GEOG 481
Topographic Mapping with Lidar

Tips and Tricks


ZIP Files:

Much of the data used in this course will be in a compressed format. These datasets have been packaged for download in ZIP format. There are many handy utilities, such as WinZip and 7Zip, for zipping and unzipping files. Windows has built-in capability if you do not have one of these common utility programs. Enter "create a zipped compressed folder" in the Search field of the Windows Help and Support Center for step-by-step instructions.

Screen Captures:

The lab assignments in this course will require you to submit images of your computer screen or an application window. In Windows, you can use the Snipping Tool; consult the Windows Help for more information. There are also a number of free or inexpensive screen capture tools available on the Internet, such as CaptureWiz. Regardless of the tool used, here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Capture only the window (or portion of a window) that is relevant to the question. Do not submit screen captures of your entire desktop.
  • Organize your screen captures into folders by lessons and assignments (i.e., Lesson1_Lab1, Lesson1_Lab2, etc.). Use the question number from the lab in the file name (i.e., Lab1_Q1.jpg, Lab1_Q3.jpg. etc.).
  • Save your screen captures to these folders as you work through a lab exercise; then when you have finished the entire exercise to your satisfaction, upload all of the screen captures for a particular assignment to your Canvas files, and then embed them in the Lab Deliverable in Canvas.

Canvas Attachments:

If you have a large document or presentation to share, check the file size before you attempt to submit to Canvas. All Microsoft Office programs have a tool for reducing file size by compressing all graphics contained within a file. In Microsoft Office, this tool is accessed from File->Options->Advanced. Under the "Image Size and Quality" heading, set Default Target Output to 96 dpi, which is adequate for web publishing, and uncheck "Do not compress images in file."

PDF files are often smaller than Word documents or PowerPoint presentations. If you save your Office file as a PDF before attaching it, you may also be able to reduce the overall size without compromising quality.

Esri Data Folders:

Esir software is historically picky when it comes to file and folder names. Set up a location on your hard drive for all of your lab data for this course. Make sure there are NO SPACES anywhere in the path to that location.

DO create a location for your data similar to the following example:


DO NOT put your GIS data under "My Documents" or any other folder on your computer that contains spaces in the path. This is an example of what not to do:

C:\Users\Karen Schuckman\My Documents\Penn State\My GIS Data

ArcGIS Map Document Properties (for courses still using ArcGIS Desktop):

Use an organized set of data folders for each lesson, as described above, and save your MXD with relative pathnames. This can be done by checking an option in the Map Document Properties dialog, accessible from the File menu. If you are copying or moving your files from one computer to another (work to home) or one disk drive to another (hard drive to flash drive), your links to data files will remain intact even though the full path may change.

Screenshot of Map Document Properties screen

Windows File Explorer Options:

By default, Windows File Explorer does not show you the extension in a list of files. Instead it creates a separate column for File Type, assuming that certain file extensions correspond to certain file types. Windows default assumptions are often not correct for the file types encountered in remote sensing.

In the File Explorer menu > View tab > Show/Hide group, enable the option to show File Name Extensions. After enabling this option, your Windows Explorer view should look like this:

 Screenshot of correct Windows Explorer view

Not like this:

 Screenshot of incorrect Windows Explorer view


If you have any questions now or at any point during this lesson, please feel free to post them to the General Questions and Comments Discussion Forum in Canvas.