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MapInfo Monday: Top 50 Most Used Features in MapInfo Pro

  • 1.  MapInfo Monday: Top 50 Most Used Features in MapInfo Pro

    Posted 09-19-2022 06:12
    Edited by Peter Møller 09-19-2022 06:24
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    Happy #MapInfoMonday.

    A few weeks back, I wrote about the Top 10 Most Used Features in MapInfo Pro. Today, I'll take a look at some of the most used features after the Top 10. I'll look at the Top 50 but I'll not get into each and every one of these 40 additional features. I will also group these features so that you can quicker find help around a group of features - and maybe learn about some you never knew existed.

    Let's get started.

    Tools for Drawing Spatial Data

    Often used tools that fall into this category are:
    • Add Node Tool
    • Draw Polyline Tool
    • Draw Polygon Tool
    • Draw Point Tool
    • Make Layer Editable
    • Draw Line Tool
    To be able to draw new spatial objects, you first need to make the layer editable. That can be done in a number of ways:
    • You can use the Editable checkbox in the Layer List
    • You can select the layer from the Editing popup on the Statusbar.
    • You can select a record from the layer, and from the context menu of the map use Make Selection Editable.
     All the drawing tools can be found on the Map tab in the Create group under Insert.

    You can also find them on the Spatial tab in the Create group under Insert. If you have MapCAD loaded, you will also find a bunch of additional drawing tools on the Spatial tab as you can see below.

    You can also construct your own custom Map Mini Toolbar and add the drawing tools you mostly use to this custom "Drawing" Map Mini Toolbar. This gives you access to these tools via a right-click in the map window.

    And with the introduction of single-click shortcuts - or Window Shortcuts - we also added shortcuts to most of the drawing tools.

    I have attached a more complete document about Data Editing in MapInfo Pro. This includes many other tips and tricks that can be of use.

    If you are looking at constructing features using distances from existing features, this post might be of interest: MapInfo Monday: Construction a Building on a Property

    Tools for Editing Attributes and Spatial Data

    Often used tools and features in this category include:
    • Undo
    • Set Target
    • Update Column
    • Merge Objects
    It seems that the most used spatial data editing is combining objects. This can be done with or without setting a target. If you first set your target, MapInfo Pro will use the attributes from the target to fill in the attributes for the combined object.

    Set Target can be found on the Spatial tab in the Edit group. You can also use it via Ctrl + T. Combine Select Objects is found in the Combine dropdown on the Spatial tab and in the Edit group. It has no dedicated shortcut but you could consider adding it to a custom Map Mini Toolbar if you use it often.

    Update Column can be found in the SQL dropdown on the Table, Map, and Spatial tabs. Again, if you use it often, consider adding it to a custom Map Mini Toolbar. With the improved SQL capabilities, that we added with MapInfo Pro v2019, you can also consider using the new SQL Window. this has the benefit of being a docked window that can stay on screen for easy access. This is especially useful if you use the same Update Column statement over and over again.

    You can also use the SQL Window to create some favorite Update statements. These will appear in the SQL dropdown for quick access allowing you to run these with a single click.

    And finally, you can consider using variables to create a more dynamic update statement.

    Undo in MapInfo Pro is limited to the latest operation, and only works if you have edited a limited number of records. It can however be handy for smaller edits that you want to undo. It can quickly be accessed via the well-known Windows shortcut Ctrl + Z.

    If you have made changes to a larger number of records, you can undo all your edits to the table since you saved it the last. Use the Revert Table to do this. It can be found on the Table tab

    If you are editing your Layout window, Undo will allow you to go more than one step back. You will also notice that the Layout tab has both an Undo and a Redo control whereas the other tabs only have Undo. On the other tabs, you can undo, and if you click on undo again you basically redo what you undid as it only allows you to undo one step.

    Tools for Getting Around the Map

    Often used tools and features in this category include:
    • Zoom Out Tool
    • Find Selection
    • Find Selection in Front Window
    • Change View
    As we discussed in the previous post on the Top 10 features, consider using the Scroll Wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out. You can also access the Zoom In tool using Shift + i.

    We now have two options for finding the current selection. This can be in all windows, or just in the current map window. Find Selection in All Windows can be quickly accessed via Ctrl + Shift + F. You can also locate it in the Find dropdown on the Table, Map, and Spatial tabs.

    Find Selection can be accessed from the context menu of the map window or through the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + G. Please note that it only works from a map window. You can't use Ctrl + G if your currently active window is a browser window, as an example.

    Change View is also used a lot. It can be accessed from the context menu of the map and from the Map tab in the Navigate group. I mostly use it from an embedded map window on a layout. I here use it to set the scale to a rounded number, say 1:25,000. This is the way you control the scale for your maps on the layout.

    Data Access and Output

    Often used tools and features in this category include:
    • Close Table
    • Open Workspace
    • Close All
    • Browse Table via Layer List
    • Save Table As
    • Browse Table
    • Export Window
    • Export Table
    Close Table and Close All are both in the Top 20 of the most used features. I think we will see that Close Table in some cases will be replaced with Close All Queries and Close All Unnamed Queries which makes it easy to close all the temporary files that you have created during your MapInfo session.

    You can close a single table from the Close dropdown on the Home tab, from the Close Table option on the Table tab, and by right-clicking on a table in the Table List. Especially the last option is one I use often as that lets me select the table or tables and then just select Close from the context menu.

    Close All can be accessed from the Close dropdown on the Home tab and often also from the Quick Access Toolbar above the ribbon.

    It seems that the users really have taken on the option to work with tables and layers through the context menu. I can see that the option to browse a table from the Layer context menu is used a bit more often than the standard Browse option. That makes good sense to me as you can first select the table or layer and then perform the action.

    I also hope that our users have noticed some of the improvements we have made to the Save As dialog. For a long while, you have now been able to open the copy you are saving, and more recently we also added the option to save the copy in the background. The first option is useful if you need to work with the copy after saving it. The second option is useful if saving the copy might take some time. Doing it in the background allows you to continue working in MapInfo Pro while the copy is being saved.
    And with MapInfo Pro v2021, we now also allow you to save copies of multiple tables.

    Also, note that Save Copy As is available through the context menu on the Table List.

    We also made it possible through Export Table to export multiple tables to a different format with MapInfo Pro v2021. And export now supports all the new formats we added with the OGR Vector Files. And just like Save Table As, Export Table can also be used from the Table List context menu.

    Other Features

    Often used tools and features in this category include:
    • SQL Select
    • Ruler Tool
    • Unselect
    • Layer Properties via Layer List
    • Add Theme
    I was glad but also a bit surprised to see the SQL Select feature amongst the Top 50 most used features. It's a very powerful dialog but it can also be a bit complex to use if you want to pull out all the advanced capabilities. It will be interesting to see if the use of the SQL Select dialog goes down with the introduction of new features such as the SQL Window, the Select by Location dialog, and the Select by Attribute dialog. Personally, I have almost stopped using the SQL Select dialog.

    Unselect is used to clear the highlighting of the current selection. I always go hunting for that option but lately, I have started using the Ctrl + W keyboard shortcut.

    Instead of using the Layer Properties dialog, I would recommend using the contextual tabs - Style and Labels - that allow you to modify the style and label settings for the currently selected layer. This is a much quicker way to make changes, and you can see how they affect your map right away.

    And that was all for this week's #MapInfoMonday. Let me know if learned something new in the comments.​

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