Technical Support FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

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Support

For a general overview of Manifold Technical Support, please see the Support page. This page provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding Manifold Technical Support.

Licenses do not include free tech support

Manifold® products do not include tech support. Whoever procured your license agreed to this provision in order to obtain the license. They agreed they would pay for any support required, no matter how trivial the question. They also agreed they would only pass on the license to someone else if the recipient also agreed to pay for each and every question, no matter how trivial. If you disagree with this provision you are not licensed to use or to possess any Manifold license.

Any tech support question requires a "token," which may be purchased at very low cost. Some licenses may have two free tokens of standard tech support provided as a marketing promotion to help new users try out the system. Low cost and free products do not provide free support tokens.

The system works very well to provide an exceptionally sophisticated product at very low price to everyone, while also providing a high level of tech support at very low price to anyone who requires support. The system works well because it protects people who can RTFM from high costs caused by people who do not RTFM, and because it preserves high quality support resources for those users who are willing to spend a token to get them.

What does RTFM mean? "Read The Fine Manual." The term is used to refer to the reading of published information, such as user manuals and web pages, to obtain required information and assistance. Efficient learning and utilization of sophisticated, powerful software requires good RTFM skills. Support services are designed not to eliminate the need to RTFM but to provide expert assistance in cases where reasonable RTFM efforts do not suffice.

Can I get free tech support by insisting that the license terms do not apply to me and that I can be clueless at everybody else's expense? No, that won't work. Manifold customers like it that Manifold applies the same policy evenly to everyone. If you want support, use a token like everyone else. It's easy to do, it's fast, it gets you expert support right away and it often costs little or nothing. See the Contact Tech Support page.

Can I waste tokens by acting as if the requirement of a token for every question does not apply to me? Sure. That's a great way to waste tokens. If support has to look up tokens for you that can end up costing you two tokens for one question: one token for the reply and one token for the service of looking up that token for you. Charging tokens for such reminders also helps to discourage would-be freeloaders from driving up costs for honest and responsible licensees.

What does a tech support token cover? A technical support token covers any single question asked of technical support. Any question involving the installation, activation or use in any way of a license is a "question." For example, a question such as "How many activations do I have on this serial number?" is a support question. The same incident continues no matter how many emails are exchanged until the single question is answered. "Single questions" mean those that relate to one function or to the lowest separable usage level of Manifold in a specific task. General questions will receive general answers, since they usually involve numerous functions or very many lower level usage levels. For example, a general question such as "How can I link to external database tables" will receive a general answer pointing out various Manifold Help topics to read, which will cost one token. The thread does not continue into subsequent specific questions, such as, perhaps, how to operate the ODBC dialog and so on.

Excluded from standard support are questions related to any form of scripting, any other programming, customization, SQL, License Server, Enterprise Edition features, Manifold IMS and any questions involving Runtime licenses. Development level support tokens are required for Manifold questions excluded from standard support.

Excluded in any case are questions that are of a consulting or educational nature, that do not ask about Manifold features or capabilities, or that are about the operation of Windows in general or products other than Manifold System. Only supported are the specific functions and capabilities of Manifold.

Examples of supported questions:

  • "How do I import a projected .shp file?"
  • "Can Manifold import .ijk format for surfaces?"
  • "How do I rotate a label?"
  • "How do I link a table into a project?"
  • "For what product is the following serial number?"

Examples of unsupported questions:

  • "What is the difference beween .shp files and .mid/.mif files?"
  • "How do I write a script to import .ijk format for surfaces?"
  • "What is wrong with my XML customization?"
  • "Manifold IMS will not launch on my machine. What am I doing wrong?"
  • "How should I configure SQL Server with the right permissions for me to link a table into my project?"
  • "What source control system do you use?"
  • "When do you think Manifold will include a spreadsheet like Excel?"
  • "Please write an example script that..."

Manifold Technical Support provides technical support on Manifold products, not on Microsoft facilities or on other products. Manifold can work with many other software products. For example, one can create a linked drawing in Manifold that draws its contents from a SQL Server table. However, support on Manifold is limited to Manifold only. For example, if you are having difficulty creating a linked drawing because your SQL Server system or Windows security is configured in a way that prevents your user login from accessing the desired SQL Server table then Manifold tech support will not provide the integration consulting to help you re-configure SQL Server or diagnose the improper administrative setup of Windows.

Manifold is often used within specific industries, such as oil and gas exploration or forestry, which in themselves involve a vast amount of industry-specific knowledge. Manifold tech support cannot assist users in learning such industries or applying industry-specific know-how in the use of Manifold. Support is for Manifold itself and not for the vast amount of knowledge involved in, for example, oil and gas exploration.

Important: Support incidents are not an educational or consulting service. Very general replies to general questions should not be taken as anything other than a probably highly inefficient use of tokens in a case where reading the documentation or other baseline education would have been more effective. Tokens are not appropriate for and are usually wasted by general questions such as "How do I work this thing?" or "What is a GIS?" or "How do I show my business data on a map?" If that is the level of assistance you require, it is ultimately much more efficient to first read the documentation in the recommended order. Users who do not read documentation will encounter much easily-avoided frustration and are unlikely to be successful at either learning or operating Manifold.

Manifold's functionality and documentation are designed for users who already are very familiar with personal computers and Windows. Users who have very little background with computers, for example having difficulty with basic concepts such as understanding the difference between a web site and an application running in Windows, may find it necessary to invest into remedial education at a community college or other educational facility. If you do not have time to do that or if that does not help, then you should retain a consultant to assist you. Consulting assistance is best obtained by retaining a consultant expert in Manifold and in the other technologies being used. Many expert consultants participate in online forums for Manifold and can often be recruited at reasonable rates by a posting in such forums.

How do I use a token to get tech support? Use the procedure in the Contact Tech Support page.

How do I get support tokens? They are emailed to you when you purchase them on the Online Store. In addition, most Manifold System licenses are bundled with two free standard support tokens as a marketing promotion and these tokens will be provided in the same serial number email that provides the serial number for the Manifold license.

How can I tell if a token has been used? Check the status of that token in the Serial Number Status page.

I do not know if I have any tokens. How do I find out? If you have the serial number email that sent the tokens to you then you know if you have tokens or not. If you do not have that email you do not have any tokens. If you have the email you can look up the status of any token on the Serial Number Status page.

I did not buy Manifold but got it from someone else. How do I get the tokens for this license? Get them from the original licensee along with any other information about the original transaction that the original licensee neglected to pass on to you. Manifold licenses cannot be shared or loaned around. They may be transferred once to a new licensee, who must agree to all terms and conditions of the original transaction and license, and the original licensee must transfer all Manifold materials, emails and other information to the new licensee. If you got Manifold from someone else you do not have a license until they give you the full and complete original serial number email, including all support tokens associated with that license. Note that Manifold will not intervene in any disputes you may have with the original licensee. See the Maintaining Your Manifold License topic.

I do not have my serial number email. Can I get my tokens back? If you do not have your original serial number email or the emails that conveyed your tokens to you if you purchased them in a separate transaction you have no tokens to use. You might be able to reconstitute the email by purchasing a key recovery service product. Do NOT purchase a key recovery service product without a careful reading of the Key Recovery page.

Are tokens charged to explain prior token use? Yes. You can always check the status of a token on the Serial Number Status page. It is up to you how you use your tokens and up to you to keep track of them if a notice on the Status page that a token has been used up and the short notation how is not enough to remember how it was used. If you would like tech support to help you with further detail to remember how the token was used, that will cost you a token as does any question.

I do not remember using the token as indicated in the Status page. How could it have been used? Someone with access to that token or the serial number with which it was provided used it or caused it to be used automatically. Do not give out tokens or serial numbers to people you do not trust to use them responsibly. Note that tokens can be consumed automatically when either licensees or persons who possess the serial number for a Manifold license utilize or misuse support processes. People who don't RTFM may be surprised by such automatic use, but then just about everything comes as a surprise to people who don't RTFM. See subsequent questions and answers in this FAQ.

Can I ask more than one question in the same email? Yes, of course, but only the first question you ask will be answered if you provide only one token. If you want more than the first question answered you must provide more than one tech support token. When more than one question is asked in the same email, Technical Support will apply a token to each question in turn until all tokens are used up.

I want to play word games and pretend I don't know what a question is. Can I do that? Sure, if you want to waste tokens. A question is a phrase that ends in a question mark "?" character. If your email to tech support does not contain any "?" characters you have not asked any questions and have probably just wasted a token to get reply that asks what question you wanted to ask. Do not pose rhetorical questions: tech support must treat all questions equally and cannot guess when you are serious about a question and when you are not. If it has a "?" character at the end it is a question, so do not waste tokens on rhetorical flourishes.

Do difficult questions and simple questions count as one question? Yes. It doesn't matter if it is a difficult question that Einstein would ask or a really simple question the village idiot would ask. One question costs one token. Example: Einstein asks, "Is the Reimann tensor always zero?" That's one question. Example: The village idiot asks, "Am I chewing gum? How can I tell?" That's two questions. None of the three questions are Manifold questions tech support will answer, but they make the point that utterly simple questions count the same as seriously technical questions.

Why are incidents charged for simple questions? First, to discourage wasteful use of tech support so that more support resources are available for serious questions. Second, there is no way to predict if a particular email received from a user is a trivial question or a sophisticated question - each question requires reading by a trained engineer to assure that a sophisticated question that might appear to be a simple question to the untrained eye is properly answered. For that reason it costs as much to process an apparently trivial question as it does a carefully thought-out complex question. In fact, some classes of trivial questions require more time because users neglect to provide required information.

Can anyone use my tech support tokens? Yes, if they have them. Keep your tech support tokens secret to prevent other people from using them. You should also keep your serial number secret from anyone you do not trust to use the serial number and any support tokens associated with that serial number wisely. For example, if you provide your serial number to someone who utilizes the support process you could find that your support tokens automatically have been used up by that person.

Why are CC'd emails excluded? Manifold tech support does not respond to any emails that are shared with third parties or are cc'd to any other recipient outside Manifold. There are four reasons for this policy. The first reason is financial: A tech support incident is a valuable service provided to a single individual. It is not offered to multiple individuals at the same time. The second reason is practical: Experience shows that users will puff up their expertise and are less willing to consider mistakes when an exchange takes place in front of third parties. To avoid any incentive not to be completely honest all tech support exchanges must occur in private.

The third reason is privacy: Tech support may at times need to discuss information that is covered by the Manifold privacy policy. Because the policy allows no disclosure to any third party we require all such communications to occur in private. Even if users are willing to waive their privacy rights we are not willing to waive our privacy policy. Only if it is never violated can we absolutely guarantee the privacy policy.

The final reason is also practical: when several recipients are cc'd on an email tech support will not guess at which one of them is the desired responder. That's also a good reason not to cc tech support if you have business with some other Manifold department: tech must respond to any contact from you, not guessing what role responders have, and that will waste a token if the business is not technical.

Why do you ask for so much information? Long experience shows that having all required information at hand is the fastest way of resolving a tech support problem.

Why must I have the latest versions of everything and the latest service packs? Manifold uses many Microsoft system facilities to assure perfect compatibility with Windows. Both Manifold and Microsoft eliminate problems by issuing service packs and by issuing newer releases. Because technical support is a limited resource, it does not make sense to waste it on figuring out and fixing problems that have already been fixed by either Manifold or Microsoft in an update. Requiring that customers use the latest release of Manifold and install the latest Manifold and Microsoft updates is the only way to guarantee that problems that have already been fixed are not at issue.

Can I file a bug report without using a support token? Yes. No token is required to send in a bug report, provided you do not ask a support question as part of that bug report or ask for a reply. When submitting bug reports, do not ask rhetorical questions. For information on how to submit bug reports, please see the Bug Reports page.

Can I find out when a bug I reported will be fixed? No. The status of a bug report you get by paying a support token (see the Bug Reports page) tells you where an investigation stands (pending, in progress, finished) and whether the bug report turned out to be a real bug or not, but does not cover future plans. If a real bug has been found, the status report will not cover how Manifold plans to address the issue or where specific work stands within Manifold's highly complex engineering schedule. For example, it could be that new features that are pending might remove entirely the subject of a bug report. While tech support as part of a status report might at the option of individual support engineers offer informal opinions about what is planned, there are never any commitments to specific plans or dates. As a practical matter, bugs very rarely linger. Genuinely serious bugs are extremely rare and get fixed immediately.

Can I get free support by pretending a question is a bug report? No, but by doing that you can waste tokens. For example, suppose you write to tech support claiming a bug report in the subject line and beginning "I've found a bug in Manifold..." But then you provide a C++ program you have written involving Manifold, you ask a series of questions why it does not work and then you finish up by asking tech support to write some code examples for you. That will waste a token for the reminder that developer support requires a developer level token.

Can I waste tokens by insisting that my inability to do something is proof positive of a bug in Manifold and thus I should get free support? Yes, that is a perfect way to waste tokens. It is also a great way to build a reputation for total cluelessness. See also the FAQ entries below on being argumentative, etc.

I sent a post-sales question about License Server and got a "no dev token" reply - what's up? A condition of acquiring any License Server license is your agreement that any question or assistance of any kind requires a developer level support token. No getting around that if you think that what you are asking is an "easy question" or an "admin question" or "post-sales" question and is not a technical support question. For example, if you have lost track of licenses or if current staff is unable to refer to the web site and other published materials to know what they have, they'll need to spend a developer level token for assistance. License server is for people who know what they are doing and who are experienced with Manifold products and technologies.

If you are a beginner and nonetheless acquired a License Server license, or if someone experienced on your staff acquired it and has left your employ with only beginners left, now is the time to either invest into your own education by carefully reading the Manifold web site and documentation or to retain a consultant who knows what they are doing to assist you. That is more efficient than expending a stream of developer support tokens.

Can I get free tech support by sending a question to Sales? No. Tech support incidents also apply to questions of a technical support nature that are sent to sales. Such emails are forwarded to tech support and require a tech support token to process.

Can I get free tech support by insisting a tech support question is a sales issue? No. Questions such as "I need the following SQL query I wrote debugged to know what to buy next from Manifold" are technical questions, not sales questions. Likewise, any questions about serial numbers or serial number management, activations, installation and similar are technical questions as well.

Can I waste a support token by not cooperating with the support process? Yes. Technical support can only help if you cooperate with the support process, for example, by answering questions. If you do not answer questions or provide required information, the incident stops and your token will be wasted. Do not make the mistake of thinking tech support is asking you questions for no good reason and that questions do not need to be answered.

Can I waste a support token by not reading replies from tech support? Yes. Ignoring replies already received is related to not cooperating with the support process. If replies must be repeated because you did not take care to read a prior reply a token will be charged. Some users actually quote from prior emails a question and the answer and then ask exactly the same question again. This is simply nuts and a total waste of a good token. If you take the time to write with a question you owe it to yourself to pay careful attention to the answer, diligently reading all of it from beginning to end to get the full benefit of the reply. Take a deep breath, slow down and focus - especially if you are in a hurry.

Suppose I am sure tech support is headed in the wrong direction - can I waste a token by being argumentative? Yes, of course. Almost all tech support incidents involve user errors of concept or execution. At times the very same wrong assumptions or conceptual errors which convince a user that tech support is barking up the wrong tree are exactly the same errors causing the problem in the first place. The most efficient process once you launch an incident is to let tech support take the lead. Answer all questions and provide all required information as rapidly and as precisely as you can. Do not go off on tangents or send pages of information not requested. Let tech support run their process. If you want to get argumentative with comments like "I do not have time to answer any of that. You guys are all wrong and should be looking at..." you bring the process to a halt.

Some of my support tokens have been used but I did not give them to anyone. I only gave serial numbers to end users in my organization that I support. How did the support tokens get used? If you give a serial number to anyone you give them complete control over that license, including not only the ability to utilize all activations for that serial number but also any support tokens associated with that license. For a short note on how a token was used, look it up in the Serial Number Status page.

"Few things are as effective at stopping the solutions process as deciding too early on that the problem must be a bug."

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About Manifold

Manifold® products deliver quality, performance and value in the world's most sophisticated, most modern and most powerful spatial products for GIS, ETL, DBMS, and Data Science. Total integration ensures ease of use, amazing speed, and unbeatably low cost of ownership. Tell your friends!

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