What is Blue Marble GeoTalks 2020?

In spring of 2019, Blue Marble Geographics® launched its first online conference, GeoTalks, to replace its user conferences, which had been held at locations around the globe. Not only did the virtual format of the day-long GeoTalks expand accessibility to a wider audience, it also opened the door for more geospatial professionals from all over the world to participate and share their expertise as speakers. In its inaugural event in 2019, GeoTalks had more than 800 registrations. Below is a breakdown and sneak peek of what GeoTalks will include in 2020.

Presentations by professionals from a variety of geospatial industries and backgrounds

At the 2020 GeoTalks, speakers from all over the world and from a wide range of backgrounds will be participating. Here is a peek at who will be presenting this year:

Ben Follett, a Principal Engineering Geologist with WSP, Australia

Ben Follett

Ben Follett  will present on a workflow using Global Mapper® to assess the effects of pipeline construction. This GeoTalks presentation will cover attribute calculation, various digitizing tools, contouring, and illustrating slopes as low as fractions of a degree in order to identify structures that may be affected by the dewatering process in construction.

Walter Payne, a Space Intelligence Analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency USSTRATCOM

Walter Payne

Walter Payne will give a presentation on “An Unexpected Discovery”, in which he will share the role he played in a research project that focused on the Pena de Juaica, a mountain 3,209 meters high, located in the Colombian town of Tobio.

The goals of this research project were to identify carved figures and anthropomorphic forms, and to locate caves for exploration. During this expedition, he used Global Mapper and the Lidar Module’s Pixels to Points® tool to process drone-captured images of the base of Pena de Juaica. The resulting photogrammetric data helped Walter, historian Ashley Cowie, and a team of Ancient Origins explorers discover an “outlier platform” used by the indigenous Muisca people for lunar astronomy.

Jeff Howry, a Research Fellow at the Harvard Semitic Museum

Jeff Howry

Jeff Howry will demonstrate how the application of lidar on two continents reveals distinctly different historic landscapes.

In New England, the pattern of agriculture in the 17th and 18th centuries becomes apparent when imagery of stone walls is analyzed. Following the abandonment of farms beginning in the 1850s, much of the landscape which was previously open land has become reforested with dense hardwood species. Lidar readily presents the stone wall boundaries of the field system used by New England farmers in their land-intensive agricultural practices. In the area that was historic Palestine, sites occupied several thousands of years ago, reveal their major landscape structures through lidar.

Akpata Sylvester Balm Mifueah, a Ph.D. candidate in Geoinformatics and Surveying at University of Nigeria

Akpata Sylvester Balm Mifueah

Akpata Sylvester Balm Mifueah, who also serves as a Project Coordinator with Reddfox on NESP Nigeria, will present on the extreme importance of a healthy infrastructure to maintain safe roads and constant power supply to Nigerians.

Akapata will deliver a presentation on using Global Mapper Mobile®, geodetic principles, remote sensing, and GIS techniques to track and identify road and powerline conditions. He used the mobile app for tracking, arable land types, roads and power transmission lines in Nigeria, and processed and validated the data using remotely sensed images in Global Mapper desktop. The results were coordinates of each tracked point, and a database that shows records of roads and power line conditions.

Rudy VanDrie, a Planning Engineer in Hydrology with the Central Coast Council, Wollongong City Council and Balance Research & Development

Rudy VanDrie

Rudy VanDrie has been working in the flood modelling space since 1987. His GeoTalks 2020 presentation will highlight the benefits of using Global Mapper for flood model development and as used in a real world workflow. Flood modeling is becoming more and more detailed, as experts move away from using fixed grid coarse models and toward flexible meshes with very fine detail, requiring better representative terrain data. Global Mapper has become a standout tool for cleaning and merging data, and formulating the best possible terrain for flood modeling.

Kelsi Schwind, a Coastal and Marine System Sciences student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Kelsi Schwind

Kelsi is the 2019 winner of the Blue Marble Academic Scholarship, and a Coastal and Marine System Sciences (remote sensing emphasis) student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Kelsi will present on her research, which integrates structure-from-motion (SfM) data, airborne topobathymetric lidar-derived data, and GIS techniques to assess the impacts of Hurricane Michael on Little St. George Barrier Island off the coast of Apalachicola, Florida.

For more information about the 2020 GeoTalks speaker, check out the Speakers page at bluemarblegeo.com.

Lessons and tips on how to use Global Mapper®

In between presentations, the experts at Blue Marble Geographics 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 to the tools that were added in the recent version 21.1 release as well as several of the software’s more powerful hidden gems.

The latest Blue Marble news and product development updates

Blue Marble Geographics is constantly updating its software. GeoTalks audiences get 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 – the GeoCalc Geodetic Registry®.

Registering for GeoTalks is easy

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

Register for GeoTalks 2020 today to save your seat. Stay tuned to the Blue Marble Geographics website and social media for more details about the March 18, 2020 event.

Register for GeoTalks

What’s new in Global Mapper v21.1?

What we at Blue Marble Geographics® call a “dot release” — Global Mapper® v21.1 — is now available and it comes with new features and improvements. In this blog entry, we list the most significant new features in our accessible and easy-to-use GIS software.

Raster Reclassification tool in Global Mapper v21.1Chelsea E | Projections
The new Raster Reclassification tool in Global Mapper v21.1.

The Raster Reclassification tool

The new Raster Reclassification tool is used to reclassify raster data for land cover analyses. Reclassification may be necessary when raster values need simplification or translation in an analysis. The tool also allows users to simplify information by grouping similar data together, for example, grouping all types of high vegetation together as “forest”.

Other reasons for using the Raster Reclassification tool are to set values to a common scale or to set specific values as “no data” to remove them from the analysis completely.

A built-in, premium access to online Blackbeard Tanuki

With a subscription, users can now access Blackbeard Tanuki’s oil and gas data services, which provides pipeline, well, and lease information. This is valuable data for oil, gas, or mineral investors; oil and gas lease owners looking for neighboring ownership; oil and gas E&P companies looking for land to lease, and landmen seeking a point of departure for oil and gas exploration.

Raster Transparency tool in Global Mapper v21.1
The improved Raster Transparency tool in Global Mapper v21.1.

Improved Raster Transparency tool

This tool allows users to render multiple colors as transparent in raster layers. This function is ideal for hiding non-imagery, background pixels or white, cloud areas in satellite imagery. It can also be used to make certain elevation ranges transparent in a terrain data, perhaps to reveal another data layer underneath.

Improved processing time for Batch Conversion/Reproject tool

The Batch Conversion/Reproject tool has been multi-threaded in Global Mapper v21.1. This means that the batch work is divided between the cores of the CPU. In other words, the batch process in v21.1 is faster because it is using multiple brains instead of one! This speed improvement was added for the many Global Mapper users who batch convert image tiles or lidar tiles to change either the format, projection, or both.

Speed improvements and efficiency improvements

The processing time for the Batch Conversion/Reproject tool has been improved significantly, due to the fact that the process is now multi-threaded. Other aspects of the software that have been made more efficient through multi-threading include the rendering of the 2D map view and the Viewshed Analysis tool.

Additional speed improvements include operations such as rendering large ECW files or creating elevation grids with large gaps to fill.

Download or upgrade your Global Mapper today

We pride ourselves on providing multiple updates each year to keep our software fresh and cutting-edge. Download or upgrade your copy of Global Mapper to version 21.1 today to take advantage of the latest new features.

Download Today!

How to publish and share maps with Global Mapper and MangoMap

Beginning with version 21 of Global Mapper®, users have the option to publish maps directly from the desktop GIS software to the online web mapping service, MangoMap. This functionality is subscription-based and is enabled by activating the MangoMap extension.

MangoMap is a browser-based web mapping service that provides a simple and efficient way to share geospatial data with anyone, on any device. Setting up an online map site through Mango requires no specialized web development skills or expensive servers and the entire process takes only minutes.

This blog entry lists the steps required to publish data from Global Mapper, and customize and share it through MangoMap.

Once users have chosen their export settings and map display options, their map is sent to their MangoMap account where their data and styling are immediately ready for viewing.

Step One: Register a MangoMap account

First things first: In order to publish a map to MangoMap, Global Mapper users have to register a MangoMap account to activate the extension. This is a simple process that involves clicking the MangoMap button in the Global Mapper interface, and setting up an account with their Blue Marble login information.

Once an account is set up, users can begin publishing maps online immediately with a free trial of MangoMap!

MangoMap is ideal for publishing and sharing single-focus maps, not necessarily for maps with several layers of data. It does, however, include a map portal where users can publish a gallery of single-focus maps.

Step Two: Click the MangoMap button to publish

It’s as simple as that.

The MangoMap button in Global Mapper prompts users to name and describe their data, and choose the necessary display settings. Once these settings are defined, users click “OK” and their map is sent to their MangoMap account. The data and styling of their map is immediately ready to be viewed online.

The attributes of a parcel feature are displayed in MangoMap. Users can easily activate tools that best suit the purpose of their data in MangoMap.

Step Three: Customize tools and style settings

In MangoMap’s administration interface, users can choose to activate tools that best suit the purpose of their map. They can bookmark map features to find more easily later, and share specific items with colleagues. They can search by specific attributes, add layers, and turn on Google Street view for an alternative visualization. Users can also customize their maps by adding a logo, or changing the colors to match a brand.

MangoMap’s blog entry on Web Map Customization goes into far more detail on how users can design their maps online.

MangoMap users can share specific map features easily.

Step Four: Define map access settings, and share

Just as users can customize tools in their maps, they can also define their maps’ access settings. Users can make their data public allowing anyone to access; hidden, for anyone with a secret URL; password-protected; or internal, for only authorised users.

Sharing a map is as easy as copying the map’s URL in the web browser and sending it to a colleague. Depending on the access settings, the recipient of the map URL will be prompted to enter a password if the map is password-protected, or to login if the map is internal.

Learn more about map access in the MangoMap help center.

Bridging the gap between desktop and web mapping

Like Global Mapper, MangoMap is designed to be easy and intuitive for both the advanced and novice GIS professional. It integrates seamlessly with Global Mapper, making it the perfect solution for multi-platform map sharing for efficient collaboration.

To learn more about the Global Mapper MangoMap extension, visit bluemarblegeo.com/products/global-mapper-mango.php, and try a free trial by registering a MangoMap account through Global Mapper v21.

10 ways Blue Marble ensures geodetic accuracy behind the scenes for you

The Land Survey Summary tab in Geographic Calculator

When people ask me what the difference is between Blue Marble Geographics’s® applications and other geodetic and GIS software, I often talk about affordability, customer service, and reputation. But sometimes I simply say that we like to tackle the hard stuff — the technical challenges that geospatial professionals face every day.

For a quarter century, we at Blue Marble have been focused on getting things right in mapping, so our customers can consistently rely on our software. We have been “minding the gap”, as our original tagline says, between geodetic accuracy and geospatial data mapping. We do this by offering our highly accurate coordinate conversion and datum transformation software Geographic Calculator®, and by providing access to our extensive geodetic library with GeoCalc® Mode in our GIS software Global Mapper®. Our technology is trusted by small and large Fortune 500 companies around the globe.

But what exactly is that hard stuff?

Perhaps the best way for me to explain these challenges is by providing a top ten list of ways Blue Marble ensures geodetic accuracy for today’s geodesists and GIS professionals.

  1. Coordinate Reference System Information

    If you’re going to “mind the gap”, you must have full access to the geodetic parameters necessary for proper coordinate conversion. This is not simply a coordinate system definition, but the mathematical definition of the components that make up a coordinate reference system. These components — ellipsoids, datums, measure of units, projection, and origin — are available for our users to access and present as needed in all of our software.

    The GeoCalc library of coordinate reference systems and geodetic parameters.
  2. Powerful Spreadsheet Interface

    The Geographic Calculator is known for its Point Database job or tab. This is an Excel-like spreadsheet that enables batch point conversion in multiple ways with a variety of handy data-management tools. It’s an essential way to process point data when translating coordinate systems.

  3. Areas of Use Envelopes

    Blue Marble has been using geometric polygons as area-of-use envelopes in the background of Geographic Calculator, the GeoCalc SDK®, and Global Mapper for years now. They are geographically defined polygons that our software uses behind the scenes to provide users with the correct coordinate system or datum shift for the area of the world that the user is working in. For example, there are systems that are meant for the United States, but never for Europe. So using these area-of-use envelopes, our software can help select the proper coordinate conversion tool for a user’s data. It’s a pretty elegant solution if you ask me.

  4. Workspaces, Jobs and Audit Trails (oh my)

    I always reference the Wizard of Oz when discussing geodesy for two reasons: there tends to be lists of threes all the time, and, well, a lot of GIS folks view this stuff as the magic happening behind the curtain. With that said, workspaces, jobs, and audit trails are just a few of the more prevalent tools available in Geographic Calculator that help replicate the work of users reliably. Users can save workspaces with jobs in them in an organized, clear way, and “audit trails” (log of users’ actions), which is so important in recreating data translation history when issues occur. And, believe me, issues will always occur.

  5. GeoData.XML

    The heir to the throne for GeoCalc.dat, GeoData.XML is our database of geodetic parameters. It is the file that contains all of the coordinate systems, datums, datum shifts, ellipsoids, vertical datums, units, formats, envelopes, and whatever else you need for coordinate conversion. Today, that tool can simply live on a user’s desktop in their copy of Geographic Calculator, hosted internally with a network license of Geographic Calculator, or hosted in the cloud with the GeoCalc Online Registry. The library is the most widely used, quality assured, and tested coordinate tool on the planet.

  6. First Software to Utilize the EPSG Parameter DB

    Blue Marble has worked closely with the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers’ EPSG Parameter Database since it’s inception. We were the first to provide the library in commercial software; to provide tools; to update, and sync to it; and to connect to the online registry version of it. GeoCalc is Gold Certified GIGS compliant and continues to work with the OGP to provide this database to the GIS market.

  7. Deprecation

    Simply put, we embrace the approach to data manipulation called “deprecation”, instead of deletion. Even if a geodetic object was found to be mathematically wrong, our software will flag, retain and properly label that incorrect object in the database for users to access later if needed. This is an essential database management approach that allows users to maintain access to unwanted or inaccurate data to fix or use it. It is a simple yet important concept, and one we have embraced for years.

  8. Administrative Tools

    Working with some of our customers years ago, Blue Marble realized there was a need for administrative tools in Geographic Calculator that allowed GIS managers to limit geodetic data access, and to lock object editing. Simply put, not every user should be able to change the mathematical model of a datum transformation. Also, many users want to see only the datum shifts they are supposed to use, not all of the potential options available across the globe. Geographic Calculator’s administrative tools allow managers to address these challenges by customizing their set up.

  9. Education/Processes

    Data is expensive and often difficult to collect. Without the proper education, organizations can run the risk of corrupting their data; failing to back up data properly; making uneducated guesses about coordinate reference systems, or making other human errors that can result in major problems. Blue Marble provides an applied geodesy course for this very reason. We also provide multiple Global Mapper training courses each year, self-training options, and a team of application specialists for technical support.

  10. GeoCalc Toolbar in Global Mapper

    Lastly and not least there is the ability to bring advanced coordinate referencing into Global Mapper with the GeoCalc toolbar. This toolbar can be enabled if a user has both Geographic Calculator and Global Mapper installed. Users of this tool can set up specific coordinate transformation workflows in Geographic Calculator and share them in Global Mapper. Users can select datum transformations in Global Mapper, if so desired, or they can assign advanced datum transformations to run automatically. This extension also makes all of the advanced coordinate referencing parameters in Geographic Calculator — vertical datum shifts, custom coordinate definitions and more — available to the Global Mapper users.

So there you have it! Ten ways Blue Marble helps you “mind the gap between world and map”. I hope your head is not spinning counter clockwise to the world’s orbit, and that this list comes as a comfort to you. Suffice it to say, we want to help. If you have any questions, please let me know.


Patrick Cunningham

Patrick Cunningham is the President of Blue Marble Geographics. He has 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 masters in sociology from the University of New Hampshire.

Where is geospatial technology headed in year 2020

It seems that major innovation affecting the GIS industry happens in waves. In my time at Blue Marble Geographics®, I have seen the advent of LiDAR in everyday GIS, the acquisition and subsequent public release of Google Earth, the growth of open source GIS, and the proliferation of smartphones, which put GPS in the hands of virtually everyone. We are currently riding two separate waves; one for enterprise GIS and one for drone or UAV-data collecting and processing.

Enterprise GIS: data sharing and accessibility

By “enterprise GIS” we mean the ability to share not only GIS data easily and fluidly across an organization but also the ability for those users to conduct analysis on that data even if GIS is outside of their area of expertise. There are large, expensive, “stack”-focused commercial solutions available for this. However, thanks to Google, AWS, and other easy-to-use free or low-cost web GIS tools, products like Global Mapper® are able to enable that process relatively seamlessly with an everyday GIS perspective.

Enterprise GIS will continue to expand as GIS and general software users and managers innovate with the available toolsets they have access to. Many users are seeing that this does not have to be an expensive, overbearing process thanks to the surge in open source GIS and cell phone technology.

A point cloud generated from 3D mesh of 192 drone-captured images.

Drone-captured imagery and data processing

For the GIS analyst or professional surveyor, the more likely place for innovation from technology will be on the drone or UAV data collecting and processing side.

The advent of low-cost drones has been a boon to the average surveyor over the past years. Many surveyors dove headfirst into the process of becoming an FAA certified pilot so they could expand their business or add value to their company by collecting high-resolution imagery with drones. The improvements in the ability of GIS software like Global Mapper and Pix4D to process this imagery into derivative products such as point clouds, orthoimages, and meshes has created a great symbiotic relationship between user and vendor. These GIS professionals are pushing vendors to innovate their software solutions far beyond 2D GIS. It was not that long ago that the concept of automatically processing raster data into vectors was a pipe dream. … Now, that is yesterday.

This area of GIS is enabling the everyday GIS professional to collect better, more compelling data in ways they could never afford to dream of just a few years ago. 2020 will see more ways to process and output various data products related to this area. Look for improvements in 3D products and in the accuracy of data sets in positioning and resolution as well.

Upcoming changes to NATRF 2022

Speaking of accuracy, surveyors and GIS professionals will be able to begin the process of converting legacy data and enabling new data collection to be compliant with NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey’s upcoming change to NATRF 2022.

This new spatial reference frame will replace NAD83 and NAVD88 changing from a focus on latitude, longitude and height in coordinate reference frames (aka coordinate systems to many users) to a focus on scale, gravity and orientation, and their time variations. This new system will reduce errors and increase the accuracy of geospatial data. GIS analysts’ and surveyors’ unique knowledge and skill with highly accurate geospatial data processing will be tested, and required, in order to make compliant datasets. Internationally we will see more government entities embrace time-dependent datum transformation models as we are able to more readily deal with local shifts in the Earth’s surface and makeup.

Accurate data translation is not going away but will silently continue to remain important in the background of everyday GIS. It will be interesting to see how successfully the experts enable the novices to engage in GIS while retaining its underlying scientific power in 2020.

 

Blue Marble’s academic programs: GIS software for students

heat map of Maine
A heat map of Maine shows the clustering of communication towers in the state.

Each user of Global Mapper® has their own story about how they began using the application. For me, and many other young GIS professionals, exposure to Global Mapper came at a critical time in my career — while I was learning the core GIS concepts in college.

Blue Marble Geographics® offers academic programs, which include free software licenses for institutes of higher education in the U.S. and Canada; a free curriculum with lesson plans and data; and an opportunity to apply for a scholarship.

Image Rectification
A historical map is rectified to the recent open street map of Central Park.
The Image Swipe tool in Global Mapper reveals the accuracy of the rectification process.

Blue Marble’s academic programs introduce Global Mapper and GIS concepts

My exposure came through the academic curriculum or labs that Blue Marble Geographics provided to my university. These labs cover workflows that range from an introduction to the principles of GIS to working with different types of data including LiDAR. While many GIS terms can sound intimidating to a new user, the academic labs are a great way to introduce both Global Mapper and basic GIS concepts in the classroom. As a student, these labs allowed me to get comfortable with the tools and processes in the application by following step-by-step guidelines supplemented with images. There wasn’t a workflow in the six sections that I couldn’t complete, which was certainly a confidence booster to a student taking an “Intro to GIS” course.

I still remember many of the workflows that were covered in the labs. The Georeferencing tool and Heat Map analysis particularly stood out to me. They were not only easy to understand but educational. I was able to learn and apply the concepts of raster processing and rectification in real-time. Due to the user-friendly interface of Global Mapper, I could focus on learning GIS concepts instead of spending my time struggling to navigate within the application.

Another important aspect of these academic labs that may be overlooked is the opportunity to take what was covered in each section and apply them to other situations. At the end of each academic lab, there is a final exercise covering the important concepts, and then gives students basic instructions and data to complete a similar task using different data. For example, in section 1 the final exercise has students take a shapefile of hospital points, along with Maine town polygons and asks to show the distribution of hospitals within each town in Maine. After completing the exercise, I felt confident taking that data and GIS concepts I learned to produce a final product representing that distribution.

LiDAR data before (on left) and after (on right) point reclassification using Global Mapper.

Blue Marble’s Academic Labs Are Constantly Evolving

Blue Marble’s academic labs are constantly evolving with every version of Global Mapper. Many of the updates made to the software were initiated by student feedback. The students from the University of Maine, including myself, have been compiling comments about what they like in the application and what they would like to see changed. These comments have changed throughout the years, as many students using Global Mapper before Version 18 mainly noted that the look and feel was too ‘retro’ and that an updated user interface would be beneficial to Global Mapper. I remember saying the same thing, but when Version 18 was released with a modern and inviting interface, I knew that students would appreciate the change. When I worked at Blue Marble Geographics and updated the academic labs to match Version 19, I considered many of the students’ comments and provided more explanation as to why certain steps are needed. Students also had great suggestions about future tools that should be added to Global Mapper, or changes that would benefit the application which I brought to the Blue Marble developers to consider. Blue Marble strives to have a large portion of its development be user-driven, which also includes students.

A point cloud generated from a 3D mesh of a landfill using the Pixels-to-Points tool for photogrammetric point cloud processing.

Learn more about the Global Mapper academic labs in a webinar

With the latest release of Global Mapper v21, the academic labs now include more lessons and data for advanced point cloud processing, including the Pixels-to-Points® tool for generating point clouds from drone- or UAV-captured images. There will be a live webinar on January 8, 2020, that will explain the lab about photogrammetric point cloud processing in more detail. Folks who are interested in the webinar can register here: http://bit.ly/webinar-gm-academic

Blue Marble’s academic labs are a great way for students to learn GIS concepts while exploring an easy-to-use GIS application. These labs helped me begin my career in the GIS industry and can do the same for you or your students. If you have any questions regarding the academic lab license program or the academic labs, please email orders@bluemarblegeo.com.

Register for the Webinar

 

Get the most cutting edge and affordable GIS tools by renewing your Global Mapper license

Point cloud gridded into a terrain surface in Global Mapper
A point cloud of a landfill gridded into a terrain surface in Global Mapper.

At Blue Marble Geographics, we pride ourselves on providing cutting edge technology that is ahead of the geospatial-industry curve. We are constantly improving our tools and we release multiple new versions of our GIS software Global Mapper® every year. This means that users who don’t upgrade their Global Mapper license regularly are missing out on the latest features.

Here is what users who haven’t renewed their license since 2017 are missing:

Editing 3D geospatial data

We believe that viewing and editing 3D data should be a standard functionality in today’s GIS software. Since 2017, we have made several enhancements in this area, adding new 3D editing options and tools that don’t require the purchase of a software extension.

Here are some of the improvements introduced in versions 20 and 21 of Global Mapper:

  • Ability to replace the texture of 3D meshes
  • Create textured 3D models from terrain and draped imagery
  • Create point clouds from meshes or 3D models
Point cloud in Global Mapper
A point cloud generated from a 3D mesh of a landfill.

Visualizing 3D and 2D geospatial data

Version 21 also introduced new options that help users view data, such as a tool for creating 3D lines using the fly- and walk-mode paths in the 3D viewer. After recording these paths, users can create fly-through videos of their 3D work more easily.

Recording fly or walk mode in Global Mapper
Global Mapper v21 comes with a tool for creating 3D lines using the fly- and walk-mode paths in the 3D viewer.

Another new tool that aids with the visualization of data is the Animation toolbar, which allows users to display layers in a timed sequence and is designed for visualizing change over time.

Both of these features were highlighted in our recent blog entry “Top 5 new features of Global Mapper v21”.

Faster and smoother performance for 3D data

Version 21 of Global Mapper has significant speed improvements for loading and working with workspaces, Global Mapper Package (GMP) files, and vector data with attributes. Load time and smoothness for displaying large datasets or vector formats, such as shapefiles, has also improved dramatically over the past couple of years. This especially applies to files with large numbers of attributes. In some cases, a hundredfold increase in speed has been observed.

Path Profile tool in Global Mapper
Users have the options to display a legend in the Path Profile tool in version 20.1 of Global Mapper.

Efficiency and organizational improvements in Global Mapper

Both versions 20 and 21 arrived with improvements to managing and organizing data more easily. Label creation and editing, for instance, improved dramatically, allowing for labels to be moved, rotated, formatted, and deleted individually.

Here are some of the improvements that helped with efficiency and organization:

  • Improved feature label creation and management
  • Improved layer management with target layer selection now available in all vector feature creation dialog boxes
  • Improved layer template creation for form-based data collection
  • Show a line legend on the Path Profile

Global Mapper’s data format and feature support

Global Mapper is known for its support of more than 300 formats — a list that grows continually. For example, support was added for OpenFlight, HEC-RAS raster and vector formats in the release of version 20.1.

Caption:Support for S-52 symbology for S-57 charts was introduced in Global Mapper v20.1.

S-52 symbology in Global Mapper v20.1
Support for S-52 symbology for S-57 charts was introduced in Global Mapper v20.1.

Feature support has also been expanded in the past 2 years, ranging from chart symbology to touchscreen support. Here are some new features that are included in the latest version of Global Mapper:

  • Support for S-52 symbology for S-57 charts
  • Support for downloading vector features from Esri RESTful data sources
  • Support for batch converting between 3D model formats (i.e. Blender, Collada DAE, OBJ, Sketchup, etc.)

Expanded options for multi-band imagery

Many users have requested more options for working with multi-band imagery. Here are a couple we have added over the past couple of years:

Touchscreen support:

  • Full touchscreen gesture support, including 2D and 3D map navigation
  • Access right-click context menus from a touchscreen
  • Expanded support for Windows Tablet and touchscreen computers

Get the Global Mapper tech support you need

Every Global Mapper purchase comes with 12 months of Maintenance & Support. By renewing a license or moving to the latest version, users have uninterrupted access to the excellent support provided by Blue Marble Geographics’ applications specialists.

Upgrade or purchase a new Global Mapper license for the newest features and support

Users who renew their Global Mapper licenses annually get the latest and greatest technology, and maintain their access to Blue Marble’s unparalleled support.

Renew your Global Mapper license today to take advantage of all of the latest features.

Renew your license

Top 5 new features of Blue Marble’s advanced point cloud processing, photogrammetry, and drone mapping software the LiDAR Module®

Over the past few years, Blue Marble Geographics®’ advanced point cloud processing tool has developed into a professional photogrammetry and drone-mapping software. The latest version of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module comes with several enhancements, many of which are to the Pixels-to-Points tool for generating point clouds and 3D meshes from drone-captured images.

Here are the top 5 new features of Blue Marble’s Global Mapper LiDAR Module:


With the new point cloud classification for pole-like objects, users can define the characteristics of the poles they would like to see classified. In the above example, the threshold for the pole classification includes the flag on these flag poles.

1. Automatic point cloud classification of pole-like objects

Manually classifying point cloud data can be time-consuming and tedious. This is why the Global Mapper LiDAR Module comes with automatic point cloud classification tools for points representing ground, buildings, vegetation, noise, powerlines, and most recently added poles.

The new pole classification tool identifies and classifies points of pole-like objects, such as signs, lamp-posts, utility poles, basketball hoops, and other cylindrical features.

With this tool, users can define the characteristics of the poles they would like to see classified. For example, they can define the minimum height and number of points per pole. They can also define a “pole-like” threshold, allowing for either rigid or relaxed definitions of a pole. For instance, a simple post would typically have a pole-like threshold of 90 – 100%, whereas some straight trees may have a pole-like threshold of 35 – 40%.


Users can either automatically mask images by selecting by color, or by manually drawing a selection in the Pixels-to-Points tool of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module v21.

2. Photo masking in the photogrammetric tool Pixels-to-Points for eliminating unwanted backgrounds or data from images

Not all image-data is ideal or necessary in photogrammetrically generated point clouds. This is why an option for photo masking was introduced to the Pixels-to-Points tool in version 21 of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module. Masking allows users to cut out unwanted areas from images, such as swaths of data that tend to not reconstruct well in a point cloud, like sky or water. It also allows users to crop their data down to focus on specific interest areas, which also shortens the point cloud generation process.


Ground-coverage area polygons in the Global Mapper LiDAR Module
The latest version of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module’s Pixels-to-Point tool displays the ground extent of each input photo to help users visualize the overlap of adjacent selected images.

3. Ground coverage polygons for showing the approximate ground coverage of drone-captured photos

Photogrammetrically generated point clouds can require hundreds of drone-captured images. To make it easier to manage and visualize the ground-coverage area of each photo, the latest version of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module’s Pixels-to-Points tool displays the ground extent of each input photo. Displaying these coverage-area polygons can also help users visualize the overlap of adjacent selected images.


Importing external files for high-accuracy positioning of orthoimages and point clouds
The latest version of the LiDAR Module allows users who have high-accuracy positioning in their orthoimages and point clouds to overwrite the initial geotag information that comes with their drone-captured images.

4. Additional support for importing accurate GPS information from external text files

In the latest version of the LiDAR Module, users can update the image-capture location — EXIF information — from a text file. This allows users who have high-accuracy positioning in their orthoimages and point clouds — such as PPK — the ability to overwrite the initial geotag information that comes with their drone-captured images. This is a valuable feature for surveyors who need highly accurate photogrammetric point clouds or meshes.


Displaying drone-captured images that contain common ground control points
When a single image is selected, the Pixels-to-Points tool automatically suggests and highlights all image file names that may contain common ground control points.

5. Identification of images that contain selected ground control points based on their location

Another improvement to the Pixels-to-Points tool is the ability to see images that contain the same ground control points. When a single image is selected, the tool automatically suggests and highlights all image file names that may contain common ground control points. This makes selecting images based on location much easier and faster.


Accessible photogrammetry and point cloud processing software

Most of the improvements to the latest release of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module are to the photogrammetric point cloud generation tool Pixels-to-Points. This functionality allows GIS professionals easier access to point cloud data as drones and cameras become more affordable.

To try the Pixels-to-Points tool and the other powerful tools that come with the Global Mapper LiDAR Module, request a free two-week trial after downloading Global Mapper® here.

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.