This tutorial will be a simple demonstration of MapInfo Professional for people that are brand new to using the software.
The first thing to explain is what a table is. We’ll begin that explanation by opening a table. From the File menu, choose Open. We’re going to open the World table, which does come with the free trial download of MapInfo Professional, if you download the sample data. When it opens you will see a map of the world. MapInfo Professional behaves as any other standard Microsoft Windows application, so we can make the window a little larger. The first thing to know about a table is that is more than just what you see here in the map window. If you go to the Window menu, there are options to view the data in different ways. We’re going to choose New Browser Window. This does not refer to a web browser, but a data browser. You can see rows and columns of information, similar to what you would see in a database or spreadsheet.
The key difference here though is that the table in MapInfo Professional is made up of both the map and the browser. The way you can think of it is that each row in the browser is actually one of the shapes on the map, which are countries in this case. Another way to think of it is to imagine that the browser has an invisible column on the end, after all the columns of data like country name and capital city and population. This invisible column contains one of the shapes on the map. You can also use some of the tools on the Main toolbar to further illustrate the relationship between the map and the browser. We’ll click on the Info tool, and then click on a country on the map. The Info Tool window opens and displays the entire data record for that country, which is the exact same information that is in the browser. You can click on a few more countries and see how the data in the Info Tool window changes. We are going to close the Info Tool window and open up another table. This time the table we will open is of capital cities, called WorldCap. Now with two tables in the map window it looks a little bit cluttered. There are some other basic capabilities that can help you with that. We will take a look at these four tools: the Zoom In tool, the Zoom Out tool, the Grabber tool which allows you to move the map, and the Change View tool. If you click on the Zoom In tool and then click on the map, the map zooms in. You can keep clicking until you get the view you wish. If you use the Info tool again and click on a capital city, you will see slightly different results than what we showed previously. Since there was more than one item where you clicked (i.e., the capital cities table and the countries table), you will see more than one result in the Info Tool window. The two items are referred to as layers in the map window. You can click on the entire data record by clicking on one of the items in the list. And you can go back to the list by clicking on the List button. The Zoom Out tool works in a similar way to the Zoom In tool. If you click the Zoom Out tool and then click on the map, the map zooms out. If you click the Grabber tool, you can click and drag in the map window to move the map wherever you would like. The Change View tool allows you to choose a particular zoom. If you click it, the Change View window displays and you can enter a number to change the view. If you reduce the number in the Zoom text box, the map will zoom in. We’ve covered some very basics about what a table is. Just to review a table is a set of data that can include both the objects you see on a map and underlying data that goes with these objects. This is a fundamental concept for using MapInfo Professional. In addition, another very important concept is that a map is created by putting together a number of different tables as layers.
We have not covered how to save your map so you can view it again later. That is done with the Save Workspace command in the File menu. For a more detailed look at what workspaces are, see the video tutorial “Working with Workspaces”.
There are a number of other tutorial lessons on a number of different features within MapInfo Professional which we encourage you to watch as well. Of particular interest to follow this one might be the tutorial on the browser window and the tutorial on Layer Control.