Global Mapper Overview
Equally well suited as a standalone spatial data management tool and as an integral component of an enterprise-wide GIS, Global Mapper is a must-have for anyone who works with maps or spatial data.
Low-cost and easy-to-use GIS
Supports over 250 spatial data formats
Optional LiDAR Module for powerful point cloud processing
Advanced projection management using GeoCalc library*
Unmatched and complimentary technical support
*Requires current Geographic Calculator license
Global Mapper is more than just a utility; it offers a surprisingly extensive collection of analysis and data processing tools in a truly affordable package. Providing support for virtually every known spatial file format as well as direct access to common spatial databases, this remarkable application can read, write, and analyze all of your current data.
With a particular emphasis on terrain and 3D data processing, Global Mapper's out-of-the-box analysis functions include view shed and line-of site modeling, watershed delineation, volume measurement and cut and fill optimization, raster calculation, customized gridding and terrain creation, contour generation, and much more.
Complementing these powerful analysis tools is a complete suite of raster and vector data creation and editing functions offering everything from simple and intuitive drawing to image rectification and vectorization.
The release of Global Mapper 18 introduces an extensive array of new features and functions throughout all areas of the application. The most noticeable change for longtime users is complete redesign of the interface along with a fresh new logo and updated button graphics. The toolbars have been reorganized to promote more efficient access to critical functionality and each toolbar can now be customized by adding or removing buttons to reflect the requirements of each user. The toolbars can even be docked along the side or bottom of the main map window if required.
Global Mapper Features
Flexible View Interface
The new multi-view map display 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
These allow 3rd-parties and customers to create add-ins to Global Mapper to extend the functionality through their own toolbars and/or menu items. The feature extensions will have access to all data loaded in the Global Mapper application instance through the same API used by the Global Mapper SDK. There is an item under the Help menu for managing the installation and registration of feature extension plugins and add-in modules.
Global Mapper works as easily with 3D data as it does 2D data. It supports several 3D formats such as 3D PDF, Collada, Wavefront, 3DS Max and more. The user has the ability to link the 2D and 3D viewer 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. These tools are initiated by selecting the Digitizer tool or Measure tool on the 3D viewer toolbar. Any selections are shared by both the 2D and 3D viewer, and the right-click menu allows you to perform many Digitizer operations on the selection.
There is a toolbar and support for setting up and recording HD 3D fly-through videos of your 3D projects. Additional fly-through features include a handy setting for UAV or Aerial tracking playback option to display a video file synced to any line feature with per-vertex times. Support has been added for features such as draping vector data, GPS tracking and Skyboxes for rendering a sky simulation in 3D. Support has also been added for 3D textures and meshes in GMP files. When recording a fly-through video file, the video file will automatically be associated with the fly-through feature so you can easily play it back from the Feature Info or Digitizer Tool.
There is now a new 3D navigational aid, the pivot axis, which shows the scene rotation pivot location. This may be toggled on or off using the 3D right-click context menu or by using the Ctrl+Shift+P hotkey.
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 250 different raster, vector, and elevation data types, including 3D PDF files, 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.
The list of export formats available within Global Mapper is as impressive as the supported data import types. 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 gridded 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. The latest version dramatically sped up raster/elevation exports cropped to complex area features. For very complex areas (i.e. hundreds or thousands of vertices) the exports may be 10x as fast or even better!
LiDAR Point Clouds
View and process point files with a billion points or more. A dramatic increase in LiDAR processing and display speed is beneficial for previewing the data before creating a gridded surface model and includes several options for filtering the data during import and for rendering the point cloud to reflect return type or intensity. Metadata access provides a detailed statistical breakdown of the point cloud and customizable point size improves on-screen display. Global Mapper Package (.GMP) files are able to store LiDAR point clouds in a special compressed format, much smaller than uncompressed LAS data and on par with the best compression available today. This allows LiDAR data to be efficiently archived or shared with other Global Mapper users. The latest version of Global Mapper includes searching by elevations, a point loading slider bar, reporting tools for point cloud density and improved import and export options including point cloud to DXF/DWG. For those interested in adding more advance LiDAR processing functions, faster gridding and powerful path profile editing the Global Mapper LiDAR Module is an additional optional purchase that is still a very affordable price compared to equivalent technology.
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.
Accessing these online data sources from Global Mapper is easy, simply go to the File menu and select Download Online Imagery/Topo/Terrain Maps.... A customizable list of sources will be displayed.
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. There is also a handy feature short cut for displaying your data on Google Earth right within the map window.
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 all of your GIS processing data needs today.
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.
Automation for feature creation includes the ability to create a series of features that share the same attribute structure, target layer, and other characteristics without having to repeatedly confirm these settings in the Modify Feature Info dialog box.
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 your data. Scripting language supports importing, converting, reprojecting, analyzing, calculating attributes, splitting layers, interactively prompting users for files and folders and exporting all supported data formats. Powerful scripts can be created including conditional processing within the script (IF/THEN/ELSE). The scripts can either be run from within Global Mapper or as a standalone process. Support has been added for passing variables on the command line to a script. Users can provide the variable after the script (.gms) filename itself on the command line in the form '-var_name var_value'. For example,
'global_mapper.exe "c:\my_path\my_script.gms" -my_var my_var_value'
For more information, view the Global Mapper Scripting Language Reference.
Global Mapper includes several powerful terrain analysis tools that allow you 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Compute the areas covered when you raise the water level of selected areas or a fixed elevation by some height. This is useful for modeling the rise of a flood plain by some height or by modeling sea level rise.
Global Mapper includes numerous functions for processing imported data.
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.
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.
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.
To streamline your 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.
Global Mapper contains a full featured dedicated menu for GPS data management. With a compatible GPS receiver attached to your computer, you can track your location in real time superimposed on any available map or data layer. With the advanced 3D viewer you can then create HD fly-through videos from your GPS data. In the 2D viewer you can also use your GPS heading to automatically rotate the map view any way you need it. Additionally you can create waypoints from your current location or record a track log to delineate your movement and much more.
Map Printing and Web Publishing
When it comes time to share your maps or data, Global Mapper offers many output choices.
Cartographic Map Publishing
The all-new Map Layout tools (as of version 17) 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.
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.
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.
The Raster Calculator found under the Analysis menu can be used for performing 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.