Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a bunch of LAS file sets that I need to process. The current task at hand is to generate a "footprint" shapefile that contains polygons for each LAS tile. I am looking for a graceful way to generate this polygon shapefile for all the LAS files in a directory. I am using ArcGIS 10 with just about every extension you can have (academic site license).

At the moment, my workaround is to use LAStools lasboundary.exe and then merge all of the individual shapefiles into single shapefile. However, this takes a while to execute and requires the additional merge step at the end.

share|improve this question

I believe you can access those (LAS) directly now in 10 so I would try the mosaic dataset. Which does exactly what you are wanting (Build footprint polygons)

share|improve this answer
A Good Answer!. – Mapperz May 27 '11 at 16:49
Thanks alot! I will try this today and comment later. I appreciate your response. – conroymedeiros May 31 '11 at 14:08

After looking into both solutions proposed previously, I stumbled upon a dead simple way to do this.

  1. Use 3D Analyst Tools > Conversion > From File > Point File Information.
  2. In the dialog box, select Folders in the "Browse For:" drop-down menu. Click on the Folder icon and select the directory where your LAS files reside.
  3. Enter the name and desired location for the Output Feature Class.
  4. Specify the Input File Format (in this case, LAS).
  5. Enter file suffix of the files you want to include in the process (in this case, las).
  6. Enter the Input Coordinate System. It says that this is optional, but it is only optional if the coordinate system is specified correctly in the LAS files. Personally, I would look up the correct information from the metadata and enter it here.
  7. Click Ok and wait for the process to finish.

Now you have a polygon shapefile consisting of the footprints of each and every LAS file in the directory.

share|improve this answer

With lasboundary.exe (README) you can create fast & exact polygonal boundaries in SHP, KML, WKT or TXT format for Gigabyte sized LAS/LAZ LiDAR files. The tool can be found at

share|improve this answer
We appreciate replies from vendors and other commercially interested parties, Martin, but in such cases to retain credibility it's crucial that you identify your connection with the solution you are recommending. – whuber Feb 13 '12 at 15:47

As a first stab at this, I've used to Hawth's Tools in the past to create minimum convex polygons. The algorithm doesn't follow any concave edges so it may not be suitable for your datasets.

share|improve this answer
Also, I'm not sure how this tool set could be used in an automated batch execution... – Jason May 27 '11 at 14:47
Thanks alot for your response! I will check this out if the solution above does not work out. – conroymedeiros May 31 '11 at 14:09

Another option would be to use/install the GeoCue Las Reader extension for Arc, add in the las file as a layer, and finally use the Minimum Bounding Geometry Data Management tool to create the bounding polygon layer.

Creates a feature class containing polygons which represent a specified minimum bounding geometry enclosing each input feature or each group of input features.

share|improve this answer
It seems like this should be a comment, but I don't rank: The Minimum Bounding Geometry (Data Management) does not recognize las files; it will not work. artwork21's answer. – David Richey Jun 20 at 23:51
@David Richey, I've updated my answer. – artwork21 Jun 21 at 1:39

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.