Dr. James Goodman participated in the ENVI 5.0 Beta Program, and is now providing a look at the latest offering from Exelis Visual Information Solutions.
In early May, Exelis VIS announced its latest release – ENVI 5.0. Many years in the making, ENVI 5.0 provides a new look and expanded functionalities over previous versions of the popular remote sensing software. Let’s take a look.
The most apparent difference comes when you launch the new software. The interface has been completely redesigned. No longer do you see the menu bar and floating three-window image interface, but now everything is contained in a single window. The top of the window provides access to commonly used functions, such as zoom, stretch and pan, via icons and slider bars. The left of the main window displays the Layer Manager, which is similar to working with layers in ArcGIS, allowing you to easily open multiple views, stack layers in views, and turn layer displays on and off. The right side of the window contains the Toolbox, which is an expandable/collapsible directory of all the functions that were previously contained in the classic menu bar. And finally, there is the large center display of the window, which can be used to display up to 16 different independent views.
The question is: What’s under the hood? Aside from the interface, what are the improvements that can make a difference in the way you work with imagery? ENVI 5.0 now uses raster pyramids to enable significantly faster image display, particularly useful when working with large images. The pyramids are built the first time the image is opened, and from then on the pyramid files are accessed each time the image is re-opened. Additional improvements have been added to accelerate vector display, add interactive navigation tools such as pan, fly and zoom, and incorporate interactive enhancements such as brightness, contrast and stretch. The software also now harnesses the functionality of the ESRI Projection Engine to directly reproject georeferenced images. The end result of these improvements is that ENVI 5.0 provides many new additions to enable users to more efficiently visualize and analyze imagery.
Having trouble finding your way around the new interface? The folks at Exelis VIS have created a new set of tutorials to walk you through the process of getting re-oriented. Still not comfortable with the new interface, then rest assured you can still launch the three-window “ENVI Classic” (instructions are provided under ENVI Help Article 5421). But there are lots of advantages to working with the new interface. It’s definitely worth exploring.