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What to Buy - Choosing a Manifold® Edition

Manifold System is available in a variety of editions as listed in the Products page. Different editions provide a matrix of choices combining the following factors:

For Google Earth Users

Manifold is the world's finest tool for creating KML / KMZ for display in Google Earth. This is such a popular use of Manifold there's a web page just for Google Earth users! Visit the Manifold Tools for Google Earth page to learn more.

Deciding between Personal and Professional Editions

Most individual users beginning with Manifold will choose between Personal Edition and Professional Edition. The only difference between Personal and Professional editions is that Professional includes the Manifold Internet Map Server (IMS) and Personal does not. The key question is: Will you ever operate your own web server that you intend to GIS-enable with an IMS? If the answer is "yes" choose Professional.

Some users are not sure if they will ever want to use IMS so they get Professional Edition to give themselves the option at some future point of exploring IMS. Many Windows editions include Microsoft IIS to enable web-serving, so some users feel the slight difference in price is worth the ability to tinker with IMS on their local machines to get a feel for the potential of web applications.

Choosing Enterprise Edition

More advanced individual users, almost everyone involved with GIS as a business and almost all organizations will use Enterprise Edition or higher.

Enterprise Edition provides features that make it much easier for users to share data if there is more than one GIS user within an organization. These same features greatly assist in organizing data in many projects, so that even single users who work with a lot of data will use Enterprise to save time and to stay organized. Enterprise also provides direct connection to spatial DBMS and export to .e00 format.

For the small difference in price from Professional to Enterprise, almost all business or organizational users will choose Enterprise Edition.

Order a Bundle with Geocoding

The Geocoding Tools package is $50 when ordered as an option or only $30 when ordered as part of a bundle with Personal, Professional or Enterprise. Most users in the US will order a bundle that includes Geocoding.

Geocoding Tools provide street address geocoding, enable street address navigation, enable web-based geocoding server data sources (such as Virtual Earth), enable third party geocoding data sources (such as MapPoint) and turn on the ability to use the Manifold US Geocoding Database as a source for automatically-created maps of any US county. This latter capability alone is said by US users to be so convenient for creating base maps that it is a "must have."

The Manifold Geocoding Database is a free data set. It may be acquired by free download from the Product Downloads page. The download is large, 801 MB, but given the popularity of broadband, high-speed Internet access in the US most users will be able to download the Geocoding Database for free with no problems.

Users outside of the US will also take advantage of the Geocoding Tools bundle, but normally will do so for street address geocoding purposes using an external, auxiliary geocoding data source such as MapPoint European Edition for eleven European countries.

Illustration, above right - Another example using area overlays to extrude building heights from a drawing of buildings. The base terrain has also been overlaid with a satellite image for background realism. Created with Personal Edition.

Do I need a 64-bit Edition?

If you have 64-bit Windows, get a 64-bit Manifold edition. It makes a big difference in performance. Don't even hesitate about this. Get a 64-bit edition.

You need a 64-bit, x64 Windows operating system to run 64-bit Manifold. When Windows boots up you'll see a clear "x64" as part of the Windows logo if you are running 64-bit Windows. Note: Many computer system vendors sell 64-bit processors with 32-bit Windows installed. In that case, as far as Windows is concerned you have a 32-bit processor.

A 64-bit Manifold license can be run either in 32-bits or 64-bits, and the serial number issued for a 64-bit Manifold license can be used to activate either a 32-bit or a 64-bit Manifold installation. This allows 64-bit licensees to run their Manifold licenses both on a 64-bit desktop and on a 32-bit notebook. (The Manifold license allows use on both a main desktop computer as well as on a notebook computer so long as the two installations are not run at the same time - See the Licensing page for a summary.)

Some users planning computer upgrades to 64-bits in the immediate future, within 30 days, will get a 64-bit Manifold license today and will run it in 32-bit Windows, ready to move up to 64-bits when they upgrade their systems. If you are running 32-bit Windows today it is usually a better strategy to license 32-bit Manifold today and to upgrade to 64-bit Manifold when you have transitioned to 64-bit Windows. That will make more efficient use of activations. See the Licensing page for related information and see the see the 32-bit and 64-bit Manifold Editions topic in the user manual for a detailed discusssion.

Should I order Extensions Today?

Visit the Business Tools, Geocoding Tools and Surface Tools pages for details on these extensions. If you are not sure what they do or are not sure you will need them, don't order them. A common misconception is that one must order the Surface Tools package to give Manifold the ability to work with surfaces and to show surfaces as 3D views. That is not true, as 3D visualization is a built-in part of every Manifold edition. The Surface Tools package extends those capabilities and adds new features, such as a sophisticated surface computation dialog, watersheds capability, visible area computation and the ability to see profiles and elevations.

Extensions can always be ordered later once you have determined you need them.

Illustration, above right - Per capita homocide rates in US states, shown in a terrain using extruded area overlays to create a 3D bar chart, with a satellite image overlay taken from Virtual Earth providing a base map. Created using Personal Edition with no other extensions required. Click on the illustration for a more detailed view.

When should I order Universal?

Universal Edition is a marketing bundle that provides an Enterprise Edition license together with all three extensions, all covered by a single serial number and acquired at a significant cost savings. Anyone ordering Enterprise and a Business Tools or a Surface Tools extension should go straight to Universal, because with the discount you will spend not much more but get all three extensions and the convenience of a single serial number.

Many people whose time is valuable will simply get Universal because it is more cost effective for them to get all the most popular options than to expend time deciding whether they need a particular extension.

What Should I get for IMS Applications?

For a discussion of which Manifold System edition to acquire for Manifold Internet Map Server (IMS) applications, please see the What to Buy for IMS page.

Should I Get a Runtime License?

Runtime licenses are for programmers and web developers who already have learned Manifold using full licenses. If you have a full license, you can do program development with that license because a full license also exposes the same API a Runtime license does (a full license is a superset of a Runtime license). A Runtime license does not have the console GUI, so it is impractical to attempt to learn Manifold only through programming a Runtime license. If you are planning on creating an application based upon Manifold, get a full license to learn Manifold and develop your application. Get Runtime licenses as needed when it is time to begin deploying your application.

Note that runtime licenses are all x64 licenses: runtime license serial numbers may therefore be used to activate installation in either 32-bit or 64-bit Manifold installations.

Advice for Applications Developers

Every Manifold license is a development environment. There is no need to buy some separate "objects library" because each Manifold license exposes the Manifold API. In fact, every Manifold license from Personal on up includes sophisticated development facilities as well, such as the Manifold Debugger, the ability to script in .NET or ActiveX languages within Manifold with full syntax highlighting (coloring) in script windows. Developers may also use standard development environments such as Visual Studio to work with Manifold objects. Developers create applications that utilize Manifold in one of two ways:

See the following for information of interest to developers:

Other Editions

Database Administrator and Ultimate editions provide Administrator Console for more advanced database administrator work to configure spatial DBMS data stores and to batch upload into Oracle. They are normally used in organizations that have many Enterprise or Universal licenses used by many users to connect to a centralized spatial DBMS. In that case, a few Database Administrator or Ultimate licenses will be acquired to enable database administrators to configure the DBMS for use by others. See the Database Administrator Edition topic in the User Manual for details.

License Server provides floating licenses in organizations where many people need to use Manifold. Floating licenses can provide a very large cost savings in larger organizations. Because License Server costs $1995 plus the cost of the floating licenses loaded into License Server, it is normally not used to provide only a few floating licenses in cases where it would be more cost effective to use standalone licenses. However, there have been many License Server installations sold with only one or two floating licenses. That happens when an organization has one or two very valuable GIS staffers who need to be able to use Manifold on any computer in the organization, so the organization acquires License Server with one or two licenses. Users making such purchases remark that even with the cost of License Server such a Manifold installation is still much less expensive than legacy GIS software. See the Manifold License Server topic in the User Manual for details.

Complete Details

For complete details on all Manifold products see the User Manual - The Manifold System user manual provides over 5000 pages of detailed information on every aspect of Manifold System. Hundreds of examples, including over one hundred detailed, step-by-step examples show how to use major Manifold facilities.

Product Downloads

Manifold products are delivered by download over Internet. Downloads are large, typically 85 MB for 32-bit editions and over 100 MB for 64-bit editions. Users who do not have Internet connections allowing reliable download of such large files should arrange for a colleague or consultant who has a good Internet connection to download the installation files for them onto a local medium, such as a USB drive or burning the files to DVD, that may be used to copy the installation files onto the target computer. provides a very large range of free downloads that will enhance your use of Manifold on the Product Downloads page and the links it contains. For example, the free downloads from the Image Servers and Geocoding Servers page provide some of the most extraordinary and most popular features in Manifold System, unavailable at any price from other GIS vendors, like the automatically downloaded and composed images and maps seen at right of Sydney, Australia, and London, England.

Must I buy Maintenance or Support?

Routine maintenance for a Manifold release consist of free updates that may be downloaded at any time. No "maintenance" charge or other fee is required to download such updates. It is very important to take advantage of free updates. Free updates provide product improvements and fix bugs. If you have not installed the latest Manifold update you will not be able to utilize Manifold Technical Support.

All Manifold technical support is paid, with two prepaid incidents of standard technical support by email provided with a license. Additional incidents are very inexpensive, providing the lowest cost and highest quality technical support in the GIS industry. However, experience shows that users who read documentation in the suggested order and participate in the Georeference forum or other online communities will never use a technical support incident, not even one of their two free incidents. Most users, therefore, will not buy any technical support products until they need them. For information on technical support, please see the Support page.

Routine updates are published from time to time for a given release to fix bugs and to add new features. Manifold on startup will check via Internet for any updates and will notify the user that a new update is available. Routine updates may be downloaded and installed at no charge.

From time to time a major new Manifold release will be published. By tradition, a new release has been offered for a limited time to licensees of the previous release at a greatly discounted price. New releases have many benefits. They include many improvements, typically hundreds of new items, and they provide a fresh serial number with five more activations.

Although upgrading to a new release is not required, technical support is available only on the current release. Because of the low cost of upgrading and the many benefits from upgrading to a new release, almost all Manifold licensees will take advantage of the initial discount offer to upgrade.

When launched, Manifold will check the web for you and notify you if any updates are available. Even if you don't use Manifold you can get notifications by subscribing to an RSS feed. See the Using RSS for Update Notification page for details.

Additional Activations

Manifold products are copy protected using a Serial Number and Activation Key system as described in the Licensing and Serial Numbers pages. A serial number allows installation on one machine, but there are up to five activations allowed to deal with tasks like replacing a failed hard disk, upgrading to a new Windows edition or re-loading Windows or moving the installation to a new computer. If Manifold is installed on one computer as licensed, normally five activations are plenty to enable use of a Manifold license for many years even without utilizing occasional upgrades to newer products that may be offered.

However, some users will run licenses for extremely long spans of time, perhaps in the case of a runtime license embedded in a legacy application that runs well and will not be replaced. Other users may have exceptionally bad luck with disk drives or hardware. To assist with such needs provides additional activations in two forms: automatic free additional activations and manually purchased additional activations via the $100 Extra Activation Keys product available in the Online Store product list Services section. One year after issuance each Manifold serial number automatically gains the ability to get one more activation key, if requested. If that does not suffice, beginning one year after a serial number is issued users may purchase two additional activation keys via the Extra Activation Keys product for the current edition of Manifold once ever year thereafter. This enables even very old Manifold licenses to continue being used despite the passage of many years or despite equipment failures or Windows upgrades. See the Additional Activation Keys page for details

Extra keys do not authorize extra users: Each activation key does not authorize an extra user. It simply authorizes a re-installation for the same single user in the event of a hard disk crash or other required re-installation. If you use extra activation keys to attempt to use the same serial number to run Manifold on more than one machine by more than one user at the same time, sooner or later Manifold will detect a licensing violation and your serial number will be revoked and you will lose all licensing rights.

Before purchasing the Extra Activation Keys product users should check their serial numbers on the Serial Number Status page. The page will report the date the serial number was issued and how many activations have been used. If any activations are available, do not purchase the Extra Activation Keys product. Instead, use the free activations that are remaining. If no activations are available and it is more than one year since the serial number was issued, do not purchase the Extra Activation Keys product either: if you request an activation for the serial number it will be automatically granted as an additional key for that year. Only purchase the Extra Activation Keys product if you have used up the free additional activation key granted each year.

Very Important: A license for a Manifold product provides only five activations. The provision of either a free additional activation key every year or the availability of a paid Extra Activation Keys product is a voluntary marketing promotion by that is provided at the sole and exclusive option of and which may be withdrawn at any time for any reason or for no reason or for any licensee. By way of example and not limitation, the voluntary provision of free additional activations or availability of paid extra activations will be rescinded for those licensees who do not cooperate with published procedures, such as the tech support process or limitations on that process. would like to provide additional benefits to responsible users and will take measures to protect responsible users from higher costs imposed by irresponsible users.

Do I Need a Money-Back Guarantee?

A limited, 10-day money back guarantee is available only on Personal, Professional and Enterprise editions, either with or without Geocoding Tools. Other products are not refundable. If you are not sure whether or not you will be keeping Manifold, please make sure to order one of the products which is covered by the money-back guarantee. The limited, 10-day money-back guarantee is described in the Returns and Refunds page.

30 Day Lease

If 10 days are not enough for you to evaluate Manifold in depth, buy the Universal 30 Day Lease product. For only $95 the lease allows you to run Universal x64 (which allows either a 32-bit or a 64-bit installation) on as many computers as you like for 30 days. Although the lease is not refundable and may not be extended, if you would like to purchase a non-leased Manifold license within 60 days the lease may be traded in for full upgrade credit of $95 toward your non-leased license. Even after 60 days you may still trade in the lease for a $45 credit. Try before you buy, or just use the Lease for short term or one-off projects.

Terms of Sale / Licensing

Manifold software products are licensed, not sold. See the Terms and Conditions of Sale for additional information. By ordering Manifold products you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Sale. Please also review the Licensing page for an important overview of licensing.


Please contact us at We would like you to be happy with your licensing of Manifold products, so please do not hesitate to ask any questions before placing an order.

Suggestions to improve Manifold are always welcome. Please see the Suggestions page for tips on making effective suggestions.