What is an SDK? Using the Global Mapper SDK in third-party software and extensions

“SDK” stands for Software Development Kit. It’s an installable package of software development tools that enables programmers and engineers to create applications and extensions. In other words, software developers use SDKs like car mechanics use car parts. Mechanics don’t reinvent the brakes, axle, or transmission when they build a car. They buy the parts and put the car together.

When software developers want to add a certain functionality to their application, they don’t necessarily need to build everything from scratch. Instead, they might be able to use an SDK that offers the functionality they need. To make development easier and faster, SDKs are often packaged with other programs for translating code, testing, and debugging.

Blue Marble Geographics® offers SDKs that include the functionality of most of its GIS and geodetics applications to assist developers with their projects. In this blog entry, we’ll take a look at two user-case examples involving the Global Mapper® SDK: one in which the kit was used within the third-party software WindSim; and another in which a custom Global Mapper extension was created for BGC Engineering’s cloud-based platform.

But first, a little information on Global Mapper

Global Mapper is Blue Marble’s all-in-one geographic information system (GIS) software. It is designed for analyzing geographic information, making maps, visualizing 3D and point cloud data, generating and editing digital terrain models, and managing other geographic information. It’s used in a broad range of industries — ranging from military and defense to natural resources management — for countless purposes.

With every release of Blue Marble desktop software, there is an update to the accompanying SDK. The latest releases of the Global Mapper SDK and LiDAR Module® SDK, for example, incorporate several enhancements from the recent version 21 releases. A major addition to the LiDAR Module SDK is the ability to leverage the LiDAR Module’s photogrammetric tool — Pixels-to-Points® — for generating point clouds from drone or UAV images.

So, as you can imagine, the Blue Marble SDKs allow for infinite possibilities.


3D model of the wind conditions of an area
This illustration displays the wind speed over an area of turbines. The red colored wind turbines produce the highest amount of energy. The yellow and white turbines produce only half of that energy.

WindSim: Extracting elevation and vegetation data with the Global Mapper SDK

WindSim is a wind energy software that uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to optimize the placement of wind turbines for maximum energy production and profitability. The application provides a fast and easy way to simulate and assess the local wind conditions of prospective sites for wind-energy development.

3D model for calculating wind conditions
To determine local wind conditions, WindSim uses CFD and 3D numerical models that have been discretized into millions of cells. Behind these 3D models is the elevation and vegetation data that has been extracted using the Global Mapper SDK.

Topography plays an important role in determining the position of a turbine. A difference of only a few hundred meters in positioning can have a significant impact on a turbine’s energy production. In order to calculate local wind or “flow” conditions for any given location, WindSim needed the ability to extract global terrain and vegetation data. This functionality was added to WindSim with the Global Mapper SDK.

“Within the wind energy sector, knowledge about the local wind conditions are particularly valuable,” said Dr. Arne R. Gravdahl, CTO and Founder of WindSim. “The success of WindSim Express relies on the easy extraction of terrain data globally.”

Learn more about WindSim at windsim.com.


BGC Engineering: Creating an extension for Global Mapper to export maps

BGC Engineering Inc. (BGC) is an international consulting firm that developed the mixed-reality software system The Ada Platform™ (Ada) for the holographic visualization of applied earth science engineering data.

Viewing 3D holograms in the HoloLens
By viewing 3D holograms in the HoloLens, both technical and non-technical stakeholders can see, interact with, and collaborate on complex applied earth science data.

Ada is cutting edge technology that uses the Global Mapper SDK in a button extension for exporting files from the Global Mapper desktop software. The extension prepares the data for use in Ada’s cloud-based platform. Users can simply drag and drop these files into the tool to quickly share tabletop maps as 3D holograms.

“[The SDK] allows users to access unprecedented viewing capabilities that add considerable value to the high-quality GIS data that Global Mapper provides,” said Keith Lay, Digital Marketing Manager at BGC Engineering Inc. “By viewing this data on the HoloLens, both technical and non-technical stakeholders can view, interact with, and collaborate on complex applied earth science data as never before.”

Dragging and dropping files into The Ada Platform
After GIS files have been packaged and exported using a custom button by BGC Engineering, they can be dragged and dropped into The Ada Platform to share maps as 3D holograms.

Learn more about BGC Engineering’s mixed-reality software system The Ada Platform here: adaplatform.io

SDK updates with each Blue Marble software release

As Blue Marble Geographics’ products grow more sophisticated with every release, so do the possibilities for its development customers who are working on geospatial technology.

To learn more about the GIS and geodetics SDKs that Blue Marble Geographics offers, visit bluemarblegeo.com.

Where in the World Geo-Challenge — November 2019

View the form at Google Forms >

Top 5 New Features of Global Mapper v21

The release of version 21 of the affordable and easy GIS software Global Mapper came with several enhancements, but here are the top 5 features of Global Mapper v21:


A screenshot of a Global Mapper map that has been published in MangoMap
Multi-layered maps can be published to an online MangoMap account directly from Global Mapper v21.

1. Bring Global Mapper online with the MangoMap Extension

In order to provide a simple and efficient way to share web maps directly from Global Mapper v21, Blue Marble Geographics partnered with MangoMap — an online mapping service.

Users who set up a MangoMap account within Global Mapper have the ability to create a Global Mapper Map Portal; share multi-layered GIS content with customers; and publish spatial data to share projects with their coworkers. MangoMap web maps include legends and querying tools, providing a dynamic way of viewing shared geospatial information.

Here is a sample of a Global Mapper map published to a MangoMap site.

In Global Mapper v21, users can try MangoMap for free by creating an account. Learn more here.


A screenshot of the new layer animation functionality in Global Mapper
The new layer animation toolbar in Global Mapper v21 automatically displays layers in a sequential flow, illustrating change over time.

2. Layer animation tools for automatically displaying  a sequence

The new layer Animation toolbar in Global Mapper v21 helps with spatio-temporal data analysis by automatically displaying layers in a sequential flow, illustrating change over time. Depending on the nature of the data, users can control the speed and duration of the playback of their data layers by using the keyframing buttons.


A screenshot of labels being edited in Global Mapper v21
Improved label formatting in Global Mapper makes producing high-quality maps easier and faster. The screenshot above shows the repositioning of  individual labels in a label layer.

3. Improved feature label creation and management

Professionals working in cartography say that the format and layout of a well-designed map always needs some level of human input. This is why the ability to manually create and edit labels was dramatically improved in Global Mapper v21. Vector labels can now be assigned to their own layers, which makes formatting, moving, rotating, and deleting individual labels much easier.


A screenshot of local peaks and depressions in terrain in Global Mapper v21
The option to find local peaks and depressions is a new feature in the contour tool in Global Mapper v21.

4. A tool for identifying local peaks and depressions in a terrain layer

Also new in Global Mapper v21 is an option for finding local peaks and depressions using the contour tool. This option generates point features that represent high and low points in terrain data, which is ideal for some hydrology analysis such as flood containment monitoring, and for planning engineering projects such as radio transmitter placement.


A screenshot of a fly-through path created by recording the fly-mode in Global Mapper
Global Mapper users can now “draw” a fly-through path by recording their movements in fly-mode and walk-mode in the 3D Viewer.

5. The ability to record a fly-through path using the fly-mode and walk-mode in the 3D Viewer

Since version 16, Global Mapper has been able to record fly-through videos, which involved drawing a fly-through path using the Digitizer tool. In version 21, users can now “draw” a fly-through path by recording their movements in fly-mode and walk-mode in the 3D Viewer.

Since the fly-through feature in Global Mapper is an easy way to create videos of 3D data and terrain, it’s commonly used for real estate and property management, planning drone or UAV flight paths or simply creating a compelling presentation of your GIS data to stakeholders

There’s much more to Global Mapper

Global Mapper comes with many more data-creating, editing, rendering, and analysis tools, ranging from digital terrain model generation to viewshed analysis. A two-week free trial of this all-in-one and affordable GIS software can be downloaded here.