File - Export

The File - Export command will be enabled when the focus is on a component window, such as a table or drawing, that can be exported.   Alternatively, we can right-click onto a component in the Project pane and choose Export from the context menu.  


The Export dialog is very similar to the standard Windows File - Save dialog.  The  Export dialog allows exporting to a variety of file formats, with available formats depending on the nature of the component being exported.


A related command is File - Export Project to export an entire project to Manifold MAP, MXB or MML format.    See also the Exporting topic.


Manifold uses Microsoft facilities to export to all Microsoft Office formats, including legacy Office formats such as .db, .html. .mdb, .xls, and .wkx, together with newer Office formats such as .xlsx and .accdb.  If Manifold cannot export to such formats, that means the Windows system we are using is missing the necessary facilities.  Please see the Microsoft Office Formats - MDB, XLS and Friends topic for a solution.


In addition to the usual Windows File - xxxx style controls the Export dialog provides these controls:


  File name

Enter the name to use for the exported file, or populate the box by clicking on a file in the display pane to choose the same name or to provide a base for a similar name.  The pull-down list for the box provides a list of recently-saved files.

Save as type

 Loaded with a list of specific file formats to which the component can be exported.

Export Formats

The Manifold philosophy is to read virtually any format known and to be able to link to very many formats read/write to allow editing "in place" but to export GIS Data to only the most popular interchange formats.



Formats for drawing export include US Government SDTS DDF, AutoCAD DXF, ESRI E00, Esri GDB, GeoJSON,  GPKG, Google KML, LAS or LAZ, Manifold 4.5 MFD, MapInfo MIF, Manifold MML and ESRI SHP.  So-called "shapefiles" in SHP format may be limited and obsolete from a data perspective but they are a popular format for many GIS packages and often are used as the "native" format for popular open-source GIS packages.   When exporting to shapefiles Manifold will automatically write a .prj file to specify projection info for the shapefile.


Formats for image, that is all raster data, export include ESRI BIL,  US Government SDTS DDF, ESRI E00, Earth Resources / Intergraph ECW, Microsoft EMF/WMF, generic FLT, GIF, ESRI GRD, Surfer GRD, JP2 / JPEG 2000, JPG, Google KML, Manifold MML, PNG, raw binary RWB, raw text RWT, Truevision/Targa TGA, TIF / GeoTIFF and XYZ.


Table formats for export include CSV, DBF, GDB, GPKG, HTML, JSON, LAS or LAZ, MDB, MML, SQLite, WKx, and XLS.   Note that larger tables stored into DBMS servers are normally "exported" by connecting to the DBMS as a data source and then either copying and pasting or using SQL to create new tables in the DBMS server.


Maps are exported as layers to AutoCad DXF, Esri GDB, GPKG, Google KML, and Manifold  MML.


Text components such as comments are exported to TXT and Manifold  MML.   Manifold saves text components as Unicode using UTF-8 encoding.

Data Sources

Expand the data source to show hierarchies within, and then right click on the data source in the Project pane and choose Export to export the entire data source to a MAP project file or compressed MXB project file.


Use File - Export Project to export an entire project to MAP or MXB


 Choosing File - Export when the focus is on a map window is a command to export the map, with all of its layers, and not a command to just export whatever is the active layer.  To export just an individual layer in the map, right-click that component in the Project pane and choose Export from the context layer.

Local Offset and Local Shift Values / XY Axis Order

Exporting drawings to DXF, E00, GDB, GeoJSON, GPKG, MFD, MIF,  and SHP formats will clear the values of the local offset and local shift values in the exported coordinate system.  Doing so greatly increases the odds that some other, non-Manifold, package will be able to use the data.   Axis order will also be forced to XY.     Forcing axis order to XY avoids problems in other packages caused by disregard for axis ordering, as discussed in the That YX Thing essay.

Local Scale

When exporting vector data, the system will set local scales to 1 unit of whatever is the current coordinate system unit.  See the Coordinate System Metrics topic.

Exporting an Entire Data Source into a MAP File

If we have linked a data source into a Manifold project and we would like to export all of the data from within that data source into a standalone .map file, that is easy to do:  


To export all data within a data source into a Manifold project:


  1. Open the data source in the Project pane, by clicking the + box next to the cylinder icon that indicates a data source.  That connects to the data source

  2. Right-click the data source and choose Export.

  3. In the Export dialog, specify a File name if the default name is not desired.

  4. Choose the desired format, either MAP or MXB from the list in the Save as type box.

  5. Press the Export button.


The entire contents of the data source will be saved as a .map or .mxb project file.


For example, suppose we have linked an ESRI geodatabase into our project as a data source.  We expand the data source to see the hierarchies within.   Expanding the data source also is a command to Manifold to connect to the data source.   Right-click onto the data source, choose Export, specify  MAP as the type, provide a name for the new .map file and press Export.  


Manifold will automatically reach into the data source to harvest everything it contains and to save the contents as the equivalent Manifold .map project file, just as if we first copied and pasted everything out of the data source and into the root level of our project and then deleted the data source, saving the project as a standalone .map project.  


Using Export is a great way in one step to convert data older or fragile formats such as shapefiles, Access .mdb files,  ESRI geodatabases and similar into hyper-fast and modern .map projects.   It is also a great way to convert the contents of server-based DBMS installations, such as running on PostgreSQL, SQL Server, DB2 or Oracle, into Manifold standalone projects for portability and use away from the server.


 Use common sense when exporting data sources into project files.  For example, attempting to export a web server data source such as a Bing or Google street map image server is a command to export petabytes of data into a .map project file.  

Conversions on the Fly

Most formats do not have the many capabilities of Manifold components.   For example, ESRI shapefiles using SHP format have significant limitations on the names of attribute fields and DBF format has similar limitations on column names in tables.   Therefore, when exporting a drawing to SHP or a table to DBF Manifold will automatically make some simplifications on the fly.   


For example, if we have a table that has a column named Highest Z-value (meter) when a drawing with that attribute is exported to SHP or a table with that column is exported to DBF the name will be truncated to HighestZva.  


Style applied - Exporting an image to BMP, ECW, JPEG, JPEG2K, PNG or TGA will export rendered pixel values according to the formatting set in the Style pane. Exporting an image to TIFF always exports the actual pixel values without Style formatting applied.  


Manifold MML  - Manifold MML format is an experimental XML-based Manifold Markup Language format designed to be able to capture absolutely everything in a project for backup and interchange purposes within a format that can be read by any third party package.  Like every XML-based format it is verbose and is not an efficient way to pack information into the smallest possible file size.  


Manifold MXB - Manifold MXB is a highly compressed and compacted archival form of projects.   It can be opened with a simple File - Open into a Manifold project.    MXB is intended as an archival and interchange format.  It provides compact, reliable storage but is not optimized as an operational format for breath-taking speed like Manifold MAP.


Three Letter Extensions - Most file names in Windows end in what is called a three letter extension, which is usually three 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 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.   This is confusing when working with the many file formats that Manifold and similar products utilize.  


Therefore, 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.


Exporting to Non-Geographic Formats - When exporting to DXF make sure what you export is in Latitude / Longitude projection using WGS 84 as the base.  Also make sure the Local scale X and Local scale Y values are 1 and Local offset X and Local offset Y values are 0.  Manifold will automatically reset local offset and local shift values to these defaults, but it is best in any event to do that explicitly.   If need be, use the Reproject Component command to re-project the component to make sure Lat/Lon WGS 84 is used.  Doing so will increase the odds that whatever program ends up having to read that format will be able to use the data.


Overwrites detected - Attempting to overwrite an existing file in the Export dialog pops open a confirmation dialog, providing options to confirm the overwrite or to save data to a file with a different name, the default.  


Viewer is Free - Manifold Viewer provides a free viewer to explore and to analyze sophisticated databases.   Although Viewer is perfectly capable of connecting to many different databases and formats, a great way of distributing very sophisticated data in compact form is to publish it in the form of .mxb files for people who are using Viewer.     

See Also

File - Export Project


File - Import


Reproject Component


Formats and Data Sources


SHP, Shapefiles


Example: Convert an ESRI File Geodatabase into a .map Project


Example: Convert an ESRI Personal Geodatabase into a .map Project


Latitude and Longitude are Not Enough


Shapefiles Strangely Out of Shape


Three Letter Extensions


That YX Thing


Microsoft Office Formats - MDB, XLS and Friends