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A user-friendly interface has been built around the set of databases holding the numerous potential land cover classes formed by selection of the classifiers and attributes available. The branching options in the classification system are many and the software application should make any of these classes easily retrievable. Visual Basic 6 has been used as the development platform.

This section of the User Manual will cover:

Please note that LCCS comes as a run-time software application.

It is therefore not necessary to have Visual Basic installed on the computer.

Before trying to install the Land Cover Classification System, ensure that the PC meets the requirements specified below.

4.1 Minimum system requirements


Operating System

4.2 Installation procedure

LCCS comes as a Run-time version. The user has to follow the usual installation procedure for Windows-based programs.

For all the operating systems, the procedure is:

After having completed this step, a guided set-up procedure is activated. It is highly recommended that its proposals be accepted regarding the installation directory and naming of new program groups.

At the end of the set-up operation, the installation procedure will ask you to restart the system. Subsequently, a new sub-directory - C:\Program File\TerraNova\LCCS20 - is created and a new Land Cover Classification System icon is added to the Windows Desktop and Program Manager, within the TerraNova program folder.

4.3 Directory structure

The installation looks for the following directory structure and - if necessary - creates it:

Please note that in order LCCS2 to work correctly the user must not change the original operating system's Regional Options. For example, if the OS is in English (United States), the Regional Options must also be set in English (United States). Although the Regional Options will not effect the installation process it may cause a system error when launching the LCCS2 software. Should this occur please return the Regional Options back to the original OS' settings. This can be done in the Control Panel of the "Start up" menu.


Though no previous knowledge of Microsoft Windows is required to operate LCCS, there are some Selection Techniques and Screen Objects that the user should become familiar with in order to be able to use the LCCS Action Panel without problems.

5.1 Selection techniques

5.2 Screen objects

Typical objects in LCCS, through which the user communicates with the program by making a selection or triggering an action, are:

Buttons can take 3 different states:

The Classification Module Actions Panel appears in the majority of forms and screens of this module. This panel contains 14 buttons that trigger various actions (Figure 5.1).

The buttons of the Action Panel trigger the following events:

The buttons are in the enabled position when the action they trigger is valid. The <Show class information> button in the enabled position indicates that a land cover class has been formed, i.e. the minimum set of classifiers to define a land cover class has been selected.

In the Legend Module, the screen objects consist of buttons that may also be followed by a combo box or sub-menu with several options, as described earlier.

For the main Legend menu options Display, Standard Description and Classifiers Used, a report will be shown that can be printed. The same applies for Similarity Assessment in the Translator Module.

In the Translator Module, the selection technique consists of clicking on button objects or highlighting a selected item by clicking once on it (especially in list boxes).

The Action Panel in the classification module


Each of the three modules will be discussed in detail regarding their purpose, the options available and the links with other modules of the software, together with the Links Function.

6.1 Classification Module

6.1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this module is to define a land cover class according to two main phases:

At any level within these Phases the user can ask for the land cover class and store its Boolean formula, numerical code and class name in the "Legend Module".

6.1.2 Dichotomous Phase

In the Dichotomous Phase the user can select the major land cover category to which the land cover belongs. There are two ways to proceed through the options. Either:

FIGURE 6.1 The dichotomous phase with the classifier options "Primarily Vegetated Area(s) > Terrestrial > Natural and Semi-natural Vegetation" selected

6.1.3 Modular-Hierarchical Phase

The Modular-Hierarchical Phase is a phase where the set of available classifiers is tailored to the major land cover type. This means that the type, amount and hierarchical arrangement of classifiers will differ from one major land cover type to another.

In each module, however, three groups of classifiers and attributes are available and they are always presented in the same hierarchical order. Each type of classifier and attribute is also presented in a different colour on the video screen (Figure 6.2). A distinction is made between:

Example of classifier options at different levels of detail, major land cover type A12, Herbaceous is subdivided in Forbs and Graminoids Pure Land Cover Classifiers

The difference between these classifiers and the attributes is that the land cover classifiers are strictly hierarchical. One cannot skip a classifier and go on to the next one unless this possibility is provided for by the program, as occurs with "Semi-Natural and Natural Vegetation" and "Cultivated Terrestrial Areas and Managed Lands". The user must proceed step-by-step in order to develop the structural-physiognomic concept.

The classifiers are also ordered according to their mappability. The classifiers at a high level have a higher mapping accuracy than classifiers at lower levels, which means that they will contribute more to establishing clear and precise boundaries between different land cover classes than will lower-level classifiers. If a classifier cannot be determined, the user can stop.

Definition of the land cover class results in:

Both the numerical code and standard name can be used to automatically generate a Legend (see Section 6.2).

The user will start to identify any land cover class using the pure land cover classifiers. A minimum number of these classifiers needs to be determined before the user is allowed to combine these classifiers with any of the attributes. If the minimum requirement for classifiers has been satisfied, the button for proceeding to the environmental attributes will be enabled, as well as the buttons to display the class and save it to the Legend.

The pure land cover classifiers are always presented in blocks in which the choices are mutually exclusive, i.e. the user can select only one option. Even when the classifiers are presented in two rows (e.g. in Life Form "Woody" above "Trees" and "Shrubs" in Figure 6.3), only one option can be selected. If the user clicks on the button "Woody" followed by clicking on "Trees", the button "Woody" will return to its original, inactive, position.

Example of classifier options at different levels of detail: e.g. major land cover type A12 - where Herbaceous is subdivided in Forbs and Graminoids)

There are also options that further modify a classifier option (Figure 6.4). These are called Modifiers and they immediately follow a classifier option (e.g. in Leaf Phenology for Forbs and Graminoids; "Mixed" above "Perennial" and "Annual"; or in Height for all Life Forms). Modifiers belonging to one classifier option are mutually exclusive. Only after selection of the classifier can a modifier be added. If the user clicks the button of a modifier without having clicked on the appropriate classifier first, a message will pop up to inform the user that the classifier should be selected first.

Example of modifier that further defines a classifier option (major land cover class A12 - classifier leaf phenology with modifier options mixed and semi-deciduous)

The use of these modifiers will generate (examples are shown in Figure 6.5):

The more classifiers used, the more specific becomes the land cover class defined. Choices made at a high level may have implications for the availability of a certain classifier at a lower level. If certain options are no longer valid, the buttons are disabled. In this way the user is guided through the program and invalid choices prevented.

Examples of "show class" windows with a land cover class defined in the Natural and Semi-natural Terrestrial Vegetation major land cover type Environmental Attributes

The environmental attributes are not hierarchically ordered and the user is free to add appropriate choices in any order. Use of these attributes further defines the environmental settings in which a land cover unit is found (Figure 6.6). The options within one environmental attribute are mutually exclusive. Use of attributes will result in:

Example of "show class" window with a land cover class with additional environmental attributes: Landform, Climate and Floristic Aspect Specific Technical Attribute

Use of the specific technical attribute will further define the land cover class using the related discipline (e.g. for vegetation, the method of how species were recorded can be specified; for cultivated areas, the crop type can be specified. See Figure 6.7). Again, choices are mutually exclusive. Use of a specific technical attribute will result in:

The user can go through the levels of the Modular-Hierarchical Phase of certain major land cover classes and build up as many classes as needed. These classes can be stored in the Legend Module, described in detail in the next Section.

Example of the use of the specific technical attribute "floristic aspect"

6.2 Legend Module

6.2.1 Purpose

The main purpose of the Legend Module is to take the land cover classes identified and store them in a hierarchical structure that groups the classes according to the main land cover type. Therefore, the Legend usually contains only a sub-set of the Classification, namely those classes that are applicable in the area (to be) interpreted or mapped.

In addition to providing a hierarchical structure, the Legend also offers the capability to display, edit and add user-defined attributes to a land cover class. It provides standard descriptions for the classes identified and the classifiers used, and all this information can be exported in various formats.

Since in the Legend the classification is applied to a specific area, Mixed Mapping Units can be formed. A Mixed Mapping Unit can comprise two, three or more classes (depending upon the type of mixed coding option selected) from the same major land cover type, or two, three or more classes from different major land cover types. The order of the classes in a Mixed Mapping Unit reflects their dominance in the mapping unit (see also Section 3.8.2).

6.2.2 How to create a legend

Land cover classes are defined in the Classification Module. A Legend is created by storing these land cover classes in the Legend. To store a class defined in the Classification Module, the "Save this class in the legend" button needs to be clicked on in the action panel of the Classification Module (see Section 5.2), upon which a sub-menu appears (Figure 6.8). This sub-menu asks the users whether they want to use one of the possible options to create a mixed coding symbology. Four different types of mixed coding options are available: Thematic; Spatial/Cartographic general; Layering, and Time related (see Section 3.8.2). The "Thematic mixed coding" is the default option. If the user has no mixed coding to define, clicking on the "Single" option stores the class defined in the classification module as a single coding class in the Legend module. The user can then proceed to define the next new land cover class.

If a mixed code is to be created, the following steps must be followed:

The number of classes that can be used in the mixed coding function depends upon the type of mixed coding chosen:

The user has unrestricted possibilities to combine different mixed coding options (e.g. A/B//C+D///C). The only restriction is that one cannot repeat the same mixed coding option in a different part of the string (e.g. A/B//C/D is not possible because A/B and C/D are in different parts of the string).

The syntax is:

The Help button gives further information on option selection when writing a class to the Legend.

When a mixed mapping unit has been stored in the legend module, the user can then proceed to define other land cover classes.

From the classification module "Save class" to legend window, where the user has to indicate whether or not the defined land cover class is part of a Mixed Unit

6.2.3 Using the Legend Management Menu

From the "Legend" command on the main LCCS2 window, or from the command Legend Menu on the action panel, the user can manage their own legend in term of visualization, editing of more information, printing or other actions (Figure 6.9).

The Legend Management Menu Edit Legend and Add User-Defined Attributes

Clicking on "Edit Legend and Add User-Defined Attributes..." brings up a screen where the classes comprising the Legend are displayed, with the elements composing the class in different boxes (Figure 6.10).

FIGURE 6.10 Example of Edit Legend and Add User-Defined Attributes.

The numerical LCC Code, the Boolean Formula and the Label fields cannot be edited. The user can edit all the other fields: Map Code; User Label, and Description. To edit these fields, select the class and then select the "Pencil" icon . If you do not edit the Map Code field, using a personal coding for the different classes, the system will apply a numerical progressive ID. All the elements of a class are listed in this window. These are the standard elements of a class and are identical for anyone anywhere in the world using the system and defining the same class. These elements help the user to trace which class needs to be edited.

To delete a Class, the user must select the class and click on the delete button: .

To add User-defined attributes, click on this button.

Land cover classes can be "cloned" in order to add some specific user-defined attributes to the standard land cover class selected. This allows the addition of more specific and user-oriented attributes while maintaining a standardized land cover class. The user might want to further define a classifier and/or attribute already used, or to add a new attribute. A standard set of options is provided.

To clone a standard land cover class and add a user-defined attribute, the steps are:

Press Close when no more classes need to be cloned in order to add user-defined attributes.

Window with the options for definition of the Type of clone in order to add a user-defined attribute Display

The "Display" button in the Legend Management Menu calls up the classes contained in the Legend and displays them in a pre-defined hierarchical structure (Figure 6.12):

Mixed Mapping Units will be displayed under the Structural Domain Mixed Class under the major land cover type of the first - and therefore dominant - element of the class.

FIGURE 6.12 Example of Display Legend screen Standard Description

The user is provided with a Standard Description for every class defined in the Classification Module and stored in the Legend. This description gives more insight into the classifiers used and the structure of the class than can be inferred from the standard name alone. User-defined attributes are not incorporated in the Standard Description; for an explanation of those, the Legend - Edit option should be used.

BOX 6. 1

A11. Cultivated and Managed Terrestrial Areas

Tree Crops
Shrub Crops
Herbaceous Crops
Graminoid Crops
Non-Graminoid Crops
Managed Lands

A12. Natural and Semi-Natural Terrestrial Vegetation

Sparse Vegetation

A23. Cultivated Aquatic or Regularly Flooded Areas

Aquatic Or Regularly Flooded Graminoid Crops
Aquatic Or Regularly Flooded Non-Graminoid Crops

A24. Natural and Semi-Natural Aquatic or Regularly Flooded Vegetation

Closed Shrubs
Open Shrubs
Sparse Vegetation

B15. Artificial Surfaces and Associated Areas

Built-Up Areas
Non-Built-Up Areas

B16. Bare Areas

Consolidated Areas
Unconsolidated Areas

B27. Artificial Surfaces and Associated Areas

Artificial Waterbodies
Artificial Snow
Artificial Ice

B28. Natural Waterbodies, Snow and Ice

Natural Waterbodies

In the Standard Class Description, classes are hierarchically arranged according to the Structural Domains of each Major Land Cover Type (see Box 6.1), identical to the Legend Display, and the following information is shown: Classifiers Used

In the Display, Edit Legend and Add User Defined Attributes and Standard Description menu options, the Boolean Formula of the land cover class defined is displayed. The menu option Classifiers Used gives the user the possibility to interpret what these code strings mean, as it presents, under the headings of the major land cover types, the key to the codes used in the Legend (Figure 6.13).

Example of legend Classifiers Used

This explanation will be useful in GIS and database queries where the user wants to re-select the data according to a certain classifier or a group of classifiers. Combining numerical codes and the Boolean formula allows re-grouping according to user-defined queries.

The Standard Description can be printed by selecting Print from the toolbar at the top of the screen (Figure 6.14).

Example of the Legend Standard Description Print

Clicking on this menu option will not invoke a new screen display but will send the created Legend to the printer. The output appears as described under Display (Section Save/Retrieve

This set of options allows the user to Save and Retrieve the legends created without enabling exchange facility with other LCCS users. A legend stored in this way can only be retrieved by the same copy of the software program. Export/Import

Selecting the Export/Import option on the menu causes a new window to open which contains a number of options. This set of options allows storage of legends in specified formats and exchange of legends with other LCCS users on different computer platforms.

The Export Legend sub-menu

The Import Legend sub-menu

At the end of the procedure, LCCS will export two files; one in the format selected (name.xls) and, the second, in.txt format (name_gc.txt) where gc means GIS code. The.txt file contains only the GIS code of the exported legend. New Legend

This option allows the user to remove the existing Legend, which can be stored in the Output to window specifying the directory and name. The default format is a.txt file and a new legend can be created, as the user is so informed. When one creates a new legend, the software will automatically create a.txt file, with the same name as the legend, plus an additional extension, should the user wish to create links (see Section 6.3, on Links Function). For instance, if the legend is called LandCover, there would be two files: LandCover.txt and LandCover_lnk.txt. Import GIS Code

Using this command is possible to import an existing class from another legend using the GIS Code alone. When one clicks on the command, a window will appear asking for the GIS Code (Figure 6.17). It is also possible to browse a.txt file containing a list of GIS Codes. The user can even activate the option Show Imported GIS Code, which shows the description of the imported class. A notification message is generated by the software when the GIS code is imported correctly. After this, the user can see and manage the imported class, on the same basis as classes that have been created normally using the classification forms.

Example of Legend Import GIS Code Export GIS Code

This function, allows export of an existing legend using only the GIS Codes. The user can select the command from the Legend Management window, a dialog panel will appear, asking if the user wants to export only one GIS Code or all the Codes of the active legend (Figure 6.18). In the first case, one has to select the class to export from the whole list and after insert the path and the name of the new.txt file where the GIS Code will be stored. In the second case, the user enters the path and the name of the.txt file containing all the GIS Codes.

Export GIS Code sub-menu Close

The Close menu option will return the users to where they were previously. If the user was in the Classification Module before, new classes can be defined and written to the Legend.

6.3 Translator Module

6.3.1 Purpose

Existing classifications and legends can be translated into the reference classification. By translating them into LCCS, the system acts as a reference base allowing correlation between classifications and legends, or both.

The Translator Module (Figure 6.19) is accessible from the main LCCS menu and offers the possibility to:

FAO will coordinate input of translated classifications and legends for the time being. Major current classifications translated into the system will come as a standard with the software program or be provided as they become available.

6.3.2 How to translate a classification or legend

Translation of external classifications and legends into LCCS can be done by using the Classification Module, thus creating a new Legend (see Sections 6.1 and 6.2) that can be imported into the Translator Module, or prepared by direct input of external classes. In both cases the Import option will be used.

Main Translator Module Menu

First screen of import procedure Import

If the user has created a new Legend containing all the classes of the classification or legend to be imported, these classes can be imported in the Translator Module one by one. From the Translator Module menu choose Import: this will result in opening a new screen (Figure 6.20) that displays the classes stored in the Legend Module (bottom left box).

Classes are now ready to be exported from the Legend Module into the Translator Module using the following procedure:

If a class consists of two LCCS classes, i.e. a Mixed Class, the procedure is the same. The software will automatically recognize the Mixed Class. In the ENV attributes field the software will show the environmental attributes related to a class with ENV attributes; in the case of a mixed class, the mixed symbol (/ or //) will appear in the same ENV attributes field. This stepwise procedure allows each individual land cover class in the Legend to be exported into the Translator Module.

Metadata information can also be associated with the imported legend using the Background Info command (Figure 6.21).

Legend Background Information window Display Imported Legend

This screen will display the final result of the external classification imported and its translation to LCCS (Figure 6.22). The user can opt either to display according to the order used in the original classification or legend, or to display according to LCCS order. Mixed Classes will be displayed according to the dominant, and first-mentioned, class.

To display an imported Legend:

Imported legend displayed

6.3.3 Comparison of External Classes Similarity Assessment

The similarity of individual external classes to other legends or classifications can be quantified. Select the option Similarity Assessment in the Translator Module Menu. In the screen displayed, the user has to select the classification and then the reference class with which the other classes will be compared. A number of threshold settings are provided.

These values are stored in a table of correspondence in which two assumptions have been made:

To make a Similarity Assessment of two classes (e.g. as in Figures 6.23 and 6.24):

First screen of the Similarity Assessment, in which the reference land cover class is selected

Compare Similarity Assessment window for the Afghanistan reference class and the Lebanon legend Comparison of External Classes

Once classes have been translated into LCCS, the system can act as a reference base for comparison. Individual classes provided by the system can be compared at the level of their classifiers and attributes; user-defined attributes will not be considered. By selecting the option Comparison of External Classes from the Translator Module Menu, a screen will be displayed showing the translated classifications or legends available and their class codes. The user has to choose the two classes to compare, selecting them from the list and clicking on the relative arrow button: a Reference Class and a Class to be Compared. They can belong to the same classification or different ones (Figure 6.25).

Comparison of External Classes window

Clicking on the OK button will bring the user to the comparison screen (Figure 6.26), where the colours of the boxes give the comparison status. The comparison will take into account all the classifiers of the class to be compared with those of the reference class. The following colours may be displayed:

The same procedure can be followed for comparison of Environmental Attributes, if any, by clicking on the Attributes button.

6.3.4 Comparison of Two LCCS Classes

Two LCCS classes may be compared at the level of classifiers and attributes used. Such a comparison might be between a class defined in a preliminary interpretation and another derived from field observation. Selecting Comparison of LCCS Classes from the Translator Module Menu will open a window which allows the user to select the two classes to be compared: the Reference Class and the Class to be Compared (see Figure 6.27). The two Classes can be entered manually by typing the correct codes or can be selected from the list opened by clicking on the buttons with three dots. The results of the comparison are displayed in a similar screen to the one for the Comparison of Two External Classes (Section 6.3.3, Figure 6.27).

6.3.5 Export table/Import table

Export/Import is used to export or import the translated legends. Five different file formats are available for the export action (the same formats as for export of an LCCS legend) and three formats are available for the import action (the same formats for import of an LCCS legend).

Compare Similarity Assessment Calculation window

Example of Comparison of LCCS classes window

Here the user can type in the correct code or use the buttons and select the classes to compare from the list

6.4 Links Function

6.4.1 Purpose

LCCS Links is a new function introduced in version 2 of the software. It allows the user to establish a link between each single classifier forming an LCCS class and any value linked to any biophysical characteristic that can be related to land cover.

Links works by creating a range of values that can be associated with each classifier. The logic is that this range of values will become narrower as the information content increases. If, for example, end-users want to define the firewood production of one area in terms of tonnes per hectare, they can start by defining a link of value 100-1000 for the classifier "trees". This general, wide range will be narrowed when the classifier "closed" will be added to the classifier "trees". In this case, the range could be 800-1000. Should another classifier be added, e.g. "open", the range would be further restricted, for example 400-800, and similarly for other classifier combinations.

Therefore, the user creates different ranges of values linked with the classifier(s) that are relevant for the information to be determined. When the link is completed, activation of the link in the presence of an LCCS legend will automatically determine a range of values linked to the whole set of classes present in the legend. Basically, the software will check the classifier(s) present for each class and accordingly assign the value determined by the link.

6.4.2 Links Management Menu

From the Action Panel (Figure 5.1), click on the Show Links Management menu button. A window will appear with a set of commands (Figure 6.28) for creating and managing Links properties.

Links Management Menu

In this window, there are ten commands; initially, five are active and five inactive. All of them will be active when you click Create a new link or Open Link (see below).

The Links Management Menu window changes appearance when a new link is created or an existing link is opened, showing the activation of more options: (Figure 6.29).

Links Management Menu with all the functions activated

Link file type sub-menu

6.4.3 How to create a link

To create a link file, click on the Create a new link command. The software will ask to select one of two possibilities (Figure 6.30):

The user must then select the file name and path for storage of the link file and use the subsequent window to insert a description of the link created.

When this is done, the software passes to Record Macro Mode, closes the link window and goes back to the classification window. As soon the user has selected a class, e.g. Trees, a new window (Figure 6.31) will appear, ready for entry of the range values.

Example of a generic Define link ranges window

The user can now enter the range of variation in numeric format between a minimum and a maximum value. In the Range Type field, the unit of measurement needs to be specified (it is possible to use letters, numbers, special characters and spaces, alone or in combination). For instance, the user might give to the Trees classifier (A1) a range between 10 and 500 and then click Save. If the same range must be given to a group of classifiers, before saving, the user should select the "OR" operator by either clicking on Save or hitting the Esc key on the keyboard, then continue with classifier selection. When finished, the user has to click with the right-hand mouse button on the last selected classifier to go back to the Define link range window, remove the OR operator and finally click Save. It is possible to assign further range values to the next classifiers using the same procedure but is important to always save for each level of classification. It is also very important to try to use a hierarchical method for inputting the ranges. The user should proceed sequentially from A to B, then to C and then D (Figure 6.32). It is not advisable to try to go from A to C and then back to B, and then to D (mixing of the steps is not allowed).

Example of Natural and Semi-Natural Terrestrial Vegetation group, ready to enter the range of Firewood production; the active link and its path is shown on the active title bar

If Include Previous Classifier option is active, the list of all the classifiers will be displayed (Figure 6.33); if it is inactive, the user can see only the link for the last active classifier of the combination.

From the Links Management menu, clicking on View Link Information] button and then on View Hierarchical Tree - or clicking directly on View Link Tree - the user can see the sequence of the active classifiers highlighted with the related range value (Figure 6.34). The same window is displayed when the user clicks on the Show link's information button from the toolbar in the classification mode.

Example of a Define link ranges window with firewood production ranges

View hierarchical tree window

In Stop macro mode, all the classifiers are selectable without modifying the previous range value(s) added. If one or more classifiers have links, they are displayed in the Legend Management Menu window (Figure 6.9) in Display or Standard Description mode, but only if the class created contains one or more classifiers with link values. In Display, the link will be listed after the relative class set off by a grey bar. When the link file is ready, the user can start to create the legend. The information will be automatically linked to the classifiers used in the legend. It is possible to see the value (the last classifiers with a link or the list of all the classifiers with their related links) using the Display command or Standard Attributes command from the Using Legend Management Menu window.

6.5 Close

The Close menu option will return the users to where they were previously. If the user was in the Classification Module, new classes can now be defined and saved in the Legend.

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