October 13, 2021

GeoTalks Express: Introducing Global Mapper Pro – Questions and Answers

Global Mapper Pro, the most recent addition to the Global Mapper family of programs, incorporates point cloud processing tools from the Lidar Module and expands the scope of these advanced tools to include advanced terrain analysis and workflow optimization. 

To introduce Global Mapper Pro, Blue Marble hosted a webinar to demonstrate the new tools and updated features. Following are the live questions and answers from this webinar.

Will a recording be made available? If so, may I have the link?

Yes, as an attendee, you should have received an email with a link to the recorded session posted on our YouTube channel. If you did not register for this live webinar, sign up here to see recordings of this and past webinars and check out our YouTube channel for many more helpful videos. 

In 3D, is there a way to zoom into a smaller area and only show points in that area?

You can zoom and pan over data in both the 2D and 3D views. In Configuration > 3D View Properties > Data Display, there is an option to Mask 3D Data by 2D Bounds. Enabling this option will crop the data displayed in 3D to only show the area of data visible in the 2D view. 

Will Pro include better 3D exports support into other software such as sketchfab/blender?

Global Mapper Pro supports over 250 file formats for both import and export. A full list of supported formats can be found here, and a list of 3D formats here.

It would help a lot if you have a help menu per dialog box you open that explains each setting. 

All the Global Mapper tools are documented in the program knowledge base. This information is available through the Global Mapper Pro Help menu, or online here

Pixels to Points

The Pixels to Points tool in Global Mapper Pro processes images, commonly collected with UAVs and drones, into 3D and image outputs. With options to project individual images, mask input images, and set ground control points, Pixels to Points created ortho-images, point clouds, and mesh features all within Global Mapper Pro.

Does the Pixels to Points tool support the use of ground control points? 

Yes, ground control points can be loaded and used with the Pixels to Points tool. These points would be loaded into the Pixels to Points tool along with the collected images, and then the position of each point could be tagged in the relevant images. The points will then be considered and used as Global Mapper Pro works to generate the image and 3D data outputs. 

What geoid models are available when processing drone imagery?

Global Mapper Pro alone does not transform vertical coordinate systems. The Pixels to Points tool assumes coordinates from the images to be WGS84 / Ellipsoid height. After generating the 3D outputs from the Pixels to Points tool you can use Geographic Calculator or GeoCalc Mode in Global Mapper Pro to transform the vertical values for the data. 

Point Cloud Segmentation and Classification

With many lidar and point cloud classification, editing, and analysis tools, Global Mapper Pro includes updates to automatic classification methods and a new Segmentation tool

Can the new lidar model be used with bathymetry XYZ data?

Any of the point cloud or terrain processing tools in Global Mapper Pro can be used with bathymetric data. Global Mapper reads the elevations from the data and interprets both terrestrial and bathymetric data as 3D data.  

The auto classification works great, but there are times that Global Mapper has some troubles. Will there be a better way to clean the point cloud with a 3D viewing?

Point clouds can be manually edited in Global Mapper Pro by selecting points to classify, edit, or delete. Point returns can be selected in the top-down 2D view, with sweep selection in the 3D view, or in the cross-section Path Profile view

The new Segmentation and Segment Select tools in Global Mapper Pro may help further with point cloud clean-up. Being able to isolate clusters of points and select by segment ID will aid in manual classification and editing. 

For Point Cloud Segmentation, is there info available that explains what all the different settings are and what happens when changing them?

All the Global Mapper Pro tools, including Segmentation, are documented in the program knowledge base. This information is available through the Global Mapper Pro Help menu, or online here

Is the software capable of adjusting the parameters in the segmentation tool upon analysis of a point cloud data set? Can you share possible use cases for when point segmentation would be best suited?

The parameters in various point cloud classification tools in Global Mapper Pro will initially be populated with some default values. You will likely need to alter the default values based on your specific dataset. 

The Segmentation tool in Global Mapper Pro can be used to identify a wide variety of features based on the point cloud data and attributes available for analysis. Since this tool can be used to identify roads, cars, ground, buildings, and many other features you will need to set the parameters in the tool to best work for your data and goals. 

How does your platform auto-classify cables and poles?

The automatic classification tools in Global Mapper Pro, including powerline and pole classification, analyze the relationships of nearby points based on user input parameters. Adjustments to these parameters will help achieve a better classification result. 

Do you have any options for quantifying vegetation from trees for the purposes of trimming along powerlines?

In Global Mapper Pro, a Select Lidar by Distance tool allows you to search for and select point returns based on a distance threshold from a specific class of point returns, a 3D line, or terrain. You can use this tool to search for vegetation classified points near classified powerline points or vector powerline features. 

Alternatively, you can extract coverage areas for trees from a point cloud and then use the Spatial Operations tool to identify areas where the tree coverage features overlap or intersect with powerline features. 

Terrain Editing and Analysis

Expanding from point cloud processing, Global Mapper Pro aims to increase the advanced terrain editing and analysis capabilities of Global Mapper with Automatic Breakline Generation and Terrain Painting

Will the breakline tool be able to pick up top and bottom of curbs along a roadway?

If the curb feature is visible in the elevation model loaded into Global Mapper the breakline extraction tool should be able to identify the change in elevation and extreme curvature created by the curb and generate breaklines for the feature. 

Is there any breakline extraction option to constraint a hydro-breakline so it flows correctly?

The Generate Breaklines tool will extract 3D line features where the elevation will be derived from the terrain grid. If the extracted breaklines do not flow in the correct direction, you can select the line(s) and use the digitizer option to Move/Reshape Feature(s) > Reverse Order of Vertices in Selected Area(s)/Line(s)

Can I use lineament extraction in Global Mapper Pro with the breakline tool or any other technique?

The Generate Breaklines tool can identify distinct changes in elevation/slope or extreme points of curvature in a dataset. If the features you are looking to extract are clear in the terrain data, the generate breaklines tool should be able to create lines along the feature edges.

Can the breakline feature be used to define hydro-breaklines?

When looking to extract boundaries of a flattened water area from a terrain grid, the first breakline identification method, Find Breaklines at Slope Region Boundaries, works well. With this method, set the maximum slope to be considered “flat” and lines will be created along edges where the slope exceeded the “flat” slope threshold. 

In the Terrain Painting example, does it make a difference if your Charles River polygon is 2D or 3D?

With Terrain Painting the area selected and used to edit the terrain does not need to be 3D since the elevation change or edit value is set with a parameter in the Terrain Painting dialog box. In the webinar example with the Charles River, the polygon did not have an elevation. 

If the river polygon did have an elevation value, or one was added to the feature, the shape could then be used to generate an elevation grid. Using both a point cloud and 3D area, the area feature can be used as a breakline to hydro-flatten a section of the generated grid. 

When would you use Terrain Painting?

Terrain Painting can be used to edit a digital elevation model in a variety of ways. Flattening areas, closing gaps, or smoothing a generated elevation grid area all simple edits made easy in Global Mapper Pro. Check out this showcase on using Terrain Painting to model earthworks projects for additional examples. 

Is there a maximum size for a raster being painted?

There is no hard limit on the size of any data being processed in Global Mapper Pro, and this extends to the Terrain Painting tool. Depending on the machine resources available you may run into memory or speed issues when working with extremely large datasets. 

In Terrain Painting, is it able to do this with the point clouds instead of the raster?

Terrain Painting only works with digital elevation models and will not work to edit point cloud layers. You can generate an elevation model from a point cloud in Global Mapper Pro and then use Terrain Painting to edit the generated layer. 

If you would like to edit the point cloud data, you can use the automatic classification tools or manually select points to classify or delete them. 

Is there any straightforward way to replace the buildings and to generate a DTM underneath these (as if the land surface was continuous)?

If you have polygons with elevations representing the building footprints, you can use the area features along with the point cloud to generate an elevation grid. The 3D area features will be used as breaklines, and the area within each building footprint will be flattened to the elevation of the area features. 

Is there a way to use the Terrain Paint tool to set the river’s elevation stepping down instead of a constant elevation?

The Slope Along Line operation in the Terrain Painting tool can be used with a line-type brush to create an evenly sloped area of the terrain. Using this and drawing down the center of the river would generate a sloped area. 

If you had a 3D area feature with per vertex elevations describing the shape of the desired river grid, you could use the 3D area as a breakline when generating an elevation grid with the point cloud, or use it to create a flattened site plan grid to combine with the larger terrain layer. 

When generating contour lines, can you use an interval value less than 1 unit?

Yes, you can enter a contour line interval less than 1 in order to create contour lines at smaller intervals. This can be done through the Global Mapper user interface or with a script. 

How can I create high-resolution stereo satellite images to DEM/DTM?

Digital elevation models in Global Mapper can be generated from 3D vector data. After generating an elevation model you can display imagery over the top of it and blend the layers to add a textured look to the 2D imagery and display the image draped over the 3D surface in the 3D viewer

I am working with DTMs that require an offset to correct for a geoid difference. Is there an option to adjust the elevation values in a DTM with a user-specific offset value? 

Yes, a vertical offset can be applied to a digital elevation model through the Layer Options. On the Alter Elevation Values tab you can enter an elevation scale and/or offset to apply a vertical shift to the data layer. 

Vectorize Raster

To streamline the conversion of data from raster to vector format, any raster layer, imagery or elevation, can be used with the new Vectorize Raster tool that creates, smooths, and filters polygons based on equal values pixels. 

Can Vectorize Raster be applied to the entire project? How large of a dataset can it handle?

The Vectorize Raster tool can be used on any raster data like images or elevation models. There is no program limit on the size of data that can be processed with this tool. Depending on the machine you are using, you may run into memory or processing speed issues if you are working with extremely large datasets. 

Can I extract features from high-resolution satellite images in Global Mapper Pro?

The Vectorize Raster tool can be used to extract features from an image based on the color values found in the image. After creating polygons from the image(s) with this tool you can further edit the extracted vector features if it is needed to clean up the generated data.

Script Editor and Python Integration

Creating and running scripts in Global Mapper Pro is made easier with the user interface Script Editor, a tabbed interface for writing and running scripts. For Python developers, Python integration is now available providing the opportunity to automate Global Mapper workflows with Python.

What version of Python is this based on?

Global Mapper Pro uses Python v3.9 to execute scripts within the program interface. 

Does Global Mapper Pro bundle an install of Python 3.9 or does it connect to an existing install of Python?

When installing Global Mapper there is an additional option to install Python version 3.9, but you can also use an existing installation.

Do you have Python sample scripts?

Some Python sample scripts can be found here in the Global Mapper Python integration help files. 

Does the Scripting Tool have auto-complete for Global Mapper functions in Python as well?

Using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + space in the Script Editor will bring up command suggestions based on the start of the command you have typed. This functionality works for both Global Mapper script and Python. 

Can a Global Mapper Python script run without opening Global Mapper Pro?

Python scripts using Global Mapper functionality can be run within Global Mapper Pro or outside of the program through the command line or in a Python environment. In order to use Global Mapper functions in a Python script, Global Mapper Pro does need to be installed and licensed on the machine, but the program interface does not need to be open. 

At a previous job, we had a script which extracted data visible on the screen and exported each layer to separate shapefiles. How hard would that be to set up in Global Mapper?

Global Mapper script, or Python, can be used to process, crop, and export data. In Global Mapper script you can specify the bounds for most any operation including vector data exports

Can we create interactive tools using Python inside Global Mapper Pro?

Yes, you can use Python with Global Mapper Pro to write custom tools for the program or utilize tools from installed third-party libraries.

Upgrading to Pro

Can you share, as an existing customer with current support, what is the best route to upgrade to Global Mapper Pro?

If your Global Mapper and Lidar Module licenses are in current maintenance and support, you are able to upgrade to Global Mapper Pro for free. 

If you have questions about your order or license status, please reach out to our sales team (orders@bluemarblegeo.com) with your most recent order number. 

If you are interested in more detailed information on all the tools available in Global Mapper Pro, we do offer training classes with hands-on workflows. For more information, please visit our website or contact our team at training@bluemarblegeo.com.

If you would like to explore these new tools in Global Mapper Pro, download a 14-day free trial today! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch

Companies using Blue Marble’s geospatial technology