Getting Started

See the Installations topic for installation and activation instructions.   


Watch tutorial videos for a fast start:   


  1. Manifold Tutorial 1 - Navigation and User Interface

  2. Manifold Tutorial 2 - Add Data and Create a Map

  3. Manifold Tutorial 3 - Export Data and Print a Map

  4. Visit the Videos page for many more live action videos.


Basic workflow:


  1. Launch Manifold.

  2. Add data.

  3. View data.

  4. Work on that data.

  5. Save the project.


If desired... Export parts of the project, like raster images or vector drawings, into other formats.  Export a drawing to a shapefile, or an entire project to an ESRI geodatabase, for example.




Manifold launches with a new, blank project.   A new Manifold desktop opens with welcome text on the gray background of the desktop providing tips for getting started.   We can turn that off in Tools - Options if desired.


Add data from files like shapefiles or GeoTIF images by dragging and dropping into the Project pane.









The fastest way to work is to import data into Manifold and then save everything in a Manifold .map project file.  Manifold .map files open instantly, even when they are hundreds of GB in size.  Nothing is faster than opening a Release 9 Manifold .map file. It opens instantly.  Download samples of .map files from the Examples page.  


Try to keep all of your GIS data - drawings, images, tables, ...everything - in Manifold .map format files. That is much faster and more reliable than using legacy formats like shapefiles, or using more modern but slow formats like GPKG.   Migrate the data you use into Manifold .map storage from other formats.  Export to legacy formats for interoperability, but enjoy the unbeatable speed, reliability and convenience of Manifold .map projects for your own work.   


Manifold users usually import data into a Manifold project, to run super-fast without the limitations of older formats.  Older formats are great for interchange, but they cause slow downs and reduced capabilities when used for operational storage.  Of course, Manifold also can link to external data in the original format if we want.  


A big difference between Manifold and older GIS:  Manifold itself is a super-fast database system that can store huge data inside the Manifold project.  Older GIS packages like Arc or Q do not have an internal database:  whenever they add vector or raster layers to a project those layers are linked, with the data stored outside the project in the original file.


Unlike older GIS packages, with Manifold we can import data for storage within Manifold.   When we "add" a vector layer from a shapefile to Manifold with File - Import we copy data from the shapefile into the Manifold project, where it is stored in  Manifold's internal database.  Once the data is in Manifold there is no connection back to the original shapefile, so there are no stupid shapefile limitations getting in the way of fast, modern GIS.  If ever we want to save vector data into a shapefile, we can do in an instant using File - Export to export it into a shapefile.


In Manifold we also can use File - Link to leave data in the original source format if we want, and work with it in-place the way older GIS packages do, but faster and better.   Manifold can work faster when linking to formats like an ESRI geodatabase or a PostgreSQL/PostGIS database because Manifold itself is a fast, parallel DBMS.  Using Manifold's internal DBMS for caching and other performance enhancements, Manifold can operate a connection to an external database faster than slower, single-threaded clients like ArcGIS Pro or QGIS.


For multiuser sharing of spatial data, use Manifold Server.   Manifold Server is a high performance, parallel, spatial database server that is built into Manifold Release 9 Universal edition.  It allows many Manifold users to share data that is published through Server.

Adding Data:







Now that you have Manifold, use it for everything:  Everybody uses Manifold for GIS, but it makes a spectacular personal database as well.   Have hundreds of videos in a YouTube channel, hundreds of login credentials, or hundreds of bottles in a wine cellar?  Use Manifold to keep track of them all.  Manifold is small, lightning fast, and rock-solid reliable.  If Windows decides to update itself overnight when a Manifold session has been left open with important data, the last thing we will worry about is a problem with the Manifold project.

Saving Data:





When importing or linking, Manifold automatically reads the projection, if specified. If no projection is specified, launch Assign Initial Coordinate System in the Contents pane to specify the correct initial projection for the imported or linked component.   See the  Example: Import a Shapefile topic for an easy example.  Projection and Coordinate System are synonyms in this documentation.


Pop open an item in the Project pane just like opening a file in Windows Explorer:



With the focus on an open map, drawing, image, or table window, press the F1 Help function key to launch a quick reference web page for navigating and other commands in that window.





To fit into this documentation, illustrations show an artificially small Manifold desktop, with only a few panes docked to the right side.   In real life we use a much larger Manifold desktop, and all panes would be turned on, with some panes docked to the left and others docked to the right as we prefer.  Right-click a pane's  tab to change where it is docked.  Manifold will remember that new arrangement for our next session.


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.


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."     When we import data from GIS formats, we create components like tables, drawings, and images.


Tables - All data within Manifold is stored in a table in one form or another.  Opening a table window shows data in a row and column presentation.    A drawing or an image is just a display window that shows geometry data or raster tile data that is stored in some table.   That is why when we see a drawing or image in the project we will usually see a similarly-named table in the project from which it takes its data.

Drawings - Vectors.  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 serve or a web server, covering virtually every database and file type encountered in database or GIS work.

Images - Rasters.  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 particular geographic location with an associated scale, thus saving a given view in a map or other window to which we can return with one click.    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.  For tips on editing Comments, see the Editing Queries, Scripts and Comments topic.

Folders - Organize a project by using folders.


Desktop Basics

Double-clicking a component opens it in a window, with a title tab at the top.   Double-click another component open and it will appear with its own title tab.  Click a title tab to switch to that window.



Windows with layers, like Maps, will open with one or more layer tabs at the bottom. Click a layer tab to make it the active layer, for editing or selection.  Double-click a layer tab to turn it off and on.  Right-click a layer tab for a useful context menu. Too many layers for tabs?  Click on the Layers pane to see them all.



Undock a window or a pane by Shift-clicking the name tab.   Dock it again by Shift-clicking the title bar.




Resize and position undocked windows anywhere on the Windows desktop.   Use two or three monitors to have plenty of Windows desktop, for big windows, and to see the Project, Layers, and Contents panes undocked all at once.








Shift-click the title tab to undock the Project pane, the Contents pane, or the Layers pane, so they can be resized and repositioned anywhere on our Windows desktop.  This allows the panes we use most often to be floating in view at all times.  


 Upcoming builds will move some sub-panes out from within the Contents pane into being their own, independent panes, like the Project and Layers panes.  

Navigation:  Pan and Zoom

Cursor mode buttons appear in the main toolbar for an open window:  Click the mode button to enter that mode. The mode persists for that window until we click a different button.   Buttons to create areas, lines, or points will be enabled for drawing layers.  The Create Path tool for measuring and editing is in the mode button, too.


 The default mouse cursor mode is navigation.  Pick another mode to create points, lines or areas in drawings, or to make measurements.


 Click and drag to pan the view.  Right-click and drag to zoom box.









Press the F1 Help function key when a window is open to get a list of keyboard shortcuts available for that window.   If we try out some other modes, like Draw Path mode, a keyboard shortcut back to default navigation mode is Shift-Esc.

Main Menu Keyboard Shortcuts

Manifold supports both Windows styles of keyboard shortcuts for main menu items:  Ctrl key shortcuts as well as classic access key shortcuts begun by pressing the Alt key.



Clicking a main menu heading will show Ctrl key short cuts.  Pressing the Ctrl key and O key simultaneously is the same as launching File - Open.



For keyboard enthusiasts, Manifold supports standard Windows access keys: Press the Alt key and keyboard shortcuts for the menu items will be underlined.  Press the arrow buttons on the keyboard to cycle through menu items, and either press the access key shortcut, like V for View, or cycle to the menu item and press Enter to pick it.   We can cycle to View and then press Enter to open the menu, and see the access key shortcuts for commands within that menu.  For example, pressing Alt and then V and then C will launch a new Command Window.    If a menu includes multiple commands with the same access key, pressing it cycles between these commands without invoking them.  Cycle to the command desired and press Enter.   


In Windows 10, Manifold honors Windows settings for access keys as specified in Settings - Ease of Access - Keyboard or in the Windows Control Panel, always showing access key characters underlined in menu items, or showing them only when commanded with an Alt.

Cursor Modes

In the beginning we spend most of our time viewing data.   As we learn more we will want to edit drawings by creating points, lines or areas, or by using paths for editing or to make measurements.



The drop-down menu on the mode button lets us choose a different mode, offering choices depending on what window is active.  When working with a drawing, if we choose Create Line the mouse cursor user interface switches from Navigation mode into Create Line mode.



The mode button always shows what mode applies for that window.   


 Different windows can have different modes, with one window being in Create Line mode while another window stays in Navigation mode.  As we switch between windows the mode button will automatically switch to show the mode for that window.    The drop-down menu for the mode button will show appropriate choices for whatever is the active window.



For example, if a layout window is active the drop-down menu for the mode button will show choices that work only for layouts.
















Share, Save and Exit
















Project Pane

Info Pane

Layers Pane

Select Pane

Style Pane

Transform Pane

Command Window





Apply scripting



A great way to learn SQL with Manifold is to use the Edit Query button in the Transform pane to ask Manifold to automatically write SQL for you and then to copy and adapt what Manifold creates.  Use the web and read books on SQL.  It's easy to learn and incredibly powerful.


Learn scripting to do even more.  JScript, a really fast scripting engine, is built into Manifold so it is always-on and easy to use.  Five other languages, including C#, are always available.  If you prefer Python, that works too:  Manifold supports ten scripting languages for a wide range of choices.

Projections / Coordinate Systems

The terms projection and coordinate system are used as synonyms by Manifold.   


Getting it right on import:  When importing data, Manifold will use whatever coordinate system the source says should be used for that data.   Most modern formats used in GIS will automatically specify the coordinate system to be used.   But older formats won't do that, so we have to assign the coordinate system when we import from those formats.


The Info pane tells us at a glance if a coordinate system has been assigned OK.   When a data source specifies the coordinate system to use, Manifold displays the coordinate system in black color.  If the coordinate system is shown in red color, we must click the coordinate system picker button and choose Assign Initial Coordinate System.  Do that immediately after import whenever a coordinate system appears in red text.  




Manifold shows the coordinate system in black color, as in the Latitude / Longitude coordinate system seen above at left, when the component has been created with coordinate system information or if it has been imported from a format that specifies the coordinate system to use.   When a component has been created without specifying the coordinate system or it has been imported from a format that does not specify projection information, Manifold will show the default Pseudo Mercator coordinate system as a placeholder in red color.     


Tech tip:   What projection is used by data can be difficult to determine sometimes.    When downloading data from the web or other sources, always look for any accompanying notes or metadata information that says what projection is used for the data.  If we have no idea what projection is used and the file is older data, a good guess would be Latitude / Longitude.   For example, shapefiles that do not have a .prj file attached to specify what projection they use are often in Latitude / Longitude projection.


For a complete, step-by-step example, see the Example: Assign Initial Coordinate System topic.

Default Projection

Manifold applies the default projection listed in the Tools - Options dialog when creating new components.  The factory default projection used by Manifold is the WGS 84 / Pseudo-Mercator (EPSG:3857) coordinate system that almost all web servers use.  Newer GIS packages, like ESRI's latest ArcGIS offerings, also use Pseudo-Mercator as a default.  


When we create a new, blank map, it too begins life using the Pseudo-Mercator projection.   The map then automatically takes on whatever projection is used by the component that is the first layer added to the map.  


Manifold uses Pseudo-Mercator by default because the modern way to do map backgrounds is use web servers to automatically generate the background map layer, and web servers like Google, Bing, or OpenStreetMap use Pseudo-Mercator.  It makes sense to use that same projection by default for new components and maps in Manifold too.   Many newer GIS packages also use the same WGS 84 / Pseudo-Mercator (EPSG:3857) projection by default, for example, ESRI's latest ArcGIS Pro products.


Another big reason to use Pseudo-Mercator as a default is that the units of measurement are sane, linear units: meters.   That makes it more difficult for beginners to goof up measurements, as routinely happens when people use Latitude / Longitude without realizing that the units of measurement in Latitude / Longitude are degrees, which change size depending on latitude.


Older GIS packages often use Latitude / Longitude as a default.   We can change the default projection in the Tools - Options dialog to Latitude / Longitude if we like, or to some other projection, like some State Plane projection mandated by our organization,  if that is what we use most frequently.

Projections Manifold Knows

Manifold, including Viewer, understands and can work with over 7500 coordinate systems, including all coordinate systems and transformations specified by the vast EPSG system, and the DBMS-specific SRIDs of major database systems.  Manifold also knows essentially all transformation methods between coordinate systems, including all grid-based transformations (NADCON, HARN, HPGN, NTv2) known to EPSG, with over 170 transformation grids available for different parts of the world. Manifold also allows specifying custom coordinate systems, for endless more choices.  We can use Reproject Component to reproject from any system to any other system, including sophisticated transformations of vector or raster data.


When importing from or linking to a data source that conveys coordinate system information Manifold will automatically use the coordinate system specified for the data, including any projections specific to the data source, such as SRID designations of coordinate systems used by a particular data source.   See the Projections topic to learn how to work with projections in Manifold.


Some file formats utilize accessory files such as "world" files, or .PRJ files to convey coordinate information for formats, such as shapefiles, which do not automatically convey coordinate system information.   When reading formats Manifold will automatically read coordinate system information from accompany files, if they exist, in the following order: "world" files, .PRJ files, .XML files (Manifold System 8.00 accessory file) and .MAPMETA files (Manifold accessory files).  In the event of conflicting coordinate definitions the last read file wins, since the read order is in order of more rigorous definitions.


Manifold maintains coordinate system information in JSON format to enable easy interoperability with third party code.  When exporting data to a file Manifold will write a .MAPMETA accessory file saving the JSON coordinate system information in plain text.  When exporting to shapefiles, Manifold will automatically write a .prj file with projection information as well.  


The usual way to work with drawings and images in Manifold is to add them as layers to a map.   A map is just a viewport into whatever layers we have added to it.  A map can have whatever projection we want, and it will automatically reproject on the fly, for display, the layers it contains from whatever projections they use into the projection used by the map.  If we have a drawing in Latitude / Longitude and we want to see it in Pseudo-Mercator along with a Google Satellite background layer, we do not need to reproject the drawing.  Instead, we simply drop it as a layer into a map that uses Pseudo-Mercator, and the map window will reproject the drawing on the fly for display in Pseudo-Mercator along with the Google layer.   The reproject on the fly process happens so fast in Manifold that we can pan and zoom interactively without any delays.


When we want to reproject a drawing or image into a different projection, that is easy to do.  In the Info pane we click on the coordinate system picker button next to that component, and we choose Reproject Component.  The Reproject Component dialog lets us choose a new projection, either with a single click from a list of Favorites in the dropdown menu, or by clicking More... to choose the projection we want from many thousands of available projections from the full Coordinate System dialog.     See the Reproject Component  topic for step by step examples and full details.

Importing Files

Importing or linking a file will create Manifold infrastructure for what is coming in.  For example, import an image from some file format like JPEG or TIFF and Manifold will create two components:  a table component for the data plus an image component that displays the data in the table.   Import an ESRI shapefile and Manifold will create a table for the data plus a drawing component that displays that data.  The variety of data Manifold can import includes virtually every format and data source in existence.   See the Big List of Formats and Data Sources topic for the huge list.     



Importing a .csv file with one table in it will create a table.  Importing or linking a file database like an .mdb could create hundreds of tables, queries and other components at once.  Connecting to an enterprise class DBMS might involve thousands of items, neatly organized within the hierarchical structure of the DBMS as revealed by Manifold.


Importing a table:


  1. Launch Manifold

  2. Choose File - Import.

  3. Browse into the folder where the file is located.

  4. Click on the filename.

  5. Press the Import button.


Importing a table using drag and drop:


  1. Launch Manifold

  2. In Windows Explorer, browse to the folder where the file is located.

  3. Drag and drop the desired file into the Project pane of the Manifold desktop.


Drag and drop works with multiple files at the same time: highlight the files desired, and drag and drop them all at once into the Project pane.


Manifold uses Microsoft facilities to connect 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 import from 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.


Importing a drawing, image or other component:


  1. Launch Manifold

  2. Choose File - Import.

  3. Browse into the folder where the file is located.

  4. Click on the filename.

  5. Press the Import button.

  6. If necessary, launch Assign Initial Coordinate System from the Contents pane to specify the coordinate system used.


Importing a drawing, image or other component using drag and drop:


  1. Launch Manifold

  2. In Windows Explorer, browse to the folder where the file is located.

  3. Drag and drop the desired file into the Project pane of the Manifold desktop.

  4. If necessary, launch Assign Initial Coordinate System from the Contents pane to specify the coordinate system used.


Drag and drop works with multiple files at the same time: highlight the files desired, and drag and drop them all at once into the Project pane.


Modern GIS data formats will specify the projection used by the data.   When a format provides projection information Manifold automatically will utilize that information to correctly set the projection used by the data.


When importing GIS data from a file format which does not provide projection information, when we open that drawing or image Manifold will warn us that was imported from a spatially-clueless format by showing the coordinate system read-out in red text in the Contents pane.  


That tells us we must launch Assign Initial Coordinate System from the Contents pane to assign the initial coordinate system manually.

Example: Importing a Shapefile

ESRI shapefile format uses 1970's technology but it is still the most widely used GIS format for interchange.  A "shapefile" is an ensemble of at least three files, ending in .shp, .shx and .dbf, and, if we are lucky, a fourth file ending in .prj.


If a shapefile has a .prj to specify the projection, Manifold will read the .prj and the shapefile will be imported using the correct projection automatically.  If a shapefile does not include a .prj file, we must specify the projection the shapefile should use.  If we fail to do that the shapefile might look OK but it will be junk data that will waste our time later on.


Importing a shapefile:


  1. Choose File - Import.

  2. Browse into the folder where the shapefile is located.

  3. Click on the filename that ends in .shp  

  4. Press the Import button.


After import, check the coordinate system:


  1. In the Project pane, double-click the drawing created to open it.
  2. In the Info pane, note the coordinate system.
  3. If the coordinate system is given in black color, Manifold automatically detected and assigned the right coordinate system.  Done.
  4. If the coordinate system is given in red color, click the coordinate picker button and choose Assign Initial Coordinate System to specify the coordinate system.


For a step-by-step illustrated example, see the Example: Import a Shapefile topic.  See the SHP, Shapefiles topic for additional discussion.  See the Example: Detecting and Correcting a Wrong Projection  topic for what happens when a shapefile is imported with the wrong projection.


As a practical matter, Manifold can address such large memory that usually we will run out of physical resources on a machine, like storage space, before we hit Manifold size limits. However, some limitations may be touched by users of very large data.    See the Limitations topic for a current list.   



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 how 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 icons of whatever program is normally associated with 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 the 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.


Why import and then work?   That is faster and more powerful, and it avoids the limitations of antique vector and raster formats.   Consider vector formats: there are hundreds of different vector formats, all with their own limitations on what are allowed data types, allowed field names and so on.   Instead of forcing us to learn a hundred different ways to work with vector drawings, taking into account the limitations of each format, Manifold does a conversion when importing a vector file into Manifold so we only need to learn about drawings in Manifold.   To export that vector drawing out to some other format Manifold will do a conversion outbound.   When a vector file is imported into Manifold, it is no longer a shapefile, an E00 file, or a GeoJSON file.  It is a Manifold vector drawing, with the full power of one of world's most sophisticated GIS and spatial DBMS engines at our beck and call.  If we want to save it as a shapefile, Manifold will convert it into shapefile, with all the brain-dead limitations of shapefiles, on the way out.


Why create a table to import some small JPEG?  Because everything is stored in a table in Manifold, even small images from a JPEG.  That means nothing is hidden in some secret handshake form.   All data is there in a table where all sorts of power tools, like the SQL you probably already know allows you to get your hands on the data and do what you want with it.  Don't know SQL yet?  That's missing a great opportunity to slice and dice data with the greatest of ease.   You'll learn quickly enough (it's easy) and until you learn you can use Transform pane templates without knowing any SQL at all.


About .map files - Manifold stores data in .map format project files.  A Manifold .map file can be interchanged by all Manifold products that are built upon Manifold's hyper-fast Radian engine. ".map" stands for Manifold Project, the file database format used for all Manifold database and GIS products.   In a time when disk space is endless and cheap and human time is limited and expensive, .map files are designed to be as fast as possible and not as small as possible.  Saving a big table or image in a .map file will usually result in a bigger file on disk than other formats but almost always the result will be far faster operation.




MAP files and MXB files -  For everyday work we want our projects to open instantly, save instantly and operate at eye-popping speed.  When exchanging data or saving archives for long-term, rarely used storage we want our projects to be as compressed and as small as possible.   To serve both needs Manifold has two formats for project files:  super-fast MAP and super-compressed MXB.


Manifold .map format provides phenomenal speed and capacity for everyday work.  Manifold .map projects open instantly, save instantly and can be nested with links within projects to other projects with zero loss of performance.   Manifold .mxb files are highly compressed files that archive a project in the most compact possible form.   They are perfect for creating the smallest possible project file for exchange over Internet or for archival storage.


Manifold ODBC driver - The Manifold ODBC driver makes it easy for other applications to read/write Manifold .map files as well.   See, for example, the Example: Create an ODBC Data Source with Windows topic and similar examples.


The Manifold ODBC driver is automatically installed when installing Manifold using a Windows Installer installation package, but it is not automatically installed when running a portable installation.  When using a portable installation we must install the Manifold driver using the Help - About dialog.  See the Installations topic for a quick guide to using portable installations and to installing the Manifold ODBC driver. 


Dataports:  A dataport is a Manifold module that interacts with file formats, databases and other sources of data.   When we import data from a given file format, say, from shapefiles, we are calling the dataport for shapefiles.  


Please note: While it may be convenient to leave data within original formats, such as shapefiles as often encountered in GIS, doing so means living within the limitations imposed by those formats.   Older formats may be fine for small amounts of data but when larger amounts of data are involved they are way slower than Manifold .map files and they often have limitations such as no ability to mix vector types, limits on data types, limits on size or other limits.  


Using .MAPCACHE can deliver impressive speed even with older formats but even so using Manifold .map format is almost always faster, usually much faster, for larger files and .map format does not suffer from the content limitations of older formats.


Read-only layers - Projects can contain read-only components.   For example, an image layer from a Google web server will be a read-only layer in our maps (Google does not let us edit the images and maps that Google Maps serves).   For example, we can create a data source from a database and check the read-only box to make everything read-only that we bring in from that database, such as drawings or images.  Some formats are always read-only when linked into a project.   When the focus is on a read-only layer, commands that require writing, such as a Paste command or buttons to create areas, lines, or points, will be disabled, since they cannot be used.


Copying and pasting between sessions - When copying and pasting between different Manifold sessions remember to copy all parts of a component.   An image component, for example, is just a display module to show the contents of the associated table which stores the tiles for that image.   To copy an image from one Manifold session to another we must copy and paste both the image as well as the table for that image.


Saving Data Sources - The Project pane tracks any unsaved changes for data sources that support saving, including the root .map file itself.   Data sources with unsaved changes will be displayed using a different icon that shows an asterisk * in the lower right corner of the icon.   Making changes via a script to a data source that supports saving may require a few seconds before the icon is updated.   If a data source does not support saving the icon will not change and the Project pane context menu command for that data source will not include a Save command.


CPU Parallelization - Manifold automatically runs parallel for internal Manifold tasks and for Transform pane templates and similar operations, using all of the CPU cores available in your system in parallel.   When writing queries manually using the Command Window make sure to add a THREADS SystemCpuCount() command to the query to automatically parallelize the query to use all CPU cores in your system.


GPGPU - Manifold automatically uses NVIDIA GPUs for massively parallel computation.    NVIDIA GPUs of Kepler class or more recent which NVIDIA supports with CUDA are required.  See the GPGPU topic for details.


Open a .map file from a command prompt -  For users who want to use a batch file to launch Manifold or Viewer with a particular .map project file, Manifold can be launched with a project from a command line.  See the Command Line Execution topic.   That topic also provides an example of packaging a portable Viewer installation with a .map file and a small batch file inside a .zip file, a convenient way to distribute projects to people for viewing who do not have Manifold.  They can simply double-click the batch file to view the project, with no need to download or to otherwise install either Manifold or Viewer.


Watch tutorial videos for a fast start:


  1. Manifold Tutorial 1 - Navigation and User Interface

  2. Manifold Tutorial 2 - Add Data and Create a Map

  3. Manifold Tutorial 3 - Export Data and Print a Map

  4. Visit the Videos page for many more live action videos.


See the 10 Minute Tutorial - Drag and Drop video for drag and drop examples.

See Also

Projects and .map Files


Importing and Linking


User Interface Basics


How to Edit a Single File
















Manifold Server




View - Panes - Project


Status Bar


Assign Initial Coordinate System


Examples - Do not miss!  Browse through the many examples for step by step tutorials.


Example: Project Pane Tutorial - In this example we take an extended tour of the Project pane, engaging in a variety of simple but typical moves that are illustrated step by step.


Example: Import a Shapefile - ESRI shapefiles are a very popular format for publishing GIS and other spatial data.  Unfortunately, shapefiles often will not specify what projection should be used.  This example shows how to deal with that quickly and easily.


Example: Closing without Saving - An example that shows how File - Close without saving the project can affect local tables and components differently from those saved already into a data source, such as an .mdb file database.


Example: Spectacular Images and Data from Web Servers - A must see topic providing a gallery of views illustrating how Manifold can use web servers such as imageservers and other free resources to provide a seemingly endless selection of spectacular background maps, satellite images and GIS data with nearly zero effort.


Example: An Imageserver Tutorial - An extensive tutorial showing step by step how to add new data sources that are imageservers, how to show them as layers in a map, how to create a new drawing that matches the projection of the map and how to trace over what is seen in an imageserver layer to create an area object in the drawing.


Example: Reproject a Drawing - An essential example on changing the projection of a drawing, either within the drawing itself, or by changing the projection of a map window that shows the drawing and on the fly reprojects the drawing for display.


Where Manifold Data is Stored


Accessory Files Created




Keyboard and Mouse Quick Reference


Performance Tips


For Maximum Reliability