View Full Version : Low Cost European and Canadian Geocoding Option in Upgrade

06-16-2003, 11:02 PM
Manifold's free Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Manifold System Release 5.50 adds many new features at no cost

Carson City,NV--manifold.net today announced that Manifold System Release 5.50, the company's flagship GIS product, has been enhanced with over 100 new features in a free Service Pack (SP). Unlike old-fashioned GIS companies, manifold.net uses service packs to add substantial new features as well as to fix bugs. Service Pack 1 provides sweeping new features in geocoding, formatting, programming extensions, Internet Map Server (IMS) and many other areas as well as including a host of minor items often included in customer wish lists. In addition, the service pack repairs bugs that have been found since Release 5.50 was published five months ago. Manifold System 5.50 is available in Professional Edition ($245), Professional with Debugger ($295) and Enterprise Edition ($395).

A major new feature is the ability to add street address geocoding for eleven European countries for only $250, an unprecedented low price in a GIS market that has long expected fees of thousands of dollars per country from legacy vendors for European street address geocoding. The European street address geocoding option is implemented by using the programmatic interface to Microsoft's MapPoint 2002 product, which retails for $250 in Europe and the US. This same option allows Canadian geocoding as well. The MapPoint geocoder may be used either in conjunction with or as a replacement for the Manifold US Street Address Geocoder (a $100 option for Manifold System Release 5.50).

As a Manifold customer in Australia commented, "Once again, more functional enhancements in a customer focused no-charge service pack than ESRI or MapInfo would put in a full priced revision."

"Service Pack 1 for Manifold 5.50 continues our tradition that each new Manifold release will honor our customers by fulfilling their wishes and each new Manifold release will extend the state of the art in GIS by introducing new technology that adds power, performance and value to the industry. Many dozens of features such as point style rotation and thematic formatting of labels respond to customer requests made in the last few months while other features, such as support for using Microsoft's European edition of MapPoint for European street address geocoding, represent break-through price/performance enhancements over costly technology used by legacy GIS vendors," said Dimitri Rotow, product manager for Manifold System.

SP1 may be freely downloaded by any Manifold 5.50 licensee. SP1 is also available on CD for only $25 (includes shipping to anywhere in the world) for those customers who prefer a CD to a download. A single SP1 download works with all three editions of Manifold System: Professional Edition, Professional with Debugger and Enterprise Edition. The SP automatically adapts itself to the edition in use and automatically configures itself to use all existing serial numbers and Activation keys. Once launched by the customer, the SP automatically performs all upgrades using a standard, simple Microsoft installation wizard.

Service Pack 1 Highlights

> Rotatable point styles - Automatically rotate point symbols and labels by the value of a given field using thematic formatting. Rotating point styles are frequently used in geological applications and were requested by many members of the Manifold user community.
> Thematic formatting for labels - Automatically adjust label formatting, including a new label rotation capability, using thematic formatting. Individual labels may be automatically configured based on the value of a data field for foreground color, background color, size, style or rotation angle.
> Improved specification of layout views - New options for locked views make it much easier to interactively draw the viewport to be printed within a drawing, map, image or other window. Manifold 5.50 provides a highly WYSIWYG editing console to create print layouts that can incorporate elements from a variety of different drawings, images, surfaces, labels, tables and other elements in a project. The new layout views make it very easy to precisely specify what portions of a drawing or other element will appear within a layout depending on whether printing to a given scale is desired (with floating extents) or printing to a fixed view port (with floating scale) is desired.
> Automatic renaming of dependent components - A frequently requested wishlist item, renaming a component in a project can now automatically rename all dependent components. In Manifold, some components such as a 3D view of a surface or a print layout made for a map, can be created so they are dependent upon other components and automatically take their content from a parent component. The automatic rename feature will automatically rename dependent components in the hierarchy to a similar name when the parent is renamed.
> Integrated geocoder functionality - The Manifold 5.50 geocoder has been improved to support integrated geocoder functionality in the GoTo dialog, to allow going to any address or partial address (such as a ZIP code) supported by the geocoder data in use.
> Optional use of Microsoft MapPoint 2002 as a street address geocoder for Europe, Canada and US. - Geocode street addresses within 11 countries in Europe for only $250 additional! Manifold's usage of MapPoint is by far the best price/performance/quality solution for European or Canadian street address geocoding. This is a break-through capability that is discussed in more detail below. * Improved interval interface for thematic formatting - Another frequently requested wish list item that simplifies presentation of thematic formatting intervals. The new thematic formatting dialog is similar to the previous dialog, but incorporates an auto-adjust capability that simplifies the presentation of intervals even when switching between fundamentally different interval models (continuous gradation vs. thematically discrete intervals).
> Numerous improvements in object model - Manifold has gained numerous programming capabilities. In particular, the formatting features of Manifold have been exposed to a much more detailed and comprehensive level, thus allowing programmatic control over the visual appearance of onscreen and printed works. * IMS can now launch hyperlinks in a new browser session - this makes it easy to design cascading websites that launch pictures or other programs based on a hyperlink click. Other IMS enhancements include support for .NET templates for even greater Microsoft integration as well as relaxing certain constraints to support use of IMS in non-Microsoft HTML server environments, such as PHP or Apache under Windows.
Improved Undo - In a program of continuous improvement, Undo has been extended to numerous editing operations within drawings, maps and images.
> 491 projections recognized in PRJ files - Although the use of prj files together with shape files is an archaic, imperfect methodology that is not considered good practice even within the ESRI community, due to the widespread use of ArcView one encounters numerous examples of prj used together with shape files. SP1 adds over 350 new projections that are recognized within prj files by Manifold, a result of collecting numerous "standard" and non-standard prj examples by thousands of Manifold customers "in the wild" and subsequent analysis by the manifold.net engineering team.
> Improved import and export - Extensive additions to importers and exporters in numerous formats have extended the ability of Manifold System to handle, "out of the box," the widest array of different formats of any general purpose GIS package. Not only do Manifold importers and exporters handle the "standard" versions of various formats, as a result of the extensive contributions of thousands of Manifold users the format converters are able to handle unusual and non-standard, but nonetheless at times encountered, variations of supposedly-standard formats. Extensions and sophisticated modifications of AutoCAD DWG/DXF allow better compatibility and conversions, exports to DXF allow synthesis of Z data from a numeric column, optimization and options in EMF (both GDI and GDI+ based) improve rendering, options in MFD, MIF and SHP exports allow expert control over coordinate numbers , ENVI, ERDAS and ERS importers allow image/surface import options, Northwood importers have acquired addition options for control of heights, and numerous options for importers and exporters have been added to the programming model.
> Better Minichart colors and user-specifiable colors - Minicharts are small chartlets that float above individual objects in drawings and maps. SP1 adds automatic configuration of chart colors from a pre-defined, pleasant palette as well as easily specified user colors.
> Override/non-override options for Config files used for customization - Manifold uses XML files to allow easy user customization of point styles, palettes, units of measures, ellipsoids, datums and projections. The new SP1 system allows customer override of system presets, if desired, in a way that does not risk confusion between user-supplied configuration files and the original system files.
> Performance improvements in window redisplay and geocoding speed - Geocoding speed has more than doubled while window redraw for large maps, images and drawings has improved by over 65%.
See the SP1 release notes for a complete list of all 211 items in SP1.

European and Canadian Street Address Geocoding using Microsoft MapPoint 2002

Manifold System 5.50 includes a sophisticated geocoder that provides individual or batch geocoding of table addresses, "GoTo" functionality to an entire address or any part of an address (such as town name, ZIP code or similar partial address), geocoding extensions to SQL, integrated geocoder functionality within the Manifold Internet Map Server that is embedded within Manifold System, and programmatic access. Before SP1, geocoding capability within Manifold 5.50 was enabled by installing the optional ($100 extra cost) Manifold Geocoding Data product, which provided a geocoding database for the United States only using TIGER 2000 data. Although the Manifold geocoding option easily exceeds the capabilities of legacy TIGER 2000 based products (such as the $8950 MapInfo MapMarker product, see the Comparison page), many Manifold customers requested extension of Manifold geocoding capability to Europe and to Canada.

Any geocoding solution for Europe and Canada depends upon the quality of the geocoding data set used. As a result of our long and deep relationship with Microsoft, the product planners at manifold.net knew that the finest and least cost geocoding solution for Europe and Canada could be achieved by leveraging Microsoft's MapPoint 2002 product. To utilize MapPoint 2002, Service Pack 1 includes a sophisticated set of programming routines that use the programming interface to MapPoint 2002 to deliver MapPoint geocoding functionality to the Manifold user.

Microsoft's MapPoint 2002 product is a high quality "atlas" mapping program that is popular for many consumer applications. Although MapPoint does not have the extensive capabilities of a professional GIS, MapPoint does have the ability to geocode street addresses within the region covered by the edition of MapPoint in use and to provide the results of such geocoding to other programs via the extensive MapPoint application programming interface. The North American edition of MapPoint can geocode street addresses in Canada and the United States. The European edition of MapPoint can geocode street addresses in eleven European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).

If Microsoft MapPoint is installed on the same computer as Manifold System, Manifold can use the MapPoint geocoding engine to provide geocoding services to Manifold. Note that the Microsoft product meant by "MapPoint" is the packaged consumer application that installs on the local computer, and not the .NET service offered by Microsoft. The MapPoint geocoding facilities used by Manifold System require MapPoint 2002 and will not work with earlier MapPoint editions.

Because MapPoint is much less expensive than buying proprietary geocoding data sets for Canada or European countries, using MapPoint as an auxiliary geocoding engine is the least expensive way of getting Canadian or European geocoding in a true GIS like Manifold. Since both the North American and European editions of MapPoint may be simultaneously installed, Manifold users who have both editions installed can simultaneously geocode street addresses in the US, Canada and in the eleven European countries supported by MapPoint.

MapPoint may also be used with the Manifold Geocoding Data product to provide "double coverage" for the United States. Either the Manifold geocoding data set or MapPoint may also be used as the default geocoder for US street addresses (with the other package being a fallback in case the target address cannot be located within the default database) and MapPoint may be used as the geocoder for Manifold even if the Manifold geocoding database is not installed. Although MapPoint does cost more than twice as much as the Manifold geocoding database product, it provides slightly more extensive street address matching capability for US street addresses.

Manifold and MapPoint FAQ
Why is the use of MapPoint 2002 as an alternate geocoder important to the GIS industry? Expensive as US geocoding may be, European and Canadian geocoding is even more expensive. It is not unheard of for European geocoding solutions to cost tens of thousands of dollars per country. Because the European edition of MapPoint costs only $250, using Manifold together with MapPoint for a total cost of $500 is by far the least expensive way of performing sophisticated street address geocoding in Europe or Canada.

What countries are covered by MapPoint 2002 European Edition? Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Doesn't Manifold already sell its own geocoder? Why also support MapPoint? Doesn't that compete with your geocoder? Manifold does sell a $100 Manifold Geocoding Data product to enable US street address geocoding. A user could choose to not purchase the $100 Manifold option and instead use a copy of MapPoint 2002 to enable US street address geocoding - in that case, the new SP1 capability does compete with Manifold's own product. However, the Manifold geocoder is much faster and less than half the price of MapPoint 2002 so we believe that many "US only" users who are price-sensitive will simply buy the Manifold geocoding option. On the other hand, the MapPoint 2002 geocoder uses a better data set than TIGER 2000 and so will appeal to demanding users who need to locate more addresses in the US. For users who need to locate the maximum number of addresses possible, we felt it would be very cool to offer the ability to leverage MapPoint 2002. We believe that such users will end up procuring both the Manifold geocoding data product for maximum speed as well as the MapPoint product for maximum coverage, as a fall-back in cases where TIGER 2000 data cannot locate an address. In Europe and Canada, of course, there is not competition between MapPoint and the Manifold geocoding data product since the latter contains only US data.

What improvements does use of MapPoint 2002 as a geocoder bring? There are three main improvements: First, MapPoint provides European and Canadian coverage. Second, the MapPoint data set is said to be a combination of GDT, NavTech and Microsoft data so in the US it provides more hits than are possible using TIGER 2000 data. Third, the MapPoint geocoder can handle intersection-type addresses that cannot at present be serviced by the Manifold geocoding data product.

Are there any negatives arising from use of the MapPoint geocoder? There are three negatives as well: First, MapPoint costs more for US users ($250 vs $100). Second, the MapPoint geocoder is much slower than using the Manifold geocoding data set in the US because it must be accessed through the MapPoint programmatic interface. Third, a minor technical limitation is that the MapPoint parser cannot split single line addresses in a single pass as can the Manifold data parser, so the standardization function within Manifold's geocoding dialogs that can be used to split addresses from a single field into multiple fields is not available; however, because the MapPoint geocoder does an excellent job of working with single-field addresses this is not a limitation on the ultimate geocoding results reported.

Will manifold.net begin selling MapPoint 2002? No. MapPoint 2002 is already widely available through numerous channels.

Did Microsoft assist manifold.net in developing this capability? Yes. Microsoft has made available various programs and resources for software developers like manifold.net that were a great help to our technical team. We would like to thank our colleagues at Microsoft for their examples and other materials that were very useful. One reason the manifold.net team likes to program in Microsoft environments is the superior degree of support and the superior tools available to advanced developers when working with Microsoft products.

About manifold.net
manifold.net is a privately held company that creates cool GIS software, database software and software for 3D data visualization. It is best known for Manifold System, one of the most sophisticated GIS software packages ever developed.Contact: Dimitri Rotow, 800-556-5919 / dar@manifold.net

See more about Manifold System 5.50 at the 5.50 Professional home page at http://www.manifold.net/professional