Example: Import Shapefile and Create a Map

In this example, we show the step by step process to import a shapefile and to create a map.

 

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Launch Manifold and choose File - Import.  

 

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Navigate to the folder desired and click on the .shp file desired, and press Import.   See the SHP, Shapefiles topic for more on the multi-file ensemble that comprises a "shapefile."

 

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A new drawing called Idaho and a new table called Idaho Table are created in the Project pane.   Double-click the Idaho drawing to open it in a drawing window.

 

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Experienced GIS uses will recognize the horizontally spread-out look of a Latitude / Longitude projection.   To see what projection is used, we can click on the Component panel of the Contents pane.   The panel reports that Latitude / Longitude coordinate system is used.

 

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We can do better than the default gray formatting for Idaho.   In the pull-down menu we choose the Style panel.

 

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In the Style panel we click the Fill color properties button for areas.  The buttons are not captioned since everyone working with Manifold after the first few minutes knows what they are, based on the area, line and point symbols that appear.

 

eg_import_another_shapefile01_07.png

 

In the pull down menu we choose the medium orange color shown.  The fill color for the area immediately redraws using that color.

Create a Map

So far, we have displayed the imported drawing in a drawing window.  If we like, we can display it in a map window.

 

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We right-click into an empty space in the Project pane and choose Create - New Map.

 

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In the New Map dialog we leave the default name Map and press Create Map.

 

eg_import_another_shapefile01_10.png

 

Next, we will create a background layer using the Microsoft Bing web server.   We right-click into an empty space in the Project pane and choose Create...

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...New Favorite Data Source, and then we choose the Bing Maps Street Map data source.   Manifold provides some of the most popular web server data sources as default Favorites, so we can choose them with a single click.

 

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We double-click on the Map to open it.  It opens as a blank window.  To add the Bing layer, we expand the Big Maps Street Map data hierarchy, within which we will see the Bing Maps Street Map Image component.

 

eg_import_another_shapefile01_13.png

 

We drag and drop the Bing image into the map.   It appears as a layer showing the entire world, the full extent of the Bing web served imagery.  Map windows automatically take their projection from the first component dragged and dropped into them.   The Bing web server uses Pseudo-Mercator, so that is what the map window will use.  Next, we will drag and drop the Idaho drawing inot the map.

 

eg_import_another_shapefile01_14.png

 

Idaho appears as a tiny figure within the whole-world display.  We Ctrl-click on the Idaho layer tab to zoom to fit that layer's contents.   See the Manifold 9 - Incredibly Convenient Zooms video to see more examples of ctrl-clicking on a layer tab for a very fast zooms.

 

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The display immediately zooms to fit Idaho, with the background layer automatically filling in details from the Bing web server.    The Idaho drawing is in Latitude / Longitude, but it is automatically re-projected on the fly into Pseudo Mercator to match the projection used by the map window.

 

eg_import_another_shapefile01_16.png

 

Fro a more appealing display, we use the mouse wheel to zoom out one click of the mouse wheel, and then we choose the Layers panel and double-click into the opacity value for the Idaho layer, to change it to 70.

 

eg_import_another_shapefile01_17.png

 

The result is a partially transparent Idaho, which lets some of the Bing background layer be seen.  This is a subtle effect that provides better visual context for some people than a completely opaque area for Idaho.   We Alt-click the Map tab to undock the map window.

 

eg_import_another_shapefile01_18.png

 

We can move the undocked map window around on our Windows desktop and resize it as we like.   Many Manifold users will work with two or three monitors so they have a large Windows desktop, and many prefer to undock their map windows and arrange them on the big desktop, so they can see multiple windows at the same time.  In the illustration above we can see how the same Idaho drawing is simultaneously seen in its own, native Latitude / Longitude projection in a drawing window even as it participates as a layer in a map window that uses Pseudo-Mercator projection, the Idaho layer being re-projected on the fly for display purposes into Pseudo-Mercator.

 

Videos

Manifold 9 - Re-Project a Shapefile  - New coordinate system dialogs make it easier than ever to re-project data, often in only one click. This video shows how to import a shapefile and then rapidly re-project it into different coordinate systems. We then show how maps re-project their contents on the fly for display and how to exploit that to rapidly show data in different projections.

 

See Also

Drawings

 

Maps

 

Contents - Component

 

Contents - Layers

 

Contents - Style

 

File - Export

 

Change Coordinate System

 

SHP, Shapefiles

 

Example: Edit a Shapefile In Place - How to edit a shapefile "in place," that is, leaving the data in the shapefile and only linking it into a project and not importing it into the project.

 

Example: Re-project a Drawing - An essential example on changing the projection of a drawing, either within the drawing itself, or by changing the projection of a map window that shows the drawing and re-projects on the fly for display.

 

Example: Import a Shapefile - ESRI shapefiles are a very popular format for publishing GIS and other spatial data.  Unfortunately, shapefiles often will not specify what projection should be used.  This example shows how to deal with that quickly and easily.