Read Me First

Welcome to Manifold® System!    


See the Installations topic for instructions on installing and activating Manifold.   


See the What's New in the Latest Build topic for information on recent updates that might not be integrated into this documentation.

Learn Manifold Fast

Watch tutorial videos for a fast start. Videos may need updating given the latest changes in 9, but will help anyway:


  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.


Download the example project used in the above videos from OSM_Venice.mxb (117338 KB).    


For an overview of 9, see the Introduction.   See What's New in the Latest Build for the latest changes.


To start work right now, go straight to Getting Started.   


Advice:  Release 9 is a very big, sophisticated package.   Do not make the mistake of thinking it can be learned by poking at toolbar buttons.  Instead, watch the videos and read basic topics in order starting with Read Me First and then the Getting Started, Panes, and Basics chapters.  That sounds like a lot but it goes fast.


Take a break from time to time to watch videos and to read a few Examples in the user manual, especially those in the Introductory Examples chapter.   Learning the basics in that way will avoid endless frustration and will give you a fast launch with a truly mighty tool.


Windows 11 - Topics in the User Manual show screenshots from Windows 10 and Windows 11.  Manifold works the same in Windows 11 and Windows 10, but Windows 11 screenshots will  show rounded corners to panes, dialogs and windows.

Release 9 / Commander / Server / Viewer

This user manual describes Manifold Release 9 , called Release 9 or just Manifold, Manifold Commander, called Commander for short, Manifold Server, called Server for short, and the free, read-only version of 9, Manifold Viewer, called Viewer.   


Manifold Commander is a console application version of Manifold that provides the full range of Manifold query and scripting capabilities from a command line, making it easy to automate GIS, DBMS, and ETL tasks.   Commander is a built in part of Manifold Universal and Manifold Server editions.


Manifold Server is a read-only, parallel, spatial database server that shares the contents of a Manifold .map file to one or more Manifold clients.  Server is a built in part of Manifold Release 9 Universal edition in limited form, and a built in part of Manifold Release 9 Server edition in unlmited form.  Manifold Server is not a part of Manifold Viewer or Manifold's SQL for ArcGIS Pro product, although both Viewer and SQL for ArcGIS Pro can connect to Server.


Viewer is a free product from Manifold that is a read-only version of Manifold Release 9.  Everything in this manual applies to both Release 9 and Viewer except for the following limitations of Viewer:



Excluding only the above limitations, Viewer retains all other Release 9 features, like full spatial SQL, full CPU and GPU parallelism, superb visualizations, and truly epic analytics.  The entire, huge capability of 9 to work with projections / coordinate systems, including zillions of high accuracy grid transformations and over 7000 coordinate systems, is all there in Viewer.   With Viewer we can create spectacular visuals and make screenshots of them to use in web sites and publications.   


We can use Viewer as a client to connect to and browse major databases like Manifold Server, Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and DB2, and to a seemingly endless range of other data sources and file formats.   We can save complex queries that we often use in text files, and then copy/paste them into Viewer for execution.  Although Viewer is read-only, we can save frequently used DBMS and other data sources as Favorites in Viewer, so the next time we launch a Viewer session we can use them with a single click.    Viewer can also be used to create LiDAR spatial indices, and to edit localization files.


Viewer is so similar to Manifold Release 9 that the same user manual - this user manual - covers both Release 9 and Viewer.  Viewer users who read this documentation should keep in mind the above limits to Viewer.  If a command or menu option does not appear, that is usually because of one of the above limits in Viewer.   In most situations the situation will be clear.    


Manifold does not provide technical support for Manifold Viewer.  Hey, it's free!


To get support on Viewer, read this user manual, watch the videos, or ask questions of other users on the Manifold Forum.

Product Downloads



Manifold and Viewer do not automatically check for updates.   After installation, at any time check for any newer versions available by launching Manifold and choosing Help - About.   When the About dialog is launched, Manifold will reach out through Internet to check for a new version.    


Always run the latest version of Release 9 or Viewer.   Don't be scared of using Cutting Edge builds.  Run those.  Newer versions of 9 or Viewer are free to download.  If 9 has been activated on a machine, no new activation will be required to uninstall an older build and to then install a newer build.   If you cannot open a Release 9 .map or .mxb project file, install the latest version of 9 or Viewer and try again.  Older versions of 9 or Viewer might not be able to open projects created by the very latest build.


Manifold Release 9 and Manifold Viewer have different installation options to suit different needs.   For step-by-step installation and activation please see the Installations and Install and Activate topics.


Installing Manifold Release 9 Universal edition automatically installs Manifold Server.   Manifold Server is a high performance, parallel, read-only, spatial database server.  It allows many Manifold users to share data that is published through Server.


The Manifold GUI uses English by default.  To use other languages for the GUI, provide a localization file as discussed in the Localization topic.   Anyone can create a localization file for a desired language.  See the Manifold website for examples of localization files contributed by users.


User Manual Translation

This User Manual is currently available only in English.    However, a remarkably good translation can be made on the fly into many languages by using the DeepL Translator, a free application.  Download and install DeepL's Windows app.   You can then highlight some text in the manual or on a web page and then while holding the Ctrl key down press the C key twice.  The app will pop open and translate the highlighted text for you.  


In Manifold's testing of translating the user manual and web site, DeepL's translations are better than Google or Microsoft translators.  DeepL translations also provide a realistic way for users whose native language is not English to participate in the English language user forum.


Three Letter Extensions

Most file names in Windows end in what usually is called a three letter extension, which is usually three or four 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.   That may be helpful for inexpert consumers, but for skilled users it is inconvenient and can be misleading when working with the many file formats that Manifold and similar products utilize.  


Tech tip:  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.


For Manifold Release 8 Licensees

Release 8 is the prior generation of Manifold GIS products.   Manifold Release 9 and Manifold Viewer utilize Radian technology .map format.   Release 9 or Viewer can open Manifold Release 8 .map files but Release 8 cannot open newer, Release 9 .map files that use Radian technology.   


Automatic conversion:  If we open a Release 8 .map file in Manifold and then Save that .map file it will be saved in newer, Release 9 .map format.  Manifold will warn us the file already exists and will offer to save using an incremented name to avoid overwriting the original Release 8 .map, but if we insist we can use the same file name to overwrite the original Release 8 .map file.  To retain the ability to read the original .map file in Release 8, make sure to save the .map file created by Release 9 using a different name.   Use File - Save As to save under a different name.


Automatic conversion when Linking:  Linking a Release 8 .map file or creating a new data source based on a Release 8 .map file will also cause that .map file to be converted into Release 9, Radian .map file format.    Make a backup copy of any pre-Radian .map files you wish to retain in the old format before you open them or use them in a Manifold project.


Manifold Release 8 can connect to newer Manifold projects using the Manifold Release 9 ODBC driver.   That facilitates interchange between newer Manifold projects and Release 8.   See the discussion in the Projects and .map Files topic and the Example: Connect to Manifold from Release 8  topic.


Release 9 is a completely new product, far beyond incremental improvement on Release 8.  Release 8 users should invest the time to learn 9 as a new product by reading this documentation and by watching videos.  Attempting to operate 9 by analogy to 8, clicking buttons and choosing menu commands that seem to be right, will cause frustration, because 9 is different and workflow is different.  Avoid such frustration by investing a few days into learning 9, for a fast and easy launch.


Although data from Release 8 is freely usable in 9, queries and programming for Release 8 must be rewritten for version 9.   However, code (and queries) optimized for 9 will often perform ten times faster than the 8 version and at times even one hundred times faster.  For most operations 9 is much faster than 8 and for some operations, particularly on larger rasters, 9 can be astonishingly faster than 8.  Time invested to learn 9 is definitely worth it.  

Technical Tips for Release 8 users:  


More from Manifold

Manifold® System Release 9 is another fine product from your friends at  Visit the Manifold web site for information on other Manifold products.


We appreciate your business and your vote of confidence in our products. If you have suggestions for improvement write us at -  Each new release benefits from thousands of user suggestions to make a better Manifold for you.


If you like Manifold Release 9 and the value that it provides please tell your friends about Manifold and post your views online. Because invests into software development instead of into advertising the company depends upon the satisfaction of the Manifold user community for continued success. Enjoy!


Let's Go !

See the What's New in the Latest Build topic for information on recent updates that might not be integrated into this documentation.