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MapInfo Monday: The new Dimension to MapInfo Pro v2023

  • 1.  MapInfo Monday: The new Dimension to MapInfo Pro v2023

    Posted 09-12-2023 03:29
    Edited by Peter Møller 10-10-2023 10:10

    A very happy #MapInfoMonday and welcome to the release week for MapInfo Pro v2023! As you may have guessed this means that it's #MapInfoMonday all week long with articles going into the details of the new release.

    We are quite excited to announce the support for a new 3D map in MapInfo Pro. This is also the biggest new feature and therefore it's also the topic for this first article about MapInfo Pro v2023.

    In this article, I will share several ways to create a 3D map from MapInfo Pro v2023. This will be more of an inspirational article than a technical deep dive article. They will follow in the coming weeks.

    First 3D Map using Online Resources

    In this first example, I want to show you how easy it is to create a 3D map using online resources brought to you by MapInfo Pro.

    Start by opening one of the Precisely Maps into a map window. I'd recommend that you zoom into an area with mountains or deep valleys.

    Now from the 3D tab, click on the New 3D Map control.
    In the New 3D Map dialog, select Mapzen Terrarium from the Elevation Source list, and if it isn't picked automatically, select the Precisely Map from the Elevation Source list.
    Uncheck the Add Layers From option and hit OK to create your new 3D map.
    You will now see the World in a 3D perspective overlayed with the selected Precisely map.
    You can zoom, pan, and tilt the 3D Map to focus on specific parts. I tend to use my mouse for all this.
    Use the Mouse Wheel to zoom in and out. You can also hold down your left mouse button and drag/pan the map. If you hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard while holding down the left mouse button, you can rotate the 3D map.
    Similarly, you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard alone or in combination with the Ctrl key.

    A Globe View of the World

    If you have global data, you may consider using a Globe View for your data in the 3D map. Let's have a look at this.

    In my example, I'm using a couple of datasets: countries of the World, a table with a polygon illustrating the oceans, and a gridline layer.

    I changed the styling before creating a 3D map from the map layers. The Ocean layer was made blue for example.
    Click the New 3D Map control on the 3D tab.
    In the New 3D Map dialog, we now uncheck Elevation Source and Elevation Surface. For View Type you select Globe. Finally, make sure to check the Add Layers From option. If you have multiple maps, make sure to select the right one from the list. Click OK to continue.
    In the Add Layers from Map dialog, we now select all layers as we want to include them all in our 3D Globe View.
    Below you can see the resulting 3D Globe View. If you grab, the map with the mouse, you can rotate the view and you can zoom in and out as you prefer.
    You can also add additional layers to show for example the size of the population in each country. We will dive into something similar in the next chapter.

    Using Attributes as Height

    With MapInfo Pro, we often use a thematic map to determine the low and the high values. A thematic map allows you to assign values to your spatial objects depending on the value range they fall into. This works very well and helps you to identify the high and low areas.

    Here is an example of such a thematic map with population data for Denmark. You can clearly see that the darker areas have a larger population than the lighter areas.

    What is a bit harder to tell from the map above is the difference between the values in these municipalities. The legend gives away a bit of this story as you can see that the top bind spans a huge range from 100,000 to 750,000.
    You can view the same data in a 3D map. At first, it looks very flat as we haven't assigned a height to the data yet. Notice that the colors from the thematic have been brought over to the 3D map too.
    Using the 3D Layers list, we can control how the layers appear in our 3D map. We can change the color of the layers and the translucency, and for polygons, we can also control if the objects should be extruded.
    When you extrude your polygons you convert the flat 2D object into a 3D object with a volume. Typically, you would extrude say buildings using information about their height. But you can also use a numeric attribute for the extrude operation. In our example, we will use the population count for each municipality.
    In the 3D Layers list for the layers, check the Extrude option. Now we need to specify the value for the extrude operation. Next to the Height Expression field, click on the button with the 3 dots. In the Java Script Expression dialog, we delete the current values in the Height Expression field, and we double-click on the column holding the population count; INDB2019K1. Click OK to go back to the 3D Layers list.
    As these values make the polygons go "through the roof", I use the Scale option and specify 0.50 to pull them closer to the ground.
    In the resulting 3D map that you see above, you can clearly see the difference in population between the municipalities in Denmark.
    If you rotate and tilt the map a bit differently, the difference may stand out even more.

    Adding 3D Shapes to your 3D Map

    As you have seen above, MapInfo Pro v2023 allows you to visualize your existing MapInfo data in a 3D map.

    You can also take your point data, and replace these with a 3D shape. This could be elements such as windmills, telco towers, trees, or other elements that you want to illustrate in your 3D map. You can find various websites that offer these models either for free or for a small fee.

    MapInfo Pro 3D supports the GLB file format. "The GLB file format is a binary form of glTF that includes textures instead of referencing them as external images. GLB was introduced as an extension to glTF 1.0 and incorporated directly into glTF 2.0". Read more about the glTF format on Wikipedia.

    Once you have a 3D map, you can add 3D Shapes to it. From the Layers dropdown on the 3D tab, select 3D Shapes.

    In the Add 3D Shape Layer dialog, select the point layer that holds the positions for your 3D shapes, and then specify which 3D Model file you want to use.
    You may have to tweak the orientation of your 3D Models for them to appear correctly. I have tried a couple of 3D models, and so far I always had the change the value in the Orientation field from [0,0,0] to  [0,0,90]. It might be different for the 3D models you are using.
    As you can see below, these models can be quite detailed.

    Known Limitations

    3D Map creation, creation of elevation sources, and adding additional layers to a 3D map are limited to MapInfo Pro Advanced. MapInfo Pro Standard and MapInfo Pro Viewer can view 3D maps created and stored in workspaces.

    This is like the way we have implemented the raster capabilities in MapInfo Pro where the creation is limited to MapInfo Pro Advanced.

    MapInfo Pro Subscription does give you access to the full Raster and 3D capabilities. For the rest of 2023, we have a program in place that allows you to switch to a MapInfo Pro Subscription from a maintained MapInfo Pro at no additional cost.

    Currently, we also have a few limitations regarding layers and styling.


    • We do not yet support QuadKey tile servers such as Bing.
    • WMS, WMTS, Query, and GridLine layers are currently not supported.
    • Only rasters opened with MapInfo Raster are supported in the 3D map.
    • Processing of large raster images may take a while.


    • Per-Record Style is not yet handled in the user interface. We recommend using a theme or layer override.
    • Fille pattern is not yet supported in the user interface.
    • Labels are only supported for point layers.
    • For layers with mixed geometry types, we will use the style from the most predominant geometry style.

    We want to work our way through this list and also add more capabilities but we want your feedback from you - our customers and partners - in order to understand what is most important for you.

    Give it a try

    If you want to give the new version of MapInfo Pro a try, grab a 30-day trial version and take it out for a spin. We would love your feedback!

    As I mentioned above this is the first of several #MapInfoMonday articles about the new features of MapInfo Pro v2023. Stay tuned for more!

    Peter Horsbøll Møller
    Principal Presales Consultant | Distinguished Engineer
    Precisely | Trust in Data