Release 9 for Fast GIS

Release 9

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What's New

News + New Features in the Latest Build

Even Better than Before

News from Manifold - Every two weeks or so the latest Manifold® product builds add dozens of new features. This page presents highlights from the latest builds. See the What's New User Manual topic for a complete list of new features. New builds are free updates.

Rich Formatting

Cutting Edge Build 175.4 introduces extensive facilities to format text, numeric, date, and other data types in fields. This build adds query functions that format values of various types, with automatic integration of national language conventions. Subsequent builds will allow applying this formatting to fields in tables and queries, and automatically carry it over to labels.  This build can be used immediately to format values in labels by using expressions in the label text pattern. See the Label Text User Manual topic for step by step examples using the new formatting facilities. The new build also provides faster workflow in the New Labels dialog, as well as when editing labels.

Table at right: Example label illustrations use the text and datetime fields from the illustrated table.

Dates and times - The new StringFormatDateTime function automatically formats dateime values using either neutral language settings or a language code like en-US or de-DE, guided by arguments that specify the desired format. Single-letter format patterns make it easy to choose popular datetime formats, with the option to use advanced, custom format patterns as well.

Examples of single-letter presets and results:

  • Short date - 3/25/2020
  • Long date - Wednesday, March 25, 2020
  • Long date + short time - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 1:45 PM
  • Long date + long time - Wednesday, March 25, 2020 1:45:00 PM
  • Short date + short time -  3/25/2020 1:45 PM
  • Short date + long time - 3/25/2020 1:45:00 PM
  • Short month and day - 25 Mar
  • Long month and day - 25 March
  • RFC1123 - Wed, 25 Mar 2020 13:45:00 GMT
  • Sortable - 2020-03-25T13:45:00
  • Short time - 1:45 PM
  • Long time - 1:45:00 PM
  • Universal sortable - 2020-03-25 13:45:00Z
  • Month and year - March 2020

Examples of format parts, using tokens such as dd or MM that can be combined to create custom formats. Options can add a leading zero for one-digit numeric values and can use two characters for text values, for example, 01 instead of 1, and PM instead of P:

  • Day - 25
  • Short week day - Wed
  • Long week day - Wednesday
  • Era - A.D. or B.C.
  • Hour on a 12 hour scale - 1 or 01
  • Hour on a 24 hour scale - 13
  • Minute - 45
  • Month as a number - 3
  • Short month - Mar
  • Long month - March
  • Second - 3 or 03
  • Time marker - AM or PM
  • Short year - 20
  • Long year - 2020

Example - It's easy to create custom datetime formats like 25-Mar-20 1:45 PM

Durations in Days or Seconds - The new StringFormatDurationDays and StringFormatDurationSeconds functions automatically format duration values in days or seconds, automatically taking into account the specified language and other options.

Numeric Formats - The new StringFormatNumber function allows easy formatting of numeric values, automatically taking into account the specified language and other options, such as upper or lower case exponential or hexadecimal notation.

Examples of single-letter presets and results, using an example value of 123456.7890123 and a language of en-US:

  • Currency, with an optional number of decimals - $123,456.79
  • Decimal integer, with optional total number of digits and optional leading zeroes - 123457 or 00123457
  • Exponential, with optional number of decimals - 1.234568e+05
  • Fractional, with optional number of decimals - 123456.79
  • Fractional + digit groups, with optional number of decimals -  123,456.79
  • Hexadecimal integer, with optional total number of digits and optional leading zeroes - 1e241

The default when all format options are omitted is to use the shortest form that preserves all significant digits: 123456.7890123

Other data types - Other new functions provide formatting for vector numeric values, using the same options as for numeric formats, plus a desired list separator, formatting for UUID values, and for Boolean values. Whew! Formats for every taste and requirement.

Expressions in Labels

Cutting Edge Build 175.3 reworks labels to use a text pattern instead of a text field. The new system applies to all use of labels, such as storage, rendering, printing, and so on. A text pattern is much more flexible than a text field: it can reference more than one field, and it also allows easy changes to label texts without changing the table. Future builds will allow formatting field values in the pattern, and will include various improvements for rendering labels. Support for GDB is gradually being extended, and future builds will include several updates specific to SQL for ArcGIS.

Build label text using CASE

Illustration above: Labels can include expressions that use almost any SQL function and feature, such as CASE. The Style pane makes it easy to edit existing label text.

Highlights include:

  • Create labels from multiple fields - Text labels can now be created from multiple fields using a text pattern that refers to fields within square [ ] brackets. Plain text parts of the label can use special characters escaped with a backslash \, and can use unicode specifications, like \u00a9 for a copyright sign.
  • Create labels using expressions - Label text can contain almost any SQL expression within double square [[ ]] brackets, including complex constructions using CASE and similar. Any of the hundreds of SQL functions available can be used, allowing for very sophisticated, on the fly, creation of label text based on numeric fields, geometry, text fields, and arbitrary computations.
  • Fast editing in the Style pane - The Style pane allows fast, easy editing of label text using a specialized dialog with an expression builder.
  • Faster editing of coordinates and traverses - The Info pane saves clicks by remembering the last used view options for the Coordinates tab on a per-window basis (map window or table window). For example, if last we used traverse commands in a window, the next time the Coordinates pane will still be in Show Traverse mode.
  • Read only GDB fields - Special fields in a GDB that cannot be edited, for example, Length and Area, are marked as read-only in Release 9 and in SQL for ArcGIS Pro.

Check out the new video providing a tutorial introduction to creating labels:

5 Minute Tutorial - Labels from Fields and Expressions - A quick look at the new label system in Manifold Release 9 that makes it easy to create labels from fields and expressions. Create label text from multiple fields and also using expressions, taking advantage of any of the hundreds of SQL functions provided in Manifold. A new addition to the Style pane for labels makes it really easy to edit label text, including a full expression builder. Works in the free Manifold Viewer, too!

Interactive Traverse Editing

Cutting Edge Build 175.2 introduces an extensive new system for interactive editing of traverses, including automatic adaptation using the compass rule to close traverses, all part of enhancements to vector editing and the Info pane.  It also includes improvements and fixes for various dataports.  Even if we are not interested in traverses, the new capability for live traverse editing allows us to create lines and areas parametrically by specifying the direction and distance of line segments, a very useful capability in general purpose vector editing. Highlights include:

  • Add new segments using traverse commands - "Grow" a branch for a line or area object using traverse commands by editing the new traverse row for each new coordinate, using Esri-style traverse commands. Grow a segment using straight line segments by direction or angle and distance, or specify circle arcs. This is great for creating lines and areas paramatically, by specifying direction and distance, even if we are not interested in traverses.
  • Live editing of any traverse command - When a line or area object is being created or picked for editing in a map window, the Coordinates tab in the Info pane allows editing traverse coordinates for vector values. Double-click into any row in the Coordinates pane to edit that row, using Esri-style format for the traverse coordinate commands in each row.
  • Edit traverse segments withing branches - Edit any traverse row as desired, even in different branches, to reposition segments or to add new ones.
  • Automatic conversion of arc types - Esri traverse format only allows straight line segments or circle arc segments, but existing line and area objects can consist of ellipse arcs or spline arcs in addition to straight line segments or circle arcs. When editing traverse rows in the Coordinates tab, the system will automatically convert straight line segments, circle arcs, ellipse arcs, or spline arcs into straight line segments or circle arcs depending on the traverse command entered.
  • Close Gap command - A new Close Gap command allows closing a line or areas in traverses by automatically repositioning segments throughout the branch using the compass rule a sophisticated mathematical algorithm for allocating possible errors evenly through all angles and directions, instead of forcing all errors into the final segment.
  • See the Video - Check out the new video providing a tutorial introduction to editing traverses.
  • Dataport Improvements - Numerous miscellaneous updates have improved various dataports, including the ArcGIS REST dataport, GDAL, ERDAS, JPEG 2000, ECW, and Mr SID.

New Videos

See the Videos page for the full collection of Manifold videos. Recent videos added include:

First Look - Edit Traverses - Traverses specify borderlines for areas or lines by describing the segments followed to draw the figure, beginning at a starting point and then going in a given direction for a given distance, then the going in a given direction for the specified distance for the next segment and so on. Traverses are used in surveying for parcel descriptions and in general purpose GIS for drawing figures parametrically, as in drawing a line at a given angle for a given distance.

Manifold Release 9 has the rare ability to edit traverses on the fly, either when interactively creating a new traverse, or to edit existing traverses imported from parcel or other traverse descriptions. The video shows how easy it is to edit traverses in Release 9, including how with one click you can automatically adjust a traverse so it closes precisely, using the mathematically sophisticated "compass rule" to automatically adjust angles and distances throughout the traverse. All this works in the free Manifold Viewer, too!

5 Minute Tutorial - GoTo a Latitude, Longitude Coordinate - When working with maps in Manifold Release 9 it's easy to "GoTo" any latitude, longitude spot with this quick hack.

The video shows how to enter coordinates for any spot desired and to instantly pan and zoom the map view to that location. Works for any layers, vector or raster, and works for the free Manifold Viewer, too!

SQL 15 Minute Tutorial - Find Common Borders with Point and Click Tools - The SQL for ArcGIS Pro add-in for Esri's ArcGIS Pro package provides superb spatial SQL, but in addition it also provides a wide range of point and click tools that encapsulate very sophisticated SQL functionality in point and click panes and dialogs. We use point and click dialogs to extract shared border lines from a map of Canada, the US, and Mexico, doing a spatial self join and other spatial manipulations to produce a new, clean feature class with impeccable geometry.

SQL 5 Minute Tutorial - Add Fields to a Feature Class and Populate - In less than 5 minutes using SQL for ArcGIS Pro, we add three new fields to a feature class in a file geodatabase and then we populate 3500 records with text and numeric values, all with just a few clicks. Way faster and easier than ArcPy or dialogs!

Better Diagnostics, Databases, and Queries

Build 175.1 is a cutting edge build that contains a big set of fixes and improvements for databases, better error diagnostics for operations on data in MAP files, and a rework of query operations for tile masks. Highlights include:

  • Improved Error Diagnostics - Error messages for table design operations and for table record operations in MAP files have been extended to include the names of fields, the names of constraints, and the names of indexes relevant to the error.
  • Data Caches in External Databases - Data sources set to cache data in the parent database check the capabilities of the parent database and proceed without cache if the database does not support all features required for caching.
  • Separate caches for Each Schema - Data sources set to cache data in the parent database use separate cache tables for each database schema. Data sources will continue working without cache when cache tables cannot be created or are inaccessible.
  • UNIQUE Indexes - All databases implement uniqueness requirements implied by BTREExxx indexes using UNIQUE indexes instead of UNIQUE constraints. Using UNIQUE within indexes matches more closely semantics currently in use by the system. BTREExxx indexes created by older versions of the system will continue to work as before.
  • Faster Bounding Boxes - Bounding box computation for geometry data on SQLITE with SPATIALITE or ESRI ST_GEOMETRY extensions (as used in ESRI Mobile Geodatabases) uses ST_MinX, ST_MinY, ST_MaxX, and ST_MaxY functions for much better performance.
  • Automatic Name Compliance - Creating a new table on DB2, Jet, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server databases with a name specified that is longer than allowed by the server reduces the name of the table to obey server limits on names.
  • Raster TileMask Functions - TileMask and TileMaskReplace SQL functions now produce and accept numeric tile masks, setting pixels as visible or invisible using numeric values within masks.
  • Raster Tile Comparisons - NOT,  AND,  OR, and XOR operators for tiles now accept numeric tiles with 0 or any other values:  0 is interpreted as FALSE and any other value is interpreted as TRUE.  The operators produce a numeric tile with 0 or 1 values. The Compare SQL function and BETWEEN SQL operator for comparisons between numbers and raster tiles and between raster tiles produces numeric raster tile results with -1, 0, or 1 pixel values.

The new activation system is easier

New Activation System

Starting with Release 9 build 9.0.175 and Release 8 build 8.0.31, Manifold® products use a new activation system. The new system provides a never ending crop of activations while being easier to use. All new serial numbers use the new activation system. Upgrading to the new activation system is free for Release 9 and Release 8 licensees.

See the New Activation page for details.

Important: If you do not want to switch over to the new activation system, do not install and activate Release 9 build 9.0.175 or Release 8 build 8.0.31. Activating a newer build using a legacy serial number will automatically upgrade that serial number to the new activation system. That is a one way upgrade: Once upgraded, a serial number cannot be degraded back to legacy status.

While the new system provides great convenience for most people, some licensees may prefer to stay with the old activation system. If desired, licensees can stay with the old activation system by not installing new builds. To stay with the old system, continue using Release 9 build 9.0.174 and Release 8 build 8.0.30. See the New Activation page for more information.

SQL for ArcGIS Pro

New Product: SQL for ArcGIS® Pro

New ! Esri users can now enjoy the world's best spatial SQL as an add-in to their favorite Esri desktop GIS package.

SQL for ArcGIS Pro is a new add-in for Esri's ArcGIS® Pro desktop GIS. The add-in provides spatial SQL for Esri file geodatabases in an ArcGIS Pro project in tight integration with ArcGIS Pro.

The add-in enhances ArcGIS Pro with the world's most powerful desktop spatial SQL engine, Manifold's Radian® engine, to unleash the phenomenal power of SQL from your ArcGIS Pro desktop. Enjoy full-featured SQL, superior quality, and the amazing speed of parallel CPU and parallel GPU query execution, all supported with hundreds of SQL functions for every spatial need.

In Advanced mode the add-in runs spatial SQL with hundreds of file formats, databases, web servers, and other data sources outside of ArcGIS Pro. Ultrafast data storage in the add-in makes it easy to combine huge data from outside your ArcGIS Pro project with data inside the project.

SQL for ArcGIS Pro - Install and Activate - A short new video showing how to install and activate SQL for ArcGIS Pro, and then how to launch the add-in and do real SQL with file geodatabases! The first three minutes show the super easy installation and activation process with the rest of the video showing a quick start to writing and executing SQL queries, including use of the query builder.

See the SQL for ArcGIS Pro page for an overview.

SQL4Arc Home Page

Special Introductory Offer

$245 - SQL for ArcGIS® Pro - Save $150 off the regular price of $395. Single desktop license that includes all SQL for ArcGIS Pro features. Requires Esri ArcGIS® Pro version 2.8 or more recent. Includes free download of maintenance upgrades. This is a fully paid license and is not a limited time license or a lease. Best buy.

New Base Build: 9.0.175

Build 175 is a Base build that's published as a Windows installer package as well as portable installations. Build 175 includes all new items and fixes from all Cutting Edge builds since the last Base build, build 174. It includes enhancements to activation and other features since the prior Cutting Edge build, Build 173.4:

  • New Activation System - Build 175 introduces a new activation system that is simpler and easier to use, and which provides never ending regeneration of activations. All new serial numbers use the new activation system. Using a legacy serial number to activate a build 175 or later installation will automatically upgrade that serial number to the new activation system, starting off with a fresh crop of activations.
  • HTTPS for security - URLs used for Manifold sites in the product and in install packages have been switched from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Big GPGPU Code - GPGPU code synthesized by Manifold on the fly can use more than 4 GB of GPGPU memory per processing batch, an increase from the former limit of 4 GB per batch. The former limit was difficult to hit: To hit the limit, the query had to have a SQL expression that was dispatched entirely to GPGPU and that expression had to be extremely large. The increase in memory size is aimed at future scenarios, to allow splitting operations into bigger chunks in the future, enabling use of very large memory for processing. Actual code dispatched, of course, will be sized to memory available in whatever GPU cards are installed.
  • Mobile Geodatabases - A new read/write dataport supports connections to Esri mobile geodatabases. Esri mobile geodatabases are SQLite databases using an extension of .geodatabase with specialized ST_GEOMETRY types. Reading and writing ST_GEOMETRY data requires installation of an Esri SQLite extension .dll that Manifold provides on downloads pages. The SQLite dataport allows loading Esri's ST_GEOMETRY extension into Manifold's internal implementation of SQLite.
  • Multipoints - In Field dialogs for all databases that require limiting geometry fields to a single subtype, the list of subtypes for geometry data now includes a pointmulti choice.
  • LiDAR Format Enhancements - LAS / LAZ and LAS library dataports report the file source ID even if it is zero. The LAS / LAZ library dataport also reports the file path for each point.
  • Fixing an Esri Issue with Deletes - Deleting a table in a GDB from Manifold attempts to work around an issue in Esri geodatabase code that can cause a table to become unregistered in a geodatabase when a delete fails. The problem occurs when a table that is being deleted is locked in ArcGIS Pro. In that case the delete cannot succeed but it still starts and fails mid-way after unregistering the table from geodatabase structures. If the delete fails, the dataport checks the status of the geodatabase and if the table remains operable, the dataport marks the table in the metadata to trigger execution of special logic within Manifold that compensates for the table being partly unregistered.

Even Faster Queries, New Esri GDB Features, New Videos

Build 174.4 provides several significant improvements for the query engine and SQL functions, which can provide dramatic speed increases in certain cases.  Other new features provide improvements in ESRI file geodatabase (GDB) connectivity and LAS / LAZ LiDAR operations.

  • Faster File Geodatabases - The Manifold GDB dataport no longer reports indexes on tables returned by file GDB modules as BTREExxx, since Esri's indexes can only be efficiently used to search for individual records, with other operations being unoptimized. This lets the query engine optimize around not having these indexes instead of being tricked into using them with subpar results. Using Manifold optimizations can result in dramatically faster operations than using limited Esri indices.
  • Fixing an Esri Issue with Creates - Manifold's GDB dataport attempts to work around an Esri issue that frequently occurs in geodatabases created by recent versions of ArcGIS Pro.  The issue makes a newly created table fail to register completely. The dataport examines the state of the geodatabase and, if the table has been created and is operable, reports that the table has been created and marks it in the metadata to prompt execution of special workaround logic within Manifold that compensates for the table not being registered completely in the geodatabase.
  • Faster Unindexed Joins - The query engine optimizes unindexed INNER / LEFT / RIGHT joins based on certain very common join conditions for a big speed gain. The performance gains depend on the number of records in the involved tables, but are typically really big, similar to the performance difference between indexed and unindexed joins. Unindexed joins that took minutes often can be done in a few seconds. Wow!
  • On the fly Table Creation within File GDB using SELECT INTO - Dynamic creation of tables within Esri file geodatabases as a result of SELECT INTO queries is now easy, with new facilities to add property values to tables created in the GDB. That allows specifying geometry type and other Esri requirements. The feature also makes on the fly table creation with SELECT INTO easy in GPKG and other data sources which use properties to control how tables are used.
  • New and Improved SQL Functions - New GeomOverlayWithin SQL functions, including parallelized and Filter forms, do high performance overlays between a primary drawing and an overlay drawing, to return objects within a specified distance of each other. New optimizations for GeomOverlay family functions dramatically improve performance, especially when the overlaid drawings have many overlaps.

New Videos

A new 5 minute tutorial plus big updates on the three main Manifold tutorial videos have just been published. See the Videos page for the full collection of Manifold videos.

5 Minute Tutorial - Spatial Joins are Easier in Manifold - Spatial joins are easier in Manifold Release 9 than in other GIS packages, like ArcGIS Pro or Q.

We first import two shapefiles, one that shows the boroughs of New York City and another that shows the locations of nursing homes in New York. Next, we do a spatial join that adds up the capacities of the nursing homes in each borough to create a Total Capacity field for each borough, and then we thematically format the boroughs by Total Capacity.

Manifold Tutorial 1 - Navigation and User Interface - Welcome to Manifold Release 9! Learn basic navigation moves, user interface, and more in this fast paced video. Watch for a quick launch into effective use of this amazing new tool. Applies to the free Manifold Viewer too. Download the project used from OSM_Venice.mxb (117338 KB), a Release 9 format .mxb archive project (open in 9 or Viewer and it automatically expands into a .map).

Manifold Tutorial 2 - Add Data and Create a Map - The second tutorial continues the Venice example, showing how to import data to create the example map. We see how to import data, how to link it while leaving the data in place in a shapefile, how to copy and paste from other Manifold sessions, how to link in projects for dynamic access, and how to copy and paste data sources. We create labels from imported data. We import a terrain elevation raster and style it. For extra credit we extract just the data we want from a larger OpenStreetMap data set, select a further subset based on attributes, and then we export that result as a shapefile for use in other packages.

Manifold Tutorial 3 - Export Data and Print a Map - We add points to the landmarks layer, showing how to add attributes and how labels automatically are created for those new points. We then export data in various ways, exporting a drawing to a shapefile, exporting an entire map to an ESRI geodatabase, and saving a map in compressed archival form. Next we create a database connection to a PostgreSQL server and we copy and paste a drawing from the Manifold project into the PostgreSQL DBMS. Easy! Finally, we create a layout, we add the map to the layout, add a text frame and then we add an automatically created legend, tinkering with the legend to suit our taste. We print to PDF and open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat to show the PDF printed perfectly.

Natural Earth Natural Earth II

Illustrations above: The Natural Earth and Natural Earth II projections.

Build 174.3 Build 174.3 is another quick build that introduces advances in LiDAR data handling, two new projections, along and UI improvements and configuration conveniences.

  • LAS metadata - The LAS / LAZ dataport as well as LAS / LAZ libraries expose data within built in and custom LAS headers as Info and InfoVLR tables.
  • New Projections - There are two new projections: Natural Earth and Natural Earth II. These are modern projections designed to better portray the entire Earth. Natural Earth II is a more rounded projection, with smaller polar regions.
Left aligned multiline labels Center aligned multiline labels Right aligned multiline labels

Image above: The new Position control allows formatting multiline labels to left, center, or right align text, with full Unicode / international languages support.

Build 174.2 Build 174.2 is a quick build to enhance label capabilities, along with some database and UI improvements and miscellaneous fixes.

Line labels can follow spline segments Line labels can follow spline segments

Image above: Line labels will automatically move to avoid acute angles. In the upper illustration we edit a line to introduce an acute angle. When we apply the change, the label automatically moves to follow the line where it avoids the acute angle.

  • Halos - Rendering curved line labels renders halos.
  • Label positioning - Placing a line label prioritizes placing the label near a straight line segment that is long enough to fit it. If there are multiple such segments, the system uses the segment closest to the center of the line.
  • Acute angles avoided - Placing a line label avoids placing the label onto a sequence of segments with high curvature (large angles between segments), to improve legibility. The maximum bend angle can be specified in the Label Style dialog.
  • Multiline text alignment - Rendering labels with multiple lines of text uses the left, center, or right alignment specified in the in the Label Style dialog.
  • EPSG Updates - EPSG coordinate systems that switched bases (5 cases) and coordinate transforms that switched source or target systems (3 cases) in the latest, 10.19 version of the EPSG database have been adjusted to coincide with their EPSG definitions.
  • Startup tips for new users - The gray background area of the main Manifold desktop window shows a dimmed Manifold logo and dimmed text with tips for new users.
  • PostgreSQL Collations - Creating a primary key on an existing text field in PostgreSQL always uses the collation of the field. This became a requirement in PostgreSQL 13. Secondary indexes continue to be able to use collations different from those of the fields.
  • MySQL and SQL Server Collations - Creating an index on an existing text field in MySQL or SQL Server always uses the collation of the field and does not attempt to change it. Previously, adding an index on a field that was not part of any other index attempted to change the collation of the field to that specified for the index. The system no longer does that and instead shows, for a likely edit, the collation of a field directly in the user interface.
  • Nested include directives within queries - Nested include directives in queries now resolve from the current data source instead of from the data source of the topmost query. This allows composing a query with includes, then including that query from within a different data source with nested includes resolving correctly.
  • References to components within included queries - References to components in included queries now resolve from the current data source instead of from the data source of the topmost query. This allows composing a query which references a script function, then including that query from within a different data source with the script reference resolving correctly.

Line labels can follow spline segments

Image above: Line labels will smoothly follow curves in spline segments. In addition to straight segments, Manifold lines can be built from circle arcs, ellipse arcs, and splines.

Hardware Videos

Hardware videos from a software company? Sure! Manifold's staff includes world-class hardware talent from innovative computer systems and leading CPU and GPU companies, like Intel, to ensure Manifold software provides maximum price / performance on real-life hardware.

Check out other recently-added videos lower down on this page. See the Videos page for the full collection of Manifold videos.

Manifold Hardware - David vs. Goliath - Part 1 - A hardware video, taking a look at some of the hardware used in Manifold videos, including Manifold E boxes used for software development. Part One of the David vs. Goliath comparison shows the 48-thread Threadripper machine shown in various videos, and compares that in size to an ultra-small 8 thread Ryzen 3 mini-ITX motherboard. In the David vs. Goliath comparison, which machine will be faster? ...David running Manifold Release 9, or Goliath running ESRI ArcGIS Pro? Stay tuned to see!

Manifold Hardware - David vs. Goliath - Part 2 - Part two of the David vs. Goliath hardware comparison takes a closer look at the tiny, mini-ITX, Ryzen 3 system that plays the David roll, showing the low-profile case that makes for a highly portable, low cost system that's great for GIS. The video discusses various options for even more power in such very low cost, high performance, super portable rigs with superb keyboards and great displays.

Build 174.1 introduces new label functionality, including labels that follow curved lines, with extensive support for Unicode and multiple languages. The build also provides truly convenient drag and drop capability to easily import or link data into a project from files or databases browsed in Windows Explorer. Other conveniences include support for GDAL/ORG VRT files, both raster and vector, upgrades to EPSG 10.19, a new coordinate system, and enhancements to SQLite and GPKG dataports

Create curved labels using multiple different languages

Image above: Create labels that automatically follow curved lines, using different languages and even mixing right to left and left to right languages in the same label.

  • Drag and Drop to Import and Link - Dragging and dropping files from Windows Explorer into the Project pane imports files, and dragging and Shift-dropping links those files.  The cursor automatically changes to show import or link when pressing the Shift key during the drag. See the new 10 Minute Tutorial - Drag and Drop video.
  • Drag and Drop Direct into Data Sources - Drag and drop data directly from Windows Explorer into data sources, with set up and conversion on the fly. Drag shapefiles from Explorer listings directly into ESRI file geodatabases, PostgreSQL/PostGIS databases or other databases linked into the project. Drag and drop directly into a database is the fastest way in GIS to load up a PostGIS database .
  • Drag and Drop Projects - Drag and drop Manifold .map project files or .mxb archives to pop open projects or to load or link data from other projects. Load or link thousands of components instantly, retaining the full hierarchies and organization of the original projects.
  • Import or Link VRT files - GDAL/OGR VRT files are text files that specify how to import or link lists of individual image or vector files. VRT files are often used to create a single "virtual" raster image or vector drawing from collections of many individual raster or vector files. Linking a VRT in Manifold creates what appears to be a single raster or vector, and importing automatically assembles data from files into a single component. Works with drag and drop, too!
  • Curved Line Labels - Labels that follow lines composed of multiple segments now automatically curved to follow bends in the lines. New algorithms support improved placement of characters and words to avoid label text distortion. Placement is also optimized for lines that are partially in view or off screen. Optimizations support curved labels in high resolution printing and large print areas. Upcoming builds will add even more controls.
  • Advanced Support for Many Languages - The label engine fully supports advanced Unicode features to handle multiple languages, even in the same label. Unicode features include multiple code points collapsing into a single glyph, a single code point expanding into multiple glyphs, all types of whitespace, right to left language text (like Arabic or Hebrew), and more. Mix different languages in the same label, even mixing right to left and left to right languages in the same label.
  • EPSG Upgraded - Manifold now includes the latest, and greatest EPSG 10.19 database, with thousands of upgrades, including to conversion methods.
  • WKT / WKT2 EPSG Upgrades - Writing a coordinate system to WKT or WKT2 (for example, using a Transform template) writes authority codes for EPSG systems. Parsing a coordinate system from WKT or WKT2 reads authority codes for EPSG systems: if the definition of the parsed system matches that of the referenced EPSG system, the system will add the EPSG code to the parsed system, to allow using transforms for that system specified in the EPSG system, for example, transforms based on grid files.
  • SQLite / GPKG + ESRI Upgrades - The SQLite and GPKG dataports have been upgraded to support ESRI ST_GEOMETRY for users who have installed ESRI's optional extension for SQLite. The dataports have also been enhanced to support deleting and renaming table fields.
  • New Projection - A new coordinate system type has been added: Lambert Conformal Conic (Single Parallel, B).

New Videos

Check out recently-added videos for a quick start on new features and to learn the ins and outs of the truly vast range of Manifold capabilities. See the Videos page for the full collection of Manifold videos.

10 Minute Tutorial - Drag and Drop - Drag and drop files from Windows Explorer into Manifold Release 9 or Manifold Viewer to open projects, and to import or link files and databases into a project. This video shows how easy it is to import or to link one file or many files, using many different formats, all at once into a Manifold project. Easily import or link into a project or into data sources within projects. You can actually drag and drop a shapefile from Windows Explorer directly into an ESRI geodatabase data source. Super! Drag and drop is so fast and easy you'll never use the File menu again! Works in the free Viewer too, the quickest way to pop open files in Viewer.

10 Minute Tutorial - TileMaskRange Expressions - We learn how to use the power of Manifold Release 9's many SQL functions without needing to learn SQL. The Transform pane's Expression template allows us to apply individual SQL functions, to transform rasters, vectors, and tables using hundreds of powerful SQL functions.

The example tutorial shows the TileMaskRange function in action, used to knock out unwanted pixels in images, marking them as missing pixels to make them transparent. We first apply the function to knock out unwanted black border pixels from a Landsat image, so the Landsat image can be seamlessly overlaid on other satellite backgrounds. Along the way we see how Previews can show us what will happen next, to guide our choices of parameters. We also show how to invert mask effects.

Next, we use the function to knock out thematically formatted pixels in a terrain elevation raster to create dramatic and useful raster contouring effects. All this works in both Manifold Release 9 and the free Manifold Viewer as well. This is a video version of the Example: TileMaskRange Expressions topic.

5 Minute Tutorial - Find Surrounded Parcels - A recent thread in the Manifold user forum asked how to find all parcels that are completely surrounded by a single other parcel, to find locations where easements may be hosting cell phone towers, or other isolated parcels. This video shows a fast and simple way of finding such parcels using Manifold Release 9 that is way easier than what you have to do in other GIS packages, like ArcGIS Pro.

In less than five minutes of actual work, we use the Join dialog to do a quick self-join, we use the Clip editing command to create an overlay, and then we do a spatial select. Done! What's complicated in other packages is easy in Manifold because of faster and easier to use commands and user interfaces. Works in the free Manifold Viewer too!

"This shows why Mfd's approach to GIS is so good. Flexible tools that allow rapid GIS gymnastics. While version 8 was really great at this, 9 has the join dialogue and now cool drawing tools that add to the quiver. The rapid application of the tools from the minimalist interface makes finding solutions so much more enjoyable." - Forum post

10 Minute Tutorial - Editing with Erase - The new Erase command in Manifold Release 9 removes portions of areas, lines, and points that are erased by drawing new areas or with existing areas. This fast-paced video shows three different examples, including freehand erasing, using areas to erase in different layers, and borrowing an area from one part of a map to erase in different parts of the map. Erase is very fast, flexible, and intuitive, minimizing the number of clicks required for powerful editing. Works in the free Manifold Viewer too.

"What a great video and set of tools! After just a few days of extensively using these tools, editing multiple drawings just became a lot more easy and straightforward. This is indeed an outstanding addition to Manifold vector data editing tools." - Forum post

Erase regions drawn freehand with the Create Area tool Erase regions drawn freehand with the Create Area tool

Images above: Interactively draw areas to erase. You can also pick areas to use as erasers, or enter or edit coordinates for where to erase.

Build 174 is a Base build that's published as a Windows installer package as well as portable installations. Build 174 includes all new items and fixes from all Cutting Edge builds since the last Base build, build 173. It includes enhancements to editing and other features introduced in the prior Cutting Edge build, Build 173.6:

  • New Erase Tool - Fast and easy erasing of portions of existing areas, lines, and points in a specified layer that are either inside or outside of the erasing area. The erasing area can be either an existing area, in the same layer or a different layer, or a new area in the process of being created. Edit coordinates for the erasing area on the fly as well! See the new Erase topic.
  • Clip from Other Layers - The Clip command now allows clipping with objects in a different layer, and allows specifying the layer to clip with. The choice persists in the dialog for that same window. See the updated Clip topic Clip topic for examples.
  • Split Other Layers - The Split command now allows specifying a different layer to split. The choice persists in the dialog for that same window. See the updated Split topic for examples.
  • Split with New or Existing - The Split command can be used with a new or existing line or area, in addition to a path. Use existing objects to split, in the same layer or different layer, or draw a splitting line interactively with a path.
  • Spatial Selections - The Select pane includes a new Spatial template for geometry values, that allows spatial selections to select objects which are adjacent to, contained by, are containing, are intersecting, or are touching records/objects from a different layer. Spatial selections can use either all objects or selected objects. The template always runs full parallel, using multiple threads.
  • New LiDAR Dataport Features - The LAS and LAS Library dataports now automatically scale X, Y, and Z attribute fields based on the coordinate system used. LAS libraries automatically compute shifts and scales for the entire data set, and optimize opening files as their data is needed for even faster launch. LiDAR exports now always use the LAS 1.4 standard with automatic upgrades of prior LAS standard data.
  • Automatic SQL from the Join Dialog - If you prefer running SQL to using point-and-click dialogs, the Join dialog now provides a one-click option to automatically write for you the update SQL that implements the Join as setup in the dialog, without actually doing the Join. That allows easy modification, for example, for custom aggregates and other processing, and to set up automated workflow when Joins are to be repeated, like every week for a newly updated data set.
  • Query Functions for Missing Pixels - A new TileMaskRange query function automates handling of missing pixels in rasters by marking values inside or outside the given range as missing pixels, with an option to include or exclude boundary values. Tile functions for scalar and X2, X3, and X4 vector raster values have been updated with a parameter to include or exclude missing pixels from outputs.
  • Numerous DBMS updates - Numerous updates add features in dataports for PostgreSQL, Jet DB, Jet XLS, Jet WKx, ADO.NET, MySQL, SQLite, Oracle, DB2, OLE DB and ODBC.
  • Many Library Updates - Numerous updates add features in dataports for PostgreSQL, Jet DB, Jet XLS, Jet WKx, ADO.NET, MySQL, SQLite, Oracle, DB2, OLE DB and ODBC.
  • Numerous DBMS updates - Key external libraries used by Manifold have been updated to provide better peformance, greater capabilities and minor fixes, including NVIDIA CUDA, ECW, Google WEBP, and SQLite, with ICU being reworked to use the Windows 10 ICU package whenever Manifold is run on Windows 10.
  • New, Smaller Download - Google's V8 scripting language has been moved from being a built-in to requiring an optional download. This reduces the size of a typical Manifold installation package by almost 20MB, now down to only 53MB. Other built-in languages continue to be built in, with Javascript provided by default using the built-in Jscript.NET language. Manifold continues to support ten scripting languages by default, with five scripting languages built in and always available. See the Scripts topic.
Erase regions drawn freehand with the Create Area tool Erase regions drawn freehand with the Create Area tool

Images above: Erase in action. Start with two layers, a layer showing the Great Lakes and another layer showing the Countries border between Canada and the US in the Great Lakes region. We want to erase from the Countries layer all regions covered by the Great Lakes.

Erase regions drawn freehand with the Create Area tool Erase regions drawn freehand with the Create Area tool

Images above: Easy! With both layers in the same map, Alt-click the Great Lakes area to pick it and then choose Erase to erase instantly those parts of the Counties layer covered by the Great Lakes. The last illustration has the Great Lakes layer turned off to show where the Erase happened. Zero effort sure beats lots of manual clicking!

split an area with a path line

Image at right: Use mouse moves or enter precise coordinates on the fly or a mix of both to draw a path that exactly splits an area on the 17th parallel. Easy!

Build 173.5 adds yet more enhancements to georeferencing, editing, and LiDAR work with LAS and LAZ files:

  • Enhanced georeferencing error reports - Error values for individual control points in the Register pane are automatically translated into the units of measure used in the target coordinate system, like feet or meters or other units.
  • Total Error RMS readout - The Register pane automatically reports total RMS error at the bottom of the pane for the proposed georeferencing.
  • Dynamic snap options for placing control points - Enjoy the full roster of rich snapping capability when placing control points. Combined with the use of multi-layer targets, snapping to any vector layer in the map or to grids for any layer allows precise placement of control points even when the target layer doesn't have the visible features desired.
  • Edit Path coordinates on the fly - When using the Path tool to split areas and lines or to make measurements, coordinates automatically appear in the Info pane coordinates list, allowing precise cutting with on the fly specification of coordinates for the cutting path.
  • Limitless triangulation - Georeferencing using triangulation has always been a popular choice from the many georeferencing methods Manifold provides, but now is no longer limited to within the bounds of control points: Manifold's new triangulation method can georefernce an entire image, even when control points cover only part of the image. Super!
  • Automatic layout updates - Print layouts make it easy to compose sophisticated presentations, using frames that can be populated from many maps with many layers. Layouts now automatically update when changing layers within maps, like adding or removing layers, reordering them, turning them off and on, and changing transparency.
  • LiDAR data enhancements to LAS and LAZ - Manifold is a great tool for manipulating LiDAR data and then exporting to LAS and LAZ. New enhancments automatically embed coordinate system information into the LAS or LAZ file, and automatically use WKT or WKT2 with automatic conversion from other coordinate system specifications into WKT.
  • Export data shortcut - A new, single-click Export Selected command makes it easy to export only selected records from tables. That's a great way to use point and click interactive Selection tools to refine a selection and then instantly export to popular formats like CSV, ESRI GDB, GPKG, JSON, LAS or LAZ, XLS, MDB, and others.

Build 173.4 adds spectacular new editing commands for interactive editing, making it even better as the fastest and easiest way to edit vector layers.

Create Areas and Lines with Automatic Clipping

The new Clip interactive editing command makes it easy to create areas that automatically follow boundaries of existing polygons, to create complex new areas. It's also easy to create new lines that are clipped to complex boundaries.

Suppose we would like to draw a single polygonal area that automatically fills in the regions between building footprint polygons in a neighborhood.

draw an areaChoose Clip

Choose Create Area and in the usual way draw a polygonal area that outlines the neighborhood. Right-click and choose Clip from the pop-up edit menu, and choose OK. Instantly, the provisional area outlines are automatically redrawn to follow the boundaries of building polygons within. We can further edit those if we like, or proceed with a single click to create the new area.

Clipped provisional arearesulting area

Commit the edit (a single click) and Manifold auto-completes the new polygonal area, with open regions that exactly fit the building polygons. We can Cut that new area and Paste it into a new layer to see it without the building polygons, to see the fantastic complexity of polygon we created in just a few seconds and a single Clip command click. The new area is perfectly aligned to the boundaries of the building polygons. Super!

High Speed, One Click Merge

The new Merge interactive editing command provides a super fast, one-click merge to combine areas or lines in place with sophisticated merging of attributes. Merge multiple area, line or point records into one. Merge pops open a dialog which allows switching between merging all objects or just selected objects (the default).

three areasmerged into one area

Transfer rules are automatically remembered to make repetitive edits fast:
  • (none) - Keep the value in the picked record, any field type.
  • copy - Keep the value in the picked record if it is not NULL, otherwise use a first encountered non-NULL value from one of the merged records, any field type.
  • minimum / maximum - Use the minimum or maximum value, any field type except binary.
  • average / sum - Use the average value or the sum of all values, any numeric field type.

Fast and Easy Interactive Split

The new Split interactive editing command uses an interactive cutting line to split areas or lines into separate parts, producing new objects in place for each part and automatically splitting attributes as desired. Split pops open a dialog which allows switching between splitting all objects cut by the line or just selected objects (the default). You can also split using lines or areas in other layers.

three areasmerged into one area

Images above: Draw a cutting line with the tracker, right-click and choose Split. The result at right above has been shifted slightly to show where the split happened.

Transfer rules are automatically remembered to make repetitive edits fast:
  • (none) - Use a NULL value, any field type.
  • copy - Keep the original value, any field type
  • split - Split the original value equally between parts, any numeric field type.
  • split proportional - Split the original value between parts proportionally to their area (for areas) or length (for lines), any numeric field type.
transfer rules

Image above: Transfer rules specify how to allocate attributes into the split results. Population of states, for example, can be split proportionally into the resulting parts, while the name of each of the resulting parts stays the same as the original.

New Interpolation Methods

The latest build introduces two major new interpolation methods, along with various enhancements to existing interpolation methods.

  • Natural neighbors - A new spatial interpolation method originally developed by Roger Sibson. The method is based on Voronoi tessellation of a discrete set of spatial points. This has advantages over simpler methods of interpolation, such as nearest-neighbor interpolation, in that it provides a smoother approximation to the underlying "true" function. Manifold's implementation uses Sibson weights to match the approach taken in ESRI's multi-thousand dollar Spatial Analyst option.
  • Thin-plate spline - A new interpolation method analogous to thin-plate spline algorithms used in georeferencing interpolation.
  • Even more parallelization - All interpolation methods are fully parallel, with parallel SQL functions introduced to enable fully parallel SQL interpolation as well.

Recent Videos

Wow! Lots of new videos to make it easy to learn and apply the wonderful new georeferencing capabilities in Manifold. See the Videos page for the full collection of Manifold videos.

5 Minute Tutorial - Editing with Clip - Spectacular new editing commands in Manifold Release 9 provide super easy, fast, and powerful interactive editing, the fastest and easiest way to edit vector layers in any data source.

The new Clip interactive editing command makes it easy to create areas that automatically follow boundaries of existing polygons, to create complex new areas. It's also easy to create new lines that are clipped to complex boundaries. See how in this short video.

Also see how to combine the Clip command with the new Merge editing command to edit polygons "in place" in whatever data source we want, including ESRI geodatabases, PostGIS, data sources, GPKG, shapefiles or any of hundreds of other data sources. Super! Works in the free Manifold Viewer too.

Newsflash - Merge, Clip, and Split - See a three minute, temporary video showing how to use fast and easy, new editing commands.

  • Merge - Instantly combine multiple areas, lines, or points into a single area, line, or point with fast choice of how attributes should be merged.
  • Clip - Create a new area or a new line and in the same step clip the area or line precisely to the boundaries of overlapping areas, either inside the overlapping areas or outside.
  • Split - Draw a line and instantly split existing areas and lines, with fast choice of how to split attribute values.

5 Minute Tutorial - Create a Multiband Landsat Image -

Landsat data provides images in individual bands, such as Bands 4, 5, and 6, for visual red, near infrared and shortwave infrared. Creating large, multiband Landsat images using many Landsat tiles can involve combining dozens of individual band images.

Manifold Release 9 is perfect for the job, because it can handle many large rasters effortlessly, merging them instantly, and then combining bands into false color RGB multiband images. Manifold does all that with easy to use, point and click dialogs. No need for programming.

This fast-paced video shows how in under five minutes of workflow, including importing the original Landsat data downloaded from USGS. All this works in the free Manifold Viewer too.

5 Minute Tutorial - Scrape an ESRI Feature Server - Working with web-based ESRI feature servers? If you want your own copy all the vector features (points, polylines, polygons) those servers provide that's easy to do with Manifold Release 9.

This video shows how to connect to a typical ESRI feature server, how to drill down and open the feature layer desired, how to copy all the features and to paste them into the local project. It's all a simple matter of point and click, copy and paste. All this works in the free Manifold Viewer too.

5 Minute Tutorial - LAS Point Statistics by Area - Save thousands by using Manifold Release 9: The "LAS Point Statistics by Area" tool in Spatial Analyst for ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro adds attribute fields to polygon features for LiDAR points that fall within those polygons, adding the minimum, maximum, and mean Z values in each polygon, as well as the point count of LiDAR points in each polygon, and also the standard deviation of Z values in each polygon.

The video shows how to do the same thing in just a few clicks in Manifold's point-and-click Join dialog. No need to buy Spatial Analyst. Manifold includes the Join dialog and thousands of other capabilities, all for only $145. Save thousands of dollars and enjoy easier workflow too!

Manifold also is much easier than using expensive products like LAStools, and costs far less in labor than writing your own code in Python, PDAL, or other lower level tools. All this works in the free Manifold Viewer too.

5 minute Tutorial - Georeference Many CAD Layers - Georeferencing CAD layers is a common task in any GIS. Manifold Release 9 makes it a lot easier with fast, simple workflow that avoids extra effort and lets us recycle what we've already done.

This video shows how we can add a few control points just once and then georeference an entire stack of CAD layers imported from a DWG without adding more control points or repeating any work. If the DWG contained a hundred layers we could do them all!

This is much easier than the complicated, more labor intensive procedures in ESRI or other GIS packages. All this works in the free Manifold Viewer too.

Georeference a Scanned Paper Map - In only five minutes of actual work we use Manifold Release 9 to georeference a 157 MB scanned paper map so it can be used as a layer in GIS. The scanned map is a historic map showing Davy Crockett National Forest in Texas, downloaded from the Library of Congress website.

Compare Manifold workflow to ESRI workflow and you'll agree it's a lot easier, quicker, and less confusing in Manifold. Fast GIS is fun GIS!

Georeference a Whole World Image - We see a map we like on a web site so we make a screenshot. How to use that map in GIS? Easy! We georeference it using Manifold. The video shows how to georeference an image scraped from the web that shows the geology of continents as they were 200 million years ago.

We mark four control points in the image, then we roughly mark four corresponding control in a Manifold map using Bing as a background layer. In the Register pane we edit the coordinates of those control points to be even +/- 90 and +/- 180 degrees, and then we press Register. Done!

The video also shows how we can import and georeference a second image similar to the first, without needing to add any control points, just re-cycling the ones we created before. Less work is great!

Previous What's New Pages: See the previous What's New page for prior news.

Manifold runs parallel on all cores

Faster by Design

Manifold is 64-bit and fully parallel throughout, automatically unleashing the incredible power of all of the CPU cores in your system. Four cores or sixty four, Manifold uses them all. Even faster, Manifold automatically launches massively parallel computations using thousands of available GPU cores for supercomputer speed. Running on a 24 core processor? Manifold will use all 48 threads.

Image at right: Manifold running 48 threads with 100% utilization on an inexpensive 24 core / 48 thread AMD Threadripper. Running 48 threads with 100% utilization Manifold takes only 9 seconds to compute Path Distance. ESRI's Spatial Analyst on the same machine takes 12 minutes, using only nine threads with poor utilization. Add Manifold to your ESRI toolset for faster geoprocessing.

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Georegistration preview

A georegistration preview menu when previewing the georegistration of a drone photo. Starting with the same nadir drone photograph as in ESRI's ArcUser example the illustration shows a preview in blue color of georegistering that photo to a known good target layer, a Google satellite layer. Right clicking on the preview bar calls up a menu that controls the display of the preview, allowing it to be seen with partial transparency or with a split screen effect to the left or right side of the display window, with the dividing line between the preview and the rest of the window draggable to the left or right. The preview shows what a simple affine georegistration using six control points will do.

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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