By Ross Owens
Following four small version upgrades to MapInfo 17 over the course of two years, the newest update encompasses many drastic functionality improvements regarding new tools that will help both new and advanced users. The improvements prove to address many of MapInfo user suggestions from the Pitney Bowes Knowledge Communities MapInfo Pro Ideas page.
This article will breakdown the main things you need to know about this upcoming version update and get you excited about implementing these game-changing GIS, integration, and analysis tools. This is what we’ll cover:
- New SQL tools
- Access to the MapInfo Marketplace from the desktop application
- Smoother layout loading and higher quality legends in outputs
- Heat Map tool that is free with standard MapInfo Pro license
- When exactly will this upgrade be available?
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
1. New SQL tools
The MapInfo SQL window has been around since MapInfo 8, and there have been small improvements over the course of 10 years such as; “add data to map window” or “find data in current window” check boxes when executing a query. The SQL Window functionality is the essential to all users as it incorporates basic database querying along with geospatial functions such as “Within”, “SphericalDistance”, and “Buffer” to name a few.
Here are some main changes you can expect to see:
- A new, completely redesigned, and dock-able SQL script window
- A new select window called “Select by Location“
- An option to “Close all open queries“
- Favorites and Recent queries for quick reruns
First and foremost, the new SQL script window takes the old SQL Select window to a new level.
- A dockable window allows users to run queries without the window closing every time.
- Color coding for column, tables, and value callouts makes visualizing multiple conditions and criteria easier.
- SQL functionality additions like “Update” and “Delete” tables rather than only “Select”
- “Limit” large scale queries to only a few rows of data
Don’t worry — the old SQL window will still remain for any sentimental users or those who do not need to implement any new query functionality.
Basically, the new tool is now a complete and traditional SQL script writing tool, which offers far more flexibility and creativity to your querying.
Secondly, the “Select by Location” window is a simple user interface for the frequent location based selects MapInfo users are constantly executing. This allows for calculating spatial relation equations on the fly rather than writing a full SQL query. After running a Select by Location query, you can modify it in the new SQL script window rather than having to build it again from scratch.
Thirdly, the new “Close all open queries” tool is convenient when all of the unnamed and unusable query tables begin to pile up. With one click, users can close all of them to clean up a workspace and prevent the query clutter problem that we all come across.
Finally, the last takeaway from the SQL additions and improvements is the Favorites and Recent quick access bar.
When dropping down the SQL menu, users can now find many recent, unsaved queries they may have run. This saves a lot of time and increases efficiency when testing out and running different queries in one session. Not having to save every query to run, but still having quick access to rerun it later on is a powerful time saver.
Users can also favorite an frequently used query, and access it it quickly from the initial SQL drop down — another key time saver.
2. Access to MapInfo Marketplace from the desktop application
With an already vast library of tool extensions, the MapInfo Marketplace is an additional set of verified third party plugins that any user to quickly download and implement on the spot. Not all functionality is built into MapInfo out of the box, so having quick access to these additional tool plugins can be crucial to swiftly completing any analysis.
Having third party developers creating tools for MapInfo or other GIS’s isn’t new — look at QGIS, which was built on the foundation of open source and third part tool implementation. Nevertheless, having a consistently updated library of tools verified by Pitney Bowes is exciting — especially after seeing some of the available tools.
3. Smoother Layout loading and higher quality legends in outputs
Beyond tools and SQL functionality, MapInfo really comes down to outputting .jpgs, .pdfs, and printing actual maps. The layout window has been improved in the recent upgrades with MapInfo 16 being able to edit the map window from the layout window, or in MapInfo 17 adding an improved template interface.
Now when maneuvering around the layout window, scrolling and zooming will refresh at faster speeds. No more slow loading when zooming in to make legend or alignment adjustments!
Additionally, the legends will be much higher quality when outputting. Some regions, lines, or point graphics in legends could be distorted after outputting in past versions. Now, layout outputting has “vecorized legends” which display the highest possible quality legends.
4. Heat Map tool that is free with standard MapInfo Pro license
You heard that right! MapInfo now has a built in Heat Map tool that can display the densities of points across a certain area.
Users have the choice between four options on how to show the point density – which all play a role in displaying your data:
Unlike other raster tools only available for MapInfo Pro Advanced, the Heat Map tool comes with the standard MapInfo Pro license.
5. When exactly will this upgrade be available?
The launch date isn’t officially set for the English version of MapInfo Pro v19. Once we know more, the new launch date will be reflected here.
The software demo version has been out on the Pitney Bowes Knowledge Communities MapInfo Labs group for a few months, but a few bugs and final touches need to be made before the official version is launched.
EDIT: The official release of MapInfo Pro v2019 was December 2, 2019. More information on the release and trial options can be found on the Pitney Bowes official release page.
Needless to say, this is an exciting time to be a MapInfo Pro user. The updates for version 19 reflect Pitney Bowes’ drive to make MapInfo Pro the industry standard location data integration and analysis tool.
“Data analytics has changed, and this includes location analytics,” Joe Francica the Managing Director for Location Intelligence at Pitney Bowes explains MapInfo’s role in today’s digital economy, “Never before has there been such a demand to bring data, context, and insights together and to make that much easier to understand.”
Contact us if you have any questions or are thinking of upgrading!