Anyone try our the Open Source Navy bathymetric editor pfmabe?


Came across the announcement from April this year (2015) where presumably it recently was released.

Welcome to the Pure File Magic Area Based Editor (PFMABE). Now view and edit your hydro, bathy and topo data in 3D. Under development by the Naval Oceanographic Office since 1998, this powerful data editing suite ingests most major sonar and lidar data types and allows for quick and easy analysis, cleaning and quality control.

Supported data inputs

Single beam and multibeam sonar data in Generic Sensor Format (GSF)
Optech CHARTS HOF and TOF LIDAR data
Optech CZMIL CPF data
Various ASCII XYZ/YXZ formats
Hypack (raw)*
QPS Fledermaus (xyz)
LAZ (read only)


Hi @badevguru it’s a new one to me (thanks for the heads up)

I have mainly been using a work flow from the opensource MB System (developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)) to play with raw multibeam data
And then processing the x,y,z (lat/long/depth) in in the paid for Global mapper

I will give this software bit of a try out over the next couple of weeks (I think I’m getting my hands on some new raw data at the end of the month) and maybe add something to the previous Multibeam reinterpretation thread

Maybe @Kevin_K or Gary Fabian might also have a look at it as well


I had never heard of this one either, but it looks like a decent alternative to MB System, which I could never get to work because I don’t understand Linux.

The documentation they have posted seems a little sparse and I already have questions, but when I get some time, I’ll give it a chance. I’ll also forward on to Gary.

@Scott_W, in your poking around, would you also mind doing a quick write up for comparisons/differences? I have a project coming up where I will need accurate “Z” values from multibeam and now I’m wondering which program I should try to learn.


So I tried opening up one of my GRID multibeam files, but unfortunately, PFMABE is unable to support it.

Here are the file-types it can open:
GSF (.gsf)
HOF (.hof)
TOF (.tof)
CZMIL (.cpf)

I don’t have any of these file-types from the California seafloor mapping project, so it doesn’t look like I’m able to use this program.


No problems mate
Give me a few weeks and I will try it on the next chunk of data I pick up

Accurate “Z”'s rules out BAG files (and other averaged /worked data sources) etc
I tend to use raw Multibeam minimally worked and exported as ASCII X,Y,Z or X,Y,A (backscatter)

If limiting it to Free Stuff MB System then dumped into QGIS (or if this software turns out to be OK)