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Create Geometry from LAS Files

LiDAR data files can be simplified and transformed into smaller shapefiles using FME. Shapefiles have three types of geometries (also known as vector features): points, lines, and polygons . Components from each point in the LAS data can be saved in an .SHP as an attribute using the PointCloudPropertyExtractor transformer in FME Workbench.
Tutorial: Getting Started with Point Clouds.

Manipulate Point Clouds for Your Needs

A variety of vector formats can be derived from a single LiDAR point cloud to create an area of complete coverage. Transformers like the GeometryCoercer and PointCloudCoercer are great options for transforming point clouds to shapefiles for software that work with vectors. The AttributeCreator can be used to add additional information to the new shapefiles.
View FME's Point Cloud Specific Transformers

Simplify Features

A dense point cloud can be thinned for more efficient processing and then filtered based on the standard ASPRS classification or other LAS components. A series of transformers can be used to process each feature of interest such as distinct building footprints as polygons or approximated tree locations as points. A few transformers that can be useful in this process include:

  • PointCloudThinner: Using dense point clouds in a workflow can often be time consuming and inefficient especially when creating shapefiles. To overcome this issue, the PointCloudThinner can be used to simplify the input data by removing points without jeopardizing the quality of the output features.
  • PointCloudFilter: LiDAR data has a variety of components for each point collected. The PointCloudFilter transformer is a great option for distinguishing points based on components like intensity or classification for further, component-specific processing such as creating shapefiles.
  • PointCloudSplitter: The PointCloudSplitter is similar to the PointCloudFilter in its ability to distinguish certain points of interest from a point cloud based on components. This transformer will output multiple point cloud features immediately after use for further processing or to be saved as their own individual .LAS files.

Before: An .LAS point cloud of a city

After: Three .SHP files of points and polygons representing buildings, the ground and trees

Tutorial: Point Clouds for Profiling and Slicing



The LAS file format was developed as an open interchange standard for proprietary LiDAR and point cloud data formats to facilitate sharing between users of different systems.

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Shapefile (SHP)

The Shapefile format is a vector data format that stores the location, geometry, and attributes of geographic features in a set of related files.

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FME is the data integration platform with the best support for spatial data. Save time by using its drag-and-drop interface to connect data from hundreds of formats and applications, transform data in limitless ways, and automate virtually any data workflow.

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