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Manifold® Surface Tools

All Manifold System editions include very strong capabilities for working with raster surface data, such as terrain elevation data. Every Manifold System edition includes importing surfaces from all major formats, visualizing surfaces in 2D and 3D, creating new surfaces from scattered data via interpolation, manipulating surfaces with a variety of transform operators, contouring to create line or area vector contours from surfaces, thematic formatting of surfaces in 2D or 3D views and even the ability to overlay raster images or vector data upon surfaces within 3D views. All that is built into every Manifold edition from Personal Edition on up.

(Image, right): Surface Tools interpolation commands can fill in missing data to complete a surface.

The optional Surface Tools extension provides provides additional commands and capabilities for the already extensive surface capabilities of every Manifold edition. The Surface Tools extension also provides CUDA functionality within the Surface Transform dialog. The Surface Tools extension adds the following features:

NVIDIA Supercomputer Power Today

Using the optional Surface Tools extension, Manifold Release 8 is the first GIS ever to support massively parallel computing using hundreds of stream processors via NVIDIA® CUDA™ technology. By installing an NVIDIA GPGPU card (widely available for as little as $150 per card with up to 256 processors per card) you can add true supercomputing performance to your GIS installation. Manifold automatically recognizes and utilizes up to four NVIDIA CUDA cards for up to 1024 processors with teraflops of computational performance. Dozens of functions can be run by Manifold at supercomputer speeds with an NVIDIA CUDA-capable card installed. See the Manifold / NVIDIA CUDA demo video to see Manifold in action using NVIDIA. See a one minute task get done in two seconds! Amazing! Manifold is the only GIS in the world that can use NVIDIA CUDA for supercomputer performance. See the Manifold Supercomputer GIS presentation, which also includes the CUDA demo, to learn why NVIDIA CUDA is so fast.

NEWSFLASH - Manifold wins 2008 Geospatial Leadership award for supercomputer performance! See the News page for details!

The Surface Tools extension adds the following commands:

Surface - Transform Dialog

The Surface - Transform dialog allows arbitrary transformation of surfaces, including computations that involve multiple surfaces such as subtracting one surface from another. A very rich collection of over 90 operators allows many different types of tasks to be accomplished, including flow accumulation and other watershed functions. Many functions in the Surface - Transform dialog can use NVIDIA CUDA for nearly instantaneous computation if our systems are so equipped, providing by far the fastest surface computations of any GIS system from any vendor at any price. See the NVIDIA CUDA topic for details.

When evaluating formulas, Manifold automatically handles coordinate system conversions so that a surface in lat / lon and a surface in UTM projection may be used together in a formula. Manifold will also automatically handle type conversions so that a surface with floating-point values for height may be used in a formula together with a surface using integer values for heights. For details, see the User Manual topic: Surface - Transform

(Images, above left and right): A simple formula in the Surface - Transform dialog that adds together values from two surfaces to create a composite, new surface, in this case showing the additive effects of chemical plumes downwind. The result is illustrated in the preceding Plume Map illustration at above left.

Surface - Watersheds

The Surface - Watersheds dialog works with a surface and optionally a drawing to find watersheds in the surface (regions sharing a common drainage) as well as streams in the surface or upstream areas in the surface from points in a specified drawing as well as all downstream flow from given points.

The dialog reports its results by creating one or more new drawings that contain new line or area objects representing streams, watersheds or upstream areas. The line or area objects have data fields in the drawing's table that report useful information, such as the total flow through a particular stream. The combination of computed geometry together with data fields enables very powerful subsequent processing with Manifold spatial SQL.

The new drawings are automatically georegistered to the same coordinate system and location of the surface that was used in the watersheds dialog. They may therefore be immediately overlaid onto the surface as a layer within a map for easy viewing of results. For details, see the User Manual topic: Surface - Watersheds

(Image, above left): The Watershed dialog was used to calculate streams over a surface and then to calculate all upstream watersheds from three given locations. The streams and watershed areas were overlaid as layers in a map and thematically formatted with partial transparency.

Profiles and Elevations

A profile is a line that shows a path over a surface. Profiles are created by copying a line from a drawing and then pasting it as a profile, choosing a surface to which that profile will be bound. Profiles are used to specify elevations.

(Image, right): A profile showing a path across a surface. The path has been selected for editing to give it edit handles that may be dragged and adjusted.

An elevation is a chart showing the height of a surface plotted along the length of a profile path to display a "cut" through the surface. The appearance of an elevation is controlled by display options for that elevation. There can be more than one elevation bound to the same profile. For example, we can right click on an elevation in the project pane, choose Duplicate and then open that new elevation and change the display options for that elevation. This would provide two elevations bound to the same profile but showing the results in different ways. For details, see the User Manual topic: Profiles and Elevations

(Image, left): An elevation showing the heights cutting through the surface for the profile shown at above right.

Visibility Analysis

The Visible Area command works with a surface and a drawing to find all parts of the surface that are visible from one or more locations in the drawing marked by points. This function in other GIS systems may be called a viewshed function or visibility zones function. This function is bi-directional in that it may also be used to find all locations from which the tops of one or more towers are visible from the surface. This Manifold command can simultaneously work with multiple locations having different heights for each location.

Visibility analysis is a key part of many GIS tasks. For example, finding line-of-sight visibility helps plan the locations of microwave towers. Manifold's Visible Area dialog has been used to plan the placement of seismographs in volcano observatories which communicate via line-of-sight radio to a central recording facility. Manifold is also routinely used to plan the visual impact of proposed new construction projects, such as cell phone towers or other facilities, to plan the locations of observation points such as fire station watchtowers to observe terrain, or for antenna placement to better serve wide area wireless networks. For details, see the User Manual topic: Visible Area

(Image, right): The yellow regions show all locations from which the tops of the two towers marked with red dots are visible at the same time.

Surface Tools Product Options

Manifold provides a variety of options to acquire Surface Tools, either as part of a licensing bundle or an extension to an existing Manifold System license. Universal Edition and Ultimate Edition include Surface Tools. Surface Tools also may be acquired in the Option Pack bundle or as a separate Surface Tools extension product. See the Products page for details.

When licensed via the Option Pack or as a separate Surface Tools extension product, there is no separate 32-bit or 64-bit option because the "bitness" of the Surface Tools capabilities will be determined by the main Manifold license. For example, if you license Manifold Enterprise x64 and then later license the Surface Tools extension, your new Surface Tools capabilities will automatically run 64-bit when activated within your Enterprise x64 license.

Manifold System Editions with Surface Tools Built In

These specially discounted marketing bundles provide two advantages: first, they provide a substantial discount over the cost of the same products procured separately, and second, they provide the convenience of using a single serial number to turn on the licensed products within the Manifold installation. These bundles deliver the main Manifold System edition plus all three optional extensions (Business Tools, Geocoding Tools and Surface Tools).


Universal Edition and Ultimate Edition already include all extensions. Extensions automatically function in 32-bits or 64-bits to match the functionality of the Manifold System license in use.

Limited 30 Day Money Back Guarantee Not Applicable

The Surface Tools extension does not qualify for the limited 30 day money back guarantee. Manifold Personal Edition, Professional Edition and Enterprise Edition are sold with a limited money-back guarantee for 30 days from the date of purchase. However, this limited money-back guarantee does not apply to any product options for acquiring Surface Tools. See the Returns and Refunds page for details.

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