Launching Manifold opens the desktop with a new, blank project.
The desktop opens with panes docked to the left and to the right of the blank area where new windows are opened. Most panes are empty in a new project, because the project is empty.
Panes are arranged based on the last use of Manifold. Use View - Panes to open panes that are not displayed.
Some people like having panes on both sides of the desktop. Other people prefer to have all panes docked to one side.
To move a pane from one side to the other, right-click a pane's tab and choose Dock Left or Dock Right.
Docking all panes to one side provides more room for windows. Manifold remembers the arrangement of panes after Manifold is closed. The next time, the same desktop arrangement will be used.
Panes can also be docked Down, into a second row below an upper row of panes. When working with large monitors, some users prefer to have panes docked to the left and to the right and also up and down. That allows four panes to be in view at the same time, so many controls can be seen at the same time.
To fit into this documentation, illustrations show an artificially small Manifold desktop, with only a few panes docked to one side. In real life we use a much larger Manifold desktop, and many panes would be turned on, with some panes docked to the left and others docked to the right as we prefer. Many people work with two or three monitors to have plenty of room to work with undocked panes and many large undocked windows.
A new Manifold desktop opens with tips for getting started. We can turn the tips off in Tools - Options if desired.
Files that are linked read-only can be used by multiple Manifold sessions at the same time. You can drag and drop many files at a time to add many at a time to a project.
Screen shots in this topic use the large (over 200 MB) Aus_Hydro.mxb example project that may be downloaded from the Examples page. An .mxb file is a compressed archival format for Manifold projects. The first time you open it, Manifold will decompress it into a .map file that is over 600 MB in size, which may take a few seconds. After that, the .map file will always open instantly.
Manifold projects are stored in .map files. .map files open instantly.
Open an existing project by choosing File - Open or by dragging and dropping the .map file for the project into the Project pane.
Opening a project will show the contents of the project in the Project Pane. Items in the project, such as maps, drawings, images, and tables, are called components.
The Project pane shows a list of all components in the project. Projects will often organize their contents within folders. For example, the project shown below has a Locations folder into which all the saved locations for that project have been placed, to reduce clutter in the top level of the project. Drag and drop components to move them into or out of folders.
Double-click a component in the project to open it in a window. Windows will open up as docked windows in the Windows part of the desktop.
If we double-click open a component and a red message icon appears in the window's lower tab, we should choose View - Messages from the main menu to read the message. Blank drawings or images may show an message icon: in the message Manifold will offer to fix the problem for us.
In the illustration above we have double-clicked the Australia Hydro, the Lakes Table, and the Layout components to open them as docked windows. When docked, each window has a tab at the top of the window. When multiple windows have been opened their tabs will line up in a tab strip at the top of the windows.
Visual windows, like for maps, drawings, and images, can have multiple layers within them. The Australia Hydro window is a map window that has three layers within it. Clicking on the Australia Hydro window tab to bring that window to the top will turn on the layer tabs at the bottom of the window.
Layer tabs that are to the left are higher in the map's display stack. Those layers will be displayed above lower layers. Drag layer tabs to the left or right to move layers up or down in the display stack. You can also move them up or down in the Layers pane. Double-click a layer tab to turn it off and on. You can also click layers off and on in the Layers pane. Right-click a layer tab for a context menu of useful commands.
The Locations button in the main toolbar appears whenever an open map or similar window has the focus. If there are any saved locations in the project, they will be listed in the pull down menu for the Locations button. If you have downloaded the example Aux_Hydro project, you can double-click open the Australia Hydro map and then jump to the quickstart 1 saved location to see a view like the above.
When multiple windows have been opened the window whose tab has been last clicked will be displayed. To see an opened window, click the window's tab to bring it to the front:
For example, in the illustration above we have clicked the layer tab for the Layout window, to show that window. The window shows a print layout in the Layout component.
The title bar for a project shows an asterisk * by the name if something has been changed in the project since the last save. After changing something in a project, save it under the same name using File - Save or Ctrl-S, or save it under a different name using File - Save As.
File - Save will save the contents of a project into a Manifold .map project file. Stuff that has been imported into the project will be saved within the .map file. Stuff that has been linked into the project will remain outside Manifold in whatever file or server from which it was linked.
File - Open will open a previously-saved project file to get the project back. All data that was imported into the project will still be there. All linked data sources also will be there, including connection information, like paths and URLs, to the external files and servers they use. When a project has links to external files, if you move that project file to a different computer system do not forget also to copy the linked files to that computer system, to the same relative paths from the project file.
Undock a window or a pane by right-clicking the window's tab and choosing Undock. Many users prefer to work with undocked windows.
Undocked windows can be resized and repositioned anywhere on your Windows desktop. If we have two or three monitors we can have many windows open to help work with large, complex projects. A shortcut to undock or dock a window is to Shift-click the window's tab or title bar.
We can open the same window again in another window. Click on the window to move the focus there, and then choose Window - New Window. A new window will open for that same item.
We can resize and reposition the new window, and we can pan and zoom the new window to show a different view of the same item. Opening additional windows lets us see different parts of the same map at the same time.
To dock a window or to close it, right-click on the title bar for the window and choose Dock or Close.
Shortcut: Undock and dock windows and panes by shift-clicking their tabs and title bars. Fast!
Panes provide commands and show information for the window that has the focus. We can switch to different windows and do different things without closing a pane. When we click a different window to move the focus to that window, all panes that are open will automatically switch to showing information for that window. Panes dynamically update to show any changes in data in windows.
Panes will remember their settings for each window. If we set up a Transform pane tool for a window, and then we switch to a different window and then we switch back to the original window, the Transform pane will restore back to that tool as we had set it up.
Panes are different from classic Windows dialogs used in most GIS packages. When a dialog is launched, we cannot switch to a different window or do something else until we finish what we are doing in the dialog. With panes we can have a pane open with work in progress but nonetheless switch to doing something else, perhaps checking out something we need to know in a different window, using a different pane or command, and then go back to finish what we were doing in the pane. Panes often provide faster and easier workflow. Manifold also uses a few dialogs as well, like the Edit - Schema dialog, but most commands and tools are provided in panes.
Click on a pane's tab to bring that pane to the front. For example, click on the Layers tab to bring the Layers pane to the front.
In the illustration below we have used View - Panes to turn on more panes, docking them to the left.
The Layers pane provides convenient controls for managing many layers. It can group layers into folders to make it easy to manage even hundreds of layers in a map. Turn layers on and off by checking the on/off box in the Layers pane.
The Layers pane also provides virtual layers to display a North arrow, scale bar, legend, or grid in the map window.
Panes will adapt to the type of window that has the focus. For example, clicking on the Lakes Table window will cause the Layers pane to switch into showing columns for the table using an interface very similar to that used for multiple layers. Turn columns on and off by checking the on/off box in the Layers pane.
Using the same style of interface, like when adding folders to group many layers or columns, in different settings makes it easier to apply what is learned in many different settings.
Panes can be undocked just like windows. Right-click the pane's tab and choose Undock.
We have undocked the Info pane. Alt-clicking a record in the table will pick that record for display in the Info pane. We can edit values in the record either in the table window or in the Info pane. The Info pane has controls that can make it easier to edit records in some settings, in a "form view" instead of a table view.
Panes will update to match whatever window has the focus. If we click the Australia Hydro tab back in the main desktop to bring that docked window to the front, the panes will adapt.
Both the docked Layers pane and the undocked Info pane will show information for the Australia Hydro window. The Info pane will also adapt appropriately to what we do in the Australia Hydro window.
For example, we can pick one of the lakes shown in the Australia Hydro window by alt-clicking the lake marked by a magenta arrow.
The Info pane immediately switches to showing attribute data for that object, pulled from the Lakes Table attribute table for the Lakes drawing that is a layer in the map.
Dock a pane by right-clicking the title bar and choosing Dock.
Shortcut: Undock and dock windows and panes by shift-clicking their tabs and title bars. Fast!
A Manifold project contains tables, images, drawings, labels, maps, data sources, queries, scripts, and more. These are called components. That is just a generic, neutral word that means "an item in a project."
Tables - All data within Manifold is stored in a table in one form or another. A table window shows data in a row and column presentation.
Drawings - A visual display of vector data stored within tables. Vector data can be stored using a variety of geometry types. The same data from the same table can be seen in multiple different drawings using different styles, and the same drawing can be open in multiple windows with different views in each.
Data Sources - Data linked into a project from an external source, which could be a file, a file database, a database server or a web server, covering virtually every database and file type encountered in database or GIS work.
Data sources are shown with a database cylinder icon because data sources are, in fact, databases, managed within the main database that is built into Manifold. A Manifold project itself is a fast, parallel, spatial database, and it can host other databases within itself.
Linking even a simple file format, like a shapefile or GeoTIFF, into a Manifold project as a data source exposes the data within that file as if it was a database. That provides truly intense capabilities, for example, like full spatial SQL, even for data saved in file formats you do not think of as a "database."
Images - A visual display of raster data stored within tables as tiles. Tiles can use a wide variety of different data types and channel combinations. All rasters are called images in Manifold, even those which are terrain elevation rasters or other non-photographic data rasters.
Labels - Annotations, using text and symbols, created manually or created automatically from fields in a drawing's table.
Layouts - A composition on virtual sheets of paper, for printing to a PDF or physical printer. Layouts are made up of frames, each of which can show components such as maps, drawings, images, labels, or text frames.
Locations - Locations save a geographic location and zoom level. Locations are human readable JSON text that specifies latitude and longitude coordinates and scale.
Maps - A window that shows a stack of layers. Each layer in map is a drawing, image or labels component. Maps can use different projections than their layers. Maps will reproject their contents on the fly as needed to display them in the map's projection. Maps take zero space, because they are just windows that show other components as layers.
Queries - Written in SQL, queries manipulate data and projects, for example, creating new tables and other components, performing calculations, altering the structure of databases and tables, and extracting, editing and analyzing subsets of data.
Scripts - Manifold includes built-in support for scripting in ten different languages with many languages always available and the other languages easy to install. Scripts provide custom capabilities and can automate virtually anything.
Comments - Text saved and displayed in a comments window provides a simple way to save notes about a project or to save text as a scratch pad.
Folders - Organize a project by using folders.
MXB files - Manifold .mxb files store projects in highly compressed form. Opening a .mxb file will automatically decompress it into a .map file and will open the .map file. That goes fast, but it can take tens of seconds for an .mxb file that is a large file. Once the .mxb has been decompressed into a .map file, opening the .map file thereafter is instantaneous.
To save a project as a .mxb file, use File - Export Project command in the main menu.
Next: Pan and Zoom