GeoExpress 7 - A Whole New Animal?
by Matt Fleagle, Technical Writer, LizardTech
For years geospatial professionals have relied on GeoExpress to manipulate or compress
their imagery or both. The improvements in GeoExpress 7 make it almost a whole new animal.
Not only did LizardTech add a number of features that make the usual manipulation and
compression workflows easier in a lot of little ways – a kind of "something for everyone"
approach – but through integration with LizardTech's other geospatial products GeoExpress
has emerged as a command center from which users can easily manage image storage and
distribution tasks as well.
Let's look at some of the improvements and new features. Many of these came from user
requests in surveys and interactions with LizardTech Support. Some of them, such as
64-bit support and the addition of ECW (.ecw) files as a supported input format, are
not very show-offable. Others, such as the new treatment of reprojection options, new
metadata editing tools, and commuter licensing, will make users breathe a contented
sigh of relief. And the new interoperability with Spatial Express and Express Server
are the final leap in making GeoExpress the go-to interface for geospatial users at
every point along their imaging workflow.
Exporting to Spatial Express and Express Server
Along with GeoExpress, Spatial Express and Express Server make up the LizardTech
Express Suite. Spatial Express enables users to store MrSID and JPEG 2000 imagery
natively (that is, in compressed form) in an Oracle 10gR2 database. Express Server
is the fastest and most stable means of distributing MrSID and JPEG 2000 imagery
on the Web, via WMS, or in ArcMap. But preparing georaster tables in a database
and adding catalogs in Express Server used to be rather complex jobs involving
command line tools.
Now users can export imagery to Spatial Express and Express Server with a few clicks
in the GeoExpress user interface. Imagery can be exported directly to Spatial Express
or Express Server as part of the encode process, or existing imagery can be published
What's more, a new Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Snap-in application called
the Express Server Management Console is included on the installation CD or DVD as an
optional install. Users can open and run the Express Server Management Console directly
from inside GeoExpress, creating and indexing catalogs of imagery on any accessible
For the first time, all of LizardTech's geospatial products operate seamlessly
together and can be purchased together as the LizardTech GeoExpress Suite.
LizardTech has made licensing GeoExpress even more flexible than before with the
addition of "commuter" licenses. This just means that floating licenses, introduced
in GeoExpress 6, can now be used off the network. Field personnel and employees that
travel can check out a license and work on their laptop whether they are connected to
the network or not.
Sixty-four-bit support means users can take advantage of 16+ GB of memory in today’s
most advanced systems for creating mosaics of imagery terabytes in size.
The reprojection controls were once buried on a remote tab within the Encode Options
dialog box; now there's a button icon
right on the main toolbar. A "Recently Used" drop-down menu has been added that enables
users to click instantly on their favorite coordinate reference systems (CRS) instead
of having to wade through the list of thousands of supported CRSs each time they need
to select one.
Support for ECW files as input means users switching to GeoExpress from other products
will have no trouble working with their legacy files.
Support for Generating ESRI AUX Files
To ensure that the metadata in your MrSID and JPEG 2000 imagery will always be read
in ESRI applications, the ability to generate ESRI AUX files when encoding has been
Support for Cropping by Vector Overlay or GML Coverage
By selecting a vector overlay, such as a shapefile, or a GML coverage, users can crop
images according to a complex polygon rather than a simple square. This improvement offers
greater flexibility and efficiency in image manipulation.
New in GeoExpress 7 is a set of controls (again with their own button icon on the
toolbar) for removing compression artifacts at the edge of images and making mosaics
In the first illustration below, speckling from prior compression appears in the image
collar that might show up in the neighboring tile if this image is encoded as part of a
mosaic. The second illustration shows the image after "despeckling". Note that the collar
is now free of artifacts. (Editor Note: Border added to image for visuals)
Improved Metadata Tools
Users can edit custom metadata tags in MrSID and JPEG 2000 imagery and add new ones of
their own. This enables them to edit the coordinate system of an image or a set of images
without having to reencode them. These custom metadata tags can be used to build robust,
flexible Web applications with LizardTech Express Server.
Export to GeoTIFF
GeoExpress 7 enables users to "demosaic" or "tile out" their imagery by specifying a
grid, easily decoding all or part of their MrSID or JPEG 2000 image to GeoTIFF directly
within GeoExpress. Once again, they don't need to learn command line tools to do this.
We don't have space here to do more than call out JPEG 2000 alpha band support and a
host of improvements to the GeoExpress user interface that make using this industry
favorite just a little more intuitive. We do want to mention that with the release of
GeoExpress 7, a portal site has been created on the LizardTech website that enables
GeoExpress users to upload imagery to a LizardTech Express Server and preview how easy
it is to serve their images in a variety of platforms, including WMS, ArcMap, and Web
Also timed with GeoExpress 7's release is the rollout of LizardTech forums (visit
a community blog
two new ways that LizardTech hopes to engage users and partners in the geospatial
community in an ongoing constructive conversation.
- Written February, 2008