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Making snap packages of photogrammetry software

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on 29 March 2017

This is a guest post by Alberto Mardegan, Software Engineer at Canonical. If you would like to contribute a guest post, please contact ubuntu-devices@canonical.com

Some time ago I got vaguely interested into photogrammetry, that is the reconstruction of a 3D model out of a set of plain 2D photographs. I just thought that it was cool, and wanted to try it.

Unfortunately, the most popular of these tools, VisualSFM, was not packaged for Ubuntu and didn’t come with ready binaries. Furthermore, the steps to build it are far from trivial: they include modifying a few of the source files!

So, while I was going through this ordeal in order to compile it, I thought of how I could avoid running through all this pain once more and the need emerged to build this program again in the future. I initially thought of writing a shell script to automate it, but then I realized that there exists a much better solution: a snapcraft recipe! This solution has the big advantage that the resulting binary (called a “snap” package) can be shared with other Linux users, by publishing it into the snap store. Therefore, one doesn’t need to be a programmer or a computer expert anymore in order to install the software.

As I quickly found out, other “structure from motion” and “multi-view stereo” (the two parts of the 3D reconstruction pipeline) programs are also unavailable as binaries for Linux, and require quite some effort to be built. As a matter of fact, this problem is quite common for scientific and academic software: always written by authentic geniuses in the field of research, but who often are not as experienced (or interested) in software distribution.

So I thought — well, given that I’ve just made a snap package (and that I’ve even enjoyed the process!), why stop here? 🙂

And here you have it: most of this photogrammetry software is now available as snap packages, which makes it trivial to install them and try them out. Though indeed, the 3d reconstruction can take a lot of time, so that’s another thing to be considered.

To help you out in deciding which software to use, I made a video review of structure from motion and multi-view stereo tools; without any pretence – just the goal of giving an overview of what is available out there, and how easy (or difficult!) to use it is:



I also “snapped” a couple of other programs related to 3D reconstructions. One of them is CloudCompare, a 3D point cloud and mesh processing software.

In the future I may make more videos on this subject – stay tuned!

Original post here

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