Profiles and Elevations

Profiles and Elevations are supplementary components that are available within a Manifold project when the optional Surface Tools extension has been installed. If you have not activated the Surface Tools extension with a valid serial number you will not be able to use Profiles or Elevations.


images\icon_profile.gif A profile is a Manifold component created by copying a line from a drawing and then pasting it as a profile, choosing a surface to which that profile will be bound. The line in the profile shows a path over the surface. By themselves, profiles have little utility except that they are used to create elevations.


images\icon_elevation.gif An elevation is a Manifold component that is a chart showing the height of a surface plotted along the length of a profile path. The appearance of an elevation is controlled by opening the elevation and then choosing View - Display Options. There can be more than one elevation bound to the same profile. For example, we can right click on an elevation in the project pane, choose Duplicate and then open that new elevation and change the Display Options for that elevation. This would provide two elevations bound to the same profile but showing the results in different ways.


Profiles are normally created by showing a surface in a map together with one or more drawing layers. A line for a profile may be chosen by selecting an existing line in a drawing, or by creating a new line in a drawing. Because Manifold already has a wide range of tools for creating and editing lines in drawings, we can use a drawing to create whatever line we want for the profile.


Once the line is created, we can copy it and then paste it as a profile. When a profile is created, it appears in the project pane beneath its parent surface. An elevation is automatically created under its parent profile as well.


Profiles may participate within maps as layers, they may be re-projected, and they can appear within print layouts. Profiles may have control points and may be georegistered, and they support use of the layers and views panes. Profiles may even participate in web pages via the IMS File - Export Web Page command. Grids and graticules may be used within a profile. Elevations may appear within print layouts as well. Profiles and Elevations may be immediately printed using File – Print.


Profiles and elevations may be copied and pasted within the project pane. Copying a profile and pasting it will bind it to the same surface. Copying and pasting an elevation will bind it to the same profile. We can copy and paste drawings to profiles and vice versa. When copying a drawing and pasting it as a profile, if the drawing contains no lines the paste operation will fail. If the drawing contains more than one line, the profile will be created from the first line encountered within the drawing's internal ID list of lines. If the first line is a multi-branched object containing more than one branch the profile will be created from the first branch.


Surfaces and their profiles and elevations are dynamically updated. Changes made in the surface will automatically appear in the surface's profiles and elevations. Changes made in an elevation (for example, by relocating or changing the shape of the profile line) will automatically appear in the profile's elevations.


Profiles may be navigated using the standard navigation toolbar to zoom, center, pan with the grabber or measure distances with the tracker tool. Profiles may also be navigated using hot scroll. Elevations present a fixed view of the elevation chart that is always scaled to fit the available window.




Suppose we are working with a surface called Montara Mountain, using the example Montara Mountain 1:24K-scale SDTS DEM surface on the Manifold CD.




We can create a map that uses this surface as one layer and overlays upon it a drawing layer showing roads in the region.




If we are interested in the changes in elevation along a given road, we can select one of the road lines as seen above and then create a profile. To create a profile, we Copy the line and then right click into the project pane and Paste as a profile.




The Paste Profile dialog allows us to choose which surface will be the parent for the resulting profile.




We press OK and see that a new profile is added to the project as a component under the parent Montara Mountain surface. Under the new profile is an elevation component.




If we click open the new profile component we see that it shows the line that was pasted as a profile, with all coordinates defining the line marked. The surface is shown in the background with partial transparency to provide visual orientation. The last coordinate in the profile is displayed using a solid black diamond icon to show the direction of the profile line.




If we click open the new elevation component we can see that it shows a chart of elevations along the path of the profile. The elevation chart reads from left to right from the beginning of the profile line to the end of the profile line. The vertical axis labels use even breaks of altitude. The elevation line will be dotted where it crosses any regions of invisible pixels in the underlying surface.




If we prefer to see the profile with full color background, we can drag and drop the profile into the map as a layer. When profiles are used as a layer within maps their faint background is not used and just the profile line (with coordinate handles) appears.


View - Display Options


We can change labels and other options in the elevation using the View - Display Options dialog.




For example, the display above has the Label Surface Breaks option checked so that height axis labels are automatically taken from the interval breakpoints that define the palette used to color the parent surface. The above illustration also has the Include zero height option checked so that the full range of altitudes is visible and not just those traversed by the profile.


Profiles also have a View - Display Options dialog, which is used to


·      Specify whether the coordinates defining the profile line are displayed as small edit handles.

·      Set the number of decimal digits used when reporting the average, minimum and maximum heights for the profile in the info pane.


Display Options for Elevations


Shade background

Color the background of the elevation using the same palette (if any) used to color the parent surface. On by default.

Display coordinates

Display dots at the location of each coordinate that defines the line used as a profile.

X axis (distances)


Label coordinates

Draw vertical lines and label the X axis at each coordinate that defines the profile line. Off by default.

Label even values

Draw vertical lines and label the X axis at even values of distance. On by default.

Decimal digits

The number of digits past the decimal point to show in labels on the X axis. The default value of 0 results in no digits past the decimal point.

Y axis (heights)


Include zero height

Show the entire range of elevations for the surface, from zero to the highest in the elevation display. Off by default, so that the full range of the elevation display is used to show the heights within the elevation only.

Label coordinates

Draw horizontal lines and label the Y axis at each coordinate that defines the profile line. Off by default.

Label minimum / maximum

Draw horizontal lines and label the Y axis at the minimum and maximum values of height that occur in the profile line. Off by default.

Label surface breaks

Draw horizontal lines and label the Y axis at the numeric values that define interval breaks in the palette used to color the surface. Off by default.

Label even values

Draw horizontal lines and label the Y axis at even values of height. On by default.

Decimal digits

The number of digits past the decimal point to show in labels on the Y axis. The default value of 0 results in no digits past the decimal point.


Accept the current display option settings and update the Elevation display.


Exit the dialog without making any changes.


Editing Profiles


The shape of profiles may be changed by CTRL-ALT clicking the profile line within the profile and then dragging the coordinate edit handles to new locations. CTRL-dragging an edit handle will move the entire profile line. This is a handy way of seeing the elevation along different paths if the profile's elevation window is kept open while dragging profile edit handles around to new locations: as soon as the edit handle is moved, the elevation window will show the new elevation automatically.




For example, suppose we start with a profile like that seen above, a straight line defined by just two coordinates. Note that the ending coordinate is shown with a solid black diamond icon.




The elevation for that profile shows the heights traversed by the profile line. The ending coordinate is shown with a solid black diamond icon so that we may easily relate the direction of the elevation to the direction of the profile line. Note the flat sections where the profile line crosses over Pilarcitos Lake.




To select the profile line for editing we CTRL-ALT click on it.




Edit handles will appear at each coordinate defining the line. We can then click and drag an edit handle to move it.




Dragging the edit handle automatically reshapes the line.




When we release the drag at a new position the elevation will automatically be recomputed.




If we keep the elevation window open while editing the profile we can immediately see the different altitudes traversed by the new profile line.


Profile lines may also be edited by CTRL-ALT clicking the line to select it for editing and then right clicking onto the line and choosing a function from the Coordinate context menu choice. Coordinate - Add, Coordinate - Delete and Coordinage - Duplicate commands may be used to add, delete and duplicate coordinates (and their editing handles) which may then be dragged to new locations as desired. Note that as edits are made any elevation window for that profile that is open will be dynamically updated. For examples of editing using the Coordinate context menu, see the Changing the Shape of Objects section in the Editing Objects topic.


Edits to profiles support single step Undo and Redo. That is the editing command just performed may be undone or redone.


Invisible Pixels


Where a profile crosses a region of invisible pixels in the surface the profile line will be shown in the elevation using a dotted style.




For example, suppose some pixels were deleted from the Montara surface as seen in the profile above.




In the elevation for that profile, the elevation line will be drawn using a dotted line style for the portion of the profile that crosses the region of invisible pixels.


Saving Elevations as Images


The Tools - Make Image command captures the current scene displayed in an elevation window as an image. Images made of elevation windows are captured at screen resolution.


Info Pane and Profiles and Elevations


When the focus is on a profile or elevation window or on a profile layer in a map, the info pane will report the average height for the profile as well as the minimum and maximum height in the profile.


Use in Layouts


Profiles and elevations may be used as elements in print layouts just like other components, either as their own elements or as a layer in a map that appears as an element in the print layout. When an elevation element is used in a print layout, if it is selected for editing the font used may be changed using the layout's format toolbar.


Text entries in a print layout that are bound to profiles and elevations can use [Average Height], [Minimum Height], and [Maximum Height] escape sequences to automatically incorporate these numbers into the text.




We can create a print layout using an elevation, or we can drop an elevation element into an existing layout.




In the illustration above the page setup uses landscape orientation and the elevation element has been resized and moved to the left of the page.




images\btn_insert_label.gif We can insert text into the layout using the Insert Text button. Click on the Insert Text button and then draw a text box in which the text will be located.




In the Insert Text dialog, enter the text that is desired. We have used the [Average Height], [Maximum Height], and [Minimum Height] system generated expressions to add these values to the text automatically. See the How to Print topic for a detailed example of adding text to a layout.




The new text appears in the layout.




If we zoom into the layout we can see how the numbers for average, maximum and minimum height are automatically generated and substituted into the text element. Note that if we change the profile line or surface, the resultant elevation will also change and the reported numbers for average, maximum and minimum values will also automatically change.




The foreground and background colors of profiles can be set in Tools - Options - Colors.


Although we may edit the profile line in simple ways within the profile, for more complex editing we can use the full roster of editing tools within drawing windows to create and edit lines as desired to use for profiles.