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WhiteBox GAT – Geospatial Analysis Toolbox (Review)

WhiteBox GAT








Data Management



  • Top notch hydrology, LiDAR and terrain tools
  • 410+ plugins and geospatial tools
  • Fast speeds with parallel processing
  • WhiteBox scripter for Python and customized toolboxes
  • Extendable through ArcGIS, QGIS and WhiteBox Tools


  • Limited advanced cartography, labelling and symbolization options
  • Web mapping services and base map integration
  • No classical editing toolbar
  • Apps for the field or online publishing
  • Absence of catalog for data management
  • Inability to write and edit metadata

WhiteBox GAT – Geospatial Analysis Toolbox

Whitebox GAT (Geospatial Analysis Toolbox) is extremely underrated as a GIS software package.

Because it specializes in terrain analysis, you can do all sorts of neat stuff with it.

For example, it’s especially good at LiDAR, image processing, and hydrological analysis.

But it’s not a complete solution for mapping, editing, and data management.

We ranked it 5th best free GIS software. For all GIS software including proprietary, it’s ranked #11 out of 30.

Terrain and Hydrology Analysis

WhiteBox GAT

Ever since the kick-off of WhiteBox GAT, there’s been a hydrology theme surrounding it. This is actually because it replaced Terrain Analysis System (TAS) in 2009.

Over the years, it’s been fine-tuned for hydro-geomorphic applications. For example, you can do the following:

  • Model surface drainage patterns
  • Delineate watersheds
  • Analyze stream networks
  • Find aspect, hillside, slope and profiles
  • Measure wetness, visibility and ruggedness index

This just barely scratches the surface because the list of geospatial tools is still growing. In fact, WhiteBox GAT has 410+ plugins and tools to use in total.

LiDAR Tools

WhiteBox GAT shines in LIDAR! When you need inventive tools for editing and viewing LiDAR, it can be a life-saver. For example, here are some of the tools for LiDAR:

  • Convert LAS to shapefile
  • Erase polygons from LiDAR
  • Display lidar point clouds by elevation, intensity, class, scan angle or GPS time
  • Create LiDAR footprints from LAS
  • Interpolate LiDAR into DEM or DSM

Without barriers, Whitebox GAT has out-of-this-world LiDAR support. I find it amazing it goes relatively unheard of in the GIS industry.

Cartography and Mapping

Cartography is a weak point for WhiteBox GAT. It’s not to say that you can’t design professional-quality maps. But the mapping capabilities are primitive compared to QGIS.

  • Create inset maps within map layouts
  • Stylize maps with the most common cartographic elements
  • Symbolize rasters with a variety of color palettes
  • Hex binning for summarizing point data

All things considered, you can still design some impressive maps in this open source software. But you’re a bit limited for symbolization, labeling, and annotations.

Summary: WhiteBox GAT – Geospatial Analysis Toolbox

We really enjoy WhiteBox GAT for its inventive collection of geospatial analysis tools.

It’s been translated into 11 different languages. Also, there have been over 21,000 times downloads. But that was over 3 years ago.

The current release is version 1.0. I strongly recommend giving it a try.

It has a massive collection of geoprocessing tools to get the job done. But it’s not the silver bullet for all things GIS

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