Favorite Data Sources

Choosing File - Create - New Data Source provides a menu of Favorite data sources that with a single click we can quickly add to a project.


The default list of favorites includes four or five data sources for image servers.  The default favorites will be available if we do not remove them from the Favorites list.   We can add to, delete from, or modify the items in the Favorites list by choosing Favorites from the menu.


To edit the Favorites list, choose File - Create - New Data Source or right-click into the Project pane and choose Create - New Data Source and then  Favorites.  That will launch the Favorites dialog for data sources.  



By default, the dialog is populated with a list of image servers representing popular choices for map backgrounds.   Depending on the specific Manifold edition and build, the default list of favorites may vary from the illustration shown above.   Favorites will appear in menus in the order in which they are listed in the dialog.   We can move favorites up and down in the list by selecting them with a Ctrl-click and then using the Move buttons.


Add - Add a new favorite.  Launches the New Data Source dialog.

Add Defaults - Adds factory default favorite data sources to the current list.  Use this to restore factory settings if any of the original default favorites have been deleted.


Ctrl-click a favorite to select it or to de-select it.


With the focus on the list (click into the list pane to move the focus there), select all favorites.


With the focus on the list, select none.  


With the focus on the list, invert the selection.  Another quick way to select none is to Ctrl-A and then Ctrl-I.

Move to Top - Moves the selected entries to the top of the list.

Move Up - Moves the selected entries up one position in the list.

Move Down - Moves the selected entries down one position in the list.

Move to Bottom - Moves the selected entries to the bottom of the list.

Delete - Remove selected entries from the list.   This does not delete the data sources if we have created them in the project - it simply removes them from the list of Favorites.

Add to Favorites

Enabled when the lower pane contains a data source and that data source is selected (shown with red selection background color).  Ctrl-click the data source to select it.   Pressing the Add to Favorites button will add it to the Favorites list.


Choosing a data source through other means and then launching the Favorites dialog will populate the lower pane with that data source.

Favorites can be Any Data Source

The built-in Favorites are image servers but we can add any data source we like as a favorite.  For example, we might add a frequently-used connection to a PostgreSQL database.  If we keep archival data in Manifold .map projects we can add those as data sources, so we can quickly access drawings, tables, images, or other resources within those .map projects, including even data sources within those map projects.  

Example: Add a .map Project as a Favorite

If we keep archival data in Manifold .map projects we can add those as data sources, and having a favorite for frequently used data sources is a great convenience.  


For example, if we frequently use ESRI backgrounds we might add as a favorite the ArcGIS_REST_Servers.map example project that contains a collection of many web servers that are ArcGIS REST web server data sources.  Any time we want to add a collection of ArcGIS REST servers to our project that we can use we could choose that favorite data source.  


In the example below we will add a favorite data source that is a Manifold .map project file that contains a list of ArcGIS REST web servers.



To add a new favorite, click on the Add button.



That launches the New Data Source dialog.  We enter the Name we desire for the data source, choose File: manifold for the Type and then we press the [...] browse button.



After browsing to the location of the .map file and choosing it, back in the New Data Source dialog we press the Add Favorite Data Source button.



A new favorite appears in the list, using the name we specified.   The new favorite is automatically selected and thus shown in red selection color.    


 To move it to the top of the list, so it appears first in the Favorites menu, we press the Move to Top button.



We press OK.  


The next time we choose New Data Source, the new favorite we added to the list will appear at the top of the Favorites list.   We can click it to choose it.



That immediately adds the data source to our project, as if we had launched the New Data Source dialog and had gone through the process of choosing the ArcGIS_REST_Servers.map project as a data source.



We can expand the data source to see it provides us with many web servers stored within that Manifold .map project.   Hovering the mouse over the data source we can see that the source is the .map file we specified when we added the new favorite data source.

Example: Add a Custom Web Server

If we have created a data source in our project, we can save it as a Favorite.   Sometimes connecting to a database or to a web server can involve much tinkering before we find the URL that works.  Or, we may need to enter credentials such as an API key, as is required by some image servers (Google v2 servers, for example), and we would prefer to save all that as a favorite.   


This example shows how we can save any data source in our project as a favorite.  The particular example uses a Bing imageserver with a custom connection string, but exactly the same procedure will work if we want to add a WMS server or other web server as a Favorite.



Suppose after reading Microsoft's documentation on Bing for developers we have created a variety of data sources that use customized connection strings to show Bing streets with custom content and styling.  We have created variations that use dark gray overall map style, light gray style, Bing in French regardless of where we are located, and Bing streets shown with hill shaded terrain.   We would like to save these as favorites, so we always have these custom versions available without having to re-do the tinker time we spent getting them to work or remembering what we did to create each variation.



We will start with a custom imageserver we have called Bing Streets Canvas Dark.  This imageserver uses a custom connection string  to show Bing streets using a dark style, as described in the comments in the Bing_and_Yandex_variations.mxb project we can download from the Examples page on the Manifold website.  The image above shows an example zoomed into Silicon Valley, roughly centered on Google's world headquarters.



To save the Bing Streets Canvas Dark data source as a Favorite Data Source, we first Right-click it, and then in the context menu we choose Create...



...and then in the Create menu we continue to choose New Data Source and then Favorites.    Note that the Create menu and New Data Source menus have all choices disabled except Favorites, because we launched the menus from a right-click onto a data source and adding that data source to Favorites is the only option available.



The Favorites dialog launches with the data source that we right-clicked loaded into the bottom pane.  


We Ctrl-click that data source to select it, to enable the Add to Favorites button.


We press Add to Favorites.



That adds the Bing Streets Canvas Dark data source to the Favorites list.    We press OK to apply the change.



Now, whenever we create a new data source the Bing Streets Canvas Dark data source will be in the Favorites list, ready to pick with a single click.

Favorite Image Servers and New Maps

When we add an imageserver data source to the Favorites list it will appear in all settings where favorite data sources are used.    


For example, when we create a new map using Create - New Map, the dialog offers automatic use of a Base layer in the new map that can be any imageserver data source that is in the Favorite Data Sources list.



Choose Create - New Map and the Base layer box will be loaded with whatever was the last imageserver data source that was used as a base layer.   We can click the box for a pull-down menu of choices.



After we add the Bing Streets Canvas Dark data source to our Favorites list, it will be available as a choice in the Base layer pull-down menu.    We can choose it and then press Create Map to create a new map that uses the Bing Streets Canvas Dark data source as a base layer.


Note that the ArcGIS REST Servers data source we added in the first example in this topic does not appear in the Base layer list.  That is because the ArcGIS REST Servers data source is not an imageserver data source, but is a data source to an entire Manifold .map project.  Only Favorite data sources that are imageserver data sources will appear as choices in the Base layer list.



In the New Map dialog, choosing the Bing Streets Canvas Dark data source as the Base layer and then pressing Create Map rapidly creates a new map with that base layer.  We can then drag and drop other layers into the map to populate it.  For example, in the illustration above we have added a layer showing as yellow diamonds the locations of lesser-known US military bases, such as contingency locations and armed drone bases.


Although Manifold Viewer is read-only when it comes to saving projects or writing to databases and linked files, Viewer can update Favorites and have those updates available in future Viewer sessions.  That is a great way for Viewer users to save frequently-used data sources, such as connections to DBMS servers, to files, or to custom web servers.



For Copy and Paste examples of the Bing Streets Canvas Dark and other image server variations shown in the example in this topic, download the Bing_and_Yandex_variations.mxb project from the Examples page on the Manifold website.  The project provides a collection of ten variations on Bing and Yandex image servers.   The variations show how small changes in the Source string can create different image server content or style.  



Manifold Viewer - Connect to a DBMS and Save as a Favorite - Applies to both Manifold Release 9 and to the free Viewer.  See how easy it is to connect to a DBMS with the free Manifold Viewer and to then save the connection as a Favorite that can be launched with a single click - no need to re-enter credentials. Viewer is read-only, but we can create Favorites that in future Viewer sessions will appear in the Favorites list. Set up fast, one-click connections to databases, to files, and to other frequently used data sources.

See Also

Image Servers


Web Servers


File - Create - New Data Source


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: Create a New Data Source from a Manifold Image Server - Manifold image server modules are snippets of code which use the Manifold Image Server Interface (ISI) to automatically fetch image tiles from popular image servers like Virtual Earth, Wikimapia, Yahoo!, Google Maps, Yandex and many others. Image servers can provide street maps, overhead satellite imagery, combinations of streets and satellite imagery and other data as well.  Using Manifold Image Servers is one of the most popular Manifold features.


Example: Create a New Data Source from a MAP File - Create a new data source from an existing Manifold .map project file.   This is the classic way to nest projects, one calling another, to create libraries of data and projects.   Access to nested projects has effectively zero performance loss and the links within projects take up effectively zero space so we can create huge constellations of data at our fingertips.


Example: Create a Data Source within an Existing Data Source - When a data source is writable, for example, if the data source is a Manifold .map file, we can work within that data source as if it were at the top level of our project.   For example, we can create a new data source that is nested within the existing data source.   This example shows how.


Example: Create and Use New Data Source using an MDB Database - This example Illustrates the step-by-step creation of a new data source using an .mdb file database, followed by use of SQL.  Although now deprecated in favor of the more current Access Database Engine formats, .mdb files are ubiquitous in the Microsoft world, one of the more popular file formats in which file databases are encountered.