Interim releases of Global Mapper typically offer the Blue Marble development staff an opportunity to fine-tune some of the functionality that was introduced in the most recent major release. While the upcoming version 20.1 release includes its fair share of performance improvements and code tweaks, it also offers a surprising collection of new tools covering everything from the Digitizer to scripting. With the release just a few weeks away and the final edits being applied to the underlying code, we take a sneak peek at some of the more significant additions.
Path Profile Zooming
The importance of Global Mapper’s Path Profile tool has grown immensely since the introduction of the LiDAR Module. While it is most commonly used to render a cutaway view of a terrain layer, it also displays a cross-sectional view of points in a point cloud and can used to edit or delete selected points. New in version 20.1 is the option to zoom in the profile view – a function that ensures that even the most densely-spaced points can now be individually identified and selected.
Continuing the theme of improvements to the Path Profile tool, a new option has been added to more clearly define the individual surfaces when rendering profile lines for multiple layers. A legend, which can be placed anywhere within the Path Profile window, shows each line style along with the corresponding surface layer. This is particularly useful when visualizing and analyzing multiple layers representing change over time.
Global Mapper’s projection management is universally acknowledged for its simplicity. Load any layer and the inherent projection parameters associated with the layer define the display projection. Each successive layer is then automatically reprojected on the fly to adhere to this system. No questions asked. Change the display projection and each exported layer will ultimately include these new projection parameters. In Global Mapper 20.1, an even simpler approach to projection management can be enabled with the assignment of a universal default projection. With this new configuration setting, a specified projection will be automatically applied when creating or importing any new layer.
Vector Gap Closing
When creating abutting polygons, Global Mapper’s snapping functionality helps ensure that the features’ shared vertices are a perfect match, without overlap or gaps. When importing external files, however, such precise geometric integrity is not always the case. A new Digitizer tool available in version 20.1 can be used to automatically correct these errors. The “Close Gaps Between Adjacent Features …” function allows a maximum distance threshold to be established allowing the boundary lines to be perfectly matched.
LiDAR Proximity Selection
A common use case in point cloud or LiDAR analysis is the detection of encroachment, and a new point selection option in the LiDAR Module provides this functionality to Global Mapper users. The “Select LiDAR by Distance” tool can be used to specify a particular point type (such as powerline), a distance threshold, and a target point type (such as high vegetation). In this case, running the search will highlight vegetation points that are encroaching within a defined distance of powerlines. This tool can be applied in many other workflows and includes the option to detect points within the proximity of 3D line features instead of points.
Product News, User Stories, Events, and a Chance to Win a Copy of Global Mapper Every Month
Here in New England, the summer heat is finally waning, the leaves are beginning to show some color, and most of the tourists have headed south (Hooray!). This seasonal transition precipitates a major event here at Blue Marble: a new release of Global Mapper is on the horizon. This month, we offer a sneak peek at some of the highlights of version 20, we shine the spotlight on our Indian partner, Schnell Informatics; we hear from the USFWS about protecting vulnerable habitats in Florida; we offer students a chance to win a $500 scholarship; and we give everyone a chance to win a copy of Global Mapper 20 in the Where in the World Geo-Challenge.
Are you a student using Global Mapper? Would you like to win $500? If you answered yes to these questions, you’ll probably be interested to learn that Blue Marble is introducing the Global Mapper Scholarship Program. To enter, simply share the details of the work you’ve been doing with Global Mapper and, after reviewing all of the submissions, Blue Marble will select the winner.
Sea level rise is generally regarded as one of the most significant environmental problems that we will face in the coming years. With the help of Global Mapper, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service scientists have been studying the impact of sea level rise on the habitat of several mouse species on the Gulf coast of Florida.
Subscribers to this newsletter will recall a series of articles that were published earlier this year highlighting some of the key milestones in the history of Global Mapper. Later this month, the saga continues with the release of Global Mapper 20, which includes an extensive list of new tools, functional upgrades, and performance improvements. As a sneak peek, we offer a preview of the top five highlights of this release.
The release of version 20 of Global Mapper includes a new online data option. NextMap One from Intermap Technologies provides seamless, one-meter resolution elevation data for the entire world. Available as a subscription-based online service, the data is available as a DTM or DSM providing unparalleled worldwide 3D analysis capability.
The Indian subcontinent represents a rapidly emerging market for geospatial technology and it is critically important for Blue Marble to have a competent and reliable partner in the region. Schnell Infomatics fits the role perfectly. In the latest Reseller Spotlight, we learn how the company has succeeded in introducing Global Mapper to a wide variety of business sectors and government departments in the region.
Coinciding with the release of version 20 of Global Mapper, Blue Marble applications specialists will be conducting a live webinar showcasing the highlights of this version. Scheduled for September 27, the live format offers an opportunity to see the software in action and to ask questions of the presenters. Registration is required and space is limited so be sure to sign up today.
When asked to name the bridge in September’s Geo-Challenge, the entrant mononymously named John suggested, and I quote, “I think I’ll name it Clarence, Clarence Bridgingsworth the Third.” Much as the judges would delight in accepting this answer, we feel it would establish an unhealthy precedent so unfortunately for John, we have to defer to what most consider to be the correct response: Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Janet Hoskings from Spookfish, an imagery processing company in Western Australia, wins a copy of Global Mapper for being the randomly drawn entrant who correctly recognized all of the locations. Click here to see how well you did and click below to try your hand at September’s Geo-Challenge.
October and November are particularly busy months in Blue Marble’s events calendar. Look out for company representatives at conferences and trades shows from Las Vegas to London. Click here for details.
If you are like most people, it’s unlikely that you take the time to read the plethora of dialog boxes that appear when installing software but if you did, you might actually learn some interesting details about the application. In the case of Global Mapper, one of the windows that beckons for your attention is the “What’s New…” list. While we understand the eagerness of most users to repeatedly click the Next button and finish the installation process so they can “play” with their new toy, it might be worth pausing on this one for just a moment.
Blue Marble’s development process requires each new tool, functional upgrade, bug fix, and performance improvement to be meticulously documented and archived. What you are presented within the “What’s New …” list is an abbreviated version of this archive. In a sense, the list offers a summary report of what the development staff has been working on over the preceding weeks and months. It can make for some interesting reading.
For the soon-to-be-released Global Mapper version 20, there are more than 200 individual changes that have been noted. Given the dynamic nature of the development process, this number will likely increase by the actual date of release.
For those of you who do not have the time or the wherewithal to peruse the entire list, what follows, in no particular order, is a summary of five of the most significant new features that you will find in Global Mapper 20.
1) Improvements to the Map Layout function
One of the surprising findings from last year’s Global Mapper user survey was the importance of map printing. For years, the prevailing opinion has been that printed maps would eventually bite the proverbial dust, but this has not been the case. Global Mapper’s Map Layout functionality was completely redesigned a couple of years ago and it has been undergoing continual improvements ever since. For this release we have introduced a new tool for creating a map book or atlas from selected features; a new option to filter the legend by layer; and a custom macro function that allows you to create title blocks with name, company, etc. Suffice to say, if your workflow requires the printing of maps, Global Mapper 20 has all the tools you need.
2) Support for Windows Tablets with improved touchscreen functionality
While Global Mapper has always been supported on Windows-based touchscreen devices, certain actions and UI procedures have been difficult. In version 20, there have been significant improvements that allow a wider range of actions to be controlled with your fingers. Pinching to zoom the map is now supported as well as swiping with two fingers to pan the map in both the 2D and 3D views. Previous enhancements to support touchscreen interaction include, touching the screen to activate contextual menus and tapping on the screen with any of the digitizing tools enabled to place points or vertices.
3) Ability to create a point cloud or flattened orthoimage from a 3D mesh or model
Creating a point cloud, similar in structure to LiDAR data, from an existing 3D model or mesh may seem like an inverted procedure. It is the reverse of what would be considered a normal workflow. It does, however, open up a number of interesting 3D analysis workflows, in which the source data is an existing 3D mesh. For instance, the point cloud created from the model can be readily classified, edited, and filtered using Global Mapper’s LiDAR processing tools, and points representing ground can be used to create a DTM. Version 20 of Global Mapper not only offers this new point cloud creation tool but it also offers the option to create a flattened orthoimage derived from the colors in the mesh.
4) Speed improvements when loading large vector files
Citing any type of performance improvement as a new version highlight is often perceived as subjective and difficult to quantify or validate. In the case of Global Mapper 20, the improved speed when working with larger vector files is tangible. During our internal testing, the load time for a specific large shapefile was measured at just over four minutes in version 19 of Global Mapper. In version 20, on the same multi-core machine, the load time was shaved to 2.5 seconds. That’s almost 100 times faster. Improvements have also been made to the rendering of large vector files in the 3D View.
5) Eyedropper tool for accurate color selection
Perhaps not a major functional upgrade, however, when considered in the context of one of the author’s favorite Global Mapper tools, it is a godsend. The tool in question is a feature informally referred to as “Raster Vectorization” or, to give its proper name, “Create Area Features from Equal Values”. The premise is simple: By identifying a specific color in an image, you can create polygons that enclose the extent of the pixels of that color or you can expand the tolerance to accommodate similar colors. Previously, fine-tuning the color selection involved manually entering the required RGB values. In version 20, there now is a color picker option, with which you simply click the section of the raster image that you want to extract. This color picker is also available when choosing a transparent color for a raster layer.
And a couple of bonus highlights for LiDAR Module users:
Tool for creating a 3D model or mesh from selected LiDAR points
The underlying technology that enables the creation of an orthoimage was incorporated into Global Mapper within the Pixels-to-Points tool, introduced in the LiDAR Module in version 19. As a byproduct of the photogrammetric 3D point cloud generation process, there is also an option to generate a flattened raster representation of the area in question. Previously, the only way to create either of these data outputs was from drone images. With version 20 of the LiDAR Module, there is now an option to create a mesh or orthoimage from selected points in an existing LiDAR file or point cloud.
Option to spatially thin a point cloud
The LiDAR Module offers an extensive array of point cloud filtering and editing tools. Among the options are: deleting selected points, geographically cropping a point cloud, removal of noise points, manual or automatic reclassification of points, and horizontal or vertical shifting of the point cloud layer. Added to this list in version 20 is a new function to spatially thin a LiDAR layer. This tool allows the user to specify a target resolution for the point cloud which eliminates redundancy, reduces file size, and improves performance.
Version 20 Coming in Mid September
Global Mapper 20 is scheduled for release in the second half of September 2018. Check your inbox or visit bluemarblegeo.com to find out when it is available for download. As always, you can activate a free two-week trial and if you have time, check out the full What’s New list to see what improvements have been made to your favorite Global Mapper tools.
Started in 2006 as an entrepreneurial venture, Schnell has grown into a turn-key solution provider in the field of Geographical Information System (GIS) & geotechnical engineering. During its early years, the company explored opportunities in various fields such as GIS & GPS product sales, implementation of weather monitoring systems, geographical product sales to educational Institutions, and GIS services to various government departments.
In March 2010, Schnell Informatics Private Ltd. was floated as a private limited company with a special focus on providing complete range of solutions in GIS & MIS by leveraging its industry knowledge and business expertise. Schnell has carried out GIS-based projects for various government departments in India from 2010 to 2013. During these years, we began to realize we needed a product partner which we can bundle with GIS Services. This was the beginning of our association with Global Mapper which would eventually come under the control of Blue Marble Geographics. Global Mapper is widely regarded as a low cost GIS software with rich functionality and this has helped us to capture GIS product space quite fast as compared to other companies who were trying to expand their customer base with other costly GIS products.
Extensive demos to prospective clients in various fields such as education, government & private sector were well received and ultimately helped in establishing a foothold in their product portfolio. Now Schnell is major supplier of Blue Marble Products to Indian Army, Indian Navy & Indian Airforce. Schnell has introduced Global Mapper to large number of educational institutes throughout India. Also, many private companies are clients of Schnell and are using Blue Marble Products. We cater to companies in various sectors including mining, wind energy, telecom, forestry, irrigation, utilities, surveying and infrastructure.
How many people currently work for the company?
Schnell has a strong technical team of eight people who are engaged in pre-sales, sales and marketing, post-sales training & technical support.
How have you been in business?
Schnell is currently led by its two Directors, Bhushan Khomane and Satyawan Jadhav. Both of us worked with few renowned software companies in India early in our careers from 2000 to 2006. At this time, we understood the need for low cost, yet feature GIS software for the Indian market. Global Mapper was an excellent fit. We understood this opportunity and hard work throughout the years as well as excellent products like Global Mapper has helped Schnell to achieve a prominent position in GIS field in India.
Tell us a little about your background in GIS?
Prior to Schnell, Bhushan has worked with a top Indian IT company in CAD/CAM and GIS. This helped him to understand the GIS market within India and gave him the opportunity to learn various GIS products. Satyawan also worked with an Indian IT company, which is considered as pioneer of GIS in India. Extensive experience is Sales and Marketing of GIS products has laid the strong foundation for sales of Blue Marble products within India.
What are your target markets?
Target markets include defense (Indian Army, Navy, and Airforce), mining companies, the telecom sector, infrastructure companies, survey companies, companies working in agriculture, educational and research institutes, and various government departments including irrigation, forestry, PWD, electricity and land records.
What geographic area do you cover?
Schnell covers entire country of India as well as neighboring countries like Nepal and Bhutan.
How long has Schnell been reselling Global Mapper?
We first added Global Mapper to our product offerings nine years ago.
Why were you originally interested in reselling Blue Marble products?
Blue Marble products are feature-rich, low-cost, and user-friendly.
Excellent technical as well marketing support by Blue Marble has inspired our team to achieve exponential growth.
What are your favorite features of Global Mapper?
Access to raster data, vector data, 3D elevation data and satellite imagery using one simple dialog box.
The Pixels-to-Points tool and LiDAR QC functionality in the LIDAR Module
Watershed and Viewshed analysis
3D path profile creation
What has been your most interesting or challenging sales or support experience?
There was one particularly challenging sale to a leading telecom company in India, which we closed last year. The company had been using MapInfo for several years and we had conducted series of demonstrations of Global Mapper at various levels within the management of the company. After eight months of effort, we finally convinced them to buy Global Mapper. The highlight of this sale was the introduction of the Floating License of Global Mapper. Since this company desperately wanted to be able to quickly move their Global Mapper license from one machine to another, we discussed their issue with members of Blue Marble staff several times, which ultimately resulted in the introduction of a floating license. Interestingly, in past few sales we have noticed that clients have been preferring the floating license option over a standalone license of Global Mapper.
Other than reselling Blue Marble software, what other services do you provide?
Over the last several years, Schnell has been providing GIS services to clients based on Global Mapper. We also resell other geotechnical engineering software products like GEO5. GIS services include digitization of the road networks of various Indian cities as well as digitization of land records for government irrigation departments.
How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?
In early years of the company, Schnell was carrying out GIS digitization projects mainly for government departments. After we established a partnership with Global Mapper and later Blue Marble, Schnell started offering Global Mapper as commercial off-the-shelf product. With Global Mapper, Schnell was able to expand its client base to educational institutions as well as Indian defense and major private companies. This has given excellent boost to the top-line as well bottom-line of Schnell.
Timely co-operation by the Blue Marble team has always kept us motivated to grow our business every year. Also collaborating with Blue Marble at GIS Conferences within India has helped Schnell to build its brand within the regional GIS community. We are very proud of the fact that we are Indian partner of Blue Marble Geographics.
How do you see your business growing with Global Mapper? New markets?
We can anticipate 30 – 40% annualized growth in revenue every year for next 8 to 10 years. Global Mapper has successfully penetrated the Indian market and with innovative sales strategies, we can achieve bigger targets.
Any final words?
We are happy and proud partner of Blue Marble Geographics for its software products in India. We wish to grow with growing company like Blue Marble and wish to contribute our best. We desire to be number one reseller of Blue Marble across the globe and we are trying hard to achieve that position.
Thus far, our Reseller Spotlight series has taken us from Northern Europe to South America. This month, we shift our focus to the African Continent as we hear from Renier Balt from South Africa-based SMC Synergy. Widely regarded as a challenging market to penetrate, Africa has seen a significant expansion in the use of Global Mapper over recent years thanks in no short measure to the efforts and endeavor of Renier and his partner, Dirk Pretorius. We convinced Renier to take a short break from his Global Mapper outreach efforts to share some insights into his experience working with Blue Marble.
Tell us a little bit about your company, SMC Synergy?
SMC Synergy based in South Africa, was accepted as a Reseller of Blue Marble Geographics in May 2013 and is the preferred distributor of Global Mapper GIS software in Africa. Our experience in the fields of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing applications in all sectors (such as Agriculture, Environment and Mining) spans more than 30 years.
SMC provides Global Mapper training, accredited by Blue Marble and the South African Geomatics Council (SAGC), and provides maintenance and support for specific requests and requirements.
Global Mapper is the preferred GIS software for SMC as well as many other organisations. The reasons are ease of use, affordability, excellent mapping tools, links to online data, many import and export formats, the availability of the LiDAR module, the release of Global Mapper Mobile and the excellent support from the Blue Marble staff.
Being a reseller of Global Mapper software enables SMC to establish strong relationships with clients, both locally and globally, and integrate the products, services and expertise of this excellent GIS software into our whole product and service offering.
How long has the company been in business?
SMC has been in business since 2002 starting with GIS consulting and focusing on mineral exploration. South Africa is a mineral rich environment, which provides many opportunities in this field.
What are your target markets?
We target many markets including:
Agricultural Development (Land capability assessments and farm land use planning projects in South Africa and Nigeria)
Environmental monitoring and evaluation including various environmental monitoring projects for the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa
Mining and exploration including diamond exploration
Civil engineering projects
Academia including various projects with the North West University (NWU) and University of the Free State in South Africa
And many more…
What geographic area do you cover?
See map below – Expanding our footprint into Africa has been an important objective, and it grows continuously. Providing complete product support and service to clients is key. Clients need training and we have found the webinars and online tools available from Blue Marble are excellent for this purpose. Usually our African clients also need public or customised training to complement this. Training therefore is a key component of our marketing strategy to expand the Global Mapper footprint in Africa.
How long have you been reselling Global Mapper?
SMC was officially appointed as reseller in 2013. Prior to that we were long-time users of Global Mapper and have been using and recommending the software since version 8.
Why were you originally interested in reselling Global Mapper?
The combination of functionality and price – the catch phrase then was “Your GIS Swiss Army Knife”, and it lived up to the promise. Being able to create print quality maps within a day of first contact with Global Mapper software speaks volumes of the intuitive and user friendly interface.
There are many other key features: 3D visualisation has been impressive and unique and the continued improvement and updating of this functionality ensures this remains a key product differentiator.
What is your favorite feature of Global Mapper?
It is impossible to choose, but we can highlight the 3D functionalities and analyses available, and most are nowadays available with one click icons.
The ability to easily access Web Map Services and datasets from many sources globally was a reason why we found Global Mapper an attractive option – and the options keep growing steadily for free or affordable data.
Then the LiDAR Module grew in stature and functionality; the recently added Pixel to Point option is, in our view, a game changer.
With the recently improved attribute search functionalities none of the alternative GIS platforms can compete at this price point.
Add to this Global Mapper Mobile available on both IOS and Android devices, and the Global Mapper platform provides a full suite of tools that fits the pocket of our target market segment.
By using the software in practice in our many projects, we have made many recommendations to the developers of Global Mapper and have been impressed with the responsiveness. Many of our proposals for improvement are now available in the software. Kudos to Blue Marble and the developers.
Other than reselling Blue Marble software, what other services do you provide? Training etc?
Our focus, in addition to Reselling Global Mapper, is GIS consulting. The Global Mapper software remains our primary communication and implementation tool.
Training is key for providing a complete product and service for our clients. We are able to support clients in French speaking countries, which helps to expand our footprint for the whole of Africa. Countries in West and North Africa are responding well to our ability to service them in their language of choice.
Our expertise extends to data and we know where Satellite imagery can be sourced, while considering its timeliness, availability and cost implications. We can therefore support clients to make decisions how and where to get affordable and fresh data for their applications.
With the advent and growth of available Drone imagery and LiDAR data, we are able to advise clients about these new technologies, both for visionary and creative applications as well as supporting mainstream clients.
How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?
Global Mapper is an important focal point of most of our business activities:
It complements most of our projects.
It links with our spatial database applications (Intermon – the NRM Intervention and Monitoring System) which makes use of cloud based database applications to support the Natural Resource Monitoring Program of the Department of Environmental Affairs. (http://www.intermon.co.za/ for more information).
Capacity building and training of interns is a crucial activity. Exposing the next generation of GIS experts to Global Mapper is the most affordable GIS training option available. We also support post-graduate initiatives at the Northwest University and other academic institutions.
How do you see your business growing with Global Mapper? New markets?
Global Mapper, through our reselling efforts, must become the GIS software of choice in all African countries. We want to increase sales and support to all African countries with a 100% footprint on the continent. We aim to present training courses on Global Mapper in the major cities on the continent and to promote the visibility of this GIS software to all of Africa.