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.




Launch Manifold and choose File - Import.  




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."




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.




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 pane.   The pane reports that Latitude / Longitude coordinate system is used.  tech_angus_sm.png


Tech Tip:  Manifold will read whatever projection information is specified in the accessory files, such as a .prj file, that accompany the .shp shapefile to specify coordinate systems.  Depending on which program created the shapefile, different names for the same thing may be used.  For example, shapefiles in Latitude / Longitude coordinate system might state the coordinate system in use is GCS_World_Geodetic_1984_(WGS84), which is exactly the same as Latitude / Longitude, just using a different name.    


btn_coord_sys_picker.png If we like to use the same nomenclature for all of our data, we can take a moment to click the coordinate picker button in the Component pane and choose Change Coordinate System, and then chose Latitude / Longitude from the pop up menu.  That does not change anything in the coordinate system in use except to change the name to what is the usual terminology in Manifold.





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




In the Style pane 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.




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.  


We click on the Project pane tab, to switch to the Project pane.




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




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




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...


...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.




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.


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 drag and drop the Idaho drawing into the map.




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.




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.


For a more appealing display, we use the mouse wheel to zoom out one click of the mouse wheel.




We choose the Layers pane and double-click into the opacity value for the Idaho layer, to change it to 70.




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 Shift-click the Map tab to undock the map window.




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.



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





Component Pane


Layers Pane


Style Pane


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.