Example: Format a Drawing using the Style Pane

In this example we provide a first, step by step look at how to format areas in a drawing using the Style pane.   We can specify the same formatting for all areas or use a field to automatically set formatting, a process usually known as thematic formatting.




We open a drawing that shows the regions of France as areas.



Opening the table for the drawing we see that each record has the name of the Region, a Number that gives the regional number and a Geom field containing the geometry of the area object for the region.



Right-clicking onto the Regions drawing in the Project pane and choosing Properties we can see the Properties dialog for the drawing shows the table from which it takes data and the name of the geom field in that table that provides geometry for each object.



To change the formatting of the drawing we click on the drawing window so it has the focus and then we choose the Style pane.



We click the Fill Color button for areas.



We choose a color from the resulting drop down menu.   If we would like some other color we click More... to open the usual Windows color setting dialog that allows a choice of any color we want.   For now we will choose one of the many default color options, a shade of blue.



The button changes color to the blue color selected, and immediately the drawing updates to use the specified shade of blue as the fill color for areas.  


We can apply the above technique to specify any of the style properties shown in the Style pane for areas, lines or points.   See the Example: Style Pane Quickstart topic for an example showing how we can change other style properties, or even multiple properties at once.

Thematic Formatting

So far we have manually specified a color to use as the fill color for areas.   If we like, we can use the contents of a field to guide a choice of colors so that the fill color for areas (or any other Style property) is set for each area individually depending upon the contents of a field for that specific area.   Using the contents of a field to automatically set the format for each object is called thematic formatting.


To use thematic formatting for area fill color in our drawing, we click the Fill color button for areas, and then in the pull down menu for fields, initially captioned (no field selected),  we choose the field we would like to guide formatting.   The pull down menu will be loaded with all field names we can use in the drawing for thematic formatting.   



We choose the Number field to use the region number to guide formatting.   



The dialog will automatically adjust to show controls for thematic formatting, showing a default range of intervals in the intervals list pane.   No formatting has as yet been specified so all the color wells show the same blue color.  We will leave the default choice of 5 for the number of Breaks, that is, groupings of records.  We will change the method from equal intervals to a different method.



Instead of equal intervals we choose the equal count method for grouping numbers.   Thematic formatting is confusing if too many different ranges of colors are used, so usually drawings are formatted using a more limited number of colors for better intelligibility.     The equal count method choose ranges so that approximately the same number of records fall into each grouping used for a color.   The small number of regions does not evenly divide by five, so the number of regions in each interval will not be exactly the same, but instead will be approximately equal.



As soon as we choose the equal count method the intervals in the intervals list are automatically re-computed to new interval boundary values that result in approximately equal numbers of records within each interval.   Since the number of records does not divide evenly into five intervals, some of the intervals will have different numbers of records.  



To automatically color the intervals we will apply a palette.   When we click on the Palette button, options for two sub-menus will appear, both of which provide a long list of palettes.   We will use the Color Brewer sub-menu, choosing within that menu the CB Spectral palette.



The palette colors are immediately applied to the color wells.   To apply that range of colors and intervals to the drawing we press Update Style.  



The drawing is immediately recolored using the colors assigned to each range.   Depending upon the Number value for each area's record, that is, the region number, it will be colored by the color assigned to the range within which that region number falls.    Any exceptions to values in the intervals, such as NULLs, will be colored by the settings in the first interval.



If we open the drawing's Properties we see a new Style property has been added, with the value for that property specified in human-readable JSON form.



There are many formatting options besides fill color as illustrated above.



The four illustrations below show the same drawings as the illustration above, but with default formatting altered by using the Style pane and overall background color set using the  Layers pane.  The illustrations show screenshots from a Windows 11 installation of Manifold.



In the above illustration thematic formatting is used to control the Rotation of the point symbols, with thematic formatting also used to specify the fill color of areas. The Layers pane was used to set black background color for the drawings.



In the above illustration points are all set to use the same icon and color, with thematic formatting also used to specify the fill color of areas.  The Layers pane was used to set light beige background color for the drawings.



In the above illustration points are all set to use the same icon and color.  Points use a Rotation of 180 degrees to flip the triangle style used for points.   To create dotted line style area borders, we style the borders of areas as dotted lines.   The same color is used for area Color and Fill Color.  The Layers pane was used to set light blue background color for the drawings.



In the above illustration we have changed the point icon to a square, which when used with a Rotation of 45 appears as a diamond.


Historical regions - The illustrations in this topic use data from the US government, which show the regions of France as they were before 1 January 2016, when regions in France were reduced from 22 to 13.



Manifold 9 - Style Pane Quickstart - Points - A fast and easy introduction to the new Style and formatting capabilities for Pionts in Manifold Release 9 and Viewer.  Learn how to rapidly change colors, symbology, sizes and rotations including the use of vector symbols, fonts and even bitmap images. The new system is "always on" and immediately shows changes in the main workspace for rapid, easy choice of exactly the visual effect we want.  This video gets right to the basics used every day.


Manifold 9 - Style Pane Quickstart - Lines - Learn how to use the spectacular new style capabilities for lines in Manifold Release 9 and Manifold Viewer to create an endless variety lines quickly and easily.  See how to add arrowheads or other symbols to the ends of lines, how to customize lines with repeating symbols, how to start lines with custom symbols and how to add accessory left and right lines for exactly the right effect.


Manifold 9 - Style Pane Quickstart - Areas - New area style capabilities in Release 9 and Viewer make it easy to rapidly create spectacular visuals that get the story across with clarity and compelling effect.  Learn how to use point and click controls to fill areas, control borders, draw "inner area" effects and "outer area" effects for a seeming infinite range of options, all available with a rapid click of the mouse.  Use bitmap images for area effects too!


Manifold 9 - Style Pane Quickstart - Labels - Recent builds of Release 9 have added extensive new style facilities for labels, making it easy to choose a wide variety of effects, including sidecar icons, box frames, drop shadows and many others. This video shows how fast and easy point-and-click dialogs make it easy to create exactly the label look you want.  Works for the free Manifold Viewer, too!


Manifold 9 - Bitmap Styles - A quick, first look at very extensive additions to Style, enabling use of bitmaps for styles, inner and outer area hatches, left and right line style additions and many other new features.


See also

Getting Started


User Interface Basics




Editing Tables




Layers Pane


Style Pane


Style: Drawings


Style: Thematic Formatting


Style: Overrides


Style: Labels


Style: Areas


Style: Lines


Style: Points


Style: Bitmap Symbols


Example: Style Pane Quickstart - A tutorial introduction to using the Style pane to apply color, symbology, size and rotation to areas, lines and points in drawings.


Example: Format the Size of City Points by Population - A common GIS task is to format the size of points in a drawing based on some value.  For example, the size of points that represent cities might be formatted based on the value of the city's population, with cities that have larger populations being marked by larger point icons.  This is an example of thematic formatting and is easy to do using the Style dialog.


Example: Add, Delete and Edit Thematic Formatting Intervals - This topic provides a step by step example of adding, deleting and editing intervals in the Style dialog that are used for thematic formatting.


Example: Style Properties in the mfd_meta Table - Style properties for drawings such as colors for areas are stored in human readable JSON values as properties in the mfd_meta system table.   This example shows how we can copy formatting from one drawing to another by simply copying values between records in the mfd_meta table.


Example: Formatting Tricks - The visualization capabilities of Manifold using Style can be exploited to provide many visual effects.   This topic provides some examples of how to use Style in unexpected ways to create a range of more elaborate effects.


Example: How Not to Format a Drawing -  When using Style to format a drawing it is a really bad idea to use the same color for objects that is used for the background color.    It can also be a bad idea to use transparent color.   This topic illustrates why.




Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 1 - This video shows how to download and use a portable installation for Manifold Future.  The video also shows the Contents, pane, layers and layer opacity, one click use of data source favorites, using your own archival favorite and getting record values instantly.  If you are using Viewer or Radian Studio, download and use the Future version to get access to all these powerful new features.


Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 2 Editing - The video shows how to create new objects, how to add fields and vertices and move vertices around, how to edit existing objects and how to use simple selection methods to choose vertices to move together, including moving all objects.


Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 3 Editing - The editing tour continues with a look at how to create branched objects, including how to create areas with holes and islands, how to add branches to lines and how to add coordinates between vertices in existing objects.  We finish up by creating an area that traces over a pond in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris using a Google satellite view, and then we add a hole to that area and two additional islands.


Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 4 Edit Attributes, Move a Point - We use Manifold Future to see how to view attributes of objects in drawings, including use of the new Edit dialog to view long, multi-paragraph text fields.  We edit fields and see how easy it is to preview edits and either accept them or abandon them. We switch to editing the geometry of objects in a drawing, viewing the coordinate locations and using mouse moves to reposition points. We edit the location of a point to correct an error in a drawing, using Google Satellite view to provide context for the correction.  Fast and easy, with previews all the way!


Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 5 Unicode Attributes and IME -  We take a tour through Manifold Future attribute editing, showing how to edit attributes in a drawing using the Record pane Values

tab and the expanded Edit dialog, including advanced Unicode facilities and use of the built in Input Method Editor (IME) to input text in Japanese language.


Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 6 Cell Context Menu - A short video showing a fast and easy way to copy between cells in tables using the context menu.  Also... one step undo of pending changes,  setting the value of a cell to NULL and more. The context menu on cells is such a simple thing but it makes repetitive editing of tables much faster and easier.


Manifold Future - 5 Minute Style Quickstart - A five minute, fast and easy introduction to the new Style and formatting capabilities in Manifold Future. In just five minutes learn how to rapidly change colors, symbology, sizes and rotations for area, line and point objects in drawings.


Manifold Future - Example: Style Pane Quickstart - A video that repeats the Example: Style Pane Quickstart topic.  The video shows how to format points using the Style pane, including simultaneous formatting of multiple style properties using the same thematic format setup. See how to use free meteorology symbols from a popular, free font, how to use letters and other symbols as point symbology and more.


Manifold Future - Example: City Sizes by Population - A video that repeats the Example: Format the Size of City Points by Population topic. The video shows how to vary the sizes and colors of points in a map by the populations of cities those points represent, a classic example of thematic formatting. See also what the percentage numbers in the intervals list mean and how interval methods are automatically calculated by Manifold based on the data in the drawing.