What to expect from GeoTalks 2021


Kody Theriault | Projections


By Cíntia Miranda, Director of Marketing

Blue Marble Geographic’s annual online conference, GeoTalks 2021, will be held on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (EST). The virtual gathering offers a full day of 30-minute sessions covering a variety of topics, including product updates with an overview of new features, tools, tips and tricks, as well as use cases presented by Blue Marble software users from throughout the world. 

GeoTalks 2021 Guest Speakers

GeoTalks will feature presentations by several in-house experts, as well as guest speakers from a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds, who will share their expertise and experience:

Low Distortion Projection Design to replace AK State Plane Zone 2022 

Troy Hicks – Northern Region Surveyor for Alaska DOT

Troy Hicks is the Northern Region Surveyor for Alaska DOT, where he designed and implemented low distortion projections for most of the state while also managing three field crews. In his session, Mr. Hicks will explain how Global Mapper was used to develop and design low distortion projections for land surveying, civil engineering, and general GIS in Alaska.


How Argentina Extrema created topographic maps for mountaineering, climbing, and trekking the Andes

Santiago Medina – Mountain Guide & Instructor with Argentina Extrema

Santiago Medina is a mountain guide with Argentina Extrema and an instructor at the Instituto Superior Andes del Sur. Medina is from Buenos Aires and has been using Global Mapper since 2013 to design topographic maps for mountaineering, climbing, and trekking the Andes. One of the obstacles to climbing the Andes is the lack of access to updated cartographic information, which poses a challenge to mountaineers and mountain guides working in the area. In his session, Mr. Medina will share how Global Mapper provided a solution to this issue by using available elevation data, collected GPS data, and other software tools.


The Rusizi III Hydro Power Plant Topographical Survey Report

Erneste Ntakobangize – Graduate Student at the University of Rwanda and winner of the 2020 Blue Marble Geographics Scholarship. 

The Ruzizi III is a 147MW hydropower project being developed on the Ruzizi River that flows along the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. In his session, Mr. Ntakobangize will share how he analyzed data collected by a drone equipped with Lidar sensors using Global Mapper and Geographic Calculator.


MangoMap and the Cloud

Paul Gager –  Director of MangoMap

Paul is a co-founder and Director of MangoMap, a web GIS platform that makes it easy to create and share great-looking web maps while unlocking critical insights otherwise hidden from view. Global Mapper users can set up their own personal MangoMap account and publish map data directly from Global Mapper. In his session, Mr. Gager will share real-world examples of how you can create and share attractive web maps to engage and inform your stakeholders. 


Remote Collaboration on Geomatics Data: Bring the Site to the Expert

Keith Lay –  Director of Sales and Marketing for Clirio Technologies

Keith Lay is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Clirio Technologies. In his session, Mr. Lay will show how the Ada Platform allows for the creation and remote sharing of 3D holograms using Global Mapper data. This process can help reduce or eliminate unnecessary travel while maintaining a high level of fidelity, understanding, and collaboration in a virtual space. With a one-button export from Global Mapper, a user can go from project data to sharable holograms in a matter of minutes. Once in the secure cloud, you can then host a virtual session that others can join from around the world to view a true three-dimensional digital twin of your project.

Lessons and tips on how to use Global Mapper

In between presentations, Blue Marble Geographics experts will demonstrate some of the latest and lesser-known features of the company’s GIS software, Global Mapper. Using real-world scenarios, they will introduce some of the tools added in the recent version 22 release and several of the software’s more powerful hidden gems.

The latest Blue Marble news and product development updates

Blue Marble Geographics is continuously updating its software. GeoTalks attendees will enjoy a   behind-the-scenes look at what the company is working on for the next version of Global Mapper®, Geographic Calculator®, its software developer toolkits, and online geodetic repository –  GeoCalc Online®.

Registering for GeoTalks is easy!

As well as being free and full of high-quality content, GeoTalks presentations can be viewed at any time and any place. All registrants, whether they can attend the live event or not, will be provided with access to recordings of all of the presentations.

Register for GeoTalks 2021 today to save your seat!

Where is Geospatial Technology Heading in 2021

By: Patrick Cunningham, President & CEO

Like all who would sit down and write their predictions for 2021, I am immediately drawn to recall what my predictions were for 2020. Certainly, they did not contain an iota or inkling of the pending global pandemic and its effect on all industries.  Widespread stay-at-home orders and dramatic changes in the way economies all over the world functioned by the spring of 2021 had both direct and indirect impacts on the day-to-day operations of geospatial businesses.  Perhaps the most visible was the almost immediate focus on COVID-19 outbreak maps, predictive epidemiology in GIS, and a sense of GIS professionals trying to do their part to warn and report for the greater good.  This effort immediately reminded me of what is often considered to be one of the first examples of  GIS analysis: mapping the cholera outbreak of London in 1854 by John Snow.

Just as I stated at the beginning of 2020, the GIS industry is continuing to ride a wave of interest in drone or UAV data collection and processing.  This will continue to move forward as the technology is compelling, affordable, and advantageous to local project work.   Software companies such as Blue Marble Geographics are working on products that expand the data processing capacity and the quality of the derivative 3D geospatial datasets from the ‘Structure from Motion’ process.   This effort and interest will continue in 2021.

Related to 3D GIS is the increased, some would say commonplace, usage of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) gaming devices in the consumer market.  The popularity of these gaming devices was evident in their robust sales during the holiday season.  There has also been an increased acceptance and growing popularity of video gaming as a form of organized competition.  Gaming is now recognized as a  “sport” and is even being offered in schools in conjunction with traditional sports such as soccer or basketball.  This expansion of the gaming market tied to the increased popularity of VR and AR in the consumer market will affirm GIS software companies’ original efforts in the area.  This trend is analogous to the Apple iPhone entering the business market.  When the iPhone was originally released, it was considered a consumer-focused product, however business professionals loved it, and eventually, the iPhone overtook the Blackberry as the dominant mobile device for professionals.   

GIS software companies are beginning to recognize the potential applications of VR/AR GIS but have been hesitant to release tools or products for this area of the market.  With the expansion and acceptance of these devices in the consumer market, they will see the affirmation they need to focus on software development efforts in this area.  Look for more GIS software releases focusing on AR/VR by the end of 2021.

The pandemic had another major effect on business in 2020: the rapid transition to a remote workforce.  Companies such as Blue Marble are now operating almost 100% remotely.  This change in the business landscape has accelerated the development of better cloud and remote GIS tools.   Blue Marble quickly responded to this challenge by adding remote desktop licensing to our software to provide remote customers easy and full access to their essential software tools.  Blue Marble also released the first generation of a cloud version of the Geographic Calculator, coinciding with an update to GeoCalc Online.  Look for more cloud versions of GIS and remote-enabled tools in 2021 and beyond as a result of changes in workforce dynamic brought on by the pandemic, as these changes will have long term effects.  

Finally, we all hope that 2021 will also be known as the year that the pandemic ended.  With the worldwide roll-out of vaccines well underway, there is cause for optimism, and that is something we can all use more of in the coming year.


Patrick Cunningham | President & CEO, GISP

Cunningham offers over two decades of experience in software development, marketing, sales, consulting, and project management.  Under his leadership, Blue Marble has become the world leader in coordinate conversion software (the Geographic Calculator) and low-cost GIS software with the 2011 acquisition of Global Mapper. Cunningham is Chair of the Maine GIS Users Group, a state-appointed member of the Maine Geolibrary Board, a member of the NEURISA board, a GISP, and holds a master’s in sociology from the University of New Hampshire.

Global Mapper Mobile in Action

Written by: Rachael Landry

Winter has arrived in the northern hemisphere, and municipalities and utility companies are working hard to keep up with the changing weather. They need to be aware of potential issues, such as tree limbs overhanging powerlines, street signs that may have been damaged, or blocked storm drains that can cause flooding and ice build-up. With Global Mapper and Global Mapper Mobile, crews have an effective and convenient way to report and manage these issues. 

Used in conjunction with the desktop software, the mobile application, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, efficiently extends the reach of a GIS into the field by facilitating access to data for teams that work both in and out of the office.

For example, before venturing out to assess the condition of storm drains, a data manager in the office can prepare the required data in the desktop version of the software. This might include drain locations, sewer pipe infrastructure, property boundaries, etc. The data manager can also add template layers to the workspace for easy form-based data collection to ensure consistency in the data collection process. A layer template pre-defines the layer characteristics, such as vector data type (point, line, or area), attribute structure, pick-lists, whether an attribute is required, etc. This template is subsequently used to create an empty layer in the workspace, which will allow the team to note valuable information about the drains including identification numbers, condition, required maintenance, or blockages.


After the required layers have been prepared in the desktop version of Global Mapper, they are ready to be transferred to Global Mapper Mobile as a Global Mapper Mobile Package file. This single compressed file containing all of the data is transferred to the users’ device via email, Dropbox, or another file exchange service, and opened in the Global Mapper Mobile application. Once the file is in the application, the team is ready to begin their work in the field.

With the map loaded, the team can choose to create points, lines, or polygons in the app, which can be done manually or automatically based on their mobile device’s GPS location. Users of Global Mapper Mobile Pro can pair an external Bluetooth GPS receiver using the Advanced GPS functionality to ensure more accurate positioning. In our example, the team drops points at each storm drain location and uses attributes preassigned in the template layer to complete the data collection process noting each drain’s condition. When the review of each drain has been completed, the file can be sent to the data manager using the same transfer options noted previously. 


The desktop and mobile versions of Global Mapper make it easy to work in the office and the field. Please visit the Blue Marble website to download the app and a Global Mapper trial today to learn more about it.

Top Three New Features of Geographic Calculator 2020 SP1

Written by: Sam Knight, Director of Product Management

Geographic Calculator is a powerful geodetic application with particular strength in survey, seismic, and energy exploration. In addition to single point, point database, and file conversion tools, this highly accurate transformation software includes many specialized tools such as Canadian DLS (Dominion Land Survey) Land Grid tools, Seismic Survey Conversion tools, Area of Use tools for guiding users to the most appropriate transformation settings for a specific location, Horizontal Time-Dependent Positioning (HTDP), Geoid Creation tools, and much more.  

The Service Pack 1 (SP1) release of Geographic Calculator 2020 includes many new features and improvements.  This blog focuses on the top three

New IOGP Data Model 

The SP1 release includes support for the new IGOP (International Association of Oil and Gas Producers) data-model-types for Usage and Scope Objects, Dynamic Datums, and Ensembles.  Usages and Scopes help define where and how particular definitions are used.  A Usage takes the familiar Area of Use filter and adds on an intended purpose within that area, the “Scope.”  Examples of Scope might be “cadastre mapping” or “geodesy.”  Together they give more information about the intended use or purpose of particular coordinate systems, beyond simply where they might apply.  Dynamic datums acknowledge motion of a coordinate system through time.  Until recently, datum transformations were considered essentially fixed in time without realizing the change over time that is endemic to the Earth. Periodically, some datums are updated with a new “realization” with further information.  A Dynamic Datum changes this idea to be a datum that inherently models change.   Lastly, Ensembles are a new grouping of datum realizations, such as WGS84, which has many realizations at different points in time.  An Ensemble allows those to be grouped together under a single collective entity to simplify talking about them all at once.  Together these model updates will lead to some interesting new possibilities in the field of geodetics.

Access to the new GeoCalc Online Point-to-Point Converter

GeoCalc Online is Blue Marble Geographics’ online geodetic parameter library. Users of Geographic Calculator will find the new cloud-based 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. Without any need to install software, GeoCalc Online’s Point-to-Point Converter allows users to conduct basic operations in the web app, expanding the reach of GeoCalc to users in the field.  This interface works well on a mobile phone or tablet and is a great way to perform Quality Assurance in the field when you need it and where you need it.

The Point-to-Point Calculator has a familiar layout and functionality to Geographic Calculator’s Interactive Job and is optimized for mobile device use.

Support for GeoTiff Digital Elevation Models

This new release of Geographic Calculator introduces support for GeoTiff Digital Elevation Models, enabling encoding of elevations or simple raster data.  Many users are familiar with GeoTiff imagery formats, but for those working with terrain and elevation data , GeoTiff can also be used to store z-values instead of colors.  This new option is found on the Raster Transformations jobs in Geographic Calculator.   

Download a Geographic Calculator trial today and join us for a live webinar on December 9 at 2:00 PM (EST) to learn more about all of these new features.  Register today to secure your spot.

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  http://www.geocalconline.com/.    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 sales@bluemarblegeo.com.

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 geohelp@bluemarblegeo.com.

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.