Manifold 7 and ArcGIS 9
Posted 28 June 2006 - 11:40 AM
[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!]
Posted 28 June 2006 - 12:42 PM
Posted 28 June 2006 - 12:52 PM
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.
Posted 28 June 2006 - 01:01 PM
Posted 28 June 2006 - 01:26 PM
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.
Posted 28 June 2006 - 03:37 PM
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.
Posted 28 June 2006 - 11:15 PM
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.
Posted 29 June 2006 - 12:46 AM
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?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: @redgeographics
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