read Me First and then the Getting Started, Panes, and Basics chapters. That sounds like a lot but it goes fast.
Take a break from time to time to watch videos and to read a few Examples in the user manual, especially those in the Introductory Examples chapter. Learning the basics in that way will avoid endless frustration and will give you a fast launch with a truly mighty tool.
The best way to search the user manual is a search engine, like Google. If we are looking for previews, for example, launch Google and then in the search box enter:
That will search for "previews" just within the user manual.
This user manual describes both Manifold Release 9 , called Release 9 or just Manifold, and the free, read-only version of 9, Manifold Viewer, called Viewer.
Viewer is a free product from Manifold that is a read-only version of Manifold Release 9. Everything in this manual applies to both Release 9 and Viewer except for the following limitations of Viewer:
Viewer is read only. We can view anything, but we cannot edit the files we view.
Open projects created in Release 9, but no saves of projects and no creating new projects.
Imports / Links / Reads / Views all Release 9 file formats, projects and data sources (DBMS, web servers, etc.), but read-only.
Does not print.
No scripting and no programming add-ins.
Other software can use ODBC to connect to Release 9, but not to Viewer.
Viewer, like Release 9, can connect via ODBC to DBMS and other packages.
Excluding only the above limitations, Viewer retains all other Release 9 features, like full spatial SQL, full CPU and GPU parallelism, superb visualizations, and truly epic analytics. The entire, huge capability of 9 to work with projections / coordinate systems, including zillions of high accuracy grid transformations and over 7000 coordinate systems, is all there in Viewer. With Viewer we can create spectacular visuals and make screenshots of them to use in web sites and publications.
We can use Viewer as a client to connect to and browse major databases like Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and DB2, and to a seemingly endless range of other data sources and file formats. We can save complex queries that we often use in text files, and then copy/paste them into Viewer for execution. Although Viewer is read-only, we can save frequently used DBMS and other data sources as Favorites in Viewer, so the next time we launch a Viewer session we can use them with a single click. Viewer can also be used to create LiDAR spatial indices, and to edit localization files.
Viewer is so similar to Manifold Release 9 that the same user manual - this user manual - covers both Release 9 and Viewer. Viewer users who read this documentation should keep in mind the above limits to Viewer. If a command or menu option does not appear, that is usually because of one of the above limits in Viewer. In most situations the situation will be clear.
Manifold does not provide technical support for Manifold Viewer. Hey, it's free!
To get support on Viewer, read this user manual, watch the videos, or ask questions of other users on the Manifold Forum.
Manifold and Viewer do not automatically check for updates. After installation, at any time check for any newer versions available by launching Manifold and choosing Help - About. When the About dialog is launched, Manifold will reach out through Internet to check for a new version.
Always run the latest version of Release 9 or Viewer. Don't be scared of using Cutting Edge builds. Run those. Newer versions of 9 or Viewer are free to download. If 9 has been activated on a machine, no new activation will be required to uninstall an older build and to then install a newer build. If you cannot open a Release 9 .map or .mxb project file, install the latest version of 9 or Viewer and try again. Older versions of 9 or Viewer might not be able to open projects created by the very latest build.
The Changes and Additions topic always lists key changes in the latest build. Scan recent changes to get started while updates to documentation are prepared and published.
Manifold Release 9 and Manifold Viewer have different installation options to suit different needs. For step-by-step installation and activation please see these two topics:
For earlier versions of Windows, you must login with genuine and full Administrator privileges to install Manifold. Being a member of the Administrators group often is not enough as some Windows versions by default do not give full Administrator privileges to users who are members of the Administrators group. It is best to login as THE Administrator login to install Manifold.
See the Installations topic for additional important information on hardware and software requirements.
The Manifold GUI uses English by default. To use other languages for the GUI, provide a localization file as discussed in the Localization topic. Anyone can create a localization file for a desired language. See the Manifold website for examples of localization files contributed by users.
64-bit Manifold installation packages install both 64-bit and 32-bit versions of the product. We can launch either or, if we like, we can simultaneously launch both 64-bit and 32-bit versions.
Run 64-bit Manifold in 64-bit Windows. Normally, in 64-bit Windows we would always run 64-bit Release 9 or 64-bit Viewer.
Why launch a 32-bit version of Release 9 or Viewer in a 64-bit Windows System? We usually do that when we need to connect to 32-bit software that is running in 64-bit Windows. In some cases we may have to launch in 32-bit mode to connect to Microsoft Office formats. See the Launch in 32-bit Mode topic and the Microsoft Office Formats - MDB, XLS and Friends topic.
Most file names in Windows end in what usually is called a three letter extension, which is usually three or four letters at the end of the file name following a dot . character. The three letter extension is one way Windows at times (but not always) keeps track of what a file is supposed to be. Unfortunately, by default Windows assumes that users are morons, so it hides the three letter extensions of files and instead tries to associate files with whatever program it thinks should be used to open that file. That may be helpful for inexpert consumers, but for skilled users it is inconvenient and can be misleading when working with the many file formats that Manifold and similar products utilize.
Tech tip: Please turn off the hiding of extensions by Windows. A typical way to do so in most versions of Windows would be from Windows Explorer, choose Tools - Folder options, press the View tab and then in the Advanced Settings pane ensure that the Hide extensions for known file types is unchecked. Press Apply to Folders and then press OK. You will then be able to see extensions such as .map and others. See also the Essay on three letter extensions and why the default hiding of them by Windows is such a bad thing.
Release 8 is the prior generation of Manifold GIS products. Manifold Release 9 and Manifold Viewer utilize Radian technology .map format. Release 9 or Viewer can open Manifold Release 8 .map files but Release 8 cannot open newer, Release 9 .map files that use Radian technology.
Automatic conversion: If we open a Release 8 .map file in Manifold and then Save that .map file it will be saved in newer, Release 9 .map format. Manifold will warn us the file already exists and will offer to save using an incremented name to avoid overwriting the original Release 8 .map, but if we insist we can use the same file name to overwrite the original Release 8 .map file. To retain the ability to read the original .map file in Release 8, make sure to save the .map file created by Release 9 using a different name. Use File - Save As to save under a different name.
Automatic conversion when Linking: Linking a Release 8 .map file or creating a new data source based on a Release 8 .map file will also cause that .map file to be converted into Release 9, Radian .map file format. Make a backup copy of any pre-Radian .map files you wish to retain in the old format before you open them or use them in a Manifold project.
Manifold Release 8 can connect to newer Manifold projects using the Manifold Release 9 ODBC driver. That facilitates interchange between newer Manifold projects and Release 8. See the discussion in the Projects and .map Files topic and the Example: Connect to Manifold from Release 8 topic.
Release 9 is a completely new product, far beyond incremental improvement on Release 8. Release 8 users should invest the time to learn 9 as a new product by reading this documentation and by watching videos. Attempting to operate 9 by analogy to 8, clicking buttons and choosing menu commands that seem to be right, will cause frustration, because 9 is different and workflow is different. Avoid such frustration by investing a few days into learning 9, for a fast and easy launch.
Although data from Release 8 is freely usable in 9, queries and programming for Release 8 must be rewritten for version 9. However, code (and queries) optimized for 9 will often perform ten times faster than the 8 version and at times even one hundred times faster. For most operations 9 is much faster than 8 and for some operations, particularly on larger rasters, 9 can be astonishingly faster than 8. Time invested to learn 9 is definitely worth it.
Much of the ideology is the same in 9 and 8: there are components, they can be stored in a single .map file, there are selections and transforms, and the UI has multiple windows, panes, toolbars, and so on. But there are many differences too: you can link data in every format which you can import, all components use tables to store their data, transforms generate SQL code, the multiple windows are tabbed, there is only one toolbar and most commands in 9 have been moved into panes, dropdown menus and other controls, not toolbar buttons. Watch the videos and read Help topics to see what is still the same compared to what is different.
SQL code for 8 will not work in 9 out of the box: it has to be adjusted. Function names and parameters are different. 9 has many more SQL functions and parameters and they do much more than in 8. Things like the Surface - Transform dialog, geocoding, and many other things which were separate tools in 8 are now part of the SQL engine in 9, done in SQL using very powerful functions or done in point and click transforms. Release 9 also has many different SQL constructs which were not present in 8, such as multi-statement queries, user-defined SQL functions, values, clauses for parallel computations, means to run parts of a query on a remote database, and much more. The SQL engine in 9 is the Radian engine, a much more sophisticated, more powerful, and much richer SQL environment than in 8.
Script code for 8 will not work in 9 out of the box: it, too, has to be adjusted. The differences are bigger than with SQL because the object model is very different: it concentrates on working with databases, tables, queries, and records, leaving higher-level things like transforms to SQL. SQL and scripts make for a powerful combo in 9: you can write a script function and call it from a query plus you can call a query from a script as well. Scripts, therefore, end up being different from what they were in 8. Add-ins are scripts, so they too will need adaptation.
You can use 8 and 9 together, at least in the beginning while learning new approaches. 9 will read .map files created by 8, and 8 can access data managed by 9 through the Release 9 ODBC driver. 9 will also read Enterprise storages created by 8 if you have those, plus 9 will work with any tables created or used by 8 that are stored on databases. The important thing to watch for when using 8 and 9 together is .map files: a .map file saved from 9 will not be readable in 8, so it is better to keep 8 and 9 version .map files separate and to give 8 and 9 version .map files different names.
Check the Changes and Additions topic to see recent updates not yet integrated into this documentation.