Getting the right projection – a helpful usability feature of Manifold GIS

UCL’s licence for Manifold GIS 8.0 finally arrived. While testing the new 64-bit version I was reminded of one of the interface features of Manifold that I believe many other GIS should have as standard – a request to verify projections when a new component is added to the project.

One of the most confusing issues for new GIS users is to use projections within their workflow. Nowadays, it is common to integrate data from different sources, such as information gathered by GPS receivers with data from the Ordnance Survey, or any other data that is using a local projection. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the system ‘knows’ what the projection of each layer and image is.

Without proper configuration when trying to put all the data together, it doesn’t work because the projection of one layer doesn’t match another layer.

In Manifold GIS, when an image or vector layer is imported, when it is opened for the first time, the system asks the user to verify the projection, and opens the interface that allows the assignment of the current projection. Unfortunately, Manifold GIS does not give the option to set the most common the default projection for the locale in which the system is used – or at least set a group of favourite projections. Room for improvement there!

As for Manifold GIS 64 bit – it seems to work faster, although it was a surprise to see that in some operations the 4 cores were not busy at 100% or even 50% even though the system loads the data slowly. Apart from that, Windows Vista 64 bit is quite incompatible with many legacy applications and it is quite a pain to use. Maybe it’s time to return to Windows XP…

Manifold GIS - verify projection message.


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Professor of GIScience, University College London

4 thoughts on “Getting the right projection – a helpful usability feature of Manifold GIS”

  1. RE: ‘Unfortunately, Manifold GIS does not give the option to set the most common the default projection for the locale in which the system is used – or at least set a group of favourite projections. Room for improvement there!’

    Certainly would be good to have a favourites list always available, but there are a couple of handy icons – Load from Component or Recent Settings – in the projection dialogue, which allow you to load an existing components projection or a recently applied projection respectively.


  2. You can also add custom projections with an xml file.
    I’ve reproduced my most often used projections and collected them in a single folder at the top of the tree to save digging down five levels to get to them all the time.


  3. Clearly, the 2 comments above from Chris and Michael are useful for Manifold GIS users – but that wasn’t the point…

    Of course there are ways of setting projections and workarounds to set your own favourites – but since it is such a fundamental element of any GIS, why is it that it is not more integral part of the interface?

    It is part of a wider issue with the way GIS is designed, with interfaces that are making it hard to use – and therefore even fairly knowledgeable users require the assistant of generous experienced peers like Chris and Michael. Notice that this is relevant for any GIS package.


  4. I agree, it’s annoying to have to customise it like that. (the projections I usually used are buried about 4 folders down in the standard tree).

    I also thought the pop up reminding to check projections was a great idea, but have found the same people who used to struggle with not assigning projections properly still seem to, they just click on the warning and assign whatever the default is.

    Maybe too much practice clicking OK to all the warnings and confirmations windows and webpages throw at us.


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