September 26, 2023

Top New Features in Global Mapper Pro v25

Written by: Amanda Lind


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 your point clouds via a new training tool. A very 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 of the smaller 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. Keep an eye out for the next blog, Top New Tools in Global Mapper Standard, also included in the Pro software. 

Least Cost Path Analysis Tool

Forging a new path through terrain often requires navigating 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 route between specified point features across the terrain. Users have options regarding what order points may be connected and can specify terrain-related parameters which must be met. Great for road planning, utility right-of-way analysis, and many other applications, Least Cost Path is a quick and easy way to determine what may be the best way to travel between points. Find  it in the Terrain Analysis dropdown menu. 

least cost path analysis global mapper
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 in both Standard and Pro. 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. Additionally, 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 all of 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 are still there. Note that the left side of the dialog contains common settings such as Bounds, and Resolution. This left dialog window provides the shared settings between applicable tools. When running a tool, be sure to check the settings in both windows! In addition to fewer settings, you can now choose to run multiple classifications at once by checking multiple options (noise, ground, etc). They will run in a prespecified order based on the method.

Automatic classification in Global mapper v25
The Automatic Point Cloud Analysis tool is the new hub of point cloud classification and extraction in Global Mapper Pro.

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 Training 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 custom classifications based on user-created training samples. You can now 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 method 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. 

Classified lidar of an airport
A custom classification can be made and trained to search 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 topographic 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 topographic map by removing a building that no longer exists or clean a basemap image generated from point cloud data.

Land use before painting land use data after painting
Landuse maps can now be easily updated to match changes in the landscape, such as the growth of urban development (red).

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 was limited to point cloud data. A new Elevation QC tool in v25 provides the ability to vertically adjust gridded elevation layers to 3D vector control points. 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 process further expands Global Mapper’s terrain analysis tools, giving users more ways to refine their data. 

Terrain layer with ground control points
Elevation QC vertically adjusts gridded elevation layers to match ground control points, improving the accuracy of the elevation layer.

To check out the exciting new functionality in Global Mapper standard and Pro v25, download a free 14-day trial today!  If you have any questions, please contact us!

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