Terrain To Raster function


The Terrain To Raster function is used to render multipoint data managed using a terrain stored in a geodatabase.

This function is not available on its own to be added to a function chain. Instead, it is available to modify the input and output properties of a mosaic dataset.


The function will be used when you add multipoint data to a mosaic dataset. When adding the data to a mosaic dataset, you need to open the properties to define some of the input and output properties, such as pixel size.

The output properties are unique to the LAS, LAS dataset, and Terrain raster types. Since the inputs involve some sort of interpolation from points, this can be quite computationally intensive and therefore slow to display. The option to create caches at the base pixel size for the inputs exists to improve performance. Without the cache, you may have to wait several minutes for some surfaces to display.

The cache is generated automatically in the following instances:

  • When viewing the mosaic dataset, where the terrain datasets are used to generate the mosaicked image
  • When the overviews are built
  • When Synchronize Mosaic Dataset is run with the Build Item Cache parameter checked on

The cache will be updated if the cache has been deleted or is missing. It will not be updated if the terrain is modified.


Input Terrain

The path and name of the terrain dataset. You can modify this value if the input is moved. This option will not exist on the Terrain Raster Type Properties page when adding the terrain to the mosaic dataset.

Interpolation method

Surface interpolation is used to determine the z-values for each pixel.

  • Linear—Estimates the z-value from the plane defined by the terrain triangle that contains the x,y location of a query point.
  • Natural Neighbor—Estimates the z-value by applying area-based weights to the terrain's natural neighbors of a query point.

Pixel Size

The minimum pixel size that will be generated to create the raster. This is a required parameter.

Cache Path

The location where the cached surfaces will be stored. By default, the cache is generated and stored in a folder next to where the mosaic dataset resides. This folder has the same name as the geodatabase, with a .cache extension. However, if the mosaic dataset is created in an enterprise geodatabase, the cache will be created within that geodatabase.

Number of cached surfaces

The maximum number of caches that can be created using different input properties for this surface, for example, using one interpolation method versus another. Entering a value of 0 will disable caching and will clear an existing cache.

In this topic
  1. Overview
  2. Notes
  3. Parameters