MFworks 2.6 for Macintosh

MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS offers a series of powerful new spatial Operations. These new Operations make a series of functions available to MFworks users. Fans of Map Algebra will be pleased to see the suite of Incremental Operations now fully supported within MFworks.

Also new in MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS are the new automated functions within the MFworks engine itself. These new functions will replace what was previously a tedious manual set of tasks. These actions are now performed by the program itself with just the push of a button.

Version 2.6 for the MacOS represents a completion of the basic processes for which MFworks has become famous. The supervised classifier and the incremental Operations expand the functionality of MFworks while maintaining it's well known ease of use.

MFworks 2.6 - Table of Contents

The New Operations:
Classify
Incremental Linkage
Incremental Length
Incremental Partition
Incremental Area
Incremental Frontage
Warp
The Bevel Effect
Is the World Flat? (Elevation Effects)

Automated Functions:
Auto Align
Auto Resolution

 

 

The New Operations:

Classify

The Classify Operation uses multiple image maps and a user defined 'training' map to perform supervised maximum likelihood classifications. The user can employ single or multiple band images for this process. The training map is used to show the program what types of areas are represented by the data. These areas are then treated as 'digital fingerprints' by MFworks to examine the entire data sets and isolate other regions of the image which have similar characteristics.

This helps you extract areas or features of interest from satellite or aerial photos and is the foundation for remote sensing applications. It can also save a great deal of time and frustration by having the program do significant portions of the geocoding (heads-up-digitizing) process.

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Incremental Linkage

The basis of advanced network analysis. The Incremental Linkage Operation easily identifies and classifies end nodes, intersections, forks, and other linear features. It does so by examining the network in the target map. It then classifies each cell of the network according to the relative situation of that cell with respect to it's neighbours.

For example, if a cell is the terminus of a line it will be recoded with a value representing an end point. If the cell is the junction of three or four radiating lines, then it will be recoded to represent the number and formation of that union. This Operation can identify types of intersections, forks in paths, turning points, and other network conditions.

Incremental Linkage represents the foundation of any form of network analysis. It could be used to identify and measure the junctions of roads, river morphology, trail conditions, or intersections of any linear feature.

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THE BEVEL EFFECT
IS THE WORLD FLAT?

Incremental Length

Incremental Length provides a very accurate measurement of linear features which can take the underlying surface and grid bevelling into account. Whenever a raster grid is applied to a surface for mapping purposes, each cell must represent an overall average of the underlying land. As a result, a raster cell might indicate an area that is slightly more or less large than the feature that it represents would actually be in the real world. For more information, see The Bevel Effect below.

Incremental Length will take that 'bevelling' into account as it calculates the length of each cell in a linear feature such as a stream or a road. Instead of simply counting the number of cells in the feature and multiplying this by the cellular resolution, Incremental Length will perform a much more complex and accurate calculation to achieve a more precise answer. The Operation will refer to cells which are adjacent to the target cells and investigate their properties. This bevel area can provide information which will make length calculations much more accurate.

The results of the Incremental Length Operations can be effectively used with the Score Operation in MFworks to provide a wide series of spatial statistics such as Sum, Max, Min, Average, Standard Deviation, and regional proportionality.

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THE BEVEL EFFECT
IS THE WORLD FLAT?

Incremental Partition

Incremental Partition provides a description of a zone's boundary characteristics. A polygonal area might be long and narrow, tapered, or roughly square in shape while all having the same area. Incremental Partition is able to describe the nature of a zone with regards to it's shape.

This Operation could be applied in land use planning or environmental management contexts. For example, a new warehouse might be planned as an infill building project in a city. The local GIS technologist was asked to provide a map of all vacant lots in the city with an area of 5000 square metres or more.

The resulting map indicates a number of vacant lots where this area is available. However, while some of the lots have a suitable shape for the warehouse, others are oddly shaped. Incremental Partition could help identify and eliminate zones that may meet the strict area criteria, but are long, narrow lots which would not be suitable for a warehouse. This same Operation can help identify the lots which have a shape which is roughly square and which would be ideal for a warehouse.

Another application would be a form of greenspace inventory. If a wildlife mandate requires that any treed area be sufficient to support particular species of birds, and that species needs a certain 'depth of woods' in order to survive, this Operation could easily eliminate the area of woodlands which are not suitable. For example, a thin band of trees along a riverside might be attractive, but would not have the right 'depth of woods' to support that species of bird. Incremental Partition could identify those regions for exclusion of consideration.

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THE BEVEL EFFECT

Incremental Area

Incremental Area provides a very accurate measurement of a zone's area taking the underlying surface and grid bevelling into account. Much like Incremental Length, Incremental Area can calculate the area of polygonal shapes while taking into account both the underlying surface elevation and the slight over or under valuing of the grid data structure.

With this Operation it becomes very easy to calculate the true area or coverage of land use in uneven terrain. For example, many parks are located on or around mountainous regions of the world. The area that the perimeter of a park describes on a flat map is far less than the true surface of the earth which is within the boundaries of the park. Incremental Area will calculate the area of the surface of the park including the hillsides and valley walls.

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THE BEVEL EFFECT
IS THE WORLD FLAT?

Incremental Frontage

Incremental Frontage provides a very accurate measurement of a zone's perimeter taking the underlying surface and grid bevelling into account. Much like Incremental Length and Area, Incremental Frontage will return a value for each cell in on the boundary between zones which represents the true length of that area in the real world including the variations in the terrain on which the boundary sits. The cell values in the result can be used with the Score Operation to calculate any number of spatial statistics for each polygon.

This Operation would be suitable for use when calculating the perimeter of any area on a rough surface. For example, the park described under the Incremental Area section (above) would require the Incremental Frontage Operation in order to get an accurate perimeter measurement. If the park ranger were to want to put a fence up around the park, they would have to account for the rise and fall of the terrain when ordering the fence materials. If the ranger were to just measure the perimeter from a flat map (or vector GIS) then the results would not take the elevation of the surface into account. Incremental Frontage would include the elevation into the perimeter measurement and provide a more accurate answer.

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THE BEVEL EFFECT
IS THE WORLD FLAT?

Warp

This previously independent Operation is now included in the MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS update. The Warp Operation allows one map layer to be reprojected based on its geometry and the geometry of a second target map.

This Operation is very useful when the user wishes to adjust a DEM or an image to fit well with an established projection of linear or land use coverage information. Warp may also be used to help mosaic two DEM's which, although they are physically adjacent, might be projected into two differing UTM zones.

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The Bevel Effect

Whenever data is represented in a raster grid, there is some inherent averaging that takes place. For example, if the data has a cellular resolution of 10 metres on the ground, each cell in the grid will represent an average of the data in that 10 square metre area. If the information being represented is elevation, then that cell (valued at x metres above or below sea level) is said to have an average elevation in that region of x metres. This value is then put into the cell as grid data.

In this example it is possible for the cell to have a widely varying elevation over that 10 square metres but most calculations using that data will simply use that average value. In calculating the area of a feature, the cell resolution is multiplied by the number of cells in the feature and the results are shown on a new map layer.

The new Operations in MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS significantly improve upon this averaging technique. By reading the values of the surrounding cells, MFworks will now calculate a bevel effect which can far more accurately represent the true characteristics of that data. This increased the ability of users to present more scientifically precise information to their audience.

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Is the World Flat? (Elevation Effects)

The world is obviously not flat. However, most GIS packages assume that it is. MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS is leading a revolution in thinking about the world in real terms. Several of the new Incremental Operations take advantage of any elevation data you have for your area of study to provide physically accurate information which takes elevation into account.

For example, a bicycle trail along a river valley will wind between trees and vary greatly in elevation. The hills and depressions in the trail contribute to the actual overall distance that a rider must cycle. Incremental Length would be able to provide a true measurement of the real distance that the cyclist will ride as they move along the trail.

Linear features or polygons with elevations changes can only be accurately measured using this type of Operation. The new Incremental Length, Area, and Frontage Operations all provide the user with an option to include elevation data along with the the two dimensional data.

Applications which would benefit from these improved calculations include river morphology studies, road surfacing projects, and trail length measurements, fertiliser quantity prediction. fencing projects, and any form of travel measurement.

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The Automated Functions:

The Information window has always been important for many users. This window has now been updated to help make some of the more repetetive taskes a lot easier. On the lower right area of this window, you will find two new buttons. These are the Auto Align and Auto Cell Resolution buttons.

These two new functions replace tasks that were formerly done by hand. Auto Align simplifies map preparation prior to a Cover/Mosaic Operation. Auto Cell Resolution will help users who create their own maps based on scanned or digitized images.

Auto Align

This is an addition in the Information Window of an MFworks map layer. Clicking this button opens a new dialog box where the user can align this map's Origin based on the geometry of another map.

For example, if a user were to import a series of SDTS Digital Elevation Models from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) into MFworks, each map would arrive with a complete geometry but with an Origin of 0,0 for the top left corner. Until those Origins are corrected, the user could not mosaic those maps together to form a single layer for analysis.

In this example, if one map was the western half of a country, and another were the eastern half. The user would have to look at the total number of columns in the western map, and then manually set the Origin of the eastern map to match the column number of the first map plus 1. This can be tedious and is easy to make a mistake on when working with many maps.

The Auto Align function will examine the geometries of all the maps and will set the Origin of the target map so that it will automatically fit beside its neighbours when the user runs the Cover Mosaic Operation.

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Auto Resolution

Many maps are imported with a particular resolution for each cell. Some data and images are even described according to their cellular resolution. However, some maps do not have this information. Maps such as scanned base maps, hand drawn or digitised maps, and tabular data, have no resolution despite sometimes containing geometry data. Other image types such as GIF, TIFF, PICT, of BMP files contain no geometries at all.

The Auto Resolution feature will read the maps geometry and will automatically calculate a suitable average cell resolution based on that information. This is another example of a previously tedious manual task which has been automated in MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS . The Auto Resolution feature can be found in the map Information window.

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Miscellaneous Features

General Improvements

MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS has been strenuously tested and many small improvements have been made to MFworks 2.0. Amongst these are a less demanding memory allotment and improved speed and reliability.

Also new to MFworks 2.6 is the ability for users to set the geometry name upon file export. The user may choose to either use the default name given to the geometry by MFworks, or they may enter another name entirely. This is useful when the user is exporting the file created in MFworks to another program which has particular expectations for Geometry names. Therefore, the projection and datum information can be set manually by the user. This would be particularly useful when exporting GeoTIFF files and similar data.

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The Dynamic Data Exchange - MFlink:

This exciting new feature allows an external program to pass information to MFworks for processing. This allows a consultant or solution provider to build a custom graphic user interface for their client, and use the proven power of MFworks to perform analysis on the data.

The MFlink (DDE) will accept Operation script statements from outside of MFworks provided that the external program send the expected set of script statements. Since almost all of the MFworks features are accessible by scripting, this external program could make MFworks perform any of the on board Operations and processes.

The external program can be created in any language at all. This includes popular programming languages such as Visual Basic, Visual Basic for Applications, C, C+, JAVA, and a series of other environments.

A sample project could be a consultant who deals primarily with a forestry related industry. They are hired by a client to provide a solution to a constantly performed type of spatial analysis. The consultant could create a customised front end which is particular to their client.

The client can then use this specially created interface to launch a series of pre-built scripts which would be handled by MFworks in the background. This function would allow the consultant to create a series of speciality applications without having to build the entire processing engine from scratch.

This function is an optional extra feature of MFworks 2.6 for the MacOS which is suggested for use by consultants and solution providers. MFlink comes with a special DLL for programmers to issue commands easily to MFworks.

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