Manifold System

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Manifold System is a geographic information system (GIS) software package developed by that runs on Microsoft Windows. The GIS software competes with ESRI and MapInfo GIS products. Manifold 7.00 handles both vector and raster data, includes spatial SQL, a built-in Internet Map Server (IMS), and other general GIS features. Manifold System has an active user community with a mailing list and online forums.


The development team for Manifold was created in 1993 to optimize mathematics libraries for a massively-parallel supercomputer created in a joint venture between Intel Corporation and the US Department of Defense. The team subsequently embarked on a plan to create and sell mathematics libraries, including the General Graph Facilities library (GGF) and the Computational Geometry Library (CGL), under the name of the Center for Digital Algorithms.

A series of "workbench" products were created to help teach customers the operation of algorithms in the libraries using visual means. Road networks and geometric data in geographic contexts were used to provide visual familiarity and interest, in effect creating a GIS-like product. In 1997 and 1998 customers asked for a true GIS product based on the workbench products and development of Manifold System was launched. The company soon changed its name to Manifold Net to match the new product's name.

Manifold System releases

Manifold System was first sold in January 1998 as Release 3.00. Releases 3.00 and 4.00 were heavily weighted to analytics, with many tools for abstract graph theory analysis but a very limited GIS toolset. At the request of GIS users and resellers, Release 4.50 emphasized general GIS features of broader interest and emerged as Manifold's first commercial GIS, a typical vector GIS more or less equivalent to classic vector GIS packages such as ArcView 3.x or MapInfo Professional.

The Release 5.00 series in 2001 and 2002 integrated display and editing of raster images and surfaces, including terrain elevation surfaces, and both 2D and 3D rendering. The 5.x series also introduced an integrated Internet Map Server (IMS) and the first Enterprise editions of Manifold System allowing collaboration by teams using shared components. The 5.x series also introduced a new spatial SQL and fuzzy logic using the Decision Support System.

Releases since 2003 include 5.50, 6.00 (two major feature upgrades via service pack), 6.50, 7.00 and 7x. 6.50 introduced image tiling from Terraserver and OGC WMS image servers using Manifold as a client and extended IMS support to include OGC WMS when using Manifold as a server. 7.00 further extended IMS to include OGC WFS-T and image server functionality as well.

Release 7.00 was issued in May 2006 and followed up by Release 7x in the next three months. 7x was released in two flavors: 32-bit and 64-bit. Manifold 7x was the first ever 64-bit GIS application in the industry.

Release 7.00 introduced direct support for Oracle Spatial (vector drawings, raster images and raster surfaces) and included concurrent multiuser editing capability for Oracle and a variety of other databases, including DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server. 7.00 introduced multiprocessor support with multithreaded rendering of image libraries, multithreaded connections to DBMS providers and use of multiple processors in other areas as well.

7.00 also introduced the Manifold Image Server interface API, allowing users to create modules that enable usage within Manifold of image servers such as Virtual Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo, Ask and others. Open source image server modules have been published by the user community in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions that enable automatic fetching and tiling of either satellite images or street map images from various image servers.

Release 8.00 was issued in the summer of 2007 and introduced 420 improvements. 8.00 expanded support for direct use of spatial DBMS beyond Oracle to include IBM DB2 with Spatial Extender, PostgreSQL / PostGIS and pre-releases of Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 spatial product available in 2007. 8.00 also introduced a Manifold-written spatial extender for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 as well as generic spatial DBMS capability from Manifold enabling spatial DBMS storage of vectors and rasters in any DBMS providing binary storage capability.

Release 8.00 became the first GIS product to include support for NVIDIA CUDA technology, in which massively-parallel architectures utilized in NVIDIA GPU cards, employing up to hundreds of stream processors per card, can be utilized to execute general purpose GIS code for computations on rasters. Typical speed increases when using NVIDIA CUDA reduce the time required for complex surface calculations in Manifold from minutes to seconds. For its use of NVIDIA CUDA Manifold System won the 2008 Geospatial Innovator Award at the GeoTec 2008 conference.

8.00 was updated through 2008 to improve support for PostgreSQL/PostGIS, to support final production releases of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and to support new Windows releases through Windows Server 2008 x64.

User community

Later versions have benefited greatly from community involvement via online discussion and beta testing. From July 2002 to July 2006 over 3771 new items have been cited in release notes, most of which originated in the user community.

The online Georeference forum was started by David Brubacher and William Howell in 2004 and incorporated into the site in January 2006 at

External links