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Manifold 7 and ArcGIS 9

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#1
benbakelaar

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Hi all, to those of you who have contributed to past discussions, I checked those out but they were referencing Manifold prior to and just after version 6.5. I thought it might be a good time to see any new comments on how Manifold 7 and ArcGIS 9 compare. Especially since I am deciding which to get for my non-profit :)

[Sidebar: I'd prefer to hear your personal experience comments over links to comparison charts... and I am well aware of the price factor, so I'm looking for functional comparisons, but feel free to say whatever you want!]

#2
benbakelaar

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BTW I am referencing this thread: "Manifold GIS?" http://www.cartotalk...howtopic=10&hl=

#3
BEAVER

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I can't compare ArcGis to Manifold since I don't have the Arc. I was somewhat disappointed in 7.0 release. They listed 530 improvements, but most are for Oracle and Goecoding. There was nothing new when it comes to cartography between 6.5 and 7.0

#4
paul

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I use ArcGIS 9.1 (ArcInfo and ArcView) full-time for my day job, and Manifold 7.0 at home. To be honest, I'm currently using Manifold less than what I was a year ago, primarily because the cartography and layouts are so poor. In fact, I recently caved and bought an ArcView license for my home as well. So now I use ArcMap as my base map production tool, and use Manifold as a supplement for various tasks (spot elevations, some hillshading, 3D terrain viewing, table import, file conversion, linking to Google or Virtual Earth imagery, etc.).

Manifold is extremely strong in GIS capabilities. I'm very impressed with it's analytical power, SQL and scripting capabilities, and table-crunching capabilities. It has everything you would want in straight GIS. I went to an ArcGIS 9.2 preview workshop, and half the features that they were bragging about for the future release, Manifold has been able to do for years (direct Excel import, dynamic/active columns, etc.). It has an extremely powerful core engine that you can unlease through SQL and scripting. Speed for some things are still a little slower than ArcGIS, but Manifold gets faster every service pack and release. On that note, Manifold is rapidly evolving, and they generally put out new releases and new features faster than ESRI. Manifold also exports to .pdf and .ai, as does ArcMap.

That being said, Manifold's cartography still flat-out stinks. I can make a nice-looking map 20 times faster in ArcMap, and time is money. But on the other hand, Manifold can make some nice-looking hillshades without a $2500 extension.

Here's my bottom-line opinion: Buy both. Buy Manifold + business tools + surface tools for $400 or so. This will give you ArcEditor-like functionality, plus a lot of the functionality of 3D/Spatial Analyst at 5% of the cost. Even if you don't use it every day, you can't go wrong. You'll end up paying about $50 a year for new releases, but that's it for maintanence. You might be able to get an ArcView license at a discount since you are a non-profit. Or if you are a member of IMTA, you can get it for ~$500, no questions asked. So you can end up with two high-powered GIS's for about $1000 that complement each other well. Often Manifold can do some specific things better than ArcGIS, and vice versa. I think they're both great products, although for Manfold's price and rate of evolution, I think ESRI better "evolve" their price as well in the next few years. ;) Manifold's cartography will eventually improve.

--Paul

#5
paul

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Oh, one more thing: ArcGIS 9.2 (coming out in September) will have cartographic representations, meaning you'll be able to change your cartographic symbol without changing the core geographic data. This will be nice! ArcGIS is attempting to remove the need to use Illustrator to finish high-end cartography, and this is one step in the right direction.

#6
BEAVER

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I agree 100%.

The problem I see with manifold is that with each release, the make it even better GIS (code crunching app) and no improvements in the cartography. I still think it's the best overall mapping package for the money, just wish developers would spent 1/4 of the time on cartho of what they spend on GIS. Specially the labeling.

#7
Martin Gamache

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Manifold responds to user demands. Unfortunately most Manifold users are either not interested in better cartographic output or don't know better/are happy with its current limitations. If all of us who use Manifold as a tool for cartography came up with a list of 20 things they should improve in the next release and all sent it in... I suspect they would make those changes. If we only complain about it on this board no one will hear us. All the database improvements in the last release were done as a result of user demands. Illustrator export was done as a result of user demand. I sent in very long and detailed emails justifying .ai export and eventually they did it.

ESRI has gotten much better about better cartographic output this in the last two-three years. I credit the new staff they brought in such as Paul Hardy and Aileen Buckley et al.

I use both.

I find it annoying that you need to write alot of custom scripts to get Manifold to do anything out of the ordinary. The large ESRI user community means there are lots of free or low price third-party add-ons. There are none for Manifold.

I think of Manifold as a dirt cheap extension for Arcmap, kind of a combination Arc editor and Surface Analyst rolled into one.

Works for me most of the time.

mg

#8
mdsumner

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Making suggestions to improve Manifold is the way to get what you want:

http://www.manifold....uggestions.html

#9
MapMedia

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I agree with Paul.

And if you can spare the time, but not the upfront cash, maybe Manifold paired with Illustrator/Freehand will do the job from start to finish.

I bill by the hour so a lot of the time I jam out decent (not beautiful) looking maps in Arcmap 9.1. Occassionally I get a client who is a champion of cartography and pays a little more for the Illustrator version. Haven't figured a way to get it all done under one hood yet. Also - Arcmap draws vector data much more slowly than say Arcview 3.x, which I chalk up to their different programming language.

Chris

#10
Hans van der Maarel

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If all of us who use Manifold as a tool for cartography came up with a list of 20 things they should improve in the next release and all sent it in... I suspect they would make those changes.


So... who's in favor of making up such a list and sending it in?
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics




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