Add Orfeo ToolBox (OTB) processing provider in QGIS

11 Oct 2020 ᛫ 3 min read


What is Orfeo ToolBox or OTB?


“Orfeo ToolBox (OTB) is an open-source project for state-of-the-art remote sensing. Built on the shoulders of the open-source geospatial community, it can process high resolution optical, multispectral and radar images at the terabyte scale. A wide variety of applications are available: from ortho-rectification or pansharpening, all the way to classification, SAR processing, and much more!”

For those who aren’t familiar with Orfeo ToolBox or OTB, it’s a powerful open-source remote sensing library that allows you to manipulate and process remote sensing (RS) data in several ways. If you’re interested to learn what remote sensing applications OTB has to offer, the OTB CookBook is a good place to start. OTB is cross-platform and works in Linux, macOS, Windows and is a great choice if you’re looking for an application to add to your RS toolkit.

OTB’s algorithms can be accessed from a variety of sources: in Monteverdi, in Python, from the command line, in C++, and even in QGIS. To access OTB’s algorithms in QGIS, we need to activate OTB as a Provider under the Processing Options.

Download and Install OTB on your machine

  1. Download OTB for your operating system and follow the installation instructions. The latest version is OTB 7.2.0.
  2. Note that different operating systems have different installation procedures but they mostly require extracting an archive that holds OTB.
  3. Take note of the location where you installed / extracted OTB. You will need this for activating it as a processing provider in QGIS. I run a Linux machine and have it installed under ~/tools/OTB/OTB-7.2.0-Linux64. The OTB application folder which holds the OTB applications is found in ~/tools/OTB/OTB-7.2.0-Linux64/lib/otb/applications.
The Orfeo ToolBox installation folder on Linux
The OTB installation folder
Contents of the Orfeo ToolBox installation folder
Contents of the OTB installation folder

Activate OTB in the Processing Options

  1. Go to the Processing Options via Settings -> Options -> Processing Tab from the Menu bar. You can also access this by opening the Processing Toolbox (Processing -> Toolbox or CTRL + ALT + T) and clicking the Options button (wrench icon).
  2. Go to Providers and expand the OTB tab.
  3. Tick the Activate button.
  4. Set the OTB folder. This is the location of your OTB installation or the OTB folder that you extracted from the archive. For me, it’s ~/tools/OTB/OTB-7.2.0-Linux64. If you don’t want to type the location, you can just browse and select it from the dialog.
  5. Set the OTB application folder. As mentioned previously, this is found under PATH_TO_OTB_INSTALLATION_FOLDER/lib/otb/applications. Again, you can just browse and select this location.
Open Orfeo ToolBox provider settings from QGIS menu bar
OTB provider settings from Menu bar
Open Orfeo ToolBox provider settings from QGIS processing toolbox
OTB provider settings from Processing Toolbox
Orfeo ToolBox provider options in QGIS
OTB processing provider options
Filled up Orfeo ToolBox provider options in QGIS
Filled up OTB processing provider options

Use the OTB algorithms in QGIS

Upon successfully adding OTB as a processing provider, you should now be able to find and run OTB algorithms in QGIS either from the Processing Toolbox or searching for them using the Locator.

Orfeo ToolBox algorithms in the QGIS processing toolbox
Orfeo ToolBox algorithms in the QGIS processing toolbox
Orfeo ToolBox algorithms in QGIS
Orfeo ToolBox algorithms in QGIS

And that’s how you add Orfeo ToolBox as a processing provider in QGIS.

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