Laspy ToolsΒΆ

Laspy comes with several command line utilities which use the library. When laspy is installed with, these scripts are built and installed by setuptools, and shold become available to the command line envionment you’re using. The tools include lascopy, lasexplorer, lasverify, lasvalidate, and finally lasviewer. The first four are full command line utilities and should function out of the box after a successful laspy install. Lasviewer is an OpenGL point cloud viewer using laspy to provide LAS data, and requires OpenGL 3.0+, PyOpenGL, and GLUT.



Lascopy is a general purpose LAS file version and point format conversion tool, and is able to read and write between all valid combinations of these two values. If the output data format has fewer dimensions than the input data set, the output file will not include them.


For help, simply type:

lascopy -h

In general, lascopy is called as:

lascopy ./path/to/input/file ./path/to/output/file <output point format> <output file format>

lascopy also accepts the optional logical arguments, -b and -u.

Specifying -b=True will cause lascopy to attempt to copy sub-byte field data to the output file in the event that there is a discrepency in how this data is stored between the two point formats (i.e., if you need to convert between point formats 5 and below and those greater than 5).

Specifying -u=True indicates that lascopy should update the point return count histogram before closing the output file. This is usually not neccesary, but when downscaling from point formats greater than 5 to point formats below 5, there is excess point return data which can not fit into the header.

Both of these options are associated with substantial overhead, and as a result they are set to False by default.


Suppose you want to convert ./file_1.LAS to point format 8 from 0, and to file version 1.4 from 1.0. Further, suppose that you want to make sure sub-byte fields are populated and that the histogram is updated. You would call lascopy as:

lascopy ./file_1.LAS ./file_2.LAS 8 1.4 -u=True -b=True


Even if -b=True is specified, lascopy may not be able to store all sub-byte data in the output format. This can occur when the input data has a larger number of bits per field. For example, las point formats 6-10 reserve four bits for return number, while formats 0-5 reserve only three. In cases such as this, a larger value may be stored in the input file than can be written to the output file. If this occurs, a warning is printed and the output file receives zeros for the offending fields.



Lasexplorer is the simplest utility described here. It provides a basic entry point to start an interactive shell to try out the laspy API. It accepts one mandatory argument, the path to the file to be read. When run, the script reads in the requested file, and calls the resulting laspy file object inFile. Unless suppressed, it also prints a brief summary of the LAS file supplied.


The basic use case is simply:

lasexplorer ./path/to/las/file

The shell defaults to read mode, which will prevent you from accidentally breaking any data files. If you want the ability to break stuff, however, you’re free to specify the optional mode argument, and set it to read/write:

lasexplorer ./path/to/las/file --mode=rw

The shell doesn’t provide the ability to open write mode files from the command line, because this action requires a valid header object. If you’d like to experiment with write mode, however, you can easily instantiate pure write mode files once the shell is active:

new_write_mode_file = File("Path_to_file.las", mode = "w",
                            header = inFile.header)

This is fine for learning how to use the API, but any substantial work is better done with a dedicated script (see tutorial for details on scripting with laspy).

If you’d like to supress the printed summary, simply specify -q=True:



Lasvalidate is a simple validation tool for las files. Currently, it runs three tests though this may be expanded. First, it checks if all points fall inside the bounding box specified by file.header.max and file.header.min. Second, it checks that the bounding box is precise, that is, that the max and min values specified by the header are equal to the max and min values prensent in the point data within a given tolerance. Finally, it checks that the X and Y range data makes sense. Lasvalidate produces a log file to indicate problems.


Lasvalidate is called as:

lasvalidate ./path/to/las/file

Optionally, the user can specify –log=/path/to/logfile and –tol=tolerance, where –log specifies where the log will be written, and –tol determines the tolerance for comparisons of actual and header max/min data. By default, the logfile is written to ./lasvalidate.log, and the tolerance is set to 0.01



Lasverify is a LAS file diff tool; that is, it compares two LAS files based on header fields, point dimensons, and VLR/EVLR records. Header discrepencies are displayed, while differences in VLRs, EVLRs and point dimensons are simply indicated.


In general, lasverify is called as:

lasverify ./path/to/file/1 ./path/to/file/2

There is one additional argument,-b, which is similar in function to its counterpart in lascopy. Specifying -b=True will cause lasverify to dig into the sub-byte fields of both files to compare them individually in the case of a format mismatch, which occurrs when comparing files of point format less than six with those greater than five. Specifying -b=True when no such mismatch exists has no effect.



Lasviewer is an OpenGL point cloud visualizer for laspy. Upon successful OpenGL initialization, the user is shown a resizable OpenGL window, which should depict the point cloud associated with the input file from a birds-eye view. The user can then navigate around the point cloud using their keyboard.


Lasviewer is simple to call:

lasviewer ./path/to/las/file

By default, lasviewer will first attempt to display the point cloud in RGB color, though if color informaton is not present in the file, greyscale is used. In this case, the image is shaded according to the intensity dimension. One can also specify the mode explicitly:

Default Color Modes
# Display the intensity shaded map
lasviewer ./path/to/las/file --mode=intensity
# Display a heatmap based on the z dimension.
lasviewer ./path/to/las/file --mode=elevation
# Display the rgb data (if present in the file)
lasviewer ./path/to/las/file --mode=rgb

The elevation mode creates a three color heatmap (blue-green-red) for the Z dimension, and colors the point cloud accordingly. The RGB mode uses color data present in the LAS file to provide a true-color representation of the point cloud. If either of these modes fails for whatever reason, lasviewer will attempt to fall back to the intensity mode.

Custom Color Modes

You can use heatmap and greyscale color modes to display any numeric dimension offered by a las file, and the syntax is no more complicated. For example, lets say we’re interested in gps_time in order to see which parts of a a LAS file were recorded first:

lasviewer ./path/to/las/file --mode=heatmap --dim=gps_time

lasviewer ./path/to/las/file --mode=greyscale --dim = gps_time

A Cool Trick

With laspy, you don’t acutally need to use the lasviewer tool to visualize LAS files. In fact, the lasviewer tool is really just a wrapper for the File.visualize method, which accepts mode and dimension arguments. Thus, for example, if you wanted to visualize a file with an exaggerated Z scale, you could use the lasexplorer tool, rescale z, and then call .visualize()

First open a file in read/write mode with lasexplorer:

lasexplorer ./path/to/las/file --mode=rw

Now you can re-scale Z, and call visualize:

inFile.z *= 2.5


There are currently no menus or help options once the viewer is running, so the following controls will prove useful:

Key Function
w Look up
s Look down
a Look left
d Look right
shift-w Move forwards
shift-s Move backwards
shift-a Move left
shift-d Move right
q Roll counterclockwise
e Roll clockwise
+ Increase movement/look granularity
- Decrease movement/look granularity
x Snap to x axis
y Snap to y azis
z Snap to z axis
r Reset the view location and angle

There is currently no mouse support, though the bindings are in place for future development.

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