This article brought to you by our friends at Blue Marble.
Version 25 of Global Mapper Pro is here! This new release of the all-in-one GIS software comes with more efficiently arranged menus, new lidar classification tools, and a custom way to classify point clouds. A notable update is the Pixels to Points improvements, including refining the wizard to streamline setup and processing speed improvements of up to 50% for some projects. Some minor updates include the ability to compare kriging outputs to control data via cross-validation and improvements to the creation of estimated tree footprints extracted from point clouds. A few new tools are expansions of existing popular tools, such as Raster painting and Elevation QC.
Here are a few of the top new tools in Global Mapper Pro v25.
Least Cost Path Analysis Tool
Forging a new path through terrain often requires navigation around existing structures and difficult areas. A new Least Cost Path tool provides a terrain analysis method for finding the shortest and most efficient path between locations. Accounting for user-defined conditions, it identifies the best round between specified point features across the terrain. Users have options regarding what order points may be connected and can set terrain-related parameters that must be met. Great for road planning, utility right-of-way analysis, and many other applications, the Least Cost Path is a quick and easy way to determine the best way to travel between points. Find it in the Terrain Analysis dropdown menu.
Least Cost Path can find the most optimal route across the terrain, avoiding steep slopes, vector features, and more.
Point Cloud and Lidar Tool Restructure
The dropdown menus and lidar toolbars have changed in version 25. Have no fear! These updates will make it easier for you to find and use your favorite Global Mapper tools. The Analysis dropdown menu has been divided into three separate menus: Raster analysis, Terrain analysis, and Lidar analysis. The Lidar Analysis toolbar has been replaced with the Point Cloud Analysis tool, as described below.
Point Cloud Analysis Tool
Previously, all automatic classification tools were available individually from a shared toolbar. Running a point cloud through these tools required repetitive steps of setting resolution, bounds, and other shared settings between classifications and feature extraction. To streamline this workflow, all of the automatic classification tools, the segmentation tool, and the feature extraction tool have been combined into one tabbed dialog: The Point Cloud Analysis tool. Instead of opening each tool in its own window to run separately, here, you can check a box to enable Segmentation, Classification, or Feature extraction, all based on the same settings. These tools will appear as tabs on the right-hand side and can be docked anywhere in the workspace.
The classification tools look very different from version 24.1, but your favorite options remain. Note that the left side of the dialog contains standard settings such as Bounds and Resolution. This left dialog window provides the shared settings between applicable tools. When running a tool, check the settings in both windows! In addition to fewer settings, you can run multiple classifications at once by checking multiple options (noise, ground, etc.) They will run in a prespecified order based on the method.
New Segmentation Classification Methods
The traditional automatic classification options available in Global Mapper Pro now have two available methods, typically grid and segmentation. Previously, only non-ground points supported both methods, but now it has been expanded to ground and noise classifications as well. The grid method is the original analysis method developed for traditional aerial lidar. With the development of more advanced collection methods, segmentation has been expanded to better take advantage of the different point cloud structures.
Custom Point Cloud Classification Tool (Beta)
The segmentation tool is extremely useful for dynamically classifying points based on existing attributes. What if you could train Global Mapper to look for similar features in other point clouds? Global Mapper’s existing automatic classification tools cover the most commonly classified point structures, such as ground, buildings, and poles. The new Custom Feature tool lets you define additional custom classifications based on unique attributes and spatial patterns. You can create your own automatic point cloud classifications to find unique objects in your data.
Segmentation finds objects in a point cloud by looking at the attributes and structure of the points. For example, to segment paint stripes on the road, you would look for points that make up a flat surface, have the same color, etc. This operates on the assumption that each “object” in the point cloud, each cluster of points, has a signature made up of attributes and/or structures that separate it from its neighbors. The new Custom Feature Template tool takes advantage of these signatures and lets you train a custom classification tool to look for a specific signature in the point cloud.
A custom classification can be made for features that have distinct attributes or structures from neighboring points, such as these airplanes.
To use this tool, check the box to enable Custom Feature Templates. Options will appear on the left-hand side. Because this tool uses segmentation, these advanced options can also be used to tailor the automatic and general segmentation options further, if desired.
Image and Raster Paint Tool
A new Raster Paint Tool expands the functionality of the Terrain Paint tool to non-elevation rasters such as images and topo maps. Raster Paint can be used to manually adjust pixel values in RGB and palette-based images, allowing users to live edit their data. The provided options for dynamically editing a raster or image include a color replacement, brighten/darken pixels, and fill color. This tool is very useful for data cleanup, especially with land use data, as shown below. Use the heal option (bandaid icon) to remove stray pixels through neighborhood interpolation. Update a topo map by removing a building that no longer exists or clean a basemap image generated from point cloud data.
Elevation QC Analysis
The Lidar QC tool, used for adjusting point clouds to ground control points, has been popular since its release in v18.1. However, it is limited to point cloud data. A new Elevation QC tool in version 25 provides the ability to adjust gridded elevation layers to 3D vector control points vertically. This tool generates a new, adjusted layer in the workspace and provides the ability to save summary statistics and an intermediate grid.
There are many sources of free elevation data, but they might not have the desired accuracy. Collecting ground control points with a high-accuracy GPS unit is often much more accessible than creating an elevation layer from scratch. Elevation QC provides the ability to use survey-grade ground control points to adjust an existing surface layer. This method further expands Global Mapper's terrain analysis tools, giving users more ways to refine their data.