Lidarview vs Displaz vs PPTK vs Open3D for Pointcloud Visualization

There are many different software packages for pointcloud visualization, many of which are difficult to use, expensive, or contain a limited set of features. In this comparison, we will analyze a few of the most popular software and libraries for visualizing pointcloud data.

Feature Overview

Pointcloud Software Comparison

Key Differences

  1. Lidarview, unlike the other software packages, is web based. Hence, Lidarview is easy to use and requires no dependencies. However, Lidarview is limited in performance and utilizes more RAM than other software packages since it relies on Javascript. Finally, compared to libraries like Open3D, Lidarview has a minimal set of features in exchange for simplicity.

  2. Displaz is an open source, "hackable lidar viewer" with an extreme amount of customizability. It can load point clouds up to the amount of memory on your machine, includes support for custom OpenGL shaders, and provides scripting functionality for for C++, Python, Julia, and Matlab. Also, Displaz is quite fast, loading gigabytes of points within seconds. The downside to this level of complexity is non-trivial. The installation process, at least on Linux, is complex and requires hours of searching on web forums. Also, height based coloring is not available by default, requiring a custom shader that you must provide.

  3. PPTK is a Python point cloud visualization and processing library which is minimal to the point of non-functionality. The API is simple to install and is well documented. However, at least on Linux, the visualization feature of PPTK is currently broken; therefore, PPTK is practically unusable for point cloud visualization in its current condition.

  4. Like PPTK, Open3D is a Python point cloud visualization and processing library; however, unlike PPTK, Open3D is fast and easy to use! The installation process is simple and visualizing an las file only requires a few lines of code. Furthermore, Open3D supports height based coloring by default and many other features for subsampling and segmenting pointclouds. Also, Open3D's documentation is excellent and its source code is publicly available. Thus, Open3D is one of the best Python libraries for visualizing and processing pointclouds!

Example Outputs



Open 3D


Overall, Lidarview and Open3D offer the best set of features and performance for two different types of users. If you are looking to quickly visualize a moderately large pointcloud with minimal overhead, Lidarview is perfect, requiring no dependencies or installation time. Conversely, if you are looking a visualize and process gigabytes of pointcloud data efficiently and have some experience with Python, Open3D is an excellent, fast, and easy to use library. However, both Displaz and PPTK fall short of their targeted user base, requiring hours of installation and offering limited functionality, making Lidarview and Open3D superior choices.

Created by Ross Briden