Is there any software that can be used to view point clouds in bpf format? My preference is for free software that has low-learning curve for quick visualizations.

Currently, I convert bpf to las and use a viewer like lasview or FugroViewer, but that's a little inconvenient.

There is a discussion on lidar software at Working with LiDAR data using other than Esri software? but it doesn't cover bpf format specifically. I've looked through some of the packages mentioned for visualization capabilities and bpf support but nothing pops out. A google search of some combination of search terms like "bpf point cloud viewer" hasn't been fruitful either.

Edit: The binary point file (bpf) format specification can be found at https://nsgreg.nga.mil/doc/view?i=4202 or in the source document https://nsgreg.nga.mil/NSGDOC/files/doc/Document/NGA.SIG.0020_1.0_BPF.zip

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    Also see: What is the best way to visualize multiple large lidar tiles. Look at the pdf in my answer; I did not find the bpf file explicitly cited there, but perhaps it is included with another description. In case you end up finding the answer, let us know. Nov 30, 2015 at 11:47
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    @AndreSilva That pdf document is an excellent source - thanks for sharing! I didn't see bpf cited either. I went to the website for those packages that just said "various formats" but didn't see bpf support listed on their websites either. I added a link to the format source like you suggested.
    – user55937
    Nov 30, 2015 at 14:22
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    @AndreSilva QT Reader was in the document you linked. I saw supported formats listed "Quick Terrain Modeler formats". I mistook that that as a native QT format instead of realizing it meant "also everything QT Modeler reads". Anyway, thanks again for the information - it would have lead me to the answer if I hadn't misinterpreted that.
    – user55937
    Dec 4, 2015 at 16:29
  • Can you provide a few data samples in BPF format? We'll see if we can add an on-the-fly converter from BPF to LAS/LAZ to the LASlib library powering LAStools which would make all of the tools able to read BPF directly.
    – LAStools
    Dec 16, 2016 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


BPF is rather new as a public format. PDAL supports both reading and writing BPF data. You can use the OSGeo4W64 build of PDAL to translate the data into LAS 1.4 using the following command:

pdal translate simple-extra.bpf out.las \
     --writers.las.minor_version=4 \
     --scale 0.01,0.01,0.01

PDAL will write commonly-named dimensions, such as XYZ into the same fields in the LAS file. BPF supports any number of dimensions, however, and by writing it to an LAS 1.4 file, these "extra dimensions" can be preserved and described. BPF stores its values as double precision, and LAS stores scaled integers, so in this example, we define the scale to 0.01 for each dimension.

Once translated, you can then read/view/interact this LAS 1.4 file using any LAS-capable software.

Another option is to use the latest QT Reader. It supports reading BPF data and can be installed easily on Windows (only).

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    Converting to las is what I've been doing and exactly what I was trying to circumvent. But thanks for turning me on to QT Reader. It's free and slick and reads bpf. That's exactly what wanted. Thanks!
    – user55937
    Dec 4, 2015 at 16:17

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