Release 9 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Layer transparency

What is Manifold Release 9 ?

Manifold® Release 9 is a completely new GIS and spatial data engineering experience that blends spatial and non-spatial data to enable data discovery, analysis and management by experts and non-experts alike, together with superb GIS editing and presentation capabilities. Everything involves location and anything involving location is only as good as the quality of the spatial data you utilize. Release 9 provides the world's finest GIS for insuring that your spatial data unleashes your insights with superior quality, speed and bulletproof accuracy.

Image at right: A view of Monaco in Release 9. Layer transparency allows setting the buildings layer to 50% opacity so the Google satellite photo web server layer can shine through data layers imported from OpenStreetMap PBF format.

Connect to almost any data imaginable, from enterprise DBMS servers to file databases to web servers to file formats. Release 9 handles an almost unlimited range of data types in tables, vector data, raster data, drawings, maps and images. You can manipulate, analyze, visualize, discover and slice and dice your data within Release 9 or in-place in your preferred storage.

"This works brilliantly for converting 3D faces to a DEM. Ran so fast I thought it hadn't worked." - Forum post

See for yourself: Try the free Manifold Viewer to get a hands-on look at Release 9 technology. Viewer is read-only but otherwise includes all Release 9 features. It's completely free, no nagware or adware, and runs forever. Super!

Access, clean, prepare, blend, visualize, analyze and transform data from many different data sources at once, including Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, DB2 and many more using point-and-click templates that preview the result before you commit. Use the full power of parallel SQL, asking Release 9 to write queries for you or writing your own. Pull data from your enterprise database, manipulate it in place or push a blend of data into your corporate database from other sources. Automate tasks with the most powerful array of scripting languages in any spatial data tool.

The images above show how a point and click Buffers template is previewed in blue preview color in a map. As we change buffer settings in the transform dialog the preview in the map automatically changes. Besides avoiding errors, that makes it easy to pick exactly the right buffer setting for what we want to do.

Apply the effortless, easy power of Release 9 point-and-click dialogs or the infinite power of automatically parallel Release 9 SQL. Release 9 unleashes the full power of all the CPU cores in your system and automatically launches massively parallel computations using thousands of available GPU cores for supercomputer computational performance unmatched by any other GIS or spatial engineering tool. Nothing else comes close.

Is Release 9 Difficult to Learn?

That depends on your background and learning skills. Most people say Manifold is easier to learn than Esri products or open source GIS packages. If you take the time to read some documentation and watch a few videos to learn the basics, most people learn Manifold in just a few days. It doesn't take weeks or months like it can with Esri products or open source. It helps a lot that Manifold has very extensive, very well illustrated, step by step documentation that assumes the user does not have prior GIS experience.

Manifold is easy to learn if you read the documentation in the recommended order: Read the first few topics, the Quick Start Guide, and then up through the Basics chapter. Take a break from time to time to watch videos and to work through some examples in the Examples chapter. That sounds like a lot of reading, but most people will get through the Quick Start Guide in one busy day and get started with examples. They'll continue with topics in the Getting Started, Panes, and Basics chapters over the next few days. It goes very quickly if you "just do it."

Point and click Style settings make it easy to construct clear and elegant cartography, with step-by-step, copiously illustrated User Manual topics showing how.

In contrast, people who launch Release 9 without any reading and start poking buttons and menus, trying to learn by trial and error or by analogy to other packages, will fail completely with total frustration. If you like to learn by trial and error instead of spending a bit of time reading the documentation, it could take you years of frustration to learn what someone who can RTFM learned in a day or two with zero stress. (RTFM = Read The Fine Manual)

Manifold's extensive documentation with many step by step examples lays a trap for some people: before buying Manifold they use a search engine to find some specific topic of interest and they like what they see. They buy the product and jump right into using it by looking up specific topics to learn how to do specific tasks. That's a mistake, because detailed topics in the user manual assume you have learned the basics by reading the Quick Start Guide, and the Getting Started, Panes, and Basics chapters. Relying on ChatGPT or similar AI is also a mistake, because the AI often will make errors that can be very frustrating for beginners. Save stress and time: at least read the beginning chapters in the fine manual.

Do I Need Prior GIS Experience?

No, prior GIS experience is not required, although people with prior experience in GIS usually learn Manifold faster. Release 9 documentation is written assuming the user has never used a GIS package before, so if you feel comfortable with Microsoft Windows and Office applications but have never worked with a GIS package before, you can still learn Manifold. You just will need to read more explanatory topics and work through more examples to learn the basics than someone with GIS experience.

Surprisingly, GIS beginners will often learn Manifold more quickly than experienced GIS people who don't read documentation. Beginners usually learn quickly because they follow the advice to Read The Fine Manual. But sometimes GIS experts expect Manifold to work just like some other package they already know, so they skip reading the documentation. That's not going to work. Investing a day or two to learn the basics will help GIS experts get started quickly, without frustration. They should read at least the Quick Start Guide and then at least the Getting Started and Panes chapters, with a quick dive into topics of interest in the Basics chapter.

The documentation is your best friend: when using a new feature for the first time, take a few minutes to review the topics on that feature. That will save lots of time, avoid unnecessary frustration, and let you work confidently with really super efficiency.

How is Release 9 different from a Classic GIS?

Parallel Manifold GIS saves you time and effort.

Release 9 provides several revolutionary advances over classic GIS packages like ArcGIS® Pro or Q:

  • Massive Speed - Release 9 tends to be far faster than ArcGIS® Pro or Q for just about everything. The sheer speed of Manifold tends to make it easier to use because there isn't the constant annoyance of small delays you get with legacy products when data gets beyond relatively small sizes. Fast GIS is fun GIS!
  • Not limited by external file formats - Release 9 itself is a super-fast DBMS that can store huge amounts of spatial data inside a Manifold project, with no need to install and administer a large and complex enterprise DBMS. Classic GIS packages like ArcGIS Pro or QGIS have no internal DBMS. They must leave data in slow external files like shapefiles or GPKG files, and they are limited to what those file formats allow. When they "add" a shapefile layer the data stays in the external shapefile. When 9 imports a shapefile, it copies data into 9's internal DBMS, freeing it from the antique limits of shapefiles. Release 9 also is happy to link to enterprise DBMS or to external files and work with data in place, but 9 can do that much faster than classic GIS, because 9 is faster than most DBMS packages. When 9 links to Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, or PostgreSQL databases, 9 runs much faster without classic GIS bottlenecks.
  • True Parallel Processing - Only Release 9 provides genuine, automatic, always-on parallel processing to use all of the CPU cores and GPU cores in your system. No other GIS does that. Don't be fooled by "multi-core" claims from other packages when they can only run a single task in background on one core, with no ability to run big jobs on many cores in parallel at the same time. Only Release 9 delivers true parallel processing, automatically dispatching big jobs within 9 itself to many cores running at the same time on the same job for genuine parallel speed.
  • DBMS sophistication built into the GIS - Release 9 adds profound data-centric capabilities to the presentation-centric approach taken by classic GIS. Most classic GIS products are held back by unsophisticated and weak DBMS and data analytic capabilities, unable to deliver the DBMS sophistication required for modern spatial data engineering. Release 9 eliminates that weakness by integrating massively powerful, fully parallel, spatial DBMS as the foundation of the GIS itself.
  • Real SQL - SQL is the world's standard for manipulating data with fast and high-productivity workflow. Manifold Release 9 includes real, full-featured SQL built in while other desktop GIS packages do not. Surprisingly, GIS packages like FME, Global Mapper, QGIS, and ArcGIS® Pro either have no built in SQL at all or a subset too limited to be real SQL. Packages that don't have real SQL force users to re-invent the wheel by trying to program partial SQL functionality using Python or to make do with limited, primitive dialogs that provide a few pseudo-SQL capabilities. See the Real SQL page for a detailed discussion.
  • Fresh start with modern code - Release 9 has been written entirely by Manifold from the ground up in a fresh start without recycling ancient code. The Radian® database engine at the heart of 9 is a genuinely new and fresh implementation using the latest software techologies for producing reliable, high-performance and maintainable code. Classic GIS usually includes code going back decades that limits progress to superficial changes. There's no way to re-write millions of lines of spaghetti code to parallelize a classic package. You have to start fresh.
  • Genuine User Interface Advances - A classic GIS marketing strategy takes the same old program and gives it a facelift with new icons and a ribbon interface for exactly the same old commands, just rearranged to give the appearance of something new. Release 9 uses the phenomenal speed of parallel processing to introduce genuinely new and useful user interface advances such as always-on, automatic previews of what a command is going to do, non-modal panes for free-form flexibility instead of modal dialogs that capture your mouse, and many more advances to provide a genuinely faster and more effective user interface.
  • Never Crashes - Classic GIS packages sold into a captive customer base often leave quality as an afterthought: the flagship "new generation" GIS from one major vendor has such poor quality that some users report not being able to go more than a few days without crashes. The pressure to move a product along with insufficient resources also leads to practises like building a product on third party libraries, which call other libraries that in turn call yet other libraries, all of which were written by different, often unknown, authors of varying skill levels over many years. That results in a structure that becomes impossible to maintain without significant errors accumulating and which takes forever to repair when bugs are discovered. Release 9 was designed from the very beginning for exceptional quality, and built by a single, professional team to run for years without error, using unified internal structures that enable immediate fixes when any bugs are found. Release 9's investment into non-negotiable, total quality with zero bug tolerance is one major reason why Release 9 is so totally crashproof, unlike the constant crashes and weird problems that have become the new normal in classic GIS.
  • Superior Algorithms - Manifold emerged over 20 years ago from the mathematics crucible of one of the world's most advanced laboratories, the first product being a hyper-technical library encapsulating hundreds of graph theoretic algorithms, the math that underlies so many advances in parallel programming. Over ten years ago Manifold wrote the world's first massively GPU parallel commercial application for NVIDIA and AMD GPU processors, with automatic launch to thousands of GPU cores. Other vendors are just beginning, working out their first generation parallel algorithms, coding a handful of functions for what otherwise remain single-threaded applications that use 1980's architectures. While they are debugging their first dozen algorithms, Manifold has perfected thousands of totally CPU and GPU parallel algorithms, delivering fourth generation, military grade, brutally fast, fully commercialized and totally bulletproof parallel applications. No other GIS or DBMS product delivers the proven parallel mathematics and programming firepower you get with Manifold.
  • Superior Details - The massive technical firepower within Manifold enables greater attention to detail in areas where classic GIS makes compromises, for example, in real time previews, or in the small details of rendering vector graphics. Release 9 Transform tools, the equivalent of "geoprocessing" tools in classic GIS packages, are so incredibly fast they show a real-time preview of even complex tasks, making it easy to catch workflow errors before they happen. In Release 9, when a vector item has a width of 1.3 points it has that width regardless of computer monitor DPI or other output. The fineness and accuracy of rendering provides clarity and elegance in details that greatly exceeds expectations for classic GIS. Speciality packages that sell for many thousands of dollars are required to match such fine attention to detail.

How Does Stronger DBMS Capability Help?

Classic GIS products, like ArcGIS Pro, QGIS, or Manifold Release 8, tend to focus on presentation and visuals, but usually with weaker data capabilities. Of the major professional or enterprise GIS products only Manifold's Release 8 GIS has a full spatial SQL built-in, for example. But even Release 8, powerful though it may be, is not a DBMS engine like Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, MySQL, or Manifold's Release 9.

The state of the art in spatial work today is that to get the most out of your spatial data you need both worlds: a presentation-centric, classic GIS like ESRI, Q, or Release 8 plus a data-centric product like Oracle or PostgreSQL to handle data that is difficult or impossible to manage in classic GIS. That is especially true for organizations using DBMS like Oracle or PostgreSQL to store spatial data, where spatial data engineering requires simultaneous GIS and DBMS power in a triangle of requirements between data storage, spatial engineering, and GIS presentation.

Classic GIS products are hobbled by having insufficient DBMS capability within the GIS to keep up with external DBMS servers, or to provide the sophisticated interfaces required. That limits their ability to use an external DBMS to make up for the lack of key data capabilities within the GIS. By integrating the world's most advanced, fully-parallel spatial data engine within the GIS itself, Release 9 can bring to bear the sophistication and raw power required either to do massive GIS and spatial work entirely within Release 9, or to keep up as a fully competent partner to take advantage of your organization's data stored in premium DBMS products such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, DB2, or to simultaneously do hybrid work within Release 9 and your enterprise DBMS, seamlessly and effortlessly mixing the best of both worlds.

Because Manifold is a real DBMS, Manifold also delivers real SQL. Manifold Release 9 includes real, full-featured SQL built in while other desktop GIS packages do not. Surprisingly, GIS packages like FME, Global Mapper, QGIS, and ArcGIS® Pro either have no built in SQL at all or a subset too limited to be real SQL. Packages that don't have real SQL force users to re-invent the wheel by trying to program partial SQL functionality using Python or to make do with limited, primitive dialogs that provide a few pseudo-SQL capabilities. See the Real SQL page for a detailed discussion.

Try LiDAR in Release 9 Now. See Release 9 technology in action Watch the Maryland LiDAR REST Server YouTube video showing the LiDAR data set illustrated below. Try it yourself with Manifold Viewer.

Going beyond DBMS sophistication, Release 9 implements all capabilities using full CPU and GPU parallelism, providing astonishing speed way beyond what legacy GIS can accomplish, often accomplishing in seconds what even a premium legacy GIS like ESRI's ArcGIS Pro cannot do in hours. ArcGIS Pro is a fine product, but it is not a fully parallel product like Release 9. A non-parallel product like ArcGIS Pro will use only 1/16th of the power of a typical Core i7 computer. Fully parallel Release 9 will use all of the power of your computer to provide dramatically faster speed. When Release 9 unleashes the supercomputer power of GPU, Release 9 can run hundreds of times faster than non-parallel ESRI products. You need real parallel power to keep up with the demands of high performance data analytics, and to be a competent partner with modern, enterprise DBMS servers.

Use Release 9 to manipulate, to analyze and to transform your data in ways a legacy GIS cannot accomplish. That's what spatial data engineering is all about, a data-centric workflow that combines point-and-click spatial wizardry with DBMS muscle to get the most value out of your spatial data. Ultrafast and supersmart GIS is not only big fun, it provides the best possible platform for your success.

Use Release 9 standalone or together with other GIS packages in the workflow that works best for you: Present results, create wonderful cartographic displays, interoperate with your organization's installed GIS base, serve to the web or serve to an endless array of mobile gadgets. Working together with other platforms, the result is the success you want.

LiDAR data from ArcGIS REST server with palette by Release 9

Above: LiDAR terrain elevation data for Charles County, Maryland, from an ESRI ArcGIS REST server. Palette and hill shading done on-the-fly by Release 9.

Does Release 9 Have Server Capability?

Yes, if you procure Release 9 Universal or Release 9 Server Editions. Manifold Server is built into Manifold Release 9 Universal and Manifold Release 9 Server Editions. Manifold Server provides two major server capabilities:

Serve maps without a web server!
  • Serve Maps to Internet - Serve maps directly to Internet with no need to set up a web server or map server. All you need is a Windows computer and Manifold GIS installed. Creating a map in Manifold automatically creates an Internet web page - no programming required! Manifold is a tiny download, only 31MB, and that include Server built in. That includes everything: No need to download gigabytes of GIS package, plus Internet Information Server or Apache, plus a separate map server. Create a map in Manifold, and that's what you get on the web site. What you see is what you get. Manifold Server also provides WMS serving for any standard WMS client software.

  • Manifold Server
  • Share Projects and Data - Keep projects and data in a centralized machine and share them out to other Manifold users running Manifold as a client. Server is a read-only, multiuser spatial database server for sharing projects and data that is really easy to use. Server can share constellations of thousands of project files and the data they contain.

Differences between Universal and Server licenses - Manifold Release 9 Universal licenses include a limited version of Manifold Server, that can run one session either as a map server or as a data server but not both simultaneously. Manifold Release 9 Server licenses include a unlimited version of Manifold Server, that can run an unlimited number of simultaneous sessions, including a mix of sessions serving maps to the web or sharing data. Universal licenses enable launching a single Server session from a command line interface. Server licenses enable launching an unlimited number of Server sessions as Windows Services, using a very convenient, dedicated Services dialog to add, start, stop, modify, and delete services.

With either Manifold 9 Universal or Manifold 9 Server, you can use both Release 9 and Server simultaneously on the same machine. With Manifold 9 Server you can even launch multiple Server instances on the same machine, to serve different constellations of data or many different web sites from different projects at the same time from that machine.

See the Manifold Server page for more information.

Does Release 9 Have GIS Automation Capability?

Manifold Commander

Yes, if you procure Release 9 Universal or Release 9 Server Editions. Manifold® Commander is built into Manifold Release 9 Universal and Manifold Release 9 Server Editions. 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 tasks.

Commander launches from a command line such as in a Windows Command Prompt window, or in a .bat batch file, or from a Windows PowerShell script, from within Windows Task Manager to automate tasks.  Commander can run either SQL queries or scripts from within a specified .map file, and Commander also can run scripts from a specified script file stored outside a Manifold project. Ten different scripting languages are supported.

  • Automate GIS, DBMS, or ETL Tasks - Commander provide an automated production line for accomplishing nearly any GIS, DBMS or ETL task. String together any of hundreds of functions using whatever logic you want in scripts, or take advantage of the higher level functionality you get with SQL that automates routine infrastructure for you. Manifold features like the Transform pane will automatically write SQL that accomplishes what you've set up using point and click templates.
  • Simultaneous Use with Interactive Sessions - Universal and Server licenses allow simultaneous use of Manifold in an unlimited number of interactive desktop sessions, even while an unlimited number of Manifold Commander sessions can be launched in background. Run automated tasks on the same computer at the same time as you continue to work interactively with Manifold.
  • Automation with SQL and Scripts - Commander allows running queries within a Manifold project or scripts either within the Manifold project or in external files. Commander allows launching commands to automatically do work without having to manually launch Manifold and operate it interactively.
  • Replace Costly and Slow ETL Tools - Commander is Manifold, so just like Manifold it runs fully parallel, with incredible parallel CPU and massively parallel GPU speed. Queries and scripts provide access to the full power of Manifold, enabling use of hundreds of Manifold functions and the full power of SQL and scripts to interact with data in databases or in any of hundreds of formats and data sources, to transform that data, do analyses, and save the transformed data or results or output to desired formats. For many tasks, Commander can replace costly, non-parallel tools like FME at a fraction of the price.
  • Schedule Tasks - Using Windows Task Scheduler you can launch tasks using Commander on a regular schedule, such as updating a CSV every night for serving to clients, updating databases, or converting files into different formats.
  • Generate New Files - Commander can automatically write output to new files, with the type determined by the file extension. Create new .map project files, or write to formats like Esri file geodatabases or SQLite.

See the Manifold Commander user manual topic for details and illustrated, step by step examples.

Is Release 9 Really New?

Yes. Release 9 has been created from the ground up as a single, unified, all-inclusive product. There is no need to buy anything extra or to play system integrator cobbling together third party packages. Release 9 includes everything you need in a single, hyper-modern package. Release 9 is not a fresh-looking GUI painted over older software. Instead, the Radian parallel database engine at the heart of Manifold Release 9 is totally new technology developed today using the latest advances in data science and massively parallel engineering. Neither Radian nor Release 9 has been cobbled together from third party code. Manifold's professional development team, with greater coding and algorithmic experience in massively parallel processing than any other spatial development team, created all of the Radian engine and Manifold Release 9 as a unified, powerful system providing "always on" parallel power for intense spatial and non-spatial data engineering.

Is Release 9 Reliable?

You bet. Release 9 is absolutely bulletproof, based as it is on the famously reliable and crashproof Radian engine. In years of beta testing followed by commercial use on four continents the Radian engine crashed just once. The flaw was repaired that same day for an immediate free update the next day. Since Release 9 was published to worldwide use only three crashes have been found, with fixes issued the next day in free updates.

Today, there is no known way to crash the system using native Release 9 features. That's a tribute to the proven, absolutely bulletproof quality of the Radian engine, which has been running for over six years, steadily evolving and improving every step of the way. Manifold Release 9 may be the first version for you, but the Radian engine that powers Release 9 is now in the ninth generation of technology with over 170 major releases and hundreds of minor builds on the way. You can launch Manifold Release 9 every day for years without encountering a flaw.

"I had the pleasure to be part of the beta... The program was so bulletproof reliable that I had used it for production too..." - Beta tester

Even better, when bugs are found they are immediately fixed, typically in days, not months. Release 9's rapid cycle time using frequent Cutting Edge builds published to the user forum means that any bugs discovered can be eliminated in the very next build, usually within a few days.

Do in 1/10th Second what takes others 30 minutes. See Release 9 technology in action Watch the Gulf Bathymetry YouTube video of Manifold Viewer opening a project file in 1/10th second that the US Government website providing the data warned will take ESRI software 30 minutes to open in the equivalent ESRI native format. That's thousands of times faster for Release 9. Viewer effortlessly hill shades and styles and re-projects on the fly 7.5 GB of ultra-high resolution bathymetry data for the Gulf of Mexico. Re-projection can take hours in other packages but Viewer and Release 9 do it on the fly, instantly. Release 9 never fails.

Release 9 also includes fault tolerant technology for Release 9 file management to guard against Windows failures or hardware failures. Release 9 may well be bulletproof but it knows your Windows system and hardware could fail.

Is Release 9 a Superset of Release 8? How do they Compare?

Manifold Release 8 is the world's best classic GIS

Release 9 is a completely new product with significantly different capabilities, spectacularly greater capacity and speed, much advanced and new SQL, and a completely new API. Release 9 is not just a new version of Release 8, Manifold's classic GIS package. There are some similarities: Both Release 9 and Release 8 have been created by Manifold, both are GIS products with nomenclature and concepts that are often the same or very similar, and Release 9 has many capabilities aimed at helping Release 8 users migrate to Release 9. But 9 and 8 are very different products. Release 9 has many capabilities Release 8 does not have, and Release 8 has some capabilities Release 9 does not have. The comparison between 9 and 8 is changing rapidly as 9 expands beyond 8.

"M9 completed the fill sinks task in 48 seconds. I then did the same using M8. That process took 19.3 hours." - Forum post, about large LiDAR data

Release 8 is the most capable classic GIS there is, being the first GIS to fully implement spatial SQL, the first to provide GPGPU parallel functions and so on. 8 is a truly fantastic product, but it does not have the parallel speed, vast capacity and much greater power of 9. Release 8 does, however, have many thousands of features that facilitate interactive GIS use, cartography and presentation.

Release 9 comes from the more data-centric side of the art and has phenomenally greater capabilities than 8 for spatial data engineering, for working with very large data and for very rapid performance. However, compared to 8, Release 9 as of this writing has fewer features for interactive GIS use, cartography and presentation. 9 covers all of the basics in those areas but it does not yet contain the very long list of features 8 has. Many users consider that to be a feature of 9, as they find it easier to learn general methods that can be put together in endless combinations, and they prefer that approach to learning very many individual features. Other users prefer a long list of pre-packaged features. Release 9 intends to offer both, with steady addition of hundreds of features as new builds come out every week or two.

Release 9 is rapidly overtaking Release 8 in interactive GIS, cartography and presentation features. Already users report that in many key workflows, such as creation and printing of print layouts, 9 is significantly better than 8, delivering much easier and more efficient workflows and dramatically better results. The community driven engineering effort now aims primarily at interactive GIS features such as editing, cartographic features such as legends, layouts, labeling and various other presentation features, so at the current rate of hundreds of improvements per month and dozens of new features every week it is clear a mild preference for 9 in those areas will soon become a very strong preference for 9 over 8.

The intent of that community effort, however, is not to clone a mature product like 8 but to use lessons learned from 8 to create the best possible product using new technology for 2020 and onward. Release 8 includes numerous features which are rarely used or which have been dramatically improved using newer technology made available in 9. A big focus of 9 is a clean, clear interface. Using the experience from 8 and other GIS packages makes it possible in 9 to deliver tools that people use all the time without clutter from too many buttons and top level distractions from features that are rarely, if ever, used.

Experienced Manifold users report that 9 already has moved so far beyond 8 they much prefer to use Release 9 instead of Release 8. For all that progress there are still some tools in 8 not yet in 9 that a few users require. Community consensus seems to be that at the current rate of 9 evolution, even those few users soon will no longer need to use 8. However, 8 continues to be a phenomenally popular product and no doubt will continue in use for many years.

"It took less than 1mn to do it with the join dialog (after viewing the tutorial video) ... I was trying to do it in M8 but my drawing has 130000km of line and M8 would have require hours to do it (I cancelled the run when I saw how easy it was in M9)" - Forum post

cool symbology

What is Planned for 9?

Release 9 is a community driven product, so the way to find out what is planned for 9 is to particpate in the process. Recent builds have expanded the feature set for editing, cartography and presentation, using Cutting Edge builds in a cycle of improvements to each area.

At right: Massive advances in symbology and cartography provide spectacular formatting and style in 9. Enjoy single-click access to hundreds of symbols, with easy, multiple color combinations for symbols and effects options, and thousands more symbols, including standard legacy GIS cartographic symbols.

A typical cycle of Cutting Edge builds focuses on a given operational theme with each new build, for example, with one build focussed on editing tools such as a wider range of snap options and more editing tools for object building, the next build focussed on legends and layouts, the next build focussed on cartography with features for things like improved label overlap resolution, and so on for build after build.

In addition are many improvements and features such as new transforms, new formats, new data sources, new classes of web servers, bug fixes, and much more. Recently added features are many dozens of raster tools, such as georegistration and recombination of rasters. The community driven engineering process tends to deliver a healthy mix of more technical features such as query advances and improved parallelism when working with advanced manycore processors (dozens of threads per CPU), along with more general items that everyone enjoys, such as point and click tools. Rich commentary from the Manifold community and spirited debate on the user forum drives implementation of the many wonderful things the raw power of Release 9 technology makes possible.

Recent additions include major server-side capabilities including map serving for web publication and Manifold Server to share data to hundreds of users. It's all good!

How can I Participate?

It's easy to participate in the community driven development process for 9. Apply the following three-step process using either Release 9 or the free Viewer.

  • Step 1: download and install the latest Cutting Edge build.
  • Step 2: learn the existing product by reading the documentation, watching videos, and participating in the forum.
  • Step 3: Read the Suggestions page to learn how to steer the product constructively, and use that insight to discuss new ideas with colleagues on the forum, to refine those ideas. Get in the habit of sending in Suggestions and any bug reports.
You can also participate "hands on" by contributing localization files for new languages, by contributing example files that can be downloaded by Viewer users, by contributing examples or other text for the documentation, and even by creating videos that help others learn Manifold. If you want to know where the product is going, join the community of Manifold users who steer and define the product.

I use ESRI today and have massive amounts of data in Oracle. Can Release 9 help?

Yes. Release 9 has been designed to play well with and to enhance whatever technology you currently use for spatial data. Storing your spatial data in ESRI geodatabases? Cool. Release 9 will make it better. Using Oracle or SQL Server for your spatial data? Release 9 will bring a wealth of analytic power ease to increase the value of your investment while making you look like a hero for the effortless improvement in quality and productivity. Choosing a stack with PostgreSQL and open source tools for users and the web? Release 9 will enhance that experience and make life easier for you. Release 9 is completely agnostic: whether you store your data in the hyper fast Release 9 engine or within whatever storage you now use, the same capabilities are cheerfully there at your fingertips.

How is Release 9 different from SQL for ArcGIS® Pro?

Get real SQL for Esri ArcGIS Pro

Release 9 and SQL for ArcGIS® Pro share almost all capabilities, but they have different initial interfaces and launch differently.

SQL for ArcGIS® Pro has been specially integrated with ArcGIS® Pro. It provides the convenience of being launched from ArcGIS Pro, with file geodatabases used within the ArcGIS Pro project automatically loaded into the SQL for ArcGIS Pro session. It also provides special refresh logic to assist refreshing the Pro session with changes made in the SQL session.

In contrast, Release 9 cannot be launched from ArcGIS Pro, and 9 requires manually creating geodatabase connections for each geodatabase that is being used in an ArcGIS Pro session. 9 does not provide a Refresh button to push refreshes to a Pro session. If you do not mind launching Release 9 outside of ArcGIS Pro and manually creating geodatabase connections to the geodatabases used in your ArcGIS Pro projects, you could use Release 9 to duplicate most of what SQL for ArcGIS Pro does in an ArcGIS Pro context.

The convenience of direct launch from ArcGIS Pro with pre-populated geodatabases means that SQL for ArcGIS Pro is by far the preferred route for Esri shops. If you open ten different Pro projects in a day, and each one of them uses layers from four or five different geodatabases, that means you'll be manually linking geodatabases forty or fifty times per day. Automatic linking to file geodatabases in use in the Pro project is much quicker and is easily worth the cost of an SQL for ArcGIS Pro license for most users.

Users who work with SQL for ArcGIS Pro sometimes ask if they can use SQL for ArcGIS Pro as a replacement for Release 9, if they want to do projects that are not related to their work with Pro. That is possible by first launching ArcGIS Pro so you can then launch the SQL for ArcGIS Pro add-in. Once the add-in launches, you can work within the SQL for ArcGIS Pro session as if it were Release 9 and have full Release 9 features.

How is Release 9 different from Radian Studio?

Radian Studio for Spatial Engineering

Radian Studio is Manifold's spatial data engineering tool for GIS and DBMS that makes the parallel power of the Radian engine available to experts and non-experts alike. It has been deprecated in favor of Release 9 since Manifold Release 9 is a much larger superset of Radian Studio. Release 9 includes Radian Studio capabilities plus thousands more capabilities required for GIS and more interactive use.

During Release 9 development, Radian Studio evolved into Manifold 9 in a community-driven process using the Manifold Future series of open beta builds. In less than four months over 300 cited release note items, incorporating hundreds of improvements, transformed the product from a DBMS-centric spatial data engineering tool into the opening phase of Manifold's next generation GIS product, Release 9. Since then, thousands more improvements have been added to create the massively more capable Release 9 users enjoy today.

Select and Transform in a Neolithic Relics Database. See Release 9 technology in action Watch the Select and Transform in a Neolithic Relics Database YouTube video of Manifold Viewer enabling interactive selection and transformation using point and click dialogs, to help find Neolithic relics in France.

The community-driven process continues with Cutting Edge builds every week or two, which add many more improvements per month. Release 9 continues to expand with hundreds of new capabilities for interactive GIS use, vector and raster editing, analytics, cartography and presentation. Release 9 also continues to add more performance, even more richness in spatial data engineering, greater connectivity and interoperability and expanding support for standards and related technologies.

See the Changes and Additions topic in the User Manual for a list of hundreds of release note items cited in recent new builds. The list illustrates the rapid product evolution of Release 9.

Is Manifold Release 9 a Database Server?

Layers pane

Desktop users often use Release 9 as a personal DBMS, but IT users of enterprise products like Oracle or PostgreSQL would describe Release 9 as a very powerful client database engine. Release 9 has its own built-in, parallel database engine, the better to keep up with enterprise DBMS servers like Oracle to which Release 9 connects, but Release 9 is not intended as a replacement for an organization's database server. Instead, Release 9 enhances the value of existing servers.

Image at right: Many layers from many sources. Enjoy lightning fast visualization of data from many sources at once with on-the-fly reprojection and formatting to make even complex data immediately understood, and beautiful as well. Lavishly illustrated documentation makes it easy to master.

Release 9's value in IT comes mainly from exceptionally easy ability to connect to and integrate with brand-name DBMS servers, faster analysis using built-in parallelism including parallel SQL, extensive scripting and unmatched sophistication and ease of use working with spatial data, whether the task is a massively complex spatial engineering query involving many functions and millions of objects, or just a simple Extract/Transform/Load operation transferring data from one source to another. Release 9's database engine has constraints and Release 9's SQL is genuinely superb with many advanced features such as the ability to define and use functions, but Release 9 does not provide transactions or some other features expected in a major database server like Oracle.

On the desktop many users will employ Release 9 as a DBMS. Release 9's native storage provides high speed and huge capacity on the desktop, with pass-through nesting of project hierarchies that can provide easy access to a vast array of formats and petabytes of external storage through a single Release 9 project. Users will often employ Release 9 either as a file database system or will connect to Release 9 via the Release 9 ODBC driver to gain capabilities which some other application may lack. A package which cannot connect to some format or data source that Release 9 can access can form an ODBC connection to a Release 9 project that includes that data source.

For example, some GIS packages cannot handle a mix of object types (areas, lines, points, etc.) within the same layer. Release 9 can, and Release 9 can connect to a data source that contains such mixed object types. A Release 9 query could on the fly extract separate objects types and present that on the fly extraction through ODBC for the more limited GIS to use, as if the data source did not contain a mix of object types.

Is Manifold Release 9 a GPU DBMS?

Yes, as most people use the term. A GPU DBMS is a DBMS that uses many GPU cores in parallel to increase the speed of database operations such as the speed of an SQL query engine. Release 9 certainly does that, with the added distinction of providing a more complete and more sophisticated SQL than some other GPU DBMS products.

Release 9 also differs from some other GPU DBMS packages in that Release 9 is not only GPU parallel but also simultaneously runs manycore CPU parallel as well. Release 9 will automatically shift execution back and forth between massively parallel GPU and manycore parallel CPU. Depending on the number of CPU cores available, some operations can run faster when parallelized to manycore CPU than dispatched to GPU cores: Release 9's on the fly parallel architecture optimizers choose what is the best mix of GPU parallelism or CPU parallelism or both to use for each task and subtask as it runs.

Some GPU DBMS products run exclusively as in-memory databases and thus require specialized hardware. Release 9 runs on standard Windows desktops, using parallelism to increase performance even when disk storage is involved, as it is in real life for most applications. Release 9's mix of manycore parallel CPU plus massively parallel GPU helps achieve maximum speed in real world applications on standard systems.

Is Manifold Release 9 based on Hadoop or Spark?

No. Release 9 is entirely original work from the ground up. Systems like Hadoop and Apache Spark are wonderful software to which Release 9 is happy to connect in various settings, but Release 9 does not use either for parallel computations. To extract maximum performance on desktop systems Release 9's internal architecture has to integrate manycore CPU parallelism and GPU parallelism with all other parts of the system, such as parallel data access and optimizations for very fast visualization of big data that reach across the system.

Does Release 9 apply DAG or MapReduce?

Layer control

DAG, given the generality of the term, Directed Acyclic Graphs. Release 9 parallelizes big jobs by splitting them into parts so different parts can be done by different computing nodes. Those nodes are connected to each other so they do indeed form a graph and can be analyzed as a graph. Those connections ("edges" in graph theoretic nomenclature) are not symmetric in that info getting passed in either direction over an edge is different: the graph is directed. Last, there are no loops in how Release 9 uses that graph so the graph is acyclic. Describing how Release 9 internally directs parallel computational flow as anything other than a directed acyclic graph or DAG is inaccurate. But it may not be as useful as a simple description in ordinary language:

Release 9 has a sophisticated query engine with a very high degree of modularity. Big tasks get split into small tasks, which get sent to different computation nodes. Some of those nodes, potentially many thousands of nodes, can be GPGPU cores, and those GPGPU cores can be different types of cores from different GPUs. Some of those nodes, also potentially thousands but more likely only a few dozen or few hundred, can be CPU cores. Computational nodes also can be external databases like PostgreSQL. The query engine can split the work between any and all such nodes so that they run in parallel. In addition to the query engine's fundamentally parallel SQL capabilities, Release 9 has a big roster of built-in SQL functions, both spatial and non-spatial, which all work within that parallel scheme. 9 also provides a rich set of facilities to add very involved custom functions for execution within SQL using scripts.

Manifold has very rich experience at graph theory: Manifold's very first commercial product over 25 years ago was the General Graph Facilities (GGF) library providing hundreds of programming functions for working with graphs.

Can Release 9 Parallelize and Stabilize Third Party Products?

No. For interoperability Release 9 uses products from other companies, such as ESRI's GDB geodatabase SDK, Microsoft's MDB drivers, and so on. Manifold also allows optional use of GDAL and other third party software, for those who wish to add to Manifold's native capabilities. None of those products are parallel like Release 9 and the technologies they use in general are not as bulletproof as Release 9 technology and native Release 9 formats. For example, because ESRI's GDB code is not thread safe Release 9 cannot parallelize use of ESRI GDB geodatabases the way Release 9 data stores can be parallelized. Likewise, connecting to ESRI GDB requires using an ESRI product, the ESRI SDK, to connect to an ESRI format - resulting in ESRI levels of stability. Release 9's reputation for never crashing applies to Release 9 code, not to third party products used with Release 9.

Does Release 9 Require GDAL?

No. Release 9 has hundreds of file formats, file databases, DBMS servers, web servers and interoperability standards built into 9 using native, parallelized 9 code, written entirely by Manifold engineering in tight integration with the rest of Release 9, with no need to install or to use GDAL. Release 9's vast collection of file formats and data sources covers all formats that might be encountered even in a lifetime of doing GIS, including all popular formats, and many rarely-met or exotic formats. Most Manifold users never install GDAL.

In addition to the hundreds of built-in formats and data sources, Release 9 also provides an optional capability to use GDAL, to connect to any format GDAL knows. For a partial list, see the Data Sources page. That capability adds a few more formats not in 9, primarily formats that are so rarely encountered it makes no sense to add them to 9. Adding the hundreds of choices built into 9 plus all formats known to GDAL results in the widest connectivity range of any desktop GIS.

The option to add GDAL also provides the benefit of getting a "second opinion" on many formats that both 9 and GDAL know. Users have a better chance of getting more data from some rare, quirky or poorly defined formats with two different mechanisms to extract data. While GDAL is a great thing, having virtually all known formats and data sources already built into 9 provides much greater convenience, greater reliability, immediate turnaround for fixes on any bugs found in formats, and superior performance. At the same time, having GDAL as an optional second source provides access to even more formats. The result is the best of both worlds.

Must I download third-party libraries or products to use 9?

Not for native Release 9 features, and not to connect to almost all formats and commercial DBMS servers, including ESRI GDB, Lizardtech MrSID, Oracle, SQL Server, IBM DB2 and many others, including GPKG/SQLite/Spatialite. To connect to MYSQL or PostgreSQL/PostGIS, you must install the .dll packages Manifold provides as downloads in the Downloads page.

Is Manifold Release 9 a desktop, mobile, or web app?

Manifold Release 9 is a Windows application that installs and runs on your desktop computer or portable computer or tablet running Windows. It is not a web-based application that requires a subscription or that requires you to connect to a web server to run Release 9. See the Requirements page for hardware and software requirements.

Is the price an annual rental or a fully-paid license fee?

The price is a fully-paid license. For current pricing see the Products page.

What are the licensing requirements?

Release 9 is licensed similar to standard Microsoft and other desktop applications. See the Licensing page.

When will Manifold Release 9 be Available?

Right now. You can buy a Release 9 license on the Online Store right now and be running Release 9 within minutes. All Release 9 licenses are full-power licenses that authorize use of all Release 9 pre-release builds, all Cutting Edge Release 9 builds, all official releases, and all free Release 9 updates to come.

What is the status of Radian Studio?

Radian Studio is the spatial data engineering product built on the Radian engine and released in early 2017. It's a perfect product for DBMS-centric users who need Radian power for their spatial data engineering. In the second half of 2017 in a series of community-driven "Manifold Future" builds the Radian Studio product morphed into Manifold Release 9 as hundreds of more GIS-centric improvements were added. Release 9 now is a superset of Radian Studio, a tremendously improved product that includes all Radian Studio spatial engineering features plus many hundreds more GUI and other features essential to GIS. Radian Studio has been deprecated in favor of Release 9.

How did Release 9 come to be created?

In the DBMS world there are plenty of integrated servers like Oracle or PostgreSQL, but all have been created as the basis of their own DBMS ecosystems, not as tools for working with other DBMS environments as much as their own. Existing DBMS products have also been created for superior performance with very many, relatively small transactions. They don't do as well with the huge transactions typical of spatial work, and given their focus on their own worlds they don't work particularly well as instruments for general purpose spatial engineering using other data sources. None of the existing DBMS products has anywhere near the spatial capabilities of Release 9

Even worse, for all their highly evolved capability and indisputable power and quality, traditional DBMS platforms are built on older technology. None were created from the ground up for total parallelism handling dozens of CPU cores and many thousands of GPU cores on a desktop. That technology did not exist decades ago when the flagship DBMS products were created. None of them have Release 9's automatic, always-on CPU and GPU parallelism to handle the computationally "fat" analytics typical of spatial work. You can't glue that technology onto an old core. It has to be built in from the very beginning.

Release 9 was created from the ground up for today's world where location information is as important as a flow of many small transactions. Today, it's not just about processing a small-data credit card transaction quickly in a flow of millions of small transactions. Today we want more, to data mine the location knowledge of where those transactions occur and what the spatial relationships inferred from transactions tell us about our customers and our opportunities.

To build Release 9 the Manifold engineering team built from the ground up the world's first CPU and GPU parallel database engine, the Radian engine, to use modern, always-on, automatic parallelism to handle the large, complex, big data transactions of spatial engineering. Given years of experience creating GIS products, including creating the first commercial application of any kind to deliver automatic GPU parallelism, the Manifold team knew the unique and challenging requirements of spatial data. To support spatial engineering, Release 9 includes the world's most sophisticated, most powerful and most reliable Spatial SQL, delivering an unmatched breadth and depth of functions, all within an SQL query engine that automatically parallelizes queries for dispatch into multiple CPU cores and thousands of GPU cores.

At the same time, Manifold's experience in GIS taught the importance of connecting to hundreds of different data sources, DBMS servers, file databases, web server sources and an endless array of file formats, from an Excel spreadsheet created yesterday to Department of Defense military data encoded decades ago. Manifold ensured that Release 9 can connect to virtually any data source on the planet. If the data exists, you can get at it with Release 9. Run Release 9 and leverage everything.

Experience Manifold Power in a Free Tool

Manifold Viewer is completely free - no need to register, no ads, no upsell, no soliciting donations - it's really free!

Manifold Viewer is the free, read-only version of Manifold Release 9. Although Viewer cannot write projects or save edited data back out to the original data sources, Viewer provides phenomenal capability to view and to analyze almost all possible different types of data in tables, vector geometry, raster data, drawings, maps and images from thousands of different sources. Viewer includes full SQL as well, with hundreds of spatial and other analytic functions.

Viewer can also create and write spatial indices for entire folders full of LiDAR files, save connections to favorite files and data sources, and even edit and save localization files to translate Manifold into new languages.

Manifold Viewer delivers a truly useful, fully CPU-parallel and GPU-parallel Manifold tool that gives you parallel power and endless Manifold capabilities at zero cost. No need to register, no adware, no requests for donations and no selling: use Viewer however you like, including commercial purposes. You can even redistribute Viewer, all for free.

Viewer is a great way to share the amazing projects you create in Manifold for free. Publish multi-hundred GB projects created in Manifold that anybody can pop open in 1/10th second for free using Viewer. Publish projects that include automatic connections to your organization's databases and worldwide webserved data, and include pre-built, sophisticated analytics and dynamic reporting that users can launch with a point and click. Track pandemics, help first responders fight wildfires, or just help your organization do a better job.

See Manifold Viewer in Action.

Viewer's small download (only 50 MB), instant launch, and clean display - free of convoluted ribbons and endless, confusing buttons - make it perfect for unskilled users. With Viewer a million people can share the dazzling analytics and insights you create with an inexpensive Manifold license, all at fully parallel speed with no need to pay for costly, cloud-based, web processing. Like Manifold, Viewer never crashes, no matter how big or complicated the job.

See Viewer in action Watch the Manifold Viewer Introduction YouTube video.

"Mfd 9 is becoming a really good tool for sharing data with non-GIS folks. Clean interface makes it easy to teach others simple tasks. Easy to transfer a project. Easy to install software. Free viewer." - Forum post

Get Manifold Viewer

Special Offers

$145 - Manifold Release 9 Professional - Includes all Release 9 features except Manifold Server. Single desktop license that enables 64-bit operation in 64-bit Windows systems.

$195 - Manifold Release 9 Universal - Includes all Release 9 Professional features plus two additional major features: Manifold Commander, a console application version of Manifold for automating tasks, and also a limited Manifold Server version for smaller workgroups.

Manifold Commander runs from a command line, and allows running SQL queries within a Manifold project or scripts either within the Manifold project or in external files. It allows launching commands to automatically do work without having to manually launch Manifold and operate it interactively. Using Windows Task Scheduler you can launch tasks using Commander on a regular schedule, such as updating a CSV every night for serving to clients, updating databases, or converting files into different formats.

The limited Manifold Server configuration in Universal edition allows one Server instance per machine launched from a Command Prompt window with a limited number of connections. A universal license is a single desktop license that includes simultaneous interactive use of Manifold 9 along with a Server instance, allowing interactive use at the same time the machine is running as a server. Best buy.

$395 - Manifold Release 9 Server - Includes all Release 9 Universal features and also includes an unlimited Manifold Server version that is perfect for serving larger workgroups or, with more powerful server hardware, entire organizations. Manifold Release 9 Server edition has no limit to the number of Server connections, no limit to the number of Server instances on a server machine, and can launch and to manage Server instances as Windows services.

An unlimited number of connections takes advantage of cost-efficient, many core CPUs that can provide very many threads on server machines at low cost. Single machine license that includes simultaneous interactive use of Manifold 9 along with a Server instances, allowing interactive use at the same time the machine is running as a server. Outstanding value for workgroups and organizations

$225 - Manifold Release 9 Professional + Manifold 8.00 Ultimate x64 - A product bundle that includes both Manifold Release 9 Professional and Manifold 8.00 Ultimate x64 at one low price.

$275 - Manifold Release 9 Universal + Manifold 8.00 Ultimate x64 - A product bundle that includes both Manifold Release 9 Universal and Manifold 8.00 Ultimate x64 at one low price.

$95 - Manifold 8.00 Ultimate x64 - Release 8 is the world's best classic GIS providing seamless desktop, enterprise, programming and web serving GIS in totally integrated product. Get all features of the 8.00 product line at the best price ever.

$145 - SQL for ArcGIS® Pro - Special introductory offer for SQL for ArcGIS Pro: Save $100 off the regular price of $245. Single desktop license that includes all SQL for ArcGIS Pro features. Requires Esri ArcGIS® Pro version 2.8 or more recent. Supports both ArcGIS Pro 2.x as well as the new ArcGIS Pro 3.x release. Includes free download of maintenance upgrades. Best buy.

Trade Ins for a Discount

Manifold provides two upgrade options that allow you to trade in a license to get a higher valued product at a discount:

  • Upgrade Manifold 9.00 Professional to Manifold 9.00 Universal - Trade in a Manifold 9.00 Professional license to get a Manifold 9.00 Universal license at a discount. After the trade in discount, the cost of the Universal license will be only $100.
  • Upgrade Manifold 9.00 Universal to Manifold 9.00 Server - Trade in a Manifold 9.00 Universal license to get a Manifold 9.00 Server license at a discount. After the trade in discount, the cost of the Server license will be only $300.

Licenses cannot be traded in if they were acquired as part of a discounted bundle. For example, a Release 9.00 Professional license acquired as part of a 4x Professional + Server discounted bundle cannot be traded in to get a discount on a Release 9.00 Universal license.

For an illustrated, step-by-step example showing how to take advantage of either of the above trade in offers, see the How to Upgrade page.

Quantity Discounts

$775 - 4x Manifold 9.00 Professional + Manifold 9.00 Server - Perfect for GIS workgroups: Get four Manifold 9.00 Professional Licenses and a Manifold 9.00 Server license for the price of a Manifold 9.00 Universal license. Best buy.

$580 - 5x Manifold 9.00 Professional - Enjoy a 20% discount on five Manifold 9.00 Professional licenses.

$780 - 5x Manifold 9.00 Universal - Enjoy a 20% discount on five Manifold 9.00 Universal licenses.

Buy Now via the Online Store

Buy Manifold® products on the Online Store. The store is open 24 hours / seven days a week / every day of the year. Orders are processed immediately with a serial number sent out by email in seconds. Enjoy the world's most advanced spatial tools today!

 Click to begin shopping

Release 9

Portions of Baltimore city in Maryland, LiDAR data served in ESRI ArcGIS REST protocol by a web server run by Salisbury University.

About Manifold

Manifold is a deep technology company creating advanced, parallel algorithms, next-level technology, and computation know-how that powers faster performance and smarter operations.

License Manifold® technology to power your company's products, or take advantage of Manifold's off-the-shelf commercial products. Jump decades ahead of your competition.

Manifold® brand 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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