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Manifold for Cartography?

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#1
rudy

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I'm curious as to people's experience with Manifold. It is, of course, a full featured GIS available at a very reasonable cost but I would like to know about its cartographic abilities and output. I have seen impressive results from Manifold but wonder:
  • how easy is it to produce high-quality cartographic output for publication? I know that almost anything is possible if you spend enough time at it but is it fairly easy / efficient to place curved text, create and use custom symbols, fade out portions of the map and other artistic/cartographic treatments that are relatively easy to undertake in a graphics program such as Illustrator (with practice of course)? Or does this require an inordinate amount of work?
  • how compatible is the output with print production? Has anyone experienced any issues with sending Manifold output files to a commercial printing? Or do files need to be run through Illustrator before sending them out?


#2
Hans van der Maarel

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I briefly looked at Manifold for cartography. I have to say, overall, it's not really suited for high-end work due to some peculiarities in terms of output:
  • Any image layers in the original layout that don't cover the entire extent of the layout are filled, to the full extent of the layout, with black pixels, even if they show up as transparent in Manifold itself. In case of multiple layers, this potentially results in the black pixels on layer 1 to overlap the information on layer 2. A fix for this, making empty areas transparent and sizing image objects to the bounding box of the non-empty pixels, would be very nice.
  • The size of the layout can only be changed through the page setup. Doing so requires at least 12 mouse clicks (more if you need to select a different printer as well). It would be more convenient to have a setting for this in the Layout properties and not have it depend on the selected print driver.
  • When opened in Illustrator, the document size doesn't correspond to what was specified in Manifold: my 173 x 63 cm document ended up being set to about 45 x 45... The information itself has the correct size, just not the document settings. It would be nice, if only from a 'neat freak' point of view, if it would match the settings made in Manifold.
  • Labels that are exported to Illustrator end up as uneditable text outlines. This more or less forces me to do all of the labelling in Illustrator itself. Editable text objects would offer a lot more flexibility in workflow (however, given the fact Adobe themselves can't even seem to handle their own texts from older Illustrator versions...)
  • There is a set of rectangles, no fill or stroke, indicating the layout extent. These can sometimes be a nuisance when changing styles and they don't seem to serve a purpose.
This is all based upon experiences in moving a map from Manifold to Illustrator CS2. I've reported this to Manifold back in August, I don't know if they have included it (or will do so) in a future release.

In terms of the map image itself, you certainly can get a good result out of Manifold, albeit within its limitations.

Texts along a multi-vertex line are possible, don't know about curved lines though.

Finally, Manifold produces 'old' Illustrator files, which need to be converted when opened in CS2. They're pretty big on filesize, but open and save in CS2 shrinks them down considerably.

What I usually do when I need Manifold for cartography work is combine all the GIS layers, sort out the projection and then export the whole thing to an .ai file. Then I finish it in Illustrator. Text placement is all in Illustrator. I work faster in Illustrator, but your experience may vary. There's a lot of neat tricks in Manifold that take a lot of time in Illustrator, and vice-versa.

Do check out the online manual
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#3
Geographic Techniques

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I would like to hear anyone's experiences with Manifold's geocoder? It sounds like it has a lot of tools to help get the best results, especially with massaging address data. We all know that "crap in is crap out." I am wondering how it compares with using ArcGIS's out-of-the-box geocoder, or StreetMap Pro.

Heck, if Manifold has the capabilities for reliable address matching as they make it sound , then I would assume that the cost of the package just for geocoding is a real bargain.
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#4
Martin Gamache

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I would like to hear anyone's experiences with Manifold's geocoder? It sounds like it has a lot of tools to help get the best results, especially with massaging address data. We all know that "crap in is crap out." I am wondering how it compares with using ArcGIS's out-of-the-box geocoder, or StreetMap Pro.

Heck, if Manifold has the capabilities for reliable address matching as they make it sound , then I would assume that the cost of the package just for geocoding is a real bargain.


My limited experience is that it is good and I have heard good reports from the Manifold user community.

I agree with most of Hans' points except pt.4. Manifold labels that have not been rotated off vertical usually remain editable, especially if exported via the pdf format. In other words it is possible to get editable labels out of Manifold. You will not be able to get labels that curve along lines, they will follow a line but will be straight segments.

For the price it is probably the best value for a native windows operating GIS in that it can do alot of things.
It is also fairly easy to learn if you know the windows OS.

High quality cartographic functionality is lacking however and the export to Illustrator workflow is a bit more convoluted and clumsy than via Arcmap.

It is very workable however.

If I have to work straight out of the GIS without any Illy edits I usually go with Arcmap. Its much easier to use and produce good looking maps with than Manifold. The main reason for that being it's superior text handling/labelling.


mg

#5
Richard

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I use Manifold 7 and previously 5 then 6. The cartographic or mapmaking ability for highend stuff is to me very limited. The text placement on layouts leaves a lot to be desired. I just don't bother with it having AI and MAPublisher. That said they are active in the development side and this aspect of GIS will no doubt get looked at.
It really falls down in the basic zooming and panning that CAD and Graphics packages offer, particularly with mouse use.I would lable it a very good GIS package and an average print/plot output program. This must be tempered against my access to AI and other dedicated graphics packages, but then there are heaps of cheap graphic programs about that are far more flexible/ powerful than the corresponding part of Manifold.
Check out http://69.17.46.171/Site/Default.aspx and pose your question there.
regards Richard

#6
rudy

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I briefly looked at Manifold for cartography. I have to say, overall, it's not really suited for high-end work due to some peculiarities in terms of output. . . . .

. . . .

What I usually do when I need Manifold for cartography work is combine all the GIS layers, sort out the projection and then export the whole thing to an .ai file. Then I finish it in Illustrator. Text placement is all in Illustrator. I work faster in Illustrator, but your experience may vary. There's a lot of neat tricks in Manifold that take a lot of time in Illustrator, and vice-versa.


This doesn't surprise me. I do have Manifold 7x myself and have used it, just as you described: data manipulation, projection, then exporting it to AI. I did so because I was more familiar with AI and knew how to get a job done quickly using it, something I wasn't certain about in Manifold. I just wanted to be sure it wasn't sheer laziness on my part or if others have experienced similar challenges in producing high-end cartographic work solely with Manifold.

Thanks for the feedback. I certainly hope Manifold pays attention to the cartographic side of things in the near future (as ESRI did a few years back).

#7
BEAVER

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Same here. I use Manifold to crunch some data and then export everything into AI. I make all the labels horizontal and then modify them in Illustrator. Manifold labeling is useless. I would pay 8x the price for Manifold if it didn't break the text into individual letters and have more label options. Labeling in Mapublisher is just too slow for me to use it all the time. Nothing beats Global Mapper when it comes to speed. Truly amazing piece of code.

#8
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Manifold is an amazing GIS, but I wouldn't want to rely on it for high quality cartographic work. Like the others said, the export into Illustrator is a bit junky with all of the labeling issues, extra clipping masks, et cetera...but the file is workable. I wouldnt hestitate to use the export into Illustrator if I needed a small map graphic or say an 11X17 map with few features and labels, but I would be scared if I had try and design a wall map with only Manifold at my disposal.



#9
David Nelson

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Labeling in Mapublisher is just too slow for me to use it all the time. Nothing beats Global Mapper when it comes to speed. Truly amazing piece of code.


Please tell me more about labeling in Global Mapper. I'm most interested to know if labels can be exported as rotated point and path type. How precise is the path type labeling?

#10
BEAVER

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Global Mapper is super fast with opening files, panning, zooming, exports and other stuff but just like Manifold, it useless when it comes to labels. Mapublisher is the only option if you do maps in Illustrator. It's just very slow with all GIS functions.

#11
David Nelson

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Global Mapper is super fast with opening files, panning, zooming, exports and other stuff but just like Manifold, it useless when it comes to labels. Mapublisher is the only option if you do maps in Illustrator. It's just very slow with all GIS functions.


Thanks. Your quote (in my previous post) suggested that Global Mapper was good for labeling. I'm sorry to hear that's not he case.

My workflow for cartography needs efficient path labeling functionality. ESRI seems to be the only answer, but too expensive for me. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get rotated point and path type into AI? (As you have said, both Manifold and Global Mapper are useless for labels.)

#12
Hans van der Maarel

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My workflow for cartography needs efficient path labeling functionality. ESRI seems to be the only answer, but too expensive for me. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get rotated point and path type into AI? (As you have said, both Manifold and Global Mapper are useless for labels.)


An alternative for ESRI's Maplex would be Label-EZ (www.maptext.com), but that's fairly expensive as well.
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#13
David Nelson

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[/quote]
An alternative for ESRI's Maplex would be Label-EZ (www.maptext.com), but that's fairly expensive as well.
[/quote]

Thanks. I talked to Label-EZ several years ago and they were expensive (especially for a small carto firm). I see they now have a MapInfo plug-in for $1000. Anyone currently using it?

#14
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I have never used LableEZ personally, but I have heard it's a difficult application to use and the results are spotty.



#15
Martin Gamache

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My workflow for cartography needs efficient path labeling functionality. ESRI seems to be the only answer, but too expensive for me. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get rotated point and path type into AI? (As you have said, both Manifold and Global Mapper are useless for labels.)



Maplex is quite expensive but a basic functional version of Arcmap with a fairly good labelling engine and good AI export used to avalable for a reasonable price with a IMTA membership. It does not include maplex however.

mg




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