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544 post(s)
#13-Jun-18 20:53

M9.0.167.3 x64 on Win 7.

I hope this is a Manifold problem, because I've been successful at making points for a long time. I'd hate to think I forgot how to use the point tool. Today I tried to create points in M9 and they don't stay. Something seems to be created when I click a point, but the Style has no effect on them. I tried to enlarge the point to something visible by changing it from default to 40 pt in the Style pane. I clicked Update Style and the points do not take on the changes. The point seems to be unchanged. When I save, close, and reopen the file, the points are not there. I tried creating an area and a line. Both of those seemed to respond to the Style changes but not the point. I tried opening a file with millions of points in it. The existing points looked fine, but making a new point did not work. The new point did not take on the Style characteristics of the layer. Saving, closing, and reopening did not retain the new point.

Just fiddling around with this. When I click a point into a layer and then click into a different layer, the point disappears. Clicking back into the original drawing layer does not bring them back.


8,515 post(s)
#13-Jun-18 21:11

There's only one thing to say this: it is different in 9, and you should read the manual!

(Among other things, the new method in 9 allows us to draw multipoints--as Klaus says.)


6,282 post(s)
#13-Jun-18 21:13

Mfd9 has points and multipoints. If you don't stop editing and confirm to save changes the edit Mfd9 continues to collect coordinates for a multipoint object.

(Tim was quicker ;-)

544 post(s)
#13-Jun-18 22:05

Thanks to you both. This non-intuitive method is what chases GIS-curious people away. I have had the ESRI software on my desk for years and I still do not know how to make points in it. You don't realize how hard it is to find that. Once I found the more intuitive Manifold 4, I finally got up on my feet.

Okay, I'm going to have to work with this for awhile before I figure out why it is better to use 3 clicks to make one point rather than 1 click. Thanks again.


8,515 post(s)
#13-Jun-18 23:08

Three clicks is too many, I agree. Klaus and I have both given the reason--but it raises the obvious question whether there should be separate tools for drawing individual points (one click each) and multipoints (click, ..., click to finish, as for lines and areas).

It would make a good, quick feature suggestion if you think there should be separate tools.

As for the exact number of clicks at present, you can get it down to two clicks if you use the Add Record button at the bottom of the Record panel. At the cost of extra mouse travel.

I prefer to use one click + Ctrl-Enter on the keyboard. It is fairly comfortable on a US keyboard using the right-hand Ctrl key. (I think that would work for left-handers as well as, or better than, for right-handers.)


6,282 post(s)
#14-Jun-18 08:57

Given that most of the time you want to create a single point or a series of single point objects and not multipoints I think we could have two more edit modes:

Create multipoints and create segmented lines instead of a 'polyline' in CAD speaking. Both special modes could be initiated with a <right-click> or a <Shift><left-click> on the 'Create Point' or 'Create Line' buttons while the <left-click> goes right to the standard mode. With an appropriate tooltip this could be elucidated to manual-avoiding users.


5,248 post(s)
#14-Jun-18 09:07


Shift is taken as a modifier: it terminates a branch and indicates the next click starts a new branch.

Once again, I remind everyone that the create point tool by default creates a series of single point objects and not a multipoint.


6,282 post(s)
#14-Jun-18 12:05

Oops, correct.


5,248 post(s)
#14-Jun-18 09:05

Three clicks is too many, I agree. Klaus and I have both given the reason--but it raises the obvious question whether there should be separate tools for drawing individual points (one click each) and multipoints (click, ..., click to finish, as for lines and areas).

This misses the, ahem, point. (sorry... could not resist...) The choice is not between creating a point or multipoint. By default, the way it works creates single point objects, not multipoints. You have to invoke a keyboard modifier to create a multipoint, which is what you want as a way of discouraging inept use of such a dangerous thing as a multipoint.

The real choice is whether you want a provisional preview, which allows you to specify attributes that are there and part of the object from the very moment it is created, to create consistent constellations of points, to move those points about, and to change your mind before committing the change, or whether you want each click of the mouse to create an object immediately.

A preview with commit is also a "safety." In general, the more valuable the data and the more sophisticated the application, the more important it is for a modification, like adding a record/object, be something that must be done consciously. If it is too easy to do by accident that is not good.

When providing shortcuts you have to decide how much you are willing to complicate the user interface to have two different ways of doing the same thing, and where the method to create points is different from creating lines or creating areas. Each such complication is one more thing to read in the user manual, a very high bar when the plague of Twit disease stalks the land, laying waste to minds and rendering respected friends and comrades unable to read more than 140 characters at a time.

Is a shortcut to reduce one click worth the complication? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In mass production workflow where many points are being created and it really is essential to minimize clicks, the current mechanism works very well: click a hundred points if you like and then it is just one click to commit them. Not a burden.

For those cases where you really do want to create only one point at a time and then do something else in between before creating the next point, sure, I agree a short cut would be great. I'd do that with a modifier, such as Ctrl-click, meaning "create this point right here right now with no preview". I've sent that in as a suggestion long ago.

But I don't think that it should be a separate tool. The default should be what it is because a) it works all the time correctly for creating points, in simple cases and in sophisticated multiuser/DBMS cases, b) it works the same way to create points, to create lines and to create areas, c) it has a built-in "safety" that protects against accidental clicks, a good thing in the case of valuable data, and d) it is not a high burden.

The shortcut should be a keyboard modifier of the default, like a Ctrl-click, so the default stays safe and easily learned and those people who invest a few moments in their expertise can be even more efficient.

Keyboard modifiers are a very precious, limited resource, but I think Ctrl-click is available in this case, for creating points, for creating lines and for creating areas. It also has the mnemonic benefits of being similar to Ctrl-Enter, that commands a commit.


5,248 post(s)
#14-Jun-18 07:23

This non-intuitive method is what chases GIS-curious people away.

Sigh.... more accurately, packages which provide rich capabilities chase away those who are unwilling to invest in the learning required to take advantage of that richness.

I've said it before, and it obviously bears repeating: your failure to invest a few minutes into reading simple instructions causes you endless wasted time. It also denies you the effortless richness and truly wonderful utility of very, very valuable facilities that you haven't learned how to use. You're cheating yourself.

Reading the handful of elementary topics in the Getting Started and Basics section of the user manual takes one short afternoon. Learning how to create points takes about five minutes, or less, of reading the Editing Drawings topic, one of the first few topics in the Basics chapter. It's not reading thousands of pages. It is spending a couple of hours to get the very basics down, and then as more things need to be done, such as editing drawings, spending a few minutes or less.

I say "or less," because glancing at the first few illustrations in that topic covers the creation of points in a heartbeat:

Those are deliberately simple illustrations to serve those folks who want to do something right away and who do not want to spend a few minutes more on learning even quicker ways.

Those who read a few words more can save one click: they can commit the creation of points not with a right click and click on context menu (two clicks) but with a single click of a button in the Record panel that automatically opens or with a Ctrl-Enter.

Creating points in any GIS is not hardly "intuitive." It is a learned behavior in all GIS because people don't want to create a point every time they click a mouse. They want to be able to use mouse clicks for other things as well. So at a minimum they must learn how to start and stop the point-creating tool, and they must learn tool choices to create a point and not a line or area vertex, how to snap or not snap, how to automatically or not add/edit attributes, and so on.

People who work in sophisticated environments, whether it is just one other colleague simultaneously working against the same, common geospatial data or thousands, also must be able to simultaneously create provisional points, with attributes, and then command all at once their creation so that what they do is always and totally consistent, meets constraints, etc.

Creating points in 9 is totally simple and easy: choose the point tool and click where you want a point. Click as many points as you want.

You can specify attributes for each point you click (similar to "instant data") on the fly in the Record panel which conveniently and automatically pops open for you. Adjust the positions of any of of the points if you like. Go back and change the attributes for any of the points if you like. When you are happy with the location and the attributes of the points, commit them with one click on the button in the Record panel to add them. Or, if you prefer, right click in the visual display and commit them. Or, if you prefer keyboard shortcuts, Ctrl-Enter.

That's a single methodology that works across pretty much every "creation" act in Manifold, such as creating records in a table: what you create first is a preview, which allows you to tinker with what you've created before you commit the changes. Learn it in one setting, such as creating records in tables, and you've learned it in other settings as well. No need to learn twenty different ways of doing the same thing in slightly different settings.

Previews are critically important in avoiding blunders, a very good thing when you are working with valuable data in situations, such as manipulating an organization's precious databases, that are entrusted to responsible people.

The ability to first provisionally create new things and then with one more click commit them is also essential when working within sophisticated environments where other people might also be working. If you are editing parcels for the Los Angeles County cadastral database, or adding points to the centralized database of fire hydrants used by the New York City water department or fire department, the moment you create such a point it goes "live" within the database and might be used by thousands of other people or hundreds of other programs. Click a point and it is instantly created, and then later you edit/add attributes? That's not good enough, as phantom points without attributes throw a wrench in the works of such applications. Create the thing with attributes so when you command that it pops into existence it is all that is required. It's not play time with crayons where you can scrawl something out and then throw it away without involving anybody else for those long seconds or minutes while you are adding attributes, changing your mind and so on.

The preview first process also helps in personal use if what you are doing involves valuable time (I value my time, for example) or if what you are doing might trash or damage data into which you've invested effort.

When you think about it, most of the time in GIS you don't just create one point but you create more than one. So it's not like, on average, creating every point takes "three clicks". Create ten points and you end up taking eleven clicks. That's all.

And then even in the case where you create just one point, and that takes two clicks, well, better to have a single system that works all the time in a uniform way than to have two systems to learn, one for abbreviated tasks, and a different one for rich tasks.


544 post(s)
#14-Jun-18 16:33

Reading the handful of elementary topics in the Getting Started and Basics section of the user manual takes one short afternoon.

Sure, but who among us, who have been using Manifold for a decade or more, would bother to read the singular most elementary of all the topics, creating a point? Yesterday after learning how to make points, I immediately thought that making points was different from making lines or areas. It is and it isn't. With lines and areas in 9 you cannot stop creating the object without a right-click which pops the save/undo prompt. The only difference with points is you can think you have finished without making the right-click.

After creating 30 or more points I am satisfied that a 3-click process is not that tedious. Certainly my middle finger is not cramping from exhaustion with all the right-clicking. This is just another thing to learn in 9. I like the Ctrl-click idea. Another approach is to make single click points an optional checkbox in an Options panel.

Could I suggest a slight mod to the Help for editing points? You have all the illustrations you need and all the text you need. Now if they were just intermingled better so that the text steps referred to a specific illustration, that would help. Reading further, creating lines and areas topics are similarly illustrated and described in separate clusters. It might also help to explain that creating any object in M9 is a 2-step process of creating the preview and committing the object with a formal Save.

Apologies for the blank image attachment. I had attached another image but deemed it unnecessary and could not find a way to unattach the image.

Blank Image.jpg


5,248 post(s)
#15-Jun-18 05:47

It is and it isn't. With lines and areas in 9 you cannot stop creating the object without a right-click which pops the save/undo prompt. The only difference with points is you can think you have finished without making the right-click.

Only if the clear indication of blue, preview symbology is ignored. Clicking a series of points is shown in blue preview presentation with small blue boxes, just like creating areas and lines, until you commit. After you commit and actually create point objects they are shown in whatever point style the drawing uses.

The small, blue, preview boxes don't look anything like default point objects.

Whether you use default, gray point symbols or some other symbol you've chosen to stand out better in whatever map you have, it's pretty obvious what is a previewed, provisional clicked point and what is a point that's actually been created.

Improving the Documentation:

A never ending task, and suggestions are always helpful, but saying to do it better is less helpful than recommending specific changes in text. For example, a suggestion of the form "right after the illustration that shows... if Help added the following phrase...." is something that can get done.

For example, I agree the documentation should make it clear that the creation of points is a three step process (choose the point tool, click points desired, commit). But isn't that what is already done in the illustrations and the short "To add new points to a drawing:" 1-2-3 list immediately following the "Creating New Points, Lines and Areas in a Drawing" ? It would be a big help to know what, specifically, should be changed in that to make it clearer.

Those folks who encounter topics more than once can testify there is continuous tinkering with topics, from small details to large, and besides updates for UI changes much of that is driven by inquiries to tech support, suggestions or other cases where adjustments to topics will provide better help.

For example, if you reload that particular topic (clear your browser cache so your browser does not mindlessly show you illustrations that no longer exist...) you'll see that the illustrations have changed. There is now a "click" caption added to the middle illustrations in the creation process. That was a suggestion I filed when this thread got started, and, like magic, it was implemented.

So there is no hesitation at all about improving documentation. But it's just like suggestions for minor changes in the software: those suggestions which are highly specific and focused can get done quickly. My suggestion was "put a Click caption next to the cross cursor in these illustrations <names>" so that was something an intern could do instantly in a spare moment while waiting for a pizza delivery. Sending in a suggestion "provide clearer illustrations" would have been harder to do instantly.

So... anything you think should be changed or added is fair game. Just be as specific as possible. Think in terms of guiding a horse. Don't tell the horse to take a better path. Nudge it where you want it to go to the left or right with the reins.


544 post(s)
#15-Jun-18 16:05

Regarding help suggestions: I thought I would leave it to the creative minds of your documentation specialists. In the event you don't have professional documentation specialists and are relying on the engineers who are also doing the programming, I can offer my suggestions. Get professional documentation specialists. I used to be a technical writer for some fairly complicated and hazardous hardware which was to be operated and maintained by much less sophisticated people, so I have a way of doing it. I'm not saying my way is the only way, but my way is one alternative to many ways.

Creating Points in Manifold 9.docx


8,315 post(s)
#15-Jun-18 16:40

Thanks for the doc.

I think Dimitri's point was that you are a user and it would be helpful to have specific comments from the side of the user.


5,248 post(s)
#15-Jun-18 17:51

Thanks for the sample! I like your documentation style... it's clear and efficiently combines a discussion of what the thing is and how it can be created. I think once the churning caused by so many new features and revisions calms down a bit it would be good to do a few passes through the entire documentation set, by way of consolidation, and perhaps writing an introductory set of topics from a fresh start.


557 post(s)
#16-Jun-18 23:28

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