September 15, 2021

Top New Features in Global Mapper Pro

Written by: Mackenzie Mills

 

Global Mapper Pro is finally here! This new addition to Global Mapper replaces the Lidar Module and diversifies the advanced tools available in the program. Keeping the Pixels to Points tool and all of the existing Lidar Module tools for lidar and point cloud processing, Global Mapper Pro adds to the program’s professional-grade tools with new analysis and scripting tools. 

Point Cloud Segmentation by Spectral Graph Partitioning 

The Lidar Module was focused clearly on lidar and 3D point cloud analysis, and Global Mapper Pro continues in that tradition. Furthering the work on automated analysis, Global Mapper Pro introduces a new tool for point cloud segmentation. This tool uses the characteristics of individual points and points within a local area to perform a point-to-point similarity measure in order to identify distinct features or segments in the point cloud. 

Found on the Automatic Classification Lidar toolbar, the Point Cloud Segmentation tool analyzes the characteristics of points in order to identify clusters and apply a Segment ID that can be visualized, searched, and selected.

Looking at the dialog for this new segmentation tool, users are able to choose which attributes to consider when breaking the data set into segments and specify how heavily to consider these values. 

The results of the segmentation analysis is a point cloud with a unique segment ID assigned to each identified segment in the point cloud. The data can then be drawn by the segment ID in order to clearly show the results of the analysis. 

With the point cloud draw mode set to Segment, the applied segment IDs can be clearly seen.

Paring with the automatic segmentation analysis, a select point cloud by segment digitizer tool is available from the Automatic Classification Lidar toolbar as well. When enabled, click on the point cloud to select a segment, and all points with the matching segment ID will be selected. This simple selection greatly improves the manual classification of point clusters. 

Automatic Breakline Creation 

Expanding from point cloud processing to digital elevation model analysis, the new breakline extraction tool in Global Mapper Pro finds changes in elevation or slope and extracts these edges as 3D vector breaklines. Depending on the goals of the analysis, there are three breakline detection methods available in this tool. 

The three methods for finding breaklines available in this tool have slightly different strengths, but all look for changes in elevation and slope in order to extract line features.

The first method to Find Breaklines at Slope Region Boundaries is best suited for extracting breaklines around flat areas like a hydro-flattened water feature or a plateau. 

Automatic Breakline Generation is used to create a vector boundary of a lake.

The option to Find Breaklines at Any Surface Break looks at a curvature analysis to identify breaklines at extreme points of curvature in the data set. This method is useful for generating lines along ridges and valleys. 

In mountainous terrain, the breakline extraction tool is used to outline ridges and valleys.

User Interface Script Editor with Syntax Coloring

Global Mapper Script has been around in Global Mapper for a number of years and is used by many customers for workflow optimization. Global Mapper Pro brings the process of building a script into the user interface with the Script Editor dialog. 

This new interface for creating, editing, and running script files in Global Mapper allows users to have multiple files opened in a tabbed interface, and save these scripts individually. With easy undo and redo options, syntax coloring, and line bookmarking, the Script Editor greatly improves how scripts are interacted with in the Global Mapper interface. 

With multiple scripts open at once, the Script Editor greatly improves how script files are created and managed in Global Mapper.

Python Programming Language Integration

In addition to the Script Editor dialog, Global Mapper Pro now includes Python scripting. Based in Python v3.9, Global Mapper users are now able to automate workflows in the program using the Python programming language. 

A simple Python script to load a layer and generate contour lines at different intervals is used to automate a repeated task in Global Mapper.

Not replacing Global Mapper Script, but adding to the scripting language options, Python scripts can be written in the new Script Editor or outside of Global Mapper, and run within the Global Mapper interface, via the command line, or in a Python environment. 

Automatic Vectorization of Raster Data

On the theme of workflow efficiency, a series of steps to generate vector area features from raster data have been streamlined to extract, create, and smooth features based on settings applied from a single tool. The new Vectorize Raster tool matches pixels of similar colors or elevation values and generates areas bounding these pixels. To remove the sharp edges of the pixel-derived areas the features are then smoothed based on the user input threshold. 

Combining the Create Areas from Equal Values tool and the digitizer smoothing tool, Vectorize Raster allows users to convert pixel-based data into vector areas.

When setting up the vectorization process, users have complete control over the series of steps executed by the tool. Setting a specific color or elevation value for extraction and then consulting the feature creation preview lets users preview what areas of the raster data will be included in the generated vector features. 

A smooth vector area bounding this lake is created from an aerial image using the Vectorize Raster tool.

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

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