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.

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

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.

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

Written by: Mackenzie Mills, Application Specialist

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

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

Brush Types

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

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

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

Editing Operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Spatial Operations Tool in Global Mapper v22

Written by Jeff Hatzel

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

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

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

Source Data:

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

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

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

Setting Up the Spatial Operations Tool:

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

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

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

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

Results and Output:

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

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

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

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

Written by Keith Lay, Marketing Director at Clirio Technologies

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

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

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

Step 1: Export Your Global Mapper Project

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3: Build a Presentation

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

Easily combine Scenes to create Presentations.

Step 4: View and Share Your Holograms

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

Launching the Ada Viewer and placing a holographic tabletop map

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

A video showing the workflow outlined in this blog can be found here:  https://youtu.be/oxXfxtCT0EE 

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

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

New Pixels to Points Post Processing Report

Written by Amanda Lind

The latest version of the Global Mapper Lidar Module® includes several new tools, as well as improvements to many of the existing features and functions. One of the latest features in the Pixels to Points® tool is the option to generate a process summary report. Separate from the log file, which is highly detailed by nature, the ‘Post Processing Report’ is designed to efficiently summarize pertinent information from the data generation process. The report records tool settings and displays visual outputs to clearly outline the process.  The new Post Processing Report is polished, easy to read, and includes essential information a user of your data products will want to see, including:

The Summary Chart shows necessary information about the dataset, processing, and output. This information is read from the metadata saved by the UAV when the image was taken, including Image Collection Date, Camera Make, and Flight Altitude. 

Other information is calculated during processing, and three generated visual outputs are displayed from a 2D nadir perspective, with relevant details: 

The Point Cloud Section provides the total number of points in the cloud, and point density in the form of Average Point Spacing. The Lidar draw mode dropdown sets the cloud display. Below is an example of Color Lidar by Intensity. 

The Orthoimage Section shows the continuous orthoimage and provides the image’s resolution. 

The 3D Model Section displays the photo-textured 3D mesh along with its Vertex and Face Count.

The Camera Positions Section shows the camera icon at the center location of each image relative to the orthoimage to make it easier to visualize area coverage. Areas with higher image coverage will typically have a lower chance of errors, making it easier to spot areas in need of more coverage. 

The Camera Positions Chart shows the image name and specifies where the image was taken, including Elevation, Roll, Pitch, and Yaw. The chart makes it easy to compare image metadata for quality control purposes.  

The Quality Assessment Chart breaks down processing success image by image. This includes the number of observations, or object points, in each photo that Pixels to Points could find in other images. 

The Processing Settings documents specific tool settings used for this output to help you compare which settings provided the best results for your dataset. 

The Post Processing Report is a simple and tangible way to review and potentially improve your workflow.  If you’re not familiar with Global Mapper and the Lidar Module, request a two-week free trial today. If you would like to speak with a representative about how the software can address your unique geospatial challenges, request a demo!

Top 5 Features of Global Mapper’s Lidar Module Version 22

Written by: Cíntia Miranda and David McKittrick

The Lidar Module®, an optional add-on to Global Mapper®, provides advanced point cloud processing tools, including Pixels to Points®, for photogrammetric point cloud creation using overlapping drone-captured images, automatic and manual point cloud classification, as well as feature extraction, hydro-flattening, and more.

The latest version of the Lidar Module includes several new tools, as well as improvements to many of the existing features and functions. This blog highlights the top five new features of version 22:

 

  • A new Terrain Paint tool 

 

Terrain Painting is a set of terrain editing tools that provide the ability to modify the elevation values of a gridded elevation dataset interactively. Using simple drawing tools, this innovative addition to the Lidar Module can be used to fill gaps in the terrain, raise or lower the existing elevation inside a defined area, or set a specific elevation height. Dynamically editing a terrain layer in this way is useful for site planning, modeling, and cleaning up or improving sensor derived elevation data. This tool works with all types of gridded elevation datasets, including DSMs and DTMs, bathymetric datasets, lidar derived terrain data, and more.

The ‘Fill Gaps’ operation is used to fill in missing areas of terrain.

The ‘Smooth Terrain – Average’ operation is used to create a cleaner terrain surface.

In this example, the ‘Set Terrain Height’ tool is used to create the simulated path of a road. The feathering effect creates a sloped transition into the surrounding terrain.

 

  • A new algorithm that improves building classification 

 

The Lidar Module includes a variety of automatic feature identification and point reclassification tools. The underlying algorithms analyze the point cloud’s geometric structure in a local context to look for patterns that match a prescribed format. The specific options include reclassification of points representing high vegetation or trees, powerlines, power poles, and buildings. For the version 22 release, the algorithm for identifying buildings in a point cloud has been updated to provide a more accurate reflection of human-made structures when working with point cloud data from any source.

The orange points have been automatically classified as building points.

 

  • Improved building extraction with better 3D shape simplification 

After a point cloud has been appropriately classified, individual vector features can be created, reflecting the object’s three-dimensional characteristics. For example, 3D line features can be automatically generated by connecting the dots for those points that were identified as powerline points. Perhaps one of the more useful applications for this feature extraction tool is for creating 3D polygons representing buildings. In version 22, several new settings and options have been added, and the vectorization algorithm has been significantly improved to provide more accurate building outlines. Individual surface planes are now created, allowing the building’s specific structure to be more precisely represented, and the simplification process has been updated, resulting in cleaner roof planes and sidewalls.

Complex building features extracted from a point cloud as 3D polygons.

 

  • A new option to generate a process summary report when using the Pixels to Points process 

 

The Pixels to Points tool is arguably one of the most powerful components of the Lidar Module. Using simple drone-collected images, this tool photogrammetrically analyzes and identifies recurring patterns of pixels in multiple images to create a 3D reconstruction of the environment. Version 22 of the Lidar Module includes several improvements to this function, most notably a new ‘Post Processing Report’ that concisely summarizes the pertinent information from the data generation process. This report includes a summary of input data, processing time, output data, quality assessment, as well as a visual representation of the individual output layers. The report is in HTML format and will automatically open in your default web browser from where it can be saved as a PDF file.

A section of the report generated after the Pixels to Points process has been completed.

 

  • Two new lidar draw modes

 

3D lidar or other point cloud data can be rendered to reflect various point attributes, such as elevation, return intensity, and point classification. This latest release introduces two new lidar draw modes:

Color by Source Layer — With this option, a unique color is applied to each loaded point cloud layer as a simple way to distinguish separate point cloud layers in the workspace clearly. A specific color can be selected for a layer in the Lidar Display for that layer.

Color by Scan Angle – In this mode, lidar points are colorized using the scan angle attribute, with values potentially ranging from -90 to 90 degrees. The actual color of the points is determined by the Shader Option chosen in the workspace.

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

Top 5 New Features of Global Mapper v.22

Top 5 New Features of Global Mapper v.22

Global Mapper v.22 is here!  As with all previous releases, version 22 introduces an extensive array of new and updated functionality in virtually all software areas. What hasn’t changed is the price. For under $550 for a single user license, Global Mapper is still unquestionably the best value in GIS software. As a first look at some of its most significant new capabilities, this blog highlights the top five new features of Global Mapper v.22:

1.New Eye Dome Lighting settings in the 3D viewer to help improve the visual display of vector and lidar data: 

While it’s probably not accurate to say that point cloud data appears flat in the 3D Viewer, it is sometimes difficult to discern texture or depth when viewed obliquely, especially when the view is static. The solution to this challenge is the new Eye Dome Lighting feature. This new display option in the 3D Viewer enhances depth perception by darkening the rendering of some points to produce an enhanced perspective of texture.

The best way to see this new tool’s effect on displaying a point cloud in the 3D View is to look at some lidar data before and after the  Eye Dome Lighting feature has been enabled:

2.A new tool for simplifying loaded meshes or TINs

The mesh simplification tool combines the triangle faces of mesh features if they do not significantly contribute to the scene’s shape to simplify and reduce its size. This tool reduces the number of faces, or vertices, in a mesh by collapsing the edges and placing replacement vertices based on the specified method. This process attempts to preserve as much of the mesh’s shape and boundaries as possible while significantly reducing the size and memory requirements for working with the mesh, or TIN,  within Global Mapper or other 3D tools. 

Unsimplified mesh

Simplified Mesh

3.A new Spatial Operations tool for calculating the intersection of layers of the area feature

The new spatial operations tool performs vector overlay procedures on area features to find the intersection of two area layers. By combining this tool with selection by location, or attribute, or repeating with various layers, you can perform a detailed analysis to identify where multiple features coexist. For example, intersection operations are often used in suitability analysis to find the locations that meet two or more criteria.

4.A new Analysis menu option to find the overlap (both percentage and graphical) between two or more lidar, raster/image, and or terrain layers

The new Find Overlap Between Lidar/Raster/Terrain Layers tool can be accessed from the Analysis menu. This tool generates a report showing the overlap percentage between layers. It optionally creates a new raster layer showing overlapping areas – a straightforward and yet useful process! 

5.A new consolidated Digitizer Menu, providing convenient access to all drawing and digitizing tools

It is a testament to the strength of Global Mapper’s vector creation and editing capabilities that the Digitizer has finally been assigned its dedicated menu. Longtime users of the software will have witnessed the continual expansion and reorganization of the Digitizer’s right-click menu and may, on occasion, have struggled to find a particular tool. Thankfully those days are gone.

The Digitizer menu offers a one-stop location for accessing all of the tools needed for working with vector data. Organized into a series of logical sub-menus, this extensive collection of tools includes everything from a simple point, line, and area feature creation to advanced 3D mesh editing functions. If you work with vector data, and virtually all Global Mapper users do, this new menu will streamline your workflow.

There’s much more to Global Mapper!

Global Mapper includes many more data editing, rendering, and analysis tools, and supports over 300 formats of geospatial data, making it the most versatile and interoperable application on the market.  If you’re not familiar with 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!

Global Mapper — the all-in-one and affordable GIS software. Contact us today to learn more.

Global Mapper Maintenance and Support

By Rachael Landry

Longtime users know that every purchase or upgrade of Global Mapper includes a year of technical and licensing support. This support, along with our Knowledge Base, videos, webinars, and self-guided training, allows users to explore and experience all Global Mapper has to offer. Our year-long Maintenance and Support Plan (M&S Plan) begins on the date payment is received, and it includes access to all version releases of the software within that 12-month period, allowing customers to utilize the most current version of Global Mapper.

The “Support” Part – The Blue Marble Tech Team is here for you

In addition to providing users access to the most current version of Global Mapper, the M&S Plan also includes the unparalleled technical and licensing support that Blue Marble is known for. Our technical team is ready to answer any questions you might have, from format support to complex workflow scenarios in a timely manner. However, it is important to highlight that technical support is not a substitute for training. Blue Marble offers many training solutions both in person and virtually, including a Global Mapper Certificate program. 

Maintenance and Support Renewals and License Structure

The M&S Plan provides customers with the option to renew their support every year. Purchasing an M&S Plan is not obligatory, as Global Mappers license structure is perpetual, meaning that not renewing it will not affect your license. However, if your M&S Plan has expired, Blue Marble’s technical and licensing support teams may be unable to assist you if you require assistance.

Blue Marble strongly encourages you to stay up-to-date with your M&S Plan, so that you have access to the best software we have to offer. Staying current with your plan guarantees the highest level of software support and service, and that you are receiving the latest software fixes and enhancements.

In the coming weeks, Global Mapper 22 will be released. Make sure that you are eligible to use all the great features and enhancements the new release has to offer by contacting orders@bluemarblegeo.com.