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Normally consultants (LiDAR survey) provide me with data to my specifications; already in ESRI GRID or ASCII GRID format. This way LiDAR data can be easily used with ArcGIS. This time I only have xyz files. Previously I would use a utility by Min-Lang Huang named GridBatch that would convert XYZ to ASCII GRID then to ESRI GRID files. Unfortunately the utility is crashing since i upgraded my machine to W7 64bit and ArcGIS to version 10.

Is there another way to batch convert LiDAR XYZ data to ESRI GRID files?

(Convert to points -> Interpolate is an option I would like to avoid considering there are 300+ tiles to convert)

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Here is the old ESRI forum thread that has a link to the tool: forums.esri.com/Thread.asp?c=93&f=986&t=268865 –  Jakub Sep 23 '10 at 19:59
    
Thanks for everybody'e input. The original utility came with source code. I obtained a permission from the creator to update it. I managed to eliminate the errors, simplify for my needs and update it for and it for version 9.3 on Vista. resources.arcgis.com/gallery/file/geoprocessing/… –  Jakub Oct 18 '10 at 18:33
    
This doesn't seem to work, do you know of an alternative? –  veedub Jul 23 '12 at 9:12
    
I am planning to upgrade to version 10 add-in soon. –  Jakub Jul 23 '12 at 13:23
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Thanks for the reply, that would be really useful. I did however manage to get around this. For info: Use ASCII 3D to Feature (3D Analyst Tools > Conversion > From File) making sure to output to point, then append height data using Add Z Information tool (3D Analyst > 3D Features). Then I interpolated using Natural Neighbour (3D Analyst > Raster Interpolation). –  veedub Jul 24 '12 at 7:54
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13 Answers

I would suggest to try GlobalMapper for this (www.globalmapper.com) . The demo-version can be downloaded from their webpage. You can get a demo-license so you can try the complete functionality for a limited time if you e-mail the support.

If you want a free tool to manipulate LIDAR-files then you can have a look at the commandlinetool (LasTOOLS) http://www.cs.unc.edu/~isenburg/lastools/

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Thanks. I will try Global Mapper. As for the LasTools i've looked at it a while back and the only one I could have used was the las2dem.exe However, this tool triangulates first then converts to dem: "This tool reads LIDAR points from the LAS format, triangulates them temporarily into a TIN, and then rasters the TIN onto a DEM." –  Jakub Sep 23 '10 at 20:28
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I would suggest using the LAS to Multipoint tool (need 3D Analayst extension) http://help.arcgis.com/en/arcgisdesktop/10.0/help/index.html#//00q90000009m000000.htm

then you can use use the Topo to Raster, or generate a Terrain and export that. I would suggest the Terrain option as should be quicker

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Sounds like you're wanting to do this in batch (don't blame you)

As STH said, looks like Global Mapper will indeed do batch conversions. Nice price as well.

FME Desktop can do using the RasterDEMGenerator transformer and a bit of linking with reader/writer, but you'll need the Pro version, not available in the ArcGIS Data Interop extension.

If free is more in your budget, gdal_grid should do it. You'll have to spend some time figuring out the extents of all your xyz files, but ogrinfo will make short work of that, and then writing a batch file/script to run it over each file.

Or you can use ArcGIS ASCII 3D to Feature Class (requires 3D Analyst) chained with Point to Raster, as described here and then batchify the process with ArcPy or ModelBuilder. If you don't have 3D Analyst, you can use any number of arcscripts or LASTools txt2Las and las2shp to get it in a format ArcGIS can work with. I know you didn't want to convert the txtfiles to intermediate feature classes but this isn't too labor intensive, and you already have access to the software.

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Thanks. I tried ASCII 3D to FC then point to raster, also Topo to raster etc. Results are OK but the process takes too long. Original raw XYZ files to ASCII GRID yield the best results without the additional interpolation/conversion. The tool I mentioned comes with VB6 source code so I was able to update it (ArcCatalog VBA procedure) and it seems to work great. I will try Global Mapper though. Like what it can do from what i have read about it. –  Jakub Sep 24 '10 at 15:38
    
If you are going to try FME then I would suggest using FME2011 (www.safe.com/beta). The Lidar/Point Cloud support is much improved. You could probably read from Lidar XYZ and write to a grid format w/o using any transformers, and it will do batch. –  Mark Ireland Sep 27 '10 at 16:57
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wwnick mentioned LASTools, which also contains a very fast point cloud to DEM conversion routine with LAS2DEM. If performance matters, I'd give it a try as I'm guessing it'll be many-fold faster than some of the other packages.

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Thanks. las2dem.exe triangulates points to TIN first then produces DEM. I am looking for a direct conversion. –  Jakub Sep 26 '10 at 13:50
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Does this tool need to sit anywhere special? Do the xyz files need to be in the same folder as the script? Does it work with 9.3.1 and windows Vista? I am getting an error as if it can't find the object? What changes needed to be made in the VB code to get it to run with ArcGIS 10? Do you need to execute it from ArcGIS some how?

Thanks DG

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Consider to take a look at http://grass.osgeo.org/wiki/LIDAR

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Checkout FME. It can be found at www.safe.com and has a free 14 day trial. LiDAR support was added as part of the current shipping release.

For information on what you can do with lidar with FME. Check out the following link. http://fmepedia.com/index.php/Category:Dmitris_Point_Cloud_Lab

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SAGA GIS is free and portable and can handle the LIDAR data. I do not work with this kind of data, but SAGA supports multiple formats to export, so you should try. And it has relatively user-friendly GUI.

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You can try using the XYZ GDAL driver to read the raster format and convert it to any number of formats using gdal_translate. You need GDAL 1.8 or newer (e.g., from OSGeo4W).

For example, to translate an XYZ file my_raster.xyz to Esri ASCII Grid format, use the following shell command (e.g., from an OSGeo4W Shell):

gdal_translate -of AAIGrid my_raster.xyz my_raster.asc
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You could try WiM-Tools, a small freeware program written in C++, available at www.ugr.es/~herrero It has a 64-bit version in order to deal with files upon 2 Gb

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have a look at the Fusion/LDV software Version 3.30 is the latest version of FUSION and tuto Introduction to Fusion

You will need XYZ2DTM program command (see manual's page 126).

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The tool lasgrid.exe (README) from LAStools does a "direct" conversion with gridding (without triangulation) very fast. The tool las2dem.exe (README) from LAStools rasters the points via a temporary TIN. Regards, Martin @lastools

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Thanks, Martin. Did you see the answer (from 9/2010) posted by scw or the reference to LAStools by wwnick (also on 9/2010)? They appear to cover exactly the same ground, so I am wondering what distinction or improvement you are trying to make here. –  whuber Feb 13 '12 at 15:36
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I think the comment about the tool can function without triangulation clarifies some of the confusion. –  mike May 6 '12 at 15:00
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I just had this same issue - easiest for me to just concatenate all of the files outside of GIS.
As I am running windows I used DOS command

for %f in (*.xyz) do type “%f” >> aggregate.xyz

then I can run my normal processing tasks (convert from ASCII to grid to DEM or whatever) a single time, not 155 times. Of course my resulting text file was large (>1GB) but ESRI could handle it.

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