Tools and Features in Global Mapper

Flexible View Interface

The multi-view map display in Global Mapper allows several docked map windows to be displayed within the interface for better data visualization and manipulation. These views, which support both top-down 2D rendering as well as oblique 3D viewing, can be independently zoomed and panned and can be resized to make the most efficient use of the available screen space.

Feature Extension Plugin Support

Using the Global Mapper SDK, software developers can add functionality to the software by creating extensions. Examples of the use of extensions include extended format support, enhanced visualization options, or new toolbar buttons. An extension can also be used to provide an interface between Global Mapper and a third-party application. For more information on extensions, contact a Blue Marble sales representative (

3D Data

Global Mapper is optimized to work with 3D data. It supports many 3D formats including elevation or terrain models as well as 3D mesh formats such as Collada, Wavefront, 3DS Max and more.When working with terrain layers, several preconfigured shaders are available as well as the ability to create custom shaders. The software includes a powerful 3D Viewer which can be docked and linked to the 2D map so panning, zooming, and adding vector features will automatically replicate in both windows. This powerful functionality also includes the ability to select and measure features in the 3D viewer.

Global Mapper's 3D functionality includes support for recording HD 3D fly-through videos, which provide powerful way to visualize 3D projects for presentation and analysis purposes. The fly through tool and also be used to playback a video file synced to any line feature with per-vertex times. The 3D window also allows draping of vector data over imagery, GPS tracking, Skyboxes for rendering a sky simulation in 3D and display and manipulation of 3D meshes such as sketch-up. There are tools for selecting and editing 3D features and working with the 3D window, 2D window and the path profile in a docked set up enables complex analysis and 3D data manipulation.

Data Importing / Exporting

One of the unique and defining characteristics of Global Mapper is its extensive and varied data format support. Offering direct access to over 300 raster, vector, and elevation data types, Global Mapper supports virtually all types of geospatial data right out of the box, no add-ons required. With new and modified formats being added on an ongoing basis, you can be sure that the software will never be out of date with your data.

Vector, raster, and elevation data can be exported in virtually every common file format as well as many proprietary types. During export, data can be tiled into smaller or more manageable files or the export area can be cropped to a defined area or to the extent of the current screen view.

Click here for a complete list of supported data types.

Spatial Database Support

Global Mapper supports reading and writing data from most common spatial databases.

  • Esri ArcSDE (requires ESRI license on machine and 32-bit only)
  • Esri File Geodatabase (includes raster and grid and all versions of file geodatabses, requires ESRI license on machine and 32-bit only)
  • Esri Personal Geodatabase (requires ESRI license on machine and 32-bit only)
  • MS SQL Server
  • MySQL Spatial
  • Oracle Spatial
  • PostGIS/PostgreSQL
  • SpatiaLite/SQLite

LiDAR and Point Clouds

Global Mapper is the perfect application for visualizing, editing, and analyzing LiDAR or point cloud data of any format. Out of the box, the software supports point clouds of virtually any size and offers tools to utilize this data efficiently and effectively. Recent developments in the application have dramatically improved the rendering and processing speeds, which is especially important when working with the high-density point clouds that are becoming increasingly common. Global Mapper provides access to the core metadata of the point cloud file offering a snapshot of the critical information that is essential for any data processing workflow.

For more advanced point cloud processing tools, the Global Mapper LiDAR Module offers an extensive array of functionality including automatic point classification, feature extraction, hydro-flattening, photogrammetric point cloud generation, and much more. For more information visit the LiDAR Module page.

Access to Online Data

With many data GIS administrators choosing to distribute data through web-based services instead of offering file downloads or disk media, there is now a vast quantity of readily available spatial data just a mouse click away. Global Mapper's online data function includes direct links to many of these data services including one-meter aerial imagery for the U.S., worldwide elevation data, topographic maps, Landsat satellite imagery, land cover data, the full Maine GIS catalog, aviation charts, OpenStreetMap vector data via WMS, and much more. Furthermore, if a local agency or organization develops a Web Mapping Service, a custom link to this data can be easily added to the online data source list. These web-based datasets can be either streamed in real time or exported to a local file for offline use.

Through agreements with commercial data vendors, Global Mapper also offers fee-based access to premium spatial datasets. Using the Online Data function, you can download high-resolution imagery from DigitalGlobe, elevation data from Intermap, or US Land Parcel Data from Corelogic.

Google Earth Support

Global Mapper has built in support for importing and exporting data in Google's KML/KMZ format. The software has an extremely powerful export menu guiding the user with a flexible selection interface for everything from translucency to feature descriptions to encoding of zip files. Users can display labels or not, highlight cursors, manipulate export of 3D feature types, and much more including tiling options. Global Mapper also publishes to Google web map tiles and KML/KMZ web map export for creating your own online Google maps interface.

Image Rectification

A standard function of Global Mapper is its ability to import virtually any image file and to create a geographically aligned and scaled raster layer. The image rectification process supports the manual input of image pixel and corresponding ground control coordinates, or the simple tagging of recognizable points on the image as well as the corresponding locations on a base map layer. Advanced options allow the selection of the rectification method, resampling scheme, and ground control projection parameters.

The resulting raster layer can be analyzed and processed just like any other imported layer and can be exported in any one of the supported raster formats.


Global Mapper includes a powerful geocoding function that allows real-world coordinates to be assigned to an imported database of addresses. The geocoding process can use either a preconfigured online service or a user-imported road network to accurately determine the point that represents the location of each address. If necessary, this data, including the coordinate values, can be exported in tabular form or plotted on the map to provide a visual perspective.

Graph and Chart Manager

The Graph and Chart Manager allows the user to create graphs and charts from loaded data. The following type of operations are supported:

  • Bar graph, histogram, line chart, or bar chart from any attribute field in loaded vector layers
  • Histograms for gridded terrain layers (i.e. DEMs)
  • Save the graph to a BMP file and place it on the map as a fixed screen position layer
  • Graph definitions are saved in the workspace file for easy saving and sharing


As well as offering unrivaled access to preexisting spatial datasets, Global Mapper provides a vast array of digitizing tools for creating and/or editing features on the map. As well as the standard point, line and area creating functions, there are also tools for creating specialized geometric features such as range rings, grids, and buffer areas. Advanced coordinate geometry input can be employed to create objects on the map by simply typing the geometric dimensions of each segment.

Editing functions include rotating, scaling, and moving features on the map. Modifications can be applied to entire features or to individual vertices that determine the shape and size of a feature. Global Mapper has full attribute and geometry editing capabilities rivaling any other GIS software on the market today. Combined with scripting and batching tools, it has the capability to automate many GIS processing tasks.

Feature Rendering

Global Mapper offers limitless possibilities for assigning specific visual characteristics to vector features on the map. Preinstalled or custom symbols can be attributed to points; multiple line styles and weights can be applied to linear features; and solid or patterned fill shading can be assigned to area features. The appearance of features in Global Mapper is usually controlled by the style that has been established for each feature type, but the style can also reflect an attribute of the data allowing for the creation of thematic maps.


Many functions in Global Mapper can be performed by initiating a script. Formatted as a simple ASCII file, a script is commonly used to automate repeating or recurring tasks, eliminating the need to manually process the data. The Global Mapper scripting language supports importing, converting, reprojecting, analyzing, calculating attributes, splitting layers, interactively prompting users for files and folders and exporting all supported data formats.

Terrain Analysis

Global Mapper includes several powerful terrain analysis tools that are used to process or model elevation data. These functions are included as part of the standard installation and require no additional extensions or plug-in components.

  • Linear Profiling/Line of Sight
    Any line feature on the map can be profiled to create a cross-sectional view of the underlying terrain. These profiles can be used to calculate a variety of statistics related to the elevation and slope along the path. Additionally, line of sight calculation can be used to visualize any obstructions that may interfere with the view along the profile path. This is especially useful for analysis of a radio or broadcast signal. A visualization option allows the Path Profile display to be rendered as a terrain cutaway in the 3D View.
  • View Shed Calculation
    Similar to line of sight calculation, the view shed analysis tool is typically used to determine the area covered, or not covered, from a broadcast site with a specified transmitter height. The view shed analysis determines the coverage in all directions within a specified radius from the signal source. Advanced options include Freznel Zone determination and signal strength loss over distance.
  • Watershed Delineation
    Based on the terrain morphology, the watershed calculation tool determines the likely linear path of streams and the drainage or catchment areas of those streams. This tool can also be used to conduct water drop analysis, in which the theoretical flow pattern from a defined source can be mapped.
  • Contour Creation
    Any imported or processed elevation layer can be used to generate contours in vector format. Options include customized contour interval spacing and polygon feature generation for determining the area above or below a specified height. The contouring tool can also be used to identify local peaks and depressions in a terrain layer.
  • Cut and Fill Calculation
    This powerful tool is used to precisely calculate the volume of material that must be cut and/or filled to flatten the terrain at a specified elevation. Cut and fill calculation can be performed on area features or along a line to simulate the digging of a trench. An optional feature allows the calculation of the break even height within an area. This represents the elevation value at which the cut and fill volumes will be the same.
  • Terrain Modification/Flattening
    An elevation or z-value assigned to an area feature can be used to create an artificial horizontal plane in the terrain. This modified terrain modeling capability is particularly useful for visualizing construction sites or road cuts.
  • Sea Level Rise
    This simple visualization tool provides the means to gauge the impact of a rise in water level in the area surrounding a body of water.

Data Processing

Global Mapper includes numerous functions for processing imported data.

  • Reprojecting
    Regardless of its native projection parameters, any layer can be reprojected into another system prior to export. Dozens of projections are pre-built into the software and you can also configure the projection based on your own requirements.
    For advanced projection management, Blue Marble's Geographic Calculator software provides a vast database of projection and coordinate system parameters as well as conversion transformation algorithms. If Geographic Calculator is installed on the same computer as Global Mapper, these projection management capabilities are available within Global Mapper by enabling GeoCalc mode.
  • Attribute Management
    Global Mapper provides full attribute editing and processing functionality. As well as the standard attribute search capability, there is also a powerful search and replace tool. Advanced options include the ability to join a tabular file to append attribution to map features and a calculation function to derive new attributes from an existing attribute field.
  • Feature Extraction
    An innovative feature extraction tool can be used with raster or elevation layers to create vector area features that share a common characteristic. This powerful function can be customized to analyze areas that match a particular color or color range, that are within a certain elevation, or that have a specified slope value.
  • Density Grid Calculation
    Using a loaded point dataset, you can create a colorized density or heat map that highlights areas with the greatest concentration of points or the highest values in a numeric attribute within a point layer.
  • Batch Processing
    To streamline a data processing workflow, Global Mapper offers a batch processing function that allows multiple selected files, or all compatible files within a specified folder, to be converted, reprojected, gridded, and renamed.

GPS Tracking

With a compatible GPS receiver attached to the computer, Global Mapper will display the location in real time superimposed on the current map or data layer. Movement can be tracked or recorded, and waypoints can be created as time-stamped vector features. Track files can subsequently be played back using Global Mapper's 3D fly-through visualization tool.

Map Printing and Web Publishing

When it comes time to share maps or data, Global Mapper offers many output choices.

  • Feature Labeling
    Global Mapper provides an innovative tool for creating and managing labels on the map. A separate label layer allows individual labels to be moved, edited, or deleted. It is also possible to establish a defined zoom level range for this layer so that labels will only appear when needed.
  • Cartographic Publishing
    Global Mapper's Map Layout tools provide the necessary functionality for designing state-of-the-art printed maps. Cartographic elements such as a scale bar, compass rose, and map legend can be precisely placed within the layout frame and supplementary text and corporate branding graphics can be easily added to the design and saved as a template for future use. For atlas or map book creation, the Map Layout function offers a tool for designing a tiled array of maps, in which all of the pages share a consistent layout structure.
  • Capture Screen Contents
    When all you need is a quick view of the map in a common image format, the screen capture function is the simplest option. If necessary, you can even add a world file or projection file so its location will be recognized by other GIS applications.
  • Printing
    Global Mapper's page layout options include the ability to add a map heading, descriptive text, a horizontal and/or vertical scale bar, a compass rose, and a map legend. Additionally, any image file or data layer can be placed at a fixed location on the screen to allow the placement of a corporate logo or banner on the printed map. The print process supports all standard and customized page sizes including large format or plotter printing.
  • PDF Generating
    Similar in setup to the printing process, the PDF output process offers the option to create a Geospatial PDF from the current page layout. The resulting file includes the coordinate information as well as the individual layer characteristics so that, when viewed in a compatible PDF reader, the inherent geographic details can be displayed.
  • Web Tile Exporting
    Global Mapper offers the option to export the current map view as a series of web-ready raster tiles that are compatible with common online map formats, such as Google and Bing Maps. This export process also generates an accompanying html file that is used to display the tiles within the selected format's web interface, complete with the common map navigation and layout tools. This preconfigured html file allows the map to be easily integrated into an existing web structure.
  • MangoMap Publishing
    In a joint development effort, Global Mapper users can upload map data directly from the software to an online Mango-hosted map site, which can be easily shared with customers, colleagues, or constituents. The MangoMap Extension allows users to initially set up their Mango account by purchasing one of three subscription options, and with a couple of mouse clicks, upload the relevant GIS layers into their online Map. For more information, visit the MangoMap page.

Raster Calculator

The Raster Calculator found under the Analysis menu is used to set up mathematical operations on multi-band imagery to extract different types of information. Users can use pre-defined formulas, like NDVI and NDWI, or create their own free-hand formulas using common mathematical operations, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and powers, as well as simple operators like absolute value, minimum value, and maximum value of 2 values.