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MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window


Starting MapInfo PRO

From the ‘Welcome screen’ choose Open / Blank Workspace.

1. Introduction

Four useful definitions

Layer (or thematic layer) – a selected theme that can be a part of a (digital/computer) map, e.g.

countries, cities, rivers, land cover, etc.; a computer map consists of layers;

Table – MapInfo representation of a vector type thematic layer; a set of files (with the same name

and different extensions; extension (.tab) is the leading one, recognizable for the program; it

contains spatial and non-spatial data on a selected theme, e.g. countries, cities, rivers, land cover,

etc.; layer is a more general term – table is a MapInfo vector-type layer;

Object – the smallest element of a table, representing a spatial unit, e.g. country, city, district,

river, forest, land cover in a given location; has a geometric representation (types: point, line,

polygon), graphic attributes – respective to the geometric type (type, color and size of symbol;

line thickness, color and style – e.g. continuous or dashed; appearance of the polygon fill – e.g. full

color, stripes or dots and polygon border) and non-spatial attributes stored in the database; one

object corresponds to one database record;

Workspace – the work record in the program; in particular, it contains information on tables

(thematic layers) that are used, where they are on the computer, what their general properties are

e.g. cartographic projection; it may contain map windows, data browser windows, temporary

display settings (e.g. layers on the map, object labels, appearance of the database browser, etc.);

formally it is a text file with an extension recognizable for the program (.wor). It does not contain

the data!! It saves data directories and so on, and how data is organized!!

MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window


MapInfo PRO organisation The program menu is divided into 7 main tabs. Each tab has a set of commands on the ribbon; the

ribbon can be hidden (A) or pinned (B):

Some commands are available from several places – different tabs and / or right

mouse button click.

The tab PRO contains MapInfo internet welcome page and, among others, various program options

and settings, e.g. units in map and layout windows, colors and default font in browser window, styles

of selected objects, default directories (do not change the directory of MapBasic programs!), etc.

The tab HOME is dedicated mainly to IN-OUT activities, e.g.: tables and workspaces opening, saving

and closing, printing and defining its options, and also managing map, browser, layout windows

within the program, customizing program interface and the additional tools not included in standard


The tab TABLE is dedicated to managing layers (e.g. creating copies or new layers, integrating data

from various sources) and managing non-spatial data in a layer (table structure definition and

computations in a data base). It includes also selection tool and enables data base and spatial searches.

The tab MAP is dedicated to customizing map window: deciding about map scale, extent etc.,

displaying spatial pattern of data from data base, inserting new objects, defining objects graphic

attributes and managing styles and other characteristics of labels. It includes also a set of selection

tools and enables data base and spatial searches. General map settings are also available.

The tab SPATIAL includes various spatial data editing (e.g. reshaping, adding nodes, changing line

direction, etc.) and analysis tools (e.g. buffers, splitting and combining objects, geocoding, creating

Thiessen polygons etc.). It includes also a set of selection tools and enables data base and spatial

searches. It is supposed to contain a command discarding changes to editable layer, but this function is

not working properly (beware!).

The tab LAYOUT contains commands and options dedicated to arranging a document for printing.

Prepared maps, legends, data browsers may be grouped in a layout window, together with additional

texts or images. Various tools allowing for customizing display of layout frames are available.

The tab RASTER includes commands and analytical options dedicated to raster layers, e.g.

registering images, creating raster layer (rasterizing, interpolating), calculating raster statistics etc.

When (Workspace) Explorer window is open and a layer is selected two additional tabs are available.

These are: LAYER TOOLS/ STYLE and /LABELS. They enable possible temporary changes in a

layer or labels display. When grid lines are added to the map GRIDLINES tab appears which allows

for customizing styles.



MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window


!! Symbols used in the Instructions

In frames – the most important definitions and explanations.

In black – description of MapInfo PRO commands and options.

In blue – what should be done.

? !! (Ex.1.1) – elements that should be included in the report (answers to questions and screenshots).

Please organize your screenshots so that the Windows status bar is visible (e.g. ).

2. Preparatory actions

Download necessary data from the Moodle: ‘Data – MapInfo PRO’ zip file. Extract the files into a

folder created by yourself (e.g. MapInfoData) and remember its name. Supplied data is organized into

sub-folders: POLAND, Administrative_Units_OLD, Water_Boards, Leba_Catchment,

Siedlce_North, Siedlce_South, Wyszkow. The sub-folder name in which a layer should be found

is always defined (e.g. Voivodeships_99 – directory POLAND).

3. Basics

Opening MapInfo tables: HOME/File/Open table , also MAP/Contents/Open or

TABLE/Contents/Open (choose Open Table or File type: Mapinfo (*.tab)).

Open the tables: main_rivers_PL, main_roads_PL, towns_PL, Voivodeships_99 –

directory POLAND.

Navigation tools

Try all navigational tools (MAP/ Navigate panel: ). Zoom in and out in a

map window ; practice two ways of operating the zooming tools (single click or drawing a

rectangle with the tool). Use Change View to display the map in scale of 1:1 000 000.

REMEMBER: once you have chosen any tool (e.g. a zooming tool or a drawing tool) every mouse click within a map window realizes the function of the selected tool – until you change the tool for another one. The most neutral tool, which does not cause any unwanted actions is the Select tool (MAP / Selection)

Use the grabber tool to reposition the map so you can see the northern part of Poland.

Add the default labels to three towns with a label tool: MAP/ Label / .

REMEMBER: a label is one of the non-spatial attributes (from a related data base) of an object shown in the map window. User defines a field in the data base which is convenient to identify objects. The default labels come from the first character type field in the related data base .

Use MAP/ Label / to remove ALL added labels. Add other labels. Try to delete only

selected label (select tool and delete key from keyboard). Find out what the MAP/ Label /

option means.

MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window


Measure the distance between at least 3 towns: MAP/Map Tools/ Ruler . Notice the two values that

appear in the ruler window.

Managing layers in a map window – Workspace Explorer (MAP / Options / Map Tools / Explorer

or HOME / Windows / Tool Windows / Explorer ). Open Workspace Explorer window and notice:

‐ the cosmetic layer – the systemic MapInfo layer: always present, always visible, always at the top of other layers; the results of some MapInfo operations are put into the cosmetic layer;

‐ the basic characteristics of each layer in a map window: visible (on/off/hidden due to zoom range), layer type and style override (indicates the type of objects in each layer – point, line, polygon and

text and style override on/off), editable (on/off), selectable (on/off), automatic labels

(on/off/hidden due to zoom range);

? (Ex.1.1) Find out how above-mentioned characteristics are symbolized. Add a screenshot with an Explorer window to your report. Indicate where these characteristics are.

‐ moving the layers in a map window up and down ; ‐ adding and removing OPEN layers within a map window ;

‐ Layer Properties – under right mouse button click on a layer name: o Layer Display / style override – this option allows you to display all objects from a selected

layer in the same style, overriding the graphic attributes assigned to the objects; style override is

a temporary option, valid only in current map window, while graphic attributes of the objects

are saved in a layer;

o Layer Display / zoom layering – this option allows you to display a map layer only at certain zoom range; notice that map window zoom (distance between left and right edge of map

window) is marked on a left hand side of the status bar;

o Label Display – you can choose which data base field is used for labeling objects as well as style and position of labels for selected layer;

o Labeling Rules – you can choose a map zoom in which labels are displayed and options concerning overlapping labels.

? (Ex.1.2) What is the default order of layers? Why? Move the Voivodeships_99 layer to the top. Notice what has happened in the map window. Use

the style override option to display voivodeships as polygons with no fill and gray thick boundaries.

REMEMBER: if you do not see what you want or you are not able to make an operation (for example to select an object or to change graphic attributes) the settings in the Explorer may be wrong.

Set up the towns_PL layer so that it is visible when map zoom is less than 1000 km.

Make sure the kilometers and square km are defined as distance / area units (Tab PRO/Options).

Notice what happens when you zoom the map in and out. Notice also the changes in the Explorer


Display automatic labels for the Voivodeships_99 layer; choose color (brown), font and size for

the labels (Arial, 8, italic); make sure that the name of every voivodeship is displayed (Labeling


MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window


Display automatic labels for the main_rivers_PL layer; choose the blue color; make sure that the

name of every river is displayed.

Display the map so that map zoom is about 1100 km.

!! (Ex.1.3) Add a screenshot with above mentioned changes to your report (both map window and explorer window).

Set up the towns_PL layer so that it is visible independent of the map zoom.

4. Selecting and editing objects (part 1)

Selecting objects (MAP / Selection); use a shift key to select more than one object.

Select the Wisla river. If you are not able to select the river find out what you should do first. Find at

least two methods.

Set the main_rivers_PL layer as editable, observe that the name of editable layer is displayed in

the status bar. What has changed in the map window? If you cannot notice switch off visibility of

other layers and try with editable on and off. Make all layers visible.

Move the Voivodeships_99 layer to the bottom of your map.

Changing objects’ graphic attributes MAP / Create / Style

Change the graphic attributes of the Narew and the Warta rivers to thick violet lines (make sure that

the object(s) you are going to change the attributes of are selected). Notice that there are four “objects’

style” tools – diversified for different object types (points, lines, polygons and texts).

REMEMBER: you can change the graphic attributes of the selected objects only when a layer they belong to is editable. Editing mode is required also for adding, deleting, reshaping, repositioning of objects (and some other operations in the map window). Only the “style override” option does not require editable layer but the change in display is temporary in the current map window and you can’t save the changes in a layer.

Set style override (green double or dotted line) for the main_rivers_PL layer (right mouse button

click on the layer name in the Explorer window, and Layer Properties /Layer Display / Override +

defining the style; also: LAYER TOOL/STYLE /Apply Styles and Line Style defining). Do you see any

difference between the Warta river and the other rivers? Why? Check the description of Layer

Display / style override (page 4).

In order to unselect all objects use the unselect all tool (MAP / Selection / ) or click within the

map window, where no object is located. To invert selection use: MAP / Selection / .

Create a new Map Window (MAP / Content / ) and include add main_rivers_PL and

Voivodeships_99 layers. What do you see – green rivers or blue and violet ones? How are the

voivodeships displayed? Close this map window ( )

Selecting the objects within boundaries of a given polygon object Remove Style Override from the main_rivers_PL.

Set “selectable off” in the Explorer window for all layers except Voivodeships_99 and

towns_PL. Click on a voivodeship avoiding town locations. What has happened? You can observe in

the status bar from which layer objects are selected .

Set selectable off for towns_PL but on for main_rivers_PL. Keep clicking on the voivodeships

along the Wisla river. In which voivodeship the Wisla river has been selected? Try to find out why. If

you do not know try the same with other rivers. Answer: location of object (river) centroids matters,

the object is selected if its centroid is within clicked polygon.

Selecting objects within a circular region

MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window


!! (Ex.1.4) Select all towns within a distance of ~ 200 km from Warsaw. If you have problems, check the options in the Explorer window. Change the graphic attributes of the selected towns to green stars,

size 14. Add a screenshot showing both map window and Explorer window to your report.

Try another useful tool – the Marquee select tool (selecting objects within a given

rectangle – Marquee box).

REMEMBER: order of layers and their characteristics in the Explorer window determine the feasibility of selecting objects: you can easily select objects from the top-most (selectable) layer. Automatic selections (select within a radius, a rectangle or within a polygon) always apply to the top-most selectable layer.

REMEMBER: you can’t select objects from two layers at the same time. The layer name from which objects are selected is marked in the status bar and written in bold in the Explorer.

Defining the type of information displayed in the status bar – click on the left-hand side part

of the status bar Define that the coordinates of cursor location are displayed in the status bar.

Getting the information from a data base: HOME / Windows / Tool Window / the info tool Click within a voivodeship boundary avoiding any objects from other layers, read the displayed

information. Click onto a town within the previously clicked voivodeship (make sure that all the layers

are selectable). What has changed? Are you able to get access to the previously displayed information?

5. Saving work results

Saving a copy of a layer (with a new name) – HOME / File / Save copy as

Be careful while saving a copy – it is possible to save a copy of a whole layer, or selected objects if

there are any selected (most often named as Selection); if you have made some queries during a

MapInfo session you also find the results of these operations (query1, query2, …). Read carefully this

dialogue box and choose well.

Save the copy of the towns_PL layer as towns_1. Notice that when MapInfo saves a copy, this

copy is closed on disk and you still work with the original layer (in this case the towns_1 layer will

be saved on the disk and closed, and towns_PL will still be open in MapInfo – check in the


Saving a layer – HOME / File / Save Table

Observe that the save layer option (HOME / File / save table ) is active only if you have made

some editing in the layer(s) – a list of changed layers is shown when you use a Save Table command.

Temporary settings e.g. the style override, label styles and display options are not stored in layers, so

they are not to be saved under Save Table command. The same rules are true for the TABLE /

Content / Revert command which allows you to discard all changes that you have made since last

saving of a layer.

Do not save any of your edits.

It is possible to discard changes made since the last saving with the use of TABLE /

Content / Revert. This option is also active only when you have made some editing in the layer(s) – a list of changed layers is shown under Revert command.

Saving a workspace – HOME / File / Save Workspace or Save Workspace as )

MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window


As you already know, a workspace is a list of all the tables, windows, and settings (also temporary)

you are using, stored in a text file (extension .WOR). There are three important things to remember

about workspaces: i) saving a workspace does not mean that the data in your layers are saved – if you

have made any changes you are prompted to decide whether to save in the tables or to discard them; ii)

a workspace stores the layer names but also paths to the directories in which they are kept (unless you

have all layers and a workspace file in the same directory); iii) a workspace stores the names of ALL

open layers even if they are not displayed in any MapInfo window.

Add a temporary scale bar to your map: MAP / Add to Map / Scalebar . Find out what you can

customize in this scale bar. Notice how it changes when you zoom in or out.

!! (Ex.1.5) Open the RWMB_old (Regional Water Management Boards – old boundaries; now Poland has 11 RWMB) layer (directory Water_Boards). Display all open layers (make sure that

they are visible) in the map window with a scale of 1:10 000 000. Save your workspace (name it:

workspace_1). Add a screenshot of a MapInfo window to your report.

Closing layers HOME / File / Close table ; for closing all layers HOME / File / Close all .

REMEMBER!!! You do not close the layers when you close the map window using an ‘X’ icon. The layers are still open in the MapInfo memory. Only the ‘close table’ or ‘close all’ options cause closing the layers.

Close all layers. Do not save any changes you have made.

Find on the disc the file with saved workspace, open it with Notepad. Look at the first few lines, notice

the layers’ names and (sometimes short) paths. The rest of this file might be hard to understand.

Opening a workspace (HOME/ File / Open: Workspaces, Tables, Programs … ).

!! (Ex.1.6) Open the workspace, notice if anything has changed in the map window. Add a screenshot of a full MapInfo window to your report.

!! (Ex.1.7) Close the towns_PL layer and open towns_1. Something should have changed in your map window. Save the workspace under a name: workspace_2. Add a screenshot of a full MapInfo

window to your report.

Deleting, renaming a layer – TABLE/ Maintenance / Table / Delete Table, Rename Table

Use My Computer (or Windows Explorer etc.) to browse your working directory (Poland). Notice

that every MapInfo layer (e.g. towns_PL) consists of at least 4 files (usually 5, max 7) with the same

name and different extensions. If one file is lost the whole layer does not work. That is why you

should use MapInfo tools for copying (already discussed: HOME/ File / Save copy as), renaming and also deleting the layers.

REMEMBER: Copying, deleting, renaming the layers apply for the open layers only.

Open the towns_1 layer if it is not open and delete this layer. Close all the layers. Try to open

workspace_2. MapInfo is looking for towns_1, but it has just been deleted. It is worth to

remember that if you do not have all required layers a workspace cannot be completely opened, still

you can work further with existing data.

MapInfo – exercise 1 – working with map window



Create a map showing the nature protection forms in the Leba catchment. Display also the

administrative districts (gminas) with their names.

Open all the layers from Leba_Catchment directory. Play with layers’ order and display

to make an understandable map, where every layer is visible.

Advices and hints:

− use the style override options and do not change the graphic attributes of the objects – it will be much easier for the first time;

− we are used to have the lakes in blue color in a map, make them blue;

− do not change anything in the Leba_Rivers layer – you can easily find the main river and its


− the catchment boundaries should be visible;

− the most important nature protection forms are national park and nature reserve, less important – landscape park, and the least important – area of protected landscape; try to choose such styles of

display of the layers so they represent the order of importance;

− there is one more nature protection form: nature monuments, but loads of them are located in some parts of the Leba catchment; display them only when you see a map with a very detailed scale;

− there is a lot of polygon objects at the same location (e.g. gminas, catchment area, protected areas) so it is worth to use different fill patterns (such as dots, lines and so on) WITHOUT a background or no fill

style with quite thick, color borders;

− assure that you always know what is inside and what is outside a protected area (e.g. lakes in national or landscape parks);

− do not label too many objects (you should label gminas) and notice that the map is more clear when the text color corresponds to the object color.

Save the workspace (e.g. LEBA_1).

Add a screenshot of a full MapInfo window to your report.

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