As many of you know, MapInfo Pro has been around for many years. It started in the mid-'80s which means that it has existed in some form for 35 years - give and take.
User interfaces have changed radically over such a long period of time, and MapInfo Pro has also evolved. We made some radical changes to the user interface when we introduced the 64-bit version of MapInfo Pro around v12.5.1 back in 2014.
We made this change because we wanted to make MapInfo Pro even more intuitive. The basic idea was to surface more of the functionality directly into the interface from hidden dialogs. This makes it easier for the user to find the functionally and it also makes it easier to use the features as it will require fewer mouse clicks to make a change.
This is one of several articles on the changes MapInfo Pro has undergone since we introduced the 64-bit version some 8 years ago.
The ribbon interface
The general interface is based on the ribbon interface also known from the Microsoft Office applications. At the top of the interface, you have a number of tabs that each consists of a number of groups with individual commands or controls.
MapInfo Pro has a Home tab for data access, document and tool windows, and output. There are also tabs for the specific document window types, maps, browsers, and layouts. And finally, you can find a dedicated tab for working with spatial data and for working with raster grid data.
In the application title bar, you can access the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) with commonly used commands. You can quickly add your own commands to the Quick Access Toolbar by right-clicking on any command in the interface and adding it to the QAT.
Often used elements such as the Layer Control, the Table List, and the new Window List are combined into a single panel, the Workspace Explorer window, or just the Explorer window. This panel, and many other panels, can be docked to the interface and so be accessed and visible all the time while working in MapInfo Pro. You can see the Workspace Explorer on the left side in the image above.
If you right-click inside a map window, you can access the context menu of the map window. But this also gives you access to the Map Mini Toolbar which holds commands often used in the map window such as Zoom In, Zoom Out, Pan, and the Info tool.
You can also customize the Map Mini Toolbar and add your favorite commands to it, or even create your own custom Map Mini Toolbars for specific work situations such as Editing or Data Analysis. You can quickly switch between the Map Mini Toolbars using the spacebar on your keyboard and see the name of the currently selected in the statusbar.
Windows are by default tabbed in MapInfo Pro. This means they by default are maximized inside the MapInfo Pro application.
If you right-click on a window tab, you can change the state of the map from tabbed to floating or dockable. You can from here also move the window to a new or an existing tab group allowing you to group your windows into groups and arrange them so that you can see multiple windows at any time.
If you make a window floating, it will by default hold a number of tabs. This allows you to bring the floating window onto another monitor and work with it here without having to go back to the main MapInfo Pro window all the time. Below you can see an example of a floating map window with its tabs.
The Workspace Explorer window contains a list of all the open windows allowing you to interact with the windows directly from the Explorer window. You can for example hide windows to avoid having too many windows visible.
The user interface of MapInfo Pro is also context-aware. This means that certain elements are only visible in some cases. Here are a few examples.
When you select a layer in the Layer List of the Explorer window, additional tabs appear on the ribbon.
You get a Style tab that lets you control have the layer is displayed. The Style tab contains many of the elements from the Layer Properties dialog.
If the selected layer supports labels, a Labels tab also appears. From the Labels tab, you can control the appearance of the labels for the layer. Any change here will be visible on the map instantly. The Label Rules dropdown, allows you to quicklæy set a number of settings to control the display of the labels. This dropdown depends on the object types in the selected layer. Again, these settings can also be found in the Layer Properties dialog.
And if the selected layer is a thematic layer, a Theme tab appears. From this tab, you can control the appearance of the thematic layer. The content of the Theme tab depends on the type of thematic layer you have selected. In the example below, I have selected an individual theme.
If you are new to MapInfo Pro or if you have been using the classic 32-bit version of MapInfo Pro until now, you might need a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the interface. That's quite normal. I do however think that you will get used to the interface and find that it's quite easy to work with.
One last tip for this article is the Quick Search tool. In the upper right corner of the MapInfo Pro window, you can see a small text field. Here you can search for commands, features, and tools. The tool will list places, where the text entered, is found, and you can access the command by selecting it from the list.
I hope you found this useful. More to come in an upcoming #MapInfoMonday article.
Peter Horsbøll Møller
Principal Presales Consultant | Distinguished Engineer
Precisely | Trust in Data