The File - Link command is basically a simplified form of the File - Create - New Data Source command. It launches the Link dialog which allows browsing the Windows file system to locate and to choose the file to be linked. There are two main simplifications of Link as compared to the New Data Source dialog:
In addition to the usual Windows File - Open style controls the Link dialog provides these controls:
File name - Enter the name of the file to be linked, or populate the box by clicking on a file in the display pane. The pull-down list for the box provides a list of recently-opened files.
(File types) - Use All Files (*.*) by default or choose a specific file type to filter the types of files shown in the display pane. For example, choosing JS Files (*.js) will only show files with a .js extension, that is, JScript script files.
Options - For many file types provides access to Cache Data option, to create and utilize an accessory .MAPCACHE file for improved performance. The Cache Data option is checked by default. The Cache Data options has two options, both checked by default, one to cache only data that is expensive to dynamically compute and the other to save cached data between sessions. It only makes sense to uncheck either option if we are desperately low on free disk space. Note that although these options may appear as part of the Link dialog for all file types a .MAPCACHE file is not created or used with file types such as .js for JScript scripts or other file types not supporting use of .MAPCACHE.
Due to a lack of required Microsoft facilities in 64-bit Windows systems, in most such systems Manifold in 64-bit mode cannot export, import or link to DB, HTML, MDB, XLS or WKx format files.
The workaround for importing or exporting such files is to utilize the 32-bit version of Manifold that is automatically installed in every 64-bit Manifold installation in addition to the 64-bit version of Manifold. To import we launch Manifold in 32-bit mode and import into a Manifold .map project file. We can then launch Manifold in 64-bit mode and open that .map project file or link to that .map project file. To export, we launch Manifold in 32-bit mode, open the .map project desired and export to the desired format.
For important information and discussion please see the Essay on .mdb files and 32-bit or 64-bit Manifold.
Cache in Manifold helps us get around some of the limitations of linked data, including read-only data.
When linking an image or other data into Manifold the Link dialog provides a Save cache option at the bottom of the dialog that allows us to cache data from a linked file. Using cache provides better performance and allows us to launch Assign Initial Coordinate System in the Component pane to specify the correct initial projection for linked data. It also allows flexibility with Style when linking data from read-only files. For example, some TIFF images linked from read-only .tif files might not display if Save cache is not checked.
Using File - Create - New Data Source allows more sophisticated control over cache options.
Caching data within the project will save a copy of data that is brought in from the external file within the project. It is like a virtual import that, so long as the data within the external source has not changed, uses the data that has already once been brought into the project instead of re-fetching it again from the external source. Checking the Save cached data between sessions box will save cached data within the .map project file so the next time that .map project file is opened what was cached from the prior session will still be available for use. If the external source has changed since the last session, then cached data will be discarded as obsolete and fresh data will be fetched to refill the cache.
Caution: When creating data sources based on web servers, like a Google image server, turning on the Save cached data between sessions option will save in cache a copy of every image tile fetched form the server. That can result in astonishingly fast performance when next we browse that same region in the project, because all tiles will be local and will not need to be fetched over Internet from the server, but it will also mean that the size of the project can become very large (hundreds of megabytes or many gigabytes) very quickly. Most Manifold users will leave that check box OFF unless they want to use that data when off-line.
Cache provides two primary ways of improving performance:
First, once data has been brought into the project there is no need to spend time bringing it into the project again and again.
Second, Manifold project storage usually is much faster than most formats, so when cached data from linked sources is saved within a .map file when that is saved, the next time the project is opened the data can come from faster storage within the project than from the external source.
Using or not using cache is not a big deal for small data, like small images, but when images or other data are gigabytes in size cache can provide dramatic improvements in speed. That is why the Cache data box is checked by default when creating data sources on regular file formats. It is not checked by default when creating data sources on web servers.
Cache also provides some of the benefits of imported images. For example, if the Cache data box is enabled we will be able to launch Assign Initial Coordinate System in the Component pane to specify the correct initial projection for linked data. If we have turned off cache we will not be able to assign the initial projection.
Three Letter Extensions - Most file names in Windows end in what is called a three letter extension, which is usually three letters at the end of the file name following a dot . character. The three letter extension is one way Windows at times (but not always) keeps track of what a file is supposed to be. Unfortunately, by default Windows hides the three letter extensions of files and instead tries to associate files with whatever program it thinks should be used to open that file. This is confusing when working with the many file formats that Manifold and similar products utilize.
Therefore, please turn off the hiding of extensions by Windows. A typical way to do so in most versions of Windows would be from Windows Explorer, choose Tools - Folder options, press the View tab and then in the Advanced Settings pane ensure that the Hide extensions for known file types is unchecked. Press Apply to Folders and then press OK. You will then be able to see extensions such as .map and others. See also the Essay on three letter extensions and why the default hiding of them by Windows is such a bad thing.
Importing and Linking
File - Import
File - Create - New Data Source
Assign Initial Coordinate System
The MAPCACHE File