The translate command can be used for simple conversion of files based on their file extensions. It can also be used for constructing pipelines directly from the command-line. By default, processing is done in stream mode if possible, standard mode if not.

$ pdal translate [options] input output [filter]
--input, -i        Input filename
--output, -o       Output filename
--filter, -f       Filter type
--json             PDAL pipeline from which to extract filters.
--pipeline, -p     Pipeline output
--metadata, -m     Dump metadata output to the specified file
--reader, -r       Reader type
--writer, -w       Writer type
--dims             Limit loaded dimensions to this list. Note that X, Y and Z are always loaded.
--stream           Run in stream mode.  If not possible, exit.
--nostream         Run in standard mode.

The --input and --output file names are required options.

If provided, the --pipeline option will write the pipeline constructed from the command-line arguments to the specified file. The translate command will not actually run when this argument is given.

The --json flag can use used to specify a PDAL pipeline from which filters will be extracted. If a reader or writer exist in the pipeline, they will be removed and replaced with the input and output provided on the command line. If a reader/writer stage references tags in the provided pipeline, the overriding files will assume those tags. If the argument to the --json option references an existing file, it is assumed that the file contains the pipeline to be processed. If the argument value is not a filename, it is taken to be a literal JSON string that is the pipeline. The flag can’t be used if filters are listed on the command line or explicitly with the --filter option.

The --filter flag is optional. It is used to specify drivers used to filter the data. --filter accepts multiple arguments if provided, thus constructing a multi-stage filtering operation. Filters can’t be specified using this method and with the --json flag.

The --metadata flag accepts a filename for the output of metadata associated with the execution of the translate operation.

If no --reader or --writer type are given, PDAL will attempt to infer the correct drivers from the input and output file name extensions respectively.

Example 1:

The translate command can be augmented by specifying fully specified options at the command-line invocation. For example, the following invocation will translate 1.2-with-color.las to output.laz while doing the following:

  • Setting the creation day of year to 42

  • Setting the creation year to 2014

  • Setting the LAS point format to 1

  • Cropping the file with the given polygon

$ pdal translate \
    --writers.las.creation_doy="42" \
    --writers.las.creation_year="2014" \
    --writers.las.format="1" \
    --filters.crop.polygon="POLYGON ((636889.412951239268295 851528.512293258565478 422.7001953125,636899.14233423944097 851475.000686757150106 422.4697265625,636899.14233423944097 851475.000686757150106 422.4697265625,636928.33048324030824 851494.459452757611871 422.5400390625,636928.33048324030824 851494.459452757611871 422.5400390625,636928.33048324030824 851494.459452757611871 422.5400390625,636976.977398241520859 851513.918218758190051 424.150390625,636976.977398241520859 851513.918218758190051 424.150390625,637069.406536744092591 851475.000686757150106 438.7099609375,637132.647526245797053 851445.812537756282836 425.9501953125,637132.647526245797053 851445.812537756282836 425.9501953125,637336.964569251285866 851411.759697255445644 425.8203125,637336.964569251285866 851411.759697255445644 425.8203125,637473.175931254867464 851158.795739248627797 435.6298828125,637589.928527257987298 850711.244121236610226 420.509765625,637244.535430748714134 850511.791769731207751 420.7998046875,636758.066280735656619 850667.461897735483944 434.609375,636539.155163229792379 851056.63721774588339 422.6396484375,636889.412951239268295 851528.512293258565478 422.7001953125))" \
    ./test/data/1.2-with-color.las \
    output.laz \

Example 2:

Given these tools, we can now construct a custom pipeline on-the-fly. The example below uses a simple LAS reader and writer, but stages a voxel grid filter, followed by the SMRF filter and a range filter. We can even set stage-specific parameters as shown.

$ pdal translate input.las output.las voxelcenternearestneighbor smrf range \

Example 3:

This command reads the input text file “myfile” and writes an output LAS file “output.las”, processing the data through the stats filter. The metadata output (including the output from the stats filter) is written to the file “meta.json”.

$ pdal translate myfile output.las --metadata=meta.json -r readers.text \
    --json="{ \"pipeline\": [ { \"type\":\"filters.stats\" } ] }"

Example 4:

This command reprojects the points in the file “input.las” to another spatial reference system and writes the result to the file “output.las”.

$ pdal translate input.las output.las -f filters.reprojection \