What's New in RiverTools 4.0 ?

Support for Most Major Operating Systems

RiverTools 4.0 supports the following operating systems:

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 (32 and 64-bit)
  • Macintosh OS X (10.4 and higher, 64-bit)
  • Linux (32 and 64-bit)

RiverTools 4.0 uses 64-bit integers internally as necessary to index and work with extremely large data sets. RiverTools Mask files (RTM files) also use 64-bit integers when necessary to index large DEMs.

Added support for new RTG data types including: "Double long" integers (64 bit, LONG64) and unsigned 2-byte (UINT), 4-byte (ULONG) and 8-byte (ULONG64) integers.

New Multi-Mode, Graphics System

  • The entire graphics system can now be toggled between Direct Graphics, which provides the fastest rendering, and Object Graphics, which provides more control and more polished, publication-quality graphics.
  • In addition to the 40 classic IDL color tables and the 8 additional RiverTools 3.0 color tables, 35 new color tables from the Cynthia Brewer (CB) collection are now available.
  • When viewing RTM files with Display → Masked Region or shapefiles with Display → ESRI Shapefiles, individual entities can be colored by choosing from 11 new discrete color palettes: Additive Colors, Subtractive Colors, ROYGBIV Colors, RGB Corner Colors, Newton Colors, Goethe Colors, Munsell Colors, RT3 Plotting Colors, RT3 Stream Colors, Basin Colors and Random Density Colors. The Newton, Goethe and Munsell Colors are color wheel palettes.
  • Replaced the 24 custom RiverTools 3.0 colors used for plotting and backgrounds with a set of 147 web-safe colors. These are defined in the HTML and CSS specification. Colors can be viewed with their names in the File → Set Colors dialog, by clicking on the new "List" tab.

All-New Multi-Layer Plot Capabilities

The Display → Multi-Layer Plot dialog has been completely redesigned. It uses an Add/Remove-style dialog with Add Raster and Add Vector buttons. Each layer can be individually hidden or shown and the display window can be resized at any time. The dialog works the same for both the Direct Graphics and Object Graphics modes, with or without map projections.

Improved Support for Importing & Exporting DEMs

Improved the ability to import DEMs in ARC FLT Binary Raster, GeoTIFF and GMT/NetCDF formats. When georeferencing information for these DEMs is incomplete, RiverTools 4.0 uses more advanced logic to determine the missing information and has more informative warning dialogs.

Importing DEMs in GeoTIFF format is no longer limited by the amount of available RAM. Also added support for "tiled" GeoTIFF files that store the DEM as a series of tiles.

The ability to import multiple DEMs in the same format using "matching wildcards" has been extended to include the following DEM formats: Gridded ASCII XYZ (row-major) and GeoTIFF.

Added more ways to import ASCII DEMs in File → Import DEM. The current options are: ARC Gridded ASCII Z, Gridded ASCII Z (row-major), Gridded ASCII XYZ (row-major) and Irregular ASCII XYZ.

Added "matching wildcard" support to File → Export Grid.

Added the ability to directly import DEMs in "Surfer 7" format (extension ".grd").

Improved Support for Exporting RiverTools Vectors

The File → Export Vector → Boundaries dialog now allows you to choose from 36 different attributes that can be optionally computed and saved in a shapefile's attribute table. It also has a more streamlined graphical user interface.

The File → Export Vector → Channels dialog still allows you to choose from 20 different attributes that can be optionally computed and saved in a shapefile's attribute table.

Improved Support for Map Projections

When in Direct Graphics mode, RiverTools 4.0 provides the same 17 map projections that were available in RiverTools 3.0 for the purpose of visualizing your data. Many of these were only valid for spherical ellipsoid models of the Earth. When in the new Object Graphics mode, RiverTools 4.0 provides a set of 36 GCTP map projections, most of which are valid for arbitrary ellipsoid models. The Display → Map Projection Info dialog has been completely redesigned and now offers five tabs called Projection, Grid, Lines, Ellipsoid and Limits. When you choose a map projection in the Projection tab, the dialog changes to show all of the settings that are applicable for that projection. Default settings are based on the currently selected DEM's geographic bounding box. The Grid tab panel provides options for overlaying a grid of lat and lon lines or a horizon line on the image. The Lines tab panel provides options for overlaying vectors for coastlines, major lakes, country borders, USA states and Canadian provinces. It also has a "Plot Map Only" button that shows only these lines, independent of the DEM or other RiverTools grids. The Ellipsoid tab panel lets you choose from over 50 different ellipsoid models for the Earth. The Limits tab panel lets you specify the limits of the region to be displayed with a map projection, which may be larger or smaller than the geographic extent of the currently selected DEM.

Improvements to the Display → Density Plot Dialog

The Display → Density Plot dialog now offers two distinct methods for assigning colors to values in a grid to create a color image. The first method, "Stretch over color table", uses a "stretch function" to map values in the grid to colors in the selected color table. RiverTools 4.0 offers a rich collection of mathematical "stretch functions" to choose from in a "Stretch type" droplist. Many of these functions have real-valued parameters that can also be adjusted. There are now "Plot stretch" and "Plot equal area" buttons that display the mathematical stretch function or grid-specific "equal area function" (based on the image's CDF). In addition to the "Stretch over color table" option, there is also a "Cycle over color palette" option for assigning colors to grid values. This maps grid values to the colors in a discrete palette of colors. There are many new discrete color palettes to choose from, many based on well-known color wheels. There is also a new "Start New" button beside the original "Start" button that causes the image to be displayed in a new window instead of reusing the existing window from a prior density plot.

Improvements to the Display → Shaded Relief Dialog

The new Display → Shaded Relief dialog has two tab panels called "Options" and "Colors". The "Options" tab has the original, standard options for shaded relief images. The "Colors" tab allows you to choose any grid as the basis of the coloring (vs. only the DEM itself) which means you can apply "hill shading" to any density plot. The other controls in the "Colors" tab panel mirror those in the Display → Density Plot dialog, as described above.

Many New Tools and Dialogs

  • File → Use Current at Startup
  • Prepare → Compare Grids
  • Extract → D8-based Grid → Flow Angles
  • Extract → D8-based Grid → Channel Grid
  • Extract → D8-based Grid → Basin Sums
  • Extract → D8-based Grid → Pfafstetter Basin Codes (see below)
  • Extract → Morphometric Grid (see below)
  • Extract → Mask → Pfafstetter Mask (see below)
  • Extract → Depressionless DEM
  • Window → Change Settings
  • User → Help

New Extract → Morphometric Grid Dialog

This new dialog offers a long list of "morphometric" variables to choose from. These include finite-difference estimates of derivatives, mathematical operations and many types of curvature, including plan, profile, tangential, streamline and laplacian. These operations can be applied to the DEM itself or any other RiverTools grid. There are multiple methods for estimating the derivatives in these derived grids and the dialog offers both the well-known quadratic method of Evans (1972) or the "partial quartic" method of Zevenbergen and Thorne (1987). Despite its lower order, the method of Evans (1972) has been shown to be less sensitive to noise in the DEM.

Improvements to the RiverTools "Mass Flux Method"

The Mass Flux Method developed by Rivix Software for computing total and specific contributing area for both convergent and divergent topography is arguably the ultimate algorithm for computing these quantities. The algorithm is based on concepts from computational fluid dynamics and dramatically outperforms other methods such as the well-known D8 and D-Infinity algorithms. This algorithm has been further improved in RiverTools 4.0 to handle some exceptional cases that can occur under rare circumstances.

Streamlined, More Standardized Dialogs

Most of the dialogs in RiverTools have been streamlined to offer more options while presenting those options in a more standardized way, with a slimmer onscreen profile and the use of tabs. Here are some of the dialogs that have been redesigned and enhanced with new cababilities:

  • Display → Density Plot
  • Display → Contour Plot
  • Display → Shaded Relief
  • Display → Shaded Aspect
  • Display → River Network
  • Display → Points / Sources
  • Display → Masked Region
  • Display → Function
  • Display → ESRI Shapefile
  • Display → DLG - SDTS
  • File → Printing Options
  • File → Export Vector → Channels
  • File → Export Vector → Boundaries

The Display → Surface Plot dialog has been removed because this functionality is better provided by the new, interactive Surface Zoom tool in the Tools menu.

Save Images in More Formats, Including KML & PDF

  • Images can now be saved directly to any of the following formats: Windows Bitmap (BMP), Windows Enhanced Metafile (EMF), Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), PostScript (PS), GIF, JPEG, JPEG 2000 (JP2), KML, KMZ, PDF, PICT, PNG and TIFF.
  • Images that span the spatial extent of the DEM can now be saved in KML (Keyhole Markup Language) with the georeferencing information of the DEM. These can then be viewed directly within Google Earth. DEMs that span the globe can be overlaid on the entire planet. KML images are saved using the properties of the Google/Bing Spheroid.
  • It is now possible to save directly to PDF format without first saving to PostScript.
  • All of the new graphics formats are supported in both the Direct Graphics and Object Graphics modes.
  • The Save Window dialog includes a "Save image at full resolution of DEM?" option that is helpful for saving very large images. Images are then generated in a buffer and are not limited by the system's graphics card.

New Tools for Computing Pfafstetter Basin Codes

Otto Pfafstetter was a Brazilian engineer who developed a general, automated approach to dividing watersheds into a hierarchy of hydrological units, called the Pfafstetter Coding System. Each "unit" is assigned a unique integer code. The codes are cleverly designed so that a variety of questions about the relative position, size or "containment" of basins and subbasins can be rapidly answered by comparing only their codes. RiverTools 4.0 can now compute these codes using a very fast algorithm. In the RiverTools implementation, each grid cell in a DEM is assigned its own code to create a "Pfafstetter Grid". Two new tools have been added for working with these codes: Extract → D8-based Grid → Pfafstetter Basin Codes and Extract → Mask → Pfafstetter Mask. The first produces an RTG file that can be viewed with Display → Density Plot. The second produces an RTM file that can be viewed with Display → Masked Region.

New Tool to Create DEMs with Smooth Elevation Profiles

The Extract → Derived Grid → Profile-smoothed DEM can take a DEM with "stairstep", along-channel elevation profiles and create a new DEM with similar elevations, but with elevation profiles that vary smoothly downstream, with more realistic along-channel slopes. These grids can be used to better support kinematic flow routing in D8-based, spatial hydrologic models.

Improvements to Extract → RT Treefile

The "All basins draining to RTM mask" option in the Extract → RT Treefile dialog has been improved to deal with more difficult situations such as basins that drain to a lake which has one or more outlets.

Create AVI and MP4 Movies with Display → Grid Sequence

The Display → Grid Sequence dialog can be used to create color-image animations for grid stacks that have been saved as RiverTools Sequence (RTS) files. It also has several tools for interacting with the visualization and extracting information, such as the Value Zoom, Time Profile and Animated Profile tools. These animations can now be saved as movies in the AVI and MP4 formats.

New Curve-Fitting Options in Channel Profile Tool

The channel profile tool now lets you choose from 11 different functional forms and finds the parameters that provide the best fit to data for a longitudinal profile of elevation vs. along-channel distance. Some of these are theoretical forms derived from mathematical models of landscape evolution.

Improved and Updated Tutorials

The RiverTools tutorials have been updated with new lessons and new graphics. All of the data used for the tutorials is now included with the sample data that comes with RiverTools. The tutorials are available under Help → Tutorials.

Added TopoFlow 1.6 Hydrologic Model to User Menu

RiverTools 4.0 comes with an open-source, D8-based, spatial hydrologic model called TopoFlow 1.6. TopoFlow 1.6 is written in IDL and has a wizard-based graphical user interface with multiple methods for modeling different hydrologic processes. It also has many tools for preparing input data, including its own shortwave and longwave radiation calculators. TopoFlow 1.6 is included in the User menu as an example of how RiverTools can be extended with plugins written in IDL.

Added Many New Data Sets to the Sample Data

RiverTools comes with several sample DEM data sets which are installed in the RiverTools home (or installation) directory. This directory was called "basins" in RiverTools 3.0, but has been renamed to "data" in RiverTools 4.0. Several new data sets have been added for this release. The included data sets are: Beaver_Creek_Geo, Beaver_Creek_UTM, Grand_Canyon, Harvard_Glacier, Helens (Mt. Saint Helens), Kasei_Valles (Mars), Kentucky_Rills, KY_Sub, Mount_Sopris, Oahu, RTS_Examples, SDTS, Shapefiles, Small, Test_Surfaces and Upper_Snake_CO.

All of the data needed for the RiverTools 4.0 tutorials is now included with the sample data.

Added Collection of Test Surfaces to the Sample Data

The new RiverTools "data" directory contains a subdirectory called "Test_Surfaces" that contains DEMs for a variety of different mathematical surfaces that can be used for testing. Each DEM is 200 columns by 200 rows. These DEMs can be used to test and compare different algorithms for computing total and specific contributing area (TCA and SCA), for example.

Extract → River Network Can Now Remove Smallest Order 1 Channels

The Extract → River Network dialog now provides the option to remove Horton-Strahler streams of order 1 that have length, area or slope smaller than a given threshold. This option is applied after whatever method has been used to prune the RiverTools treefile to obtain the river network.

Any RTG File Can Now Have Its Own RTI File

In previous versions, RiverTools used a single RiverTools Information or RTI file to provide georeferencing for all of the RiverTools Grid (RTG) files for a given data set. This led to situations where RiverTools could not always reliably determine the data type for an RTG file. Now, any RTG file can have its own RTI file that specifies its data type, along with other georeferencing information. If present, RiverTools will first examine this file to obtain the data type rather than computing it from other information. Some extraction routines that create RTG files now automatically create a corresponding RTI file.

New Option for Creating a Depressionless DEM

The depression-filling algorithm of Wang and Liu (2006) is now available via the Extract → Depressionless DEM dialog. It provides the same result as the algorithm that is normally used by RiverTools but may be faster in some cases.

Improved Error Handling System

RiverTools 4.0 has a new error handling system that does not allow processing to continue when exceptions are encountered. In RiverTools 3.0, processing errors could trigger a series of "cascading" error windows that needed to be dismissed individually. This cannot happen with the new system.

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