GeoCalc Online: Using the New Point-to-Point Converter

Written by Jeff Hatzel

What is GeoCalc Online?

GeoCalc Online is Blue Marble Geographics’ online geodetic parameter repository. It contains all coordinate systems, transformations, and other definitions used by Blue Marble’s software. It is directly utilized by several Blue Marble software products: Geographic Calculator, the GeoCalc SDK, and Global Mapper. Users of these applications are able to query and update any supported definitions, as GeoCalc Online is kept current with the International Association of Oil and Gas Providers’ EPSG Geomatic Registry.

Users visiting GeoCalc Online have the ability to search the repository using the Filtered Search tool with advanced filtering options or by utilizing the Map Search tool, bringing all geodetic definitions to their fingertips. Logging into the site with a Blue Marble account will give access to a variety of actions, such as viewing or printing a definition’s parameters. For a limited time, signing in with an account tied to a Geographic Calculator order, will also provide full access to the brand new Point-to-Point Converter.  

Full mobile browser support now expands GeoCalc Online’s functionality even further. Users are not limited to running geodetic operations at their desks and can now work anywhere, searching the registry or logging in to run calculations in the field on the mobile device of their choice.

Point-to-Point Converter

Users of Geographic Calculator will find the Point-to-Point Converter similar to the popular Interactive Conversion Job found in the desktop software. The Point-to-Point Converter offers three operations: Convert, Forward, and Inverse. This blog explores the process of setting up a Convert operation in detail below. A Forward operation is used to compute a new coordinate that is a given distance and azimuth away from a starting coordinate. Similarly, an Inverse operation calculates the distance between two known coordinates on the same datum.

The Point-to-Point Calculator will have a familiar layout and functionality to Geographic Calculator’s Interactive Job.

When setting up a Convert operation, we’ll need to specify information regarding the source point and coordinate system, the target coordinate system, and the appropriate transformation between the two. GeoCalc Online provides users with a few different ways of completing this task. Those familiar with Geographic Calculator will find the Convert  setup familiar. The point is entered, given a name, and a picker is used to select the source coordinate system.

While the picker can be used to set the target coordinate system as well, there may be times when searching for a system is more appropriate. Navigating to the Search page of GeoCalc Online allows a search to be conducted based on a map location or by using the Filtered Search on the left for more detailed search options. 

In this example, EPSG Code 4326 was used as the search parameter for the Filtered Search. When viewing the search results, there are a variety of Actions that can be conducted; in this case, I chose Set As Converter Target. It’s worth noting that either the Source Point Coordinate System and/or the Target Point Coordinate System can be set via this method, or from the aforementioned picker. 

Viewing Actions associated with a search result allows users to directly set that coordinate system as the source or target in the Point-to-Point Calculator. Other Actions provide ways to view and share a given definition.

After navigating to the Point-to-Point Calculator, we’ll see the coordinate system that was previously set has been applied as the Target Point Coordinate System. Choosing “Select Transformation” will open the transformation picker. Finding and selecting a transformation involves a similar process to setting the Source Point Coordinate System. Once the operation is fully set, clicking “Calculate” will process the calculation, with alert messages displayed below. 

The banner across the bottom will alert users of any issues with their calculations. In this case, it was a success.

Without any need to install software, GeoCalc Online’s Point-to-Point Converter allows users to conduct basic operations right in the web app, expanding the reach of GeoCalc to users in the field.

To see GeoCalc Online in action, join us for a live webinar on November 18.  Register today to secure your spot and take a moment to peruse the website at    If you don’t have a Blue Marble account and would like to get a full trial of the Point-to-Point Calculator, please contact

Map Publishing in Global Mapper

Written by: David McKittrick

I have to admit that I am a vestige of a bygone generation, cartographically speaking of course. For me, the word ‘map’ still evokes memories of a bedroom wall adorned with National Geographic pull-outs or a tatty road atlas of Europe whose pages elicit fond memories of family road-trips. In my mind, a map is, first and foremost, a sheet of paper. 

Over the last few decades, the advent and rapid evolution of digital mapping technology have fundamentally changed how we perceive, represent, and share information about our world. Today, a map is much more likely to be rendered using an app on a phone or a window in a web browser. According to the prevailing consensus, paper maps are obsolete and inefficient, and have no practical use beyond esthetic or decorative appeal. It’s time to dispel this notion. 

Paper maps are inherently interoperable; they do not require a specific software or hardware configuration for viewing; they are effectively immune to power outages or connectivity issues; and they seldom require technical support. In short, they are arguably the most effective way to share geospatial data with a virtually unlimited audience.

Luckily for users of Global Mapper, this venerable software offers a plethora of tools for printing or publishing the results of any geospatial process; from simply printing the contents of the map view in 2D or 3D, to designing a professional-quality poster or atlas. In this article, we explore some of the map publishing capabilities of Global Mapper.

Any map design process must begin with the data. How should the features on the map be displayed? Is a supplementary base-map needed to provide context? Is it important to convey the spatial distribution of a particular characteristic of the data? Are labels necessary? When faced with these decisions, it is important to consider the audience. For whom is this map intended? A map is fundamentally a medium for communication, so it is essential that the map creator and viewer are speaking the same ‘language’. 

The simplest and most effective way to convey information in its geographic context is to apply a consistent visual pattern to the features on the map. Broadly described as thematic mapping, this pattern might reflect a numeric value, in which case the visual representation is best represented as an increased intensity of a particular color, or it may represent a recurring name or description, in which case the assigned colors can be random and distinct. 

In the example above, a vector polygon layer showing conserved lands in the state of Maine has been imported into Global Mapper and overlaid on a base map containing town and county borders. On the left, the map shows the generic appearance of the layer, while on the right, random colors have been applied to reflect the ownership of the land. A legend has been added to the on-screen display describing the meaning of the colors.

While Global Mapper offers the option of quickly printing this map or simply capturing the screen contents, there is a much more powerful Map Layout tool available.

 Accessed from the File toolbar or from the Tools menu, the initial dialog box of the Map Layout Editor offers three options that will define the overall appearance of the map: the size and orientation of the paper, the geographic extent of the map to be printed, and the scale of the printed map. Choosing the settings for two of these variables will automatically set the third. For instance, if a specific page size and extent are required, it is not possible to manually set a scale. 

In this dialog box, it is also possible to choose a previously saved template, from which all of the settings for a layout design will be automatically applied.

After confirming the overall layout parameters, the Map Layout Editor window will appear. This what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface offers numerous options for adding supplementary elements to enhance the design of the map prior to printing. Options include a scale bar, north arrow, map legend, text (for a heading or descriptive text), and images. 

In the example above, the Maine conserved lands layer has been loaded into the Map Layout Editor. The map has been centered and latitude/longitude tick marks have been placed around the neatline. Below the map, a title, scale bar, legend, and image of the State of Maine seal have been inserted.

The size, positioning, style, and other characteristics of these elements can be manually assigned, or they can be matched and aligned with other elements for a polished, professional look. 

The Map Layout Editor window is dockable so it can be positioned adjacent to the main Global Mapper map window allowing any adjustments to the display of the map itself, such as colors or feature labels, to be automatically reflected in the Layout Editor. 

After the element insertion and positioning processes are complete, the map is ready to be printed or to be exported as a geospatial PDF. These options are available from the File menu in the Map Layout Editor, from where it is also possible to save a template of the current layout, which can subsequently be applied to future printed maps.

The word ‘map’ is derived from the medieval Latin phrase, ‘Mappa Mundi’, which literally means ‘sheet of the world’. Today, however, a map is much more likely to be rendered in pixels than on parchment. Nonetheless, printed maps still play a pivotal role in sharing or communicating geospatial data, and for users of Global Mapper, the Map Layout tools provide the means to create the highest quality printed maps. 

If you missed the recent webinar on map publishing in Global Mapper, you can now watch the recording of the session. If you have any questions, please contact

GeoTalks Express – Session 17 Questions & Answers

The seventeenth Blue Marble GeoTalks Express online webinar series entitled Map Publishing in Global Mapper, was conducted on October 28th, 2020. During the live session, numerous questions were submitted to the presenters. The following is a list of these questions and the answers provided by Blue Marble’s technical support team.


Please send a copy of this presentation, so much great info.

We are glad you enjoyed the live webinar and as a registered attendee you should receive an email in the next week with a link providing access to the recording of this presentation.

For those who were not registered for this webinar, please look here on our website to register for any future sessions and gain access to past GeoTalks Express recordings. 

For the mapbook numbering, will the page number be automatically updated when a couple pages in the middle are removed?

The page numbers in the Acadia National Park mapbook example were created using a macro from the page identifiers listed in the page list on the left of the layout editor window. These page names are generated by the tile naming set up when the mapbook is initially created. These do not need to be sequential numbers, they could be numeric or alphabetic identifiers for the rows/columns. 

When working on a mapbook, if you delete a page it will be removed from the index page. However, the following pages will not be renamed or renumbered because the page names are not automatically updated. You can right-click on a page in the page list and manually change the name. This will update the page name in the list, in any macros used, and the page name on this index page. 

If you are looking to only create a mapbook for specific portions of your data, I do recommend you create area features in the main view of Global Mapper describing the specific extents and then create a Feature MapBook.

Can you add a North Arrow?

Yes, you can add a North Arrow as a layout element to any map. This element can be added through the Insert menu, the right-click > Insert  option on the map page, or the Add Layout Element toolbar button. After adding the element you can resize and position it as with any other layout element. 

Can you zoom to print scale on the layout to see the legibility of texts when printing? 

Currently zooming to print scale in the Map Layout options is not an option. I have written ticket #GM-11532 on adding this zoom option to the Map Layout Editor as it would be quite helpful when fine tuning element sizes and positions. 

Can I set the scale in some fixed ratio? like 1:1000 etc.? Suppose, if I need to print a map in 1 in 1000 scale, how do I prepare the map?

When setting up the map layout you have options to select the page size and the bounds or scale. To set a specific scale for your printed map, select to set the scale for the layout to your desired scale value. When setting the scale to a specific value the bounds of the map will be determined by the page size you have set, but you can set the center point for the map to help determine what area of data will be displayed in the layout map for print. 

After generating the initial map layout, you can alter the scale and center point, or bounds for the data by right-clicking on the map element and choosing Properties. On the Map View tab you will see options to alter the scale or bounds for the data in the layout. 

​Can you do a small map index, example showing a map of the entire USA? ​can you have two different maps in one page? For example showing where in reference this park is in the entire USA?

Currently you can only have one map view element per layout in the Map Layout Editor. We do have an open ticket, #GM-8481, on adding the ability to add multiple views including inset/overview maps. I have noted on this ticket that you are requesting this improvement as well. 

In the meantime the workaround to add an overview map to a layout would be to save an overview or larger data view as an image and add it as an image element to the layout. Although this work around will not allow you to add any scale bar or data specific elements to your overview map, it would allow you to show the entire US, or larger area, with a feature, area or point, denoting where the feature of interest is located. 

Can you insert grid ticks (i.e. small crosses at the intersections of E and N on the map)?

Currently the Map Layout Editor in Global Mapper does not have the option to add tick marks at the grid intersections on the map view element. I have written ticket #GM-11533 on adding the option to add lines or tick marks on the map view in the map layout editor. 

The labels of my grid frame overlap at the corners of the map (lats overwrite longs). Can I prevent them from over-writing?

To avoid overlap between grid frame labels try adjusting the orientation, position, and font size of the tick mark labels. This can all be done from the Grid Frame tab of the Map View Element Properties.  

Can we use a double grid frame to show both Lat/Long and Projected coordinate systems?

In the Map Layout Editor you can only select one grid frame for the map view element. If you would like to add grid lines across your data view you can enable those in the main view of Global Mapper through Configuration > Display Options > Grid. The grid added here will display on the data in the layout view. The grid set through the main Configuration dialog can be different from the one set though the map view element properties in the layout. 

I have written ticket #GM-11534 to add the option for a double grid frame (Lat/Lon and Projected coordinates) to be added to the map view element through the Map Layout Editor. 

For pages index, if I have a row tile, can the map rotate on a specified angle or ready from field value?

Map rotation is set for the dataset in the main view of Global Mapper. ​You cannot rotate the map view in the map view element for a single page map or for specific pages of a map view. 

I have written ticket #GM-11535 on adding an option to rotate data within map frame elements, specifically rotating the data for individual mapbook pages. 

​Does Global Mapper have labels or map element guidelines based on cartographic practices? For example, text inside of the map is often 0.07-0.08 times the plotted scale.​

Global Mapper does not have options to scale labels and other layout element text relative to the plotted map scale. Layout element text, like in text elements and the scale bar, can be set as a specific font size only. ​

Labels for features in your map are set through the layer options in the main view of Global Mapper. These labels can be set to a specific font size or the font can be set to a fixed height in meters. You can use this second option to tie your label size to the data as it is displayed at a specific scale in your map layout.

Is laying out labels on a curvilinear path a future possibility?

I have written ticket #GM-11536 on adding options for curving label features to better align with curved features. Our development team will look into this request.

Lighting Effects in Global Mapper

Written by Katrina Schweikert

Global Mapper® provides a variety of ways to apply sunlight or scene lighting to the map view, whether it is to create stunning visuals or to perform analysis based on sun angle. In this article, we explore some of the options for working with light across a variety of different types of data. 


Hillshading is an effect applied to terrain data in order to see the structure of the landscape. It uses shadows to show the terrain’s texture, such as slopes, hills, and valleys. This is also referred to as shaded relief because shadowing accentuates the relief of the terrain, even though the image, in reality, may be 2D. Hillshading works with terrain data in the 2D and 3D views and can also be applied to cartographic outputs like printed maps or digital images. 

Image of Lake Tahoe terrain with and without hillshading.

Hillshading is enabled by default when terrain data is loaded into Global Mapper and can be toggled on and off from the toolbar. The hillshading effect is visible in both the 2D and 3D views.  It may not necessarily be accurate for the location of the dataset because the default position of the sun for the hillshading is to the north-east. This sun angle creates a cartographic effect, in which most people will see mountains and hills extruded towards the viewer and valleys appearing indented. Moving the sun to another position will sometimes confuse the brain about the depth of certain parts of the terrain. Nonetheless, it is very useful for realistically modeling how the sun might hit the landscape. There are numerous sites on the internet that can provide the sun azimuth and altitude information for a specific location at a given date and time for modeling real-world conditions. 

The hillshade can also be applied to a custom terrain shader. In the below example a custom terrain shader was built replicating a palette similar to those used by Eduard Imhof in his famous shaded relief maps. 

Another option for working with hillshade is to apply the hillshade to an image or another raster layer overlaying the terrain. The quickest way to do this is to use the Texture Map option, however there are also several blending modes that combine an image layer with the underlying hillshaded terrain. 

Texture mapping applied to the NAIP imagery reveals that some of the topography is part of the lake bathymetry.

Additional Light Controls

The Dynamic Hillshading tool provides additional control over the lighting of the scene. Many of these settings also impact the lighting effect in the 3D view. Ambient lighting can be used to enhance the overall brightness of the terrain layer and how much sunlight touches the terrain.  Shadow darkness and highlight settings impact how black shadows and white highlights are rendered within the hillshading pattern. The Vertical Exaggeration feature amplifies the 3-dimensional nature of the landscape with the shaded relief by exaggerating the effect of lighting on the terrain. 

The light azimuth and altitude match real sun conditions to provide sun analysis. Shadows, Highlights, and ambient lighting are also adjusted to model this.

From the Dynamic Hillshading tool, it is also possible to add multiple light sources. With varied datasets such as terrain, 3D vectors, and 3D models combined into one scene, adding multiple light sources helps illuminate the various parts of the scene. 

Eye Dome Lighting

Eye Dome Lighting was added to Global Mapper with the release of version 22. This is a lighting effect that specifically applies to the 3D Viewer and is used to accentuate depth within the scene. Data in the middle ground of the scene that is three-dimensionally offset  from surrounding data is given a shadow outline. This provides the viewer with a better sense of features extruding from the ground.

With Eye Dome Lighting (EDL) enabled (top), it is easier to distinguish individual trees and powerlines from the rest of the 3D scene.

Within the 3D view configuration dialog box, the strength and radius of the Eye Dome Lighting effect can be adjusted. There are also several falloff options that define how the shadowing fades out across the radius. 

If you would like to explore this functionality in more detail, or familiarize yourself with any other new features in Global Mapper, request a two-week free trial today.  If you would like to speak with a representative about how the software can address your unique geospatial challenges, request a demo.

GeoTalks Express – Session 16 Questions & Answers

The sixteenth of Blue Marble’s GeoTalks Express online webinar series entitled What’s New in the Global Mapper Lidar Module v22, was conducted on October 14th, 2020. During the live session, numerous questions were submitted to the presenters. The following is a list of these questions and the answers provided by Blue Marble’s technical support team.


​Does the software take advantage of Multi-Core CPU or GPU processing to improve speed?

Many analysis and lidar functions in Global Mapper are multithreaded. By default, Global Mapper will typically use one fewer than the cores available when running multithreaded processes. In the newer versions of Global Mapper, there is a setting in Configuration > General > Advanced to set the maximum number of cores used for these processes. 

​Global Mapper does not utilize an available GPU for processing. A stronger or dedicated GPU will help to improve rendering ​in the 3D view and assist with some aspects of the Pixels to Point process. 


Do the terrain paint functions edit the original DEM or generate a new DEM file with the alterations?

Any changes made to terrain layers with the terrain painting tools in Global Mapper will be local to the workspace.  Saving the Global Mapper workspace will save the edits to the terrain in the workspace (*.gmw) file, but the source terrain file will not be edited. To save the altered terrain to an external file you will need to export the elevation data layer(s). The edits made to the terrain will be written into the export file. 


We would like the capability to extract bridges (class 17). Is that a possible future option in GM?

Global Mapper does not currently support an automated bridge classification or extraction from point cloud data. Using methods for manual classification, you can select and choose to assign points to class 17 to represent bridge features. 

Using the Perpendicular Path Profile view you can perform custom feature extraction for lines and areas. This workflow allows you to digitize/extract specific features in 3D based on your point cloud data. 


If you painted a road with the Smooth Terrain option, would this cause the road to “follow” the existing terrain, but still remain cross-axially flat (no sideways slope)?


The Smooth operation in the Terrain Painting tool will update the cells in the painted area to reflect an average elevation based on the values in the specified box size neighborhood for each cell in the brush area. So painting a road with the smooth operation will follow the terrain since the new values are derived from the terrain, but will not flatten the terrain to an even height so that it is cross-axially flat. 


You can use that to fix an elevation defect by voiding the defect then filling gaps. 

Yes, a great application for the terrain painting tool is to remove anomalies in the terrain by combining multiple operations in a single area. 


Do you also make cut and fill volume statistics with the Terrain Paint Tool?

The Terrain Painting operations do not produce cut and fill or volume calculations as you edit the terrain. However, after altering the terrain with the new Terrain Painting tool you can calculate volumes and/or cut and fill statistics for the edited layer. 

If you want find the volume between the unedited and edited terrain data, load two versions of the original terrain into Global Mapper, edit one layer, and then calculate the volume between the surfaces.


Is the feathering function on this similar to daylight to existing?

The feathering in the Terrain Painting tools created a softer slope from the edited terrain area to the existing terrain surrounding the edited area. This helps to prevent vertical or steep walls connecting the existing terrain to the edited pixels. 

The feathering size, like the brush size, is set as a number of grid cells. The actual slope of the feathered area is determined by the feathered area size, and the elevations of the edited and existing terrain. 


Can you create an exact width and slope for this terrain paint option?

There is not an option to specify a slope for an area when editing the terrain. To create a terrain area with a specific slope you would need to generate an area feature describing your desired slope and area. With that area feature, you can then generate a flattened site based on the elevations of the area feature.


Any help button on this tool to explain all those things you just mentioned?

Details on the Terrain Painting tool and options can be found in the Global Mapper knowledgebase.


Can you use an existing shape file for Terrain painting? 

The Terrain Painting tool does not have the option to use existing vector features to define the area to edit. The tool is designed to manually edit the terrain.

Other tools in Global Mapper, like those to generate terrain or create a flattened site plan allow you to use existing area features to create new terrain data. 


Can the Lidar Module edit/reclassify individual points in the point cloud in a 3D view?

Yes, you select point cloud returns in the 2D, 3D, or Path Profile view and manually classify them in the Lidar Module. The Manual Classification toolbar includes some buttons to classify more common classes, however, by choosing to edit the selected features, or using the Change Lidar Class tool you can select any class for manual classification. 


How does the building classification work with buildings under vegetation or very large buildings? 

The new building classification method looks at the points in a 3D space, as opposed to a gridded 2D space, and therefore does a better job identifying building points near to or under vegetation. With this new method, there is also an improvement to the classification across larger flat building roofs. 


Can classification be run in a batch process?

Yes, the automatic classification tools, including building and tree classification, can be run for only one point cloud, or across many point cloud layers. 

Point cloud classification can also be scripted through Global Mapper script if you prefer to perform the classification without viewing the data in Global Mapper. 


Would this smoothing tool work well in reducing noise in a roadway without losing the integrity of the data?

The Smooth operation in the Terrain Painting tool will update the cells in the painted area to reflect an average elevation based on the values in the specified box size neighborhood for each cell in the brush area. The smoothed values are changed from the original elevations, but since they are derived from surrounding terrain some integrity is retained. 


What would I change to if I have a very dense data set, like 250 points per meter? Would I change the cluster higher or lower?

The parameters set for the building and tree classification, as well as any automatic classification or extraction tool in Global Mapper, are dependent on the data being used. The Minimum Cluster Size parameter in the segmentation non-ground classification method sets the minimum point count for a cluster of identified points to be considered as a building or tree feature. For denser data where there are more points per meter you would likely want to increase the Minimum Cluster Size as there would be more points available and identified in clusters as opposed to fewer points being identified in sparser data. 


In the Terrain Painting tool, is feathering added to brush size?

The feathering distance is added around the brush that indicates the pixels to be edited. When using the Terrain Painting tool, a red circle around the cursor represents the brush size and a large blue circle represents the feathering area. 


What is the best accuracy that we can achieve in a classification? Is it possible to make a change detection in mm accuracy when comparing several epochs of measurements?


The classification accuracy depends on the data and the parameters used for classification. The automatic point cloud classification tools in Global Mapper do a great job classifying a point cloud, but if you want to detect small changes between datasets, visually inspecting, manual classification, and cleanup will be needed. 


In the Pixels to Points tool report, Is there an accuracy component? (RMSE error) of camera and GCP locations?  

The Pixels to Points log file generated when running the process includes detailed logging related to the control points. The log includes triangulation, transform, and fit information for the control points.


​Can the overlap tool provide a grid with elevation change between clouds?

The Find Overlap tool in Global Mapper will only show where the point cloud layers overlap. To create a grid quantifying the change in elevation between the layers you would need to first generate a separate elevation grid layer for each point cloud. With the generated elevation grid layers you could then use the Combine/Compare Terrain tool to generate a new gridded layer demonstrating the elevation change between the grids derived from your point cloud layers. 


If you apply the “Smooth terrain” option, then you close the workspace and then reopen it, is it still possible to use the “Revert to original heights” option?

Yes, if you load an elevation layer into Global Mapper and edit it with the Terrain Painting tools, save and then reopen the workspace, you should be able to revert the data to the original values from the file with the Terrain Painting tool. 

How to use the new Terrain Painting tool in Global Mapper’s Lidar Module

Written by: Mackenzie Mills, Application Specialist

One of the renowned strengths of Global Mapper® is its terrain processing functionality, and with each successive release, there are significant enhancements to the terrain creation, editing, analysis, and exporting tools,  In the latest version of the Lidar Module®, a new Terrain Painting tool, allows for the manual manipulation of terrain by using the  cursor like a brush to paint and edit the elevation surface in various ways.

The Terrain Painting tool can be found in the Analysis toolbar or Analysis menu. When enabled, a Terrain Painting Options dialog box appears in which a brush type and operation to use are selected when editing terrain data.

Brush Types

The point and line brush types include the option  to set the brush size in grid cell size or pixel resolution increments, derived from the layer being  edited. This value can be determined in the metadata for the terrain layer. For example, if the cell size for a layer is 5-meters, a 10-grid cell brush would be 50 meters in diameter. For a point brush type, the terrain within the extent of the brush will be modified based on the selected operation. 

When using the line and area brush types, the terrain editing process is similar to that of the digitizer tool. Left-clicking with the mouse places vertices, and right-clicking sets the final line vertex or closes the area feature. With the line brush type, the brush’s center corresponds with  the drawn line, and the brush size determines how far from the line the terrain will be edited. With the area brush type, the entire area inside the drawn bounds is edited by the selected operation. 

With some operations, feathering is used to blend edited values into the surrounding terrain. For the Raise Terrain, Lower Terrain, and Set Terrain Height operations, a feathering distance in grid cells can be set to provide a smooth transition between the original elevations and the altered elevation areas. 

Editing Operations

Fill Gaps use this tool to fill holes or null areas in the terrain  with the inverse distance weighting (IDW) method using values from surrounding pixels. This operation is useful for filling holes in  terrain data derived from a fragmented or incomplete point cloud.

Below, a digital terrain model (DTM) has been generated from a classified point cloud, and gaps have been left where building features were present. Using the Fill Gaps operation,  holes in the data can be closed to create a solid DTM layer.

Using the point brush type with a specified brush size, smaller gaps in the data can be filled with using same method. 

Smooth alters the elevation values for the pixels within the area, based on the specified box size. By default, the box size is set to 5×5 grid cells, so each cell within the brush area is altered based on the average elevation within the 5×5 neighborhood surrounding that specific cell. 

Raise Terrain and Lower Terrain either raises or lowers selected terrain cells’ elevation by a specified value. This is used to offset the elevation values for specific sections of the existing terrain. 

Below, a path along a canal is raised half a meter using the line brush and the Raise Terrain  operation. This altered terrain will impact further analysis of the terrain, like with the watershed and flooding simulation tools. 

When viewed in 3D, the feathering between the flatter raised path and the nearby terrain is clearly visible. The feathering creates a more realistic bank and prevents an abrupt dropoff from the altered values to the nearby unedited values.

Set Terrain Height  applies a specific elevation within the brush extent. Unlike the above raise and lower terrain options, this operation \overwrites the existing elevation using the defined height value. This operation can be used to flatten an area of terrain and fill in gaps in the data, as shown in the below example. The image on the right shows a pond area with some data missing. The surface of the pond is rough due to noise in the original point cloud. Using the area brush type and the Set Terrain Height operation with a value of 26 meters, the areas of no data are filled, and the pond area is flattened to the appropriate height. 

Set to “No Data” creates gaps in the terrain by removing data from the designated area. This can be a useful first step to clear anomalies in the data before using another terrain painting operation to close the data gaps based on the surrounding elevation values. 

To remove the bump in the terrain created by a truck, the data must first be removed for the area.

After removing the data for the truck feature, the Fill Data operation is used to fill in the area of no data. This process flattens the lump in the terrain caused by the truck’s inclusion in the original data. 

Revert to Original Heights undoes any changes made to the terrain and will revert the pixel elevations to their original values. 

The Lidar Module’s Terrain Painting tool provides a direct and interactive way to edit terrain data With multiple operations and methods to apply edits, there are a wide variety of uses for this tool. All terrain edits are saved in the Global Mapper workspace and are retained when exporting layers to a file. This innovative tool provides the means to sculpt the terrain reflecting artificial modifications and to improve the quality of terrain layers by removing unwanted  features or anomalies before continuing with  complex analysis procedures. 

If you’re not familiar with Global Mapper and the Lidar Module, request a two-week free trial today. If you would like to speak with a representative about how the software can address your unique geospatial challenges, request a demo!

GeoTalks Express – Session 15 Questions & Answers

The fifteenth of Blue Marble’s GeoTalks Express online webinar series entitled What’s New in Global Mapper v22, was conducted on September 30th, 2020. During the live session, numerous questions were submitted to the presenters. The following is a list of these questions and the answers provided by Blue Marble’s technical support team.


Can we paint into land use data similar to painting terrain?

The Terrain Painting tool is designed for editing #D gridded data like digital elevation models. If you have a 3D gridded version of your land use data you would be able to edit it with this tool. 

For 2D raster image data editing, I recommend you explore the Raster Reclassify and possibly the Raster Calculator tool to edit and change values in your image layers. 


There’s a query on the Forum: Version 22 strange export behavior – “I just upgraded to 22 and when trying to export a PDF or other formats too, after I select the file name, it keeps asking for it again and again, therefore making it impossible to export anything.


I tried the same workspace export with version 21.1 and it worked normally.” Maybe not for this presentation, but needs looking at and answering.

Thank you for bringing this forum post to our attention. The Global Mapper forum is an informal version of tech support, meaning it is not consistently monitored by members of our team. The Global Mapper Forum is a space for Global Mapper users to share their knowledge and ask and answer questions. If you encounter an issue in the program we recommend you email our technical support team ( with some details on the behavior and your workflow. 

​Are you seeing this export issue that you have noted from the forum? Are you seeing this only in version 22.0? Any details on your data, workflow, and machine setup would be helpful for use to better understand what may be going wrong in the export process. 


We have a license server at the university. I assume it has to be upgraded for v22?

Yes, the network license file on your license server will need to be upgraded to support version 22 of Global Mapper. Please contact our licensing team at with your recent order information to obtain a new license file for your server. 


Is it possible to use the 3d selector by drawing a freehand polygon (i.e. no a rectangle?

The new sweep selection in the 3D view only supports clicking and dragging a rectangular area of selection. The poly select option is still available in the 2D main view. 


On the speed improvement note.  Our 2020 imagery came in for the county. Around .5 TB worth.  I was able to load the entire county worth of new GeoTIFF files at one time.  It took a couple minutes but still.  The whole county, not individual files. 

I am glad to hear you have noted the speed improvements in the new version of Global Mapper and that they are assisting in your workflow. Let us know if you have any other questions or comments!


When digitizing a polyline is there a way to delete the vertices if you make a mistake and then continue to digitize?

Yes, when clicking to digitize a line or area feature you can use the shortcut ctrl + z to undo the placement of the last vertex and then continue digitizing the feature. 


Can you please tell us if you have any improvements to the map layout editor on the roadmap?  Stuff like rotated text, multiple map view elements or vicinity maps, draw shapes (like annotation arrows)?

In the new version 22 of Global Mapper there are no major additions to the map layout editor tool. In the main view of Global Mapper you can create a label layer to edit and rotate individual label features. These edits and position changes will be retained in the map layout editor. 

We do have open tickets relating to some of the functions you noted. Ticket #GM- on adding an option to display multiple data views in the map layout editor, ticket #GM-3847 on adding options to insert reference arrows and callout shapes, and ticket #GM-7779 on rotating text elements in the map layout editor. I have added your requests to these tickets for our development team to take into consideration. 

The chainage tool – can you export the distance to the line for all of the points into a txt file or file for Excel?

The line segments created to connect the points to the line​ appear in a new User Created Features layer in the workspace. Using this new layer, you can export these lines with attribute measurements to any supported vector format, or open the attribute editor and save the attribute table, including the length measurement, to a CSV file that can be opened and manipulated further in Excel. 


For the chainage tool, does that line have to be straight for chainage or could it be, say, a road?

The selected line used with the chainage tool does not need to be a straight line. It can be more complex with turns and more vertices. The line features created connecting the points to the original selected line will always be straight lines measuring the shortest path from the point to the selected line.


Is the chainage measured by great circle or rhumb line?

The distance measurement method for your installation of Global Mapper can be set in Configuration > General > Measure/Units. The option for calculation type are great circle, grid distance, rhumb line.


How to combine two topographic maps, splicing as-buiilt topo features or proposed grading into the base topographic survey.  

You can combine terrain layers with multiple methods using the Combine/Compare Terrain tool in the program. For more manual editing of a terrain layer, try out the new Terrain Painting tool available in version 22 of Global Mapper. 

From the combined or edited terrain data you can apply a shader and hillshade to see relief in the 2D view. You can also generate contour lines for the edited terrain that will help to better describe the area


Will there be tools to edit 3D solid models in the 3D view in the future?

As a GIS program Global Mapper has geared its function toward the editing of gridded terrain layers. These layers can be created, edited and combined in the Global Mapper program. Although the editing takes place in the 2D view the results of editing 3D data can be viewed in the 3D viewer. Our newest tool for editing terrain data is the Terrain Painting tool now available for use in Global Mapper version 22. 

How does V22 handle 8 bit rasters with a color table applied​?

Global Mapper can load and work with 8 band imagery layers with palette values. These images can be used in the Raster Reclassify tool and can be created in certain formats when exporting data


When do we get a smoothing function as in Inverse distance weighted algorithm?

Specific tools in Global Mapper use the inverse distance weighting algorithm to fill gaps in data as this is where the algorithm seems most directly applicable. These tools include elevation grid creation and Terrain Painting. What type of data are you looking to smooth using this method? How would you expect this to work?

The New Spatial Operations Tool in Global Mapper v22

Written by Jeff Hatzel

One of the new additions featured in Global Mapper v22 is the ‘Spatial Operations’ tool. Part of the ‘Analysis Menu’, this tool allows users to conduct overlay operations based on loaded vector data. This tool further expands the application’s spatial analysis functionality, allowing users to identify regions where analyzed layers meet specific criteria.

The initial release of this tool includes the ‘Intersect’ operation. This operation analyzes two unique vector area feature layers. The result extracts new area features delineating where the source data overlaps.

One of the most common uses of intersect operations is suitability analysis, finding acceptable locations based on various input variables. Let’s look at a workflow highlighting how this tool may be used to find specific areas of interest.

Source Data:

In this example, we are working with two different source data layers. As you can see in the image below, one layer contains municipal information: roads (black lines) and the municipality boundaries (yellow areas). The green area features represent sensitive ecological regions.

The goal of this process is to analyze the source data to highlight all ecologically sensitive regions within one of the many municipalities. It’s possible that some of these regions extend beyond the boundary of the municipality, which would be beyond our area of interest. We can account for this in our analysis as well.

The ecological areas of interest (green) and municipality boundaries (yellow) are in two different source vector layers.

Setting Up the Spatial Operations Tool:

This tool currently functions on area features, so line features are not included as part of the analysis. In this scenario, we are only interested in one of the two municipalities so we do not need to run this analysis for both regions. Before opening the tool, I selected the municipality of interest using the ‘Digitizer’ tool. After opening the tool, I’m able to specify that I only want to work with my selected feature.

One of the municipality areas features selected, highlighted with a crosshatch pattern.

Located in the ‘Analysis Menu’, the Spatial Operations tool  has a few options that need to be set. Use the ‘Layer’ option to enter a name for the output layer. The ‘Intersection’ operation is currently the only one available within the tool. Next, choose which of the loaded layers you want to analyze using the ‘First Layer’ and ‘Second Layer’ options. When selecting the municipalities layer, enable the option ‘Only Selected Features’ to ensure that the analysis is only conducted within that region. The text box on the bottom of the tool’s window will provide a message once all of the settings are properly selected, and the tool is ready to run.

Naming the output layer and selecting which layers to analyze within the tool.

Results and Output:

Once this process completes, a new layer will be created. This new layer delineates the intersecting regions of the two source layers loaded into the tool, represented in red below. These regions highlight all the ecologically sensitive areas within the municipality. Since the criteria for this analysis required the intersection of both layers, the output layer may not necessarily cover the full extent of the source layer. For example, on the eastern and northern sides of the dataset, there are ecologically sensitive areas (green) that expand beyond the output regions (red). This is expected as there is no overlap with the municipality in that location.

This output data can be used for a variety of further analysis. These areas features can be used as the basis of selection of subsequent features, have attribute analysis performed on them, and be utilized in many other workflows.

If you would like to explore this functionality in more detail, or familiarize yourself with any other new features in Global Mapper, request a two-week free trial today.  If you would like to speak with a representative about how the software can address your unique geospatial challenges, request a demo!

The Ada Platform Creates Holographic Digital Twins of Your Global Mapper Data

Written by Keith Lay, Marketing Director at Clirio Technologies

Global Mapper® has revolutionized how engineers manage, analyze, and design with spatial and mapping data. Clirio Technology’s Ada Platform provides the next level of visualization for your sites and projects by creating a holographic digital twin of your data, straight out of the Global Mapper interface, viewable on a Microsoft HoloLens or iOS (iPhone or iPad) devices. The Ada Platform allows Global Mapper users to go beyond interpreting complex 3D data on a flat, 2D screen by bringing the data into the room around you, to view at any angle, up to a one-to-one scale.

Multiple users can view and collaborate on 3D spatial data, even at different locations.

Here is a look at the process of converting your Global Mapper projects into holograms using Ada’s one-button export function and cloud-based scene building tool.

Step 1: Export Your Global Mapper Project

Create your Global Mapper project using the workflow you are already familiar with to combine and georeference multiple data formats (such as GIS, lidar, photogrammetry, and subsurface), analyze, create, and edit your maps. With the Ada add-on module installed, use the one-button export function to quickly generate the files required to create holograms.

Using the one-button export add-on in Global Mapper (red circled area).

Step 2: Create Scenes from Your Data in the Ada Cloud

Next, add the files exported in the previous step, enter the information in the proper fields to describe the project, and click on the ‘Create Scene’ button. Ada uses the power of the Azure Cloud to process your data in minutes, converting it into a true three-dimensional hologram. With that speed comes state-of-the-art security that gives you the peace of mind over the safety of your data. 

Drag-and-drop your exported files into the Ada Cloud Scene creator.

Step 3: Build a Presentation

If your project requires multiple scenes to be shown, the Ada Cloud software has a built-in presentation tool that allows you to package together as many scenes as you require. Presentations are created by dragging items from the list of created scenes into the sequence you wish to view them. This allows you to group and show different sites, various views, or different data types relating to a project. Add some descriptive information into the fields and click the ‘Create Presentation’ button to make your completed presentations available to view on your HoloLens or iOS device. 

Easily combine Scenes to create Presentations.

Step 4: View and Share Your Holograms

The Ada Platform includes holographic viewers for both Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headsets, as well as for iOS (iPad and iPhone) devices. With the HoloLens, you get a true holographic visualization of your data, represented as a persistent 3D object in your room. iOS devices use augmented reality to simulate the placement of your 3D data in your space through the screen of the device and provides for more ubiquitous access. Simply launch the viewer on your device, select your presentation from the list and place the map where you want it. This could be on a tabletop or could fill the room entirely as you require. Multiple users in the same space can view and discuss the 3D model, anchored to a common location. With our new Remote Collaboration feature, users can now view and discuss the holographic model from remote locations, all the while communicating spatially (with avatars and audio) through the system. This can dramatically reduce unnecessary travel and contact, while maintaining high-quality interaction with the data, and bring the site to the experts.

Launching the Ada Viewer and placing a holographic tabletop map

The Ada Platform is available now to add value to your Global Mapper workflow and create a true 3D representation of your data for engineering discussions, project reviews, client presentations, and stakeholder engagement. More information can be found at 

A video showing the workflow outlined in this blog can be found here: 

If this blog piqued your interest and you’d like to find out more about Global Mapper and the Ada Platform, join us for a free webinar on Thursday, November 5th at 10:00 AM (EST). Register now to secure your spot!

If you’re not familiar with Global Mapper and the Lidar Modulerequest a two-week free trial today.

Geo-Challenge — September 2020 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the Body of Water? – Hudson Bay

Name the Country? – Azerbaijan

Name the Airport? – Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Name the Capital City? – Copenhagen

Name the Waterfall? – Iguazu Falls