Esri and rapidlasso Develop Joint Lidar Compressor (Caution, April Fool's Joke)

Caution, this is a lame April Fool’s Joke, and the retraction starts below

In a positive spin of events, Esri and rapidlasso are announcing to join forces and together develop a LiDAR compressor for LAS 1.4 in open source avoiding unnecessary format fragmentation. Their new "LASeasy" tool not only compresses but also optimizes LAS files for efficient area-of-interest queries. LASeasy extends the popular LASzip compressor to handle LAS 1.4 content and includes the tiny spatial indexing *.lax files into the *.laz file via Extended Variable Length Records (EVLRs). More importantly, LASeasy provides new features such as optional spatial sorting and precomputed statistics – motivated by Esri – that allow exploiting LiDAR in the cloud.

To minimize disruption in existing workflows, their joint effort uses a clever strategy that capitalizes on the natural "break" in the ASPRS LAS format from version 1.3 to 1.4. LAS files compressed by Esri will automatically be upgraded to the new point types introduced with LAS 1.4 (and be losslessly downgraded on decompression). LiDAR software already supporting LAZ will instantly be able to read all LiDAR produced by Esri with the same DLL update that is needed to access compressed LAS 1.4 content – achieving maximum compatibility with minimal disruption for users of ArcGIS, LASzip, and the larger LiDAR community,

Martin Isenburg, chief scientist and CEO of rapidlasso GmbH, was all smiles during the announement. "Yes, I had some hard feelings when hearing about their ‘LAZ clone’ because our presumed open dialogue suddenly felt so very one-sided," he said, "So over Martin Luther King weekend I proposed this LAS 1.4 trick as a joint development quoting MLK’s ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope’ and that seemed to resonate with them." Speaking on the condition of anonymity an executive of Esri’s management added "For a global geospatial player like us it can happen that we do something ‘evil-by-accident’. We occasionally need someone like Martin to poke some good-natured fun at Esri to remind us of our values."

About rapidlasso GmbH
Technology start-up rapidlasso GmbH specializes in efficient LiDAR processing tools that are widely known for their high productivity. They combine robust algorithms with efficient I/O and clever memory management to achieve high throughput for data sets containing billions of points. The company’s flagship product – the LAStools software suite – has deep market penetration and is heavily used in industry, government agencies, research labs, and educational institutions. Visit for more information.

congrats to Mike Gleason who was first to point out the "too-good-to-be-true" news of our April Fools’ Day press release. But we have not fooled you without reason. Most of the press release was actually true and some of the lies might become true before long. Maybe rapidlasso was just a little ahead of our times … just like the LAStools software. (-;

The intention of our half-truth press release (besides being funny) was to show ESRI the wonderful positive reaction that such a decision would have in the LiDAR community. Just check the cheerful and happy comments here:

Here are the truth:
* rapidlasso integrated *.laz files into *.lax files

* rapidlasso created laseasy.exe
* rapidlasso added an option to rearrange points into space-filling curves
* rapidlasso created an image visualizing the new functionality
* rapidlasso assured full compatiblity of new features through the LAS 1.4 trick 
* rapidlasso tried to get ESRI to express their needs for the LAS 1.4 compressor
* rapidlasso had some hard feelings when first hearing about the leaked "LAZ clone"
* rapidlasso contacted ESRI with the very ideas outlined in the PR
* rapidlasso did so on MLK weekend
* rapidlasso quoted "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope"
* rapidlasso had promising email exchanges with ESRI management
* rapidlasso had an hour long phone call with ESRI management while in Manila
* rapidlasso disclosed technical details on the realization of this joint compressor
* rapidlasso waits to hear back from ESRI management on their final decision
Here are the lies:
* ESRI has not (yet) agreed to develop this joint LAS 1.4 compressor
* ESRI has not (yet) said what LASzip was missing to prompt their LAZ clone development
* ESRI has not (yet) disclosed what imporant feature they need in the cloud 
* ESRI has not (yet) admitted to have done something ‘evil-by-accident’
* ESRI has not (yet) lauded Martin for poking fun at them
Cross your fingers! We will let you know when ESRI’s verdict is final.