Radian FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Layer transparency

What is Radian Studio?

Radian is a new data engineering experience that blends spatial and non-spatial data to enable data discovery, analysis and management by experts and non-experts alike. Everything involves location and anything involving location is only as good as the quality of the spatial data you utilize. Radian provides the world's finest tool for insuring that your spatial data unleashes your insights with superior quality, speed and bulletproof accuracy.

Image at right: A view of Monaco. Layer transparency allows setting the buildings layer to 50% opacity so the Google satellite photo web server layer can shine through.

Connect to almost any data imaginable, from enterprise DBMS servers to file databases to web servers to file formats. Radian handles an almost unlimited range of data types in tables, vector data, raster data, drawings, maps and images. You can manipulate, analyze, visualize, discover and slice and dice your data within Radian or in-place in your preferred storage.

Select and Transform in a Neolithic Relics Database. See Radian technology in action Watch the Select and Transform in a Neolithic Relics Database YouTube video of Manifold Viewer enabling interactive selection and transformation using point and click dialogs, to help find Neolithic relics in France.

Access, clean, prepare, blend, visualize, analyze and transform data from many different data sources at once, including Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, DB2 and many more using point-and-click templates that preview the result before you commit. Use the full power of parallel SQL, asking Radian to write queries for you or writing your own. Pull data from your enterprise database, manipulate it in place or push a blend of data into your corporate database from other sources. Automate tasks with the most powerful array of scripting languages in any spatial data tool.

The images above show how a point and click Buffers template is previewed in blue preview color in a map. As we change buffer settings in the transform dialog the preview in the map automatically changes. Besides avoiding errors, that makes it easy to pick exactly the right buffer setting for what we want to do.

Apply the effortless, easy power of Radian point-and-click dialogs or the infinite power of automatically parallel Radian SQL. Radian unleashes the full power of all the CPU cores in your system and automatically launches massively parallel computations using thousands of available GPU cores for supercomputer computational performance unmatched by any other GIS or spatial engineering tool. Nothing else comes close.

How is Radian Studio different from a GIS?

It's the difference between being data-centric and presentation-centric, a matter of emphasis.

GIS products, like those sold by Manifold, ESRI or Pitney Bowes/MapInfo, tend to focus on presentation and visuals, but usually with weaker data capabilities. Of the major professional or enterprise GIS products only Manifold's GIS has a full spatial SQL, for example. But even Manifold GIS at the Release 8 level is not a DBMS engine like Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQL Server or Radian.

The state of the art in spatial work today is that to get the most out of your spatial data you need both worlds: a presentation-centric GIS like Manifold or ESRI plus a data-centric product like Radian to do the data engineering that is difficult or impossible to do in the GIS. That is especially true for organizations using DBMS like Oracle or PostgreSQL to store spatial data, where spatial data engineering requires the power of Radian in a triangle of power between spatial engineering, data storage and GIS presentation.

Try LiDAR in Radian Now. See Radian technology in action Watch the Maryland LiDAR REST Server YouTube video showing the LiDAR data set illustrated below. Try it yourself with Manifold Viewer.

Use Radian to manipulate, to analyze and to transform your data in ways your GIS cannot. That's what spatial data engineering is all about, a data-centric workflow that combines spatial wizardry with DBMS muscle to ensure your spatial data provides the best possible platform for your success. Use the GIS you already know and prefer to present the results, to create wonderful cartographic displays or to serve to the web or to an endless array of mobile gadgets. Working together the result is the success you want.

LiDAR data from ArcGIS REST server with palette by Radian

Above: LiDAR terrain elevation data for Charles County, Maryland, from an ESRI ArcGIS REST server. Palette and hill shading done on-the-fly by Radian.

Is Radian Really New?

Yes. Radian has been created from the ground up as a single, unified, all-inclusive product. There is no need to buy anything extra or to play system integrator cobbling together third party packages. Radian includes everything you need in a single, hyper-modern package. Radian is not a fresh-looking GUI painted over older software. Instead, the Radian parallel database engine at the heart of Radian Studio is totally new technology developed today using the latest advances in data science and massively parallel engineering. Radian is not cobbled together from third party code. Manifold's professional development team, with greater coding and algorithmic experience in massively parallel processing than any other spatial development team, created all of Radian as a unified, powerful system providing "always on" parallel power for intense spatial and non-spatial data engineering.

Is Radian Reliable?

You bet. Radian is absolutely bulletproof. In years of beta testing followed by commercial use on four continents Radian Studio crashed just once. The flaw was repaired that same day for an immediate free update the next day. Today there is no known way to crash the system using native Radian features. That's a tribute to the proven, absolutely bulletproof quality of the Radian engine, which has been running for over six years, steadily evolving and improving every step of the way. Radian Studio may be the first version for you, but the Radian engine is now in the ninth generation of technology with over 160 major releases and hundreds of minor builds on the way. You can launch Radian every day for years without encountering a flaw.

"I had the pleasure to be part of the beta... The program was so bulletproof reliable that I had used it for production too..." - Beta tester

Even better, when bugs are found they are immediately fixed, typically in days, not months. Radian's rapid cycle time using frequent Cutting Edge builds published to the user forum means that any bugs discovered can be eliminated in the very next build, usually within a few days.

Do in 1/10th Second what takes others 30 minutes. See Radian technology in action Watch the Gulf Bathymetry YouTube video of Manifold Viewer opening a project file in 1/10th second that the US Government website providing the data warned will take ESRI software 30 minutes to open in the equivalent ESRI native format. That's thousands of times faster for Radian. Viewer effortlessly hill shades and styles and re-projects on the fly 7.5 GB of ultra-high resolution bathymetry data for the Gulf of Mexico. Re-projection can take hours in other packages but Viewer and Radian do it on the fly, instantly. Radian never fails.

Radian also includes fault tolerant technology for Radian file management to guard against Windows failures or hardware failures. Radian may well be bulletproof but it knows your Windows system and hardware might fail.

I use ESRI today and have massive amounts of data in Oracle. Can Radian help?

Yes. Radian has been designed to play well with and to enhance whatever technology you currently use for spatial data. Storing your spatial data in ESRI geodatabases? Cool. Radian will make it better. Using Oracle or SQL Server for your spatial data? Radian will bring a wealth of analytic power ease to increase the value of your investment while making you look like a hero for the effortless improvement in quality and productivity. Choosing a stack with PostgreSQL and open source tools for users and the web? Radian will enhance that experience and make life far easier for you. Radian is completely agnostic: whether you store your data in the hyper fast Radian engine or within whatever storage you now use, the same capabilities are cheerfully there at your fingertips.

Is Radian Studio a Database Server?

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Desktop users often use Radian as a personal DBMS, but IT users of enterprise products like Oracle or PostgreSQL would describe Radian as a very powerful client database engine. Radian has its own built-in, parallel database engine, the better to keep up with enterprise DBMS servers like Oracle to which Radian connects, but Radian is not intended as a replacement for an organization's database server. Instead, Radian enhances the value of existing servers.

Image at right: Many layers from many sources. Enjoy lightning fast visualization of data from many sources at once with on-the-fly reprojection and formatting to make even complex data immediately understood, and beautiful as well. Lavishly illustrated documentation makes it easy to master.

Radian's value in IT comes mainly from exceptionally easy ability to connect to and integrate with brand-name DBMS servers, faster analysis using built-in parallelism including parallel SQL, extensive scripting and unmatched sophistication and ease of use working with spatial data, whether the task is a massively complex spatial engineering query involving many functions and millions of objects, or just a simple Extract/Transform/Load operation transferring data from one source to another. Radian's database engine has constraints and Radian's SQL is genuinely superb with many advanced features such as the ability to define and use functions, but Radian does not provide transactions or some other features expected in a major database server like Oracle.

On the desktop many users will employ Radian as a DBMS. Radian's native storage provides high speed and huge capacity on the desktop, with pass-through nesting of project hierarchies that can provide easy access to a vast array of formats and petabytes of external storage through a single Radian project. Users will often employ Radian either as a file database system or will connect to Radian via the Radian ODBC driver to gain capabilities which some other application may lack. A package which cannot connect to some format or data source that Radian can access can form an ODBC connection to a Radian project that includes that data source.

For example, some GIS packages cannot handle a mix of object types (areas, lines, points, etc.) within the same layer. Radian can, and Radian can connect to a data source that contains such mixed object types. A Radian query could on the fly extract separate objects types and present that on the fly extraction through ODBC for the more limited GIS to use, as if the data source did not contain a mix of object types.

Is Radian Studio a GPU DBMS?

Yes, as most people use the term. A GPU DBMS is a DBMS that uses many GPU cores in parallel to increase the speed of database operations such as the speed of an SQL query engine. Radian certainly does that, with the added distinction of providing a more complete and more sophisticated SQL than some other GPU DBMS products.

Radian also differs from some other GPU DBMS packages in that Radian is not only GPU parallel but also simultaneously runs manycore CPU parallel as well and Radian will automatically shift execution back and forth between massively parallel GPU and manycore parallel CPU. Depending on the number of CPU cores available, some operations can run faster when parallelized to manycore CPU than dispatched to GPU cores: Radian's on the fly parallel architecture optimizers choose what is the best mix of GPU parallelism or CPU parallelism or both to use for each task and subtask as it runs.

Some GPU DBMS products run exclusively as in-memory databases and thus require specialized hardware. Radian runs on standard Windows desktops, using parallelism to increase performance even when disk storage is involved, as it is in real life for most applications. Radian's mix of manycore parallel CPU plus massively parallel GPU helps achieve maximum speed in real world applications on standard systems.

Is Radian Studio based on Hadoop or Spark?

No. Radian is entirely original work from the ground up. Systems like Hadoop and Apache Spark are wonderful software to which Radian is happy to connect in various settings but Radian does not use either for parallel computations. To extract maximum performance on desktop systems Radian's internal architecture has to integrate manycore CPU parallelism and GPU parallelism with all other parts of the system, such as parallel data access and optimizations for very fast visualization of big data that reach across the system.

For parallel execution internally does Radian apply DAG or MapReduce?

Layer control

DAG, given the generality of the term, Directed Acyclic Graphs. Radian parallelizes big jobs by splitting them into parts so different parts can be done by different computing nodes. Those nodes are connected to each other so they do indeed form a graph and can be analyzed as a graph. Those connections ("edges" in graph theoretic nomenclature) are not symmetric in that info getting passed in either direction over an edge is different: the graph is directed. Last, there are no loops in how Radian uses that graph so the graph is acyclic. Describing how Radian internally directs parallel computational flow as anything other than a directed acyclic graph or DAG is inaccurate. But it may not be as useful as a simple description in ordinary language:

Radian has a sophisticated query engine with a very high degree of modularity. Big tasks get split into small tasks, which get sent to different computation nodes. Some of those nodes, potentially many thousands of nodes, can be GPGPU cores, and those GPGPU cores can be different types of cores from different GPUs. Some of those nodes, also potentially thousands but more likely only a few dozen or few hundred, can be CPU cores. Computational nodes also can be external databases like PostgreSQL. The query engine can split the work between any and all such nodes so that they run in parallel. In addition to the query engine Radian has a big roster of built-in SQL functions, both spatial and non-spatial, which all work within that parallel scheme and there is a rich set of facilities to add very involved custom functions for execution within SQL using scripts in .NET or V8.

Manifold has very rich experience at graph theory: Manifold's very first commercial product 25 years ago was the General Graph Facilities (GGF) library providing hundreds of programming functions for working with graphs.

Can Radian Parallelize and Stabilize Third Party Products?

No. For interoperability Radian uses products from other companies, such as ESRI's GDB geodatabase SDK, Microsoft's MDB drivers, optional use of GDAL and so on. None of those products are parallel like Radian and the technologies they use in general are not as bulletproof as Radian technology and native Radian formats. For example, because ESRI's GDB code is not thread safe Radian cannot parallelize use of ESRI GDB geodatabases the way Radian data stores can be parallelized. Likewise, connecting to ESRI GDB requires using an ESRI product, the ESRI SDK, to connect to an ESRI format - resulting in ESRI levels of stability. Radian's reputation for never crashing applies to Radian code, not to third party products used with Radian.

Is Radian Studio a desktop, mobile, or web app?

Radian Studio is a Windows application that installs and runs on your desktop computer or portable computer or tablet running Windows. See the Requirements page for hardware and software requirements.

Is the price an annual rental or a fully-paid license fee?

The price is a fully-paid license. For current pricing see the Products page.

What are the licensing requirements?

Radian is licensed similar to standard Microsoft and other desktop applications. One license allows use on one desktop machine plus a portable computer. see the Licensing page.

When will Radian Studio be Available?

Radian is available now. You can buy it on the Online Store right now and be running Radian within minutes.

How did Radian come to be created?

In the DBMS world there are plenty of integrated servers like Oracle or PostgreSQL, but all have been created as the basis of their own DBMS ecosystems, not as tools for working with other DBMS environments as much as their own. Existing DBMS products have also been created for superior performance with very many, relatively small transactions. They don't do as well with the huge transactions typical of spatial work, and given their focus on their own worlds they don't work particularly well as instruments for general purpose spatial engineering using other data sources. None of the existing DBMS products has anywhere near the spatial capabilities of Radian

Even worse, for all their highly evolved capability and indisputable power and quality, traditional DBMS platforms are built on older technology. None were created from the ground up for total parallelism handling 32 CPU cores and 5000 GPU cores on a desktop. That technology did not exist decades ago when the flagship DBMS products were created. None of them have Radian's automatic, always-on CPU and GPU parallelism to handle the computationally "fat" analytics typical of spatial work. You can't glue that technology onto an old core. It has to be built in from the very beginning.

Radian was created from the ground up for today's world where location information is as important as a vast flow of small transactions. Today, it's not just about processing a small-data credit card transaction quickly in a flow of millions of small transactions. Today we want more, to data mine the location knowledge of where those transactions occur and what the spatial relationships inferred from transactions tell us about our customers and our opportunities.

To build Radian the Manifold engineering team built from the ground up the world's first database engine to use modern, always-on, automatic parallelism to handle the large, complex, big data transactions of spatial engineering. Given years of experience creating GIS products, including creating the first commercial application of any kind to deliver automatic GPU parallelism, the Manifold team knew the unique and challenging requirements of spatial data. To support spatial engineering, Radian includes the world's most sophisticated, most powerful and most reliable Spatial SQL, delivering an unmatched breadth and depth of functions, all within an SQL query engine that automatically parallelizes queries for dispatch into multiple CPU cores and thousands of GPU cores.

At the same time, Manifold's experience in GIS taught the importance of connecting to hundreds of different data sources, DBMS servers, file databases, web server sources and an endless array of file formats, from an Excel spreadsheet created yesterday to Department of Defense military data encoded decades ago. Manifold ensured that Radian can connect to virtually any data source on the planet. If the data exists, you can get at it with Radian. Run Radian and leverage everything.

Experience Radian Power in a Free Tool

See Manifold Viewer in Action. Manifold Viewer is a read-only subset of Radian Studio. Although Viewer cannot write projects or save edited data back out to the original data sources, Viewer provides phenomenal capability to view and to analyze almost all possible different types of data in tables, vector geometry, raster data, drawings, maps and images from thousands of different sources. Manifold Viewer delivers a truly useful, Radian technology tool you can use for free to experience Radian power firsthand. See Viewer in action Watch the Manifold Viewer Introduction YouTube video.

Get Manifold Viewer

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Release 8 delivers the world's best GIS together with exceptional data capabilities for a GIS. Radian delivers the world's best spatial engineering product with exceptional GIS capabilities for a data-centric tool. Run Release 8 for superior GIS, or run Radian for superior spatial data work, or get both products for your toolbox to enjoy a vast range of GIS and spatial data engineering capabilities no other ensemble can match.

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Portions of Baltimore city in Maryland, LiDAR data served in ESRI ArcGIS REST protocol by a web server run by Salisbury University.

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