Example: Format a Drawing using the Style Dialog

In this example we provide a first, step by step look at how to format areas in a drawing using the Style dialog.  We can specify the same formatting for all areas or use a field to automatically set formatting, a process usually known as thematic formatting.


We open a drawing that shows the regions of France as areas.


Opening the table for the drawing we see that each record has the name of the Region, a Number that gives the regional number and a Geom field containing the geometry of the area object for the region.




Right-clicking onto the Regions drawing in the Project pane and choosing Properties we can see the Properties dialog for the drawing shows the table from which it takes data and the name of the geom field in that table that provides geometry for each object.




To change the formatting of the drawing we click on the drawing window so it has the focus and then we choose Edit - Style to launch the Style dialog.



We click the Color, background item to highlight it and then we click into the Value color well.   The setting of Value in the Source box means we will specify the value for the color.


We choose a color in the resulting palette.   If we would like some other color we click Custom to open the usual Windows color setting dialog that allows a choice of any color we want.   For now we will choose one of the default color options, a shade of blue.



To apply the color we have chosen we choose Apply.



Immediately the drawing updates to use the specified shade of blue as the background color for objects.    We can apply the above technique to specify a range of options, such as foreground color, area style, area border thickness and other Style properties to format the drawing as we like.

Thematic Formatting

So far we have manually specified a color to use as the background color for all objects.   If we like, we can use the contents of a field to guide a choice of colors so that the background color (or other Style property) is set by the contents of a field for each area individually.   Using the contents of a field to automatically set the format for each object is called thematic formatting.


To use thematic formatting for area background color in our drawing, in the pull down menu for the Source box we choose the field we would like to guide formatting.   The pull down menu will be loaded with all field names we can use in the drawing.   


We choose Field: Number to use the region number to guide formatting.   The dialog will automatically adjust to show controls for thematic formatting.


We first click the Full Range button so that the Range buttons are filled with values representing the lowest to highest numbers that occur in the region number field in our table.


Next, we choose the equal count method for grouping numbers.   Thematic formatting is confusing if too many different ranges of colors are used, so usually drawings are formatted using a more limited number of colors for better intelligibility.     The equal count method choose ranges so that approximately the same number of records fall into each grouping used for a color.



We leave the default choice of 5 for the number of Breaks, that is, groupings of records, and then we press the Tally button to compute the groupings and ranges for each.



Manifold takes the region numbers, which fall in a range from a region number of 11 to a region number of 93, and calculates what should be the range number at the border of each grouping so that approximately the same number of records fall into each group.   Given the data in our table the breaks will be at range numbers of 11, 25, 43, 73 and 93.


So far the same color, the shade of blue we chose earlier, is used for all area backgrounds.  We can click into each color well to choose the color we want to use for that grouping.



When we have chosen the colors we want to use we press Apply to apply the new formatting for area background color to the drawing.



The drawing is immediately recolored using the colors assigned to each range.   Depending upon the Number value for each area's record, that is, the region number, it will be colored by the color assigned to the range within which that region number falls.




If we open the drawing's Properties we see that new Style properties have been added, with the values for those properties specified in human-readable JSON form.



There are many formatting options besides background color as illustrated above.



The three illustrations below show the same drawings as the illustration above, but with default formatting altered by using the Style dialog and overall background color set using the Layers pane.



In the above illustration thematic formatting is used to control the Rotation of the point symbols, with thematic formatting also used to specify the background color of areas.  The Layers pane was used to set black background color for the drawings.



In the above illustration points are all set to use the same icon and color, with thematic formatting also used to specify the background color of areas.  The Layers pane was used to set light beige background color for the drawings.


In the above illustration points are all set to use the same icon and color, all points use a Rotation of 180 degrees to flip the triangle style used for points, area borders are set to use a dotted line style and the same color is used for all areas.    The Layers pane was used to set light blue background color for the drawings.


In the above illustration we have changed the point icon to a square, which when used with a Rotation of 45 appears as a diamond.


Historical regions - The illustrations in this topic use data from the US government, which show the regions of France as they were before 1 January 2016, when regions in France were reduced from 22 to 13.


See also

Getting Started


User Interface Basics




Editing Tables






Example: Format the Size of City Points by Population - A common GIS task is to format the size of points in a drawing based on some value.  For example, the size of points that represent cities might be formatted based on the value of the city's population, with cities that have larger populations being marked by larger point icons.  This is an example of thematic formatting and is easy to do using the Style dialog.


Example: Add, Delete and Edit Thematic Formatting Intervals - This topic provides a step by step example of adding, deleting and editing intervals in the Style dialog that are used for thematic formatting.


Example: Multiple Primary and Fill Colors in a Drawing - At first glance that the same Color and Color, Fill values apply to areas, lines and points in a drawing may seem a limitation.   It is easy to use different Color and Color, Fill settings for different objects with different colors for areas, for lines and for points.   This example shows the simple procedure to use.


Example: Style Properties in the mfd_meta Table - Style properties for drawings such as colors for areas are stored in human readable JSON values as properties in the mfd_meta system table.   This example shows how we can copy formatting from one drawing to another by simply copying values between records in the mfd_meta table.


Example: Formatting Tricks - The visualization capabilities of Manifold using Style can be exploited to provide many visual effects.   This topic provides some examples of how to use Style in unexpected ways to create a range of more elaborate effects.


Example: How Not to Format a Drawing -  When using Style to format a drawing it is a really bad idea to use the same color for objects that is used for the background color.    It can also be a bad idea to use transparent color.   This topic illustrates why.