About GIS

Welcome to Manifold® System!   Manifold is a new Geographic Information System (GIS) package that uses modern software technology to provide more speed and power than older GIS products, while being easier to use.


Experienced GIS users can jump straight to the For Esri Users topic for a guide to how Manifold is different from packages like ArcGIS Pro or other older GIS products.

What is a GIS?

GIS is short for Geographic Information System.   A GIS package is a database system that is coupled with a very wide range of capabilities for editing, managing, analyzing, and visualizing data that has spatial context, where the data is connected with locations.  


GIS packages use visual interfaces to make it easier to manipulate vast amounts of data, to analyze, transform, and edit data, to create new data, to automatically process data, to control machines and events, to see trends and results that would be impossible to notice in non-graphic interfaces, and to communicate findings with others.


GIS packages work with a mix of graphic interfaces, such as cartographic or other visual displays, and classic text displays such as tabular data in rows and columns.   Manifold makes it easy to use a mix of such interfaces simultaneously, so that whatever display is easiest to use or provides the greatest comprehension is at your fingertips.



Illustrations above: Lakes in Florida with exaggerated terrain elevation.  Manifold can change the display of data instantly without changing the data, to provide different insights or to emphasize different features.

Many Data Sources

Manifold can work with many different types of data from different data sources.  Data can be visualized in layers that combine different types of data to reveal relationships.  Basic data types include vector data (drawings), raster data (photographic images, data surfaces and similar), and tabular data in many forms.    Manifold can import or link data from hundreds of different file formats and data sources, including from enterprise class database servers.  


Many governments worldwide now provide free data that Manifold can use.  Manifold's ability to directly use data from hundreds of different formats means that almost all spatial data from almost any source can be used in Manifold.


Image at right: Manifold users enjoy an endless range of instant background maps from free, web-served layers.

Transformation and Analysis

Manifold is often used to gather and to display data of interest in a way that makes it easy to comprehend that data.  For example, a simple data base of locations where the best catches were obtained when fishing might not be so useful as a table of rows and columns in text form, but displaying those same locations on a map can provide immediate insight, especially if the spots are colored by the type of fish that were caught, the size of the catch, or other factors.  Add a layer that also shows the underwater relief and depth for the various locations, and even more insights can be had.  


Visual interfaces are also great for getting data:  click on a dot in the fishing map to see all the data for that dot, or select those that seem to fall into a pattern to see what they all might have in common.

More than GIS

Now that you have Manifold, use it for everything:  Everybody uses Manifold for GIS, but it provides a highly useful personal database as well.   Have hundreds of videos you want to keep track of in a YouTube channel, hundreds of login credentials, hundreds of web sites you use for various projects, or hundreds of bottles in a wine collection?  Use Manifold to keep track of everything.


Manifold is small, lightning fast, and totally reliable.  If Windows decides to update itself overnight when a Manifold session has been left open with important data, the last thing you will worry about is a problem with the Manifold project.


Many people also use Manifold for CAD and for imagery outside of GIS.   Use the drawing editing capabilities of Manifold as a CAD program, to design your next garden layout or floor plan for an office layout.   Manifold can open huge images that consumer graphics programs often cannot handle: use it to view really large images that could be hundreds of gigabytes in size.



Next:  For Esri Users