I have often heard it called the Swiss Army Knife of GIS. I am more of a multi tool fan myself, but whatever analogy you prefer, Global Mapper (GM) packs some useful tools.
I stumbled onto GM about a decade ago. I had to download digital line graph (dlv) data from the USGS to help create maps for projects that I was working on. The hard part of working with these data sets was that they were provided in small sections. When I pulled them into MicroStation I would have to filter the lines into different levels and then delete the borders so I could combine several sets together. While time consuming, it produced some good maps that were used on several projects.
By using GM I could do the same thing about 10 times as fast (not an exaggeration). GM more than paid for itself in the first day of use. It is both a very handy and efficient tool and, for what it does, is very inexpensive.
Here is what I love about Global Mapper:
- Interoperability – As far as geospatial data is concerned, GM supports any file type. It may not really be any, but I have never found one it can’t work with. It can open, edit, transform, and export data making it an indispensible tool. Here is the list of supported file types if you want to learn more.
- Speed – Compared to other software applications that work with geospatial data, GM can always work with larger data sets and it does so more efficiently. I will often use GM to view, create, edit, or clip large data sets for use in other applications.
- Great Support – The support for GM is unmatched by any software I use. The Global Mapper Forum provides multiple ways to find help. You can often find what you are looking for by searching the forum. If you post a new question, it is answered quickly by Mike, who is also the GM developer. If GM can’t do what you need he will sometimes write it into a new version and give you the update to try, where can you find that kind of help?
- Price – Given all the functionality and power of GM the price (~$300!) is as low as it gets for this type of software. If ROI is a sticking point for your software purchases, you will definitely get more than you pay for with GM.
- Ease of Use – Much of what I use GM for can be done in some of the bigger name geospatial applications but I keep using GM because it is so much more intuitive.
I keep finding new uses for this software, and they keep adding new capabilities as well. You can even suggest new features on the forum I mentioned above.
If your work involves downloading, opening, editing, creating, exporting, transforming, or viewing geospatial data, this is one tool I wouldn’t do without.