radian_logo.pngBefore launching Radian Studio review the short Read Me First topic.   See the Installations topic for installation and activation instructions.

Radian Studio User Manual

This user manual describes Radian Studio as of 1 September 2017.   


Manifold means the latest Manifold System GIS release based on the Radian engine.  Because Manifold and Radian Studio are based on the same engine with many of the same interfaces, we will often use Radian and Manifold as synonyms in this documentation.   Release 8 means the prior generation of Manifold System GIS products.

A New Generation

Manifold's Radian®  Spatial Data Engine brings a new generation of parallel power to spatial applications. The Radian engine powers Manifold System, Manifold's newest generation GIS product as well as other applications, like Radian Studio, involving both spatial and non-spatial data.   Manifold System, Radian Studio, and all other products based on the Radian engine provide far greater performance, power and reliability than the non-parallel technology of an earlier day.




ill_white_mlogo.pngRadian SQL is automatically parallel SQL.   Radian itself is a parallelized database engine that stores its own data within file databases using a very fast format.  Radian by default automatically launches parallel threads to utilize as many cores as are available on as many CPUs as are available.  If one or more NVIDIA GPUs are installed, many Radian functions can launch massively parallel utilization of thousands of GPU cores, all automatically optimized against the use of CPU parallelization.  All applications, like Manifold System, based on Radian get these benefits.


Most DBMS engines are tuned for very many relatively small transactions where each record is usually small.  That limits their performance in applications where an individual record can be very large and an individual transaction very computationally demanding, as often happens with spatial data and in many other areas.   Radian, in contrast, is designed for spatial engineering work where records can be very large.


The Radian engine and Radian format are tuned for work with data of many different types in situations where individual transactions can be very large, computationally demanding and where the data on which they operate can involve very big data, that is, potentially very large records.  Genuinely parallel computation is essential in such applications so that the analytic power of massively parallel architectures such as GPGPU can be brought to bear.il_westminster.png


Radian wraps all that within a very extensive analytic framework, extensive connectivity to many different types of data sources and a rich GUI full of interactive capabilities to slice and dice and otherwise manipulate data.  With Radian Studio the result is a general purpose console that can do sophisticated, large computations on big data whether the data is stored in Radian, within other DBMS environments or in a mix of both.    With Manifold System and the addition of numerous GIS capabilities, the result is the world's fastest and most powerful GIS.


Important: The Radian engine  provides rich and powerful SQL not to replace DBMS packages like Oracle or PostgreSQL but instead to more effectively leverage them so you can choose the best combination of tools for any job.   When a task involves many small records or non-spatial work at which an existing DBMS excels, especially if your data is already stored in that DBMS, the best approach will often be to blend the DBMS you already use together with Radian capabilities, perhaps writing queries that simultaneously call upon SQL in both the DBMS and also within Manifold.  Use Manifold where Manifold is faster or more convenient and use Oracle or PostgreSQL where they are faster, to enjoy the best of both worlds.    Manifold will never be slow, so you are never required to use an external DBMS, but if you have one that you know and love Manifold will embrace that relationship too.


Image at right: Manifold users enjoy an endless range of instant background maps using web servers.   

Radian Engine Capabilities

Radian power applies to all applications based on Radian, such as Manifold System and Radian Studio.  Radian capabilities include:





The Radian engine provides many operational capabilities as well, for example including the ability to:



All of the above are part of Manifold System and other products built on Radian.  In addition, Manifold Studio adds hundreds of more capabilities to provide the world's best GIS product.

Tables and SQL

The "documents" of Manifold are projects that are saved as files using Manifold's three letter .map extension, short for "Manifold Project."   Projects can contain data or can links to other data sources, which in turn can contain data or links to yet other data sources.     Projects also can contain all the other components with which Manifold can work internally, such as tables, images, drawings, maps, scripts or queries.    Opening a project within Manifold shows all the components in that project within the Project pane.  


Manifold organizes data as tables.   It's obvious when database information is kept in tables but going beyond that virtually everything in Manifold is also saved as data in a table. Every bit of data, regardless of its nature - vector, raster, textual and so on - is exposed as part of some table.      For example, a V8 program in a Manifold project that appears in the project pane as a script is actually saved within a special table in the System Data section of the project, stored as the contents of a text value for a record.


Manifold's "everything is a table" approach delivers two key benefits: first, every bit of data can be accessed via SQL and second, everything that can be accomplished via the standard user interface can be done via SQL as well.  In fact, many templates in dialogs such as the Transform dialog will at the click of a button automatically write SQL to do what they accomplish, if you like.


Manifold's built-in, highly optimized query engine works with queries written in SQL language so a straightforward, standard way of working with data in Manifold is already at your fingertips in a language you already know.    Beyond that, every standard and well-known programming language also provides straightforward ways of working with data within tables.


Another benefit of "everything is a table" is that many types of data can be visualized in different ways for different purposes:  storing data in a table allows many different presentation facilities to display that data as desired in different ways, including simultaneously in different windows.   


Manifold has many ways of displaying data from tables, including special facilities for displaying and working with different types of data.   For example, pixel data for images is better understood when presented visually than as more abstract records in a classic, row and column table presentation.    Different presentations of multiband image data might choose different bands, or different iconography or styles applied to vector data can transform how that data is perceived.


Organizing everything at a fundamental level as tables also provides order and efficiency through modularity and standard interfaces.    For example, a common set of operators or GPGPU parallelizations that work through SQL with binary data in tables can apply to many different types of binary data without having to write, to maintain, to document and to teach many different special cases of how such data is presented or used, for example, as images or terrain elevation surfaces.


Of the many benefits of "everything is a table" one more to note is the openness achieved by enabling connectivity to a vast range of database management systems and the databases they store, in which many different types of data for many different purposes are maintained worldwide.  Whatever is the DBMS an application, an organization or an individual has chosen, the ability to use data stored within that DBMS easily and conveniently within Manifold comes naturally with Manifold's "everything is a table" approach.


Easy connectivity to data stored in external DBMS data sources also allows Manifold users to take advantages of the benefits of those DBMS sources, for example, using data sources that are already installed and scaled out across thousands of cloud based servers.


Radian Technology and GIS

A key impetus for the creation of the Radian engine is the growing amount of spatial data in ever larger data sets that is utilized in ever more sophisticated applications.  That drives an increasing need for tools which are well suited for the distinctive characteristics of spatial data and spatial applications as compared to classic DBMS data and applications.   "Spatial" data is that data which has meaning tied to location, either actual geographic locations or location in abstract form such as the location and dimensional space of a CAD drawing.


Classic DBMS data and applications tend to revolve around very many, relatively small and simple transactions.  Each record involved in an operation tends to be relatively small.    Spatial data and applications in contrast often revolve around data where each record can contain a large amount of data, whether a single record contains a tile full of pixel data that is part of an image or that single record contains very many coordinate numbers that define a large and complicated vector object for a drawing.


Classic DBMS applications will often involve a very small number of records, for example, a credit card transaction that is processed using a handful of very small records associated with a single credit card and a single purchase transaction.  Altogether the operation might involve only a few thousand bytes of storage.


In contrast, a single operation in spatial applications will often involve vast number of records reading truly massive amounts of storage.   For example, merely displaying a single complex drawing can touch millions of records and involve gigabytes of storage.


Opening a multi-gigabyte image and manipulating that image to extract features may require accessing many thousands of records (for thousands of tiles) and processing gigabytes of pixel data for just a single editing operation.   Likewise, a single command to locate features that intersect within millions of objects in a large drawing, for example, a drawing showing all real estate parcels within a large city's territory, can involve millions of records, each of which might be very small or very large.il_style_intervals01_15.png


A command that requires fetching and active work with each of millions of records is a rare event in classic DBMS work, but it is perfectly routine, perhaps happening every minute, when doing editing or other typical workflow in spatial applications.  At the same time spatial work often requires significant computations which process very large amounts of data in each operation.


Classic DBMS products have become very fast and very capable over the years so most have sufficient raw performance to be adapted for spatial work.   That they can do this work effectively is a tribute to their core power and performance.    But given their general purpose nature they do not provide in a single, integrated package a focus on supporting the distinctive needs of spatial work with spatial data.  


To support such needs with an integrated, purpose-built system the Radian engine was developed.  Radian is completely new technology carefully developed and built from the ground up.  When tightly integrated with GIS (Geographic Information System) capabilities within Manifold System  it provides unprecedented power in GIS.  When packaged in a subset of Manifold System features in the form of Radian Studio it provides a "Swiss Army knife" tool to manipulate spatial data and to create spatial applications.


But just as classic DBMS products have found uses in spatial applications, the Radian engine originally inspired by spatial needs now is employed in non-spatial applications as well, both as a "Swiss Army knife" tool and also as a base for the creation of non-spatial applications.


It turns out the distinctive characteristics of spatial applications, such as operations involving many records, potentially large data within each operation and possibly  sophisticated computation on large amounts of data, are shared by many other "big data" applications.   For example, computations on many images, perhaps images showing faces of people, to develop common analytical conclusions such as similarity of appearance can involve very many records and gigabytes of data.   Computations that extract a mix of raster and vector data, such as, perhaps, a computational model of a given face's features represented by a vector graph, are particularly analogous to the use in spatial applications of a mix of raster and vector data.


Radian serves in such non-spatial work as well as in spatial work.  Radian features specific to spatial work, such as built-in support for projections, have been coded in generalized form so they do not in any way detract from the performance of Radian in non-spatial applications.    


il_usa_chart_8.pngExamples in this documentation will often involve spatial applications because those often are universally understood: not everyone may understand an abstract image representing hot points in computational finance, but everyone knows a map of roads or a satellite image of farms and fields when they see them.  Don't let the choice of such spatial examples prevent understanding the very broad applicability of Radian in non-spatial work.

Professional GIS - Manifold System Release 8

When you need a full GIS package reach for Manifold System Release 8, easily the most sophisticated, most powerful, best integrated and highest quality professional GIS at by far the lowest cost.  Release 8 combines total reliability with phenomenal breadth and depth of features.


Release 8 is the only GIS in the world that delivers supercomputer speed built-in using massively parallel GPU technology, totally integrated into numerous functions available within Universal Edition.  Release 8 also provides exquisite cartography, superb image editing and vector editing, sophisticated print layouts (including the creation of map books), a completely integrated Internet Map Server, neurofuzzy inferencing ("more like this") technology within the Decision Support System, the world's best interactive select system, integrated forms and programming, and, second only to Radian, the world's best spatial SQL.


The image at right shows a Release 8 display that blends 3D terrain visualization and symbology in Release 8 with Release 8's ability to overlay vectors and rasters and to edit rasters, cookie-cutting rasters as desired to blend with vector displays.


The image below shows an example of the spectacular cartography that can be achieved with Release 8, combining extensive image editing capabilities with vector cartography, automatic labels and database information.


For additional spectacular examples of Manifold System Release 8, including live Internet Map Server examples, see the Gallery page.




Manifold Viewer

Manifold Viewer is a free product from Manifold that is a subset of Manifold System.  Viewer has significant limitations compared to Manifold System:



Despite the above limitations Viewer retains so many Manifold System user interface commands and functions that the same user manual - this user manual -  is used for both Manifold System and Viewer.  Viewer users who read this documentation should keep in mind the above limits.  If a command or menu option does not appear, that is usually because of one of the above limits in Viewer.   In most situations the situation will be clear.    Viewer is aimed at Radian generation .map format.  Viewer will open and display Release 8 format, but at the present time without importing or using Release 8 formatting.


Manifold does not provide technical support for Manifold Viewer.  Hey, it's free!


Read these Topics Next

Getting Started


User Interface Basics


Advice from Engineering



Advice: An avatar or photo representing tech support / engineering staff often appears near caution warnings, tech tips or other useful information.


We hope you enjoy Manifold System!



Radian and Manifold are registered trademarks of Manifold Software Limited.    多种 and 弧度 are trademarks of Manifold Software Limited.