Using Total Open Station

There are two ways to use Total Open Station, from the command line or as a user-friendly program. Each mode of operation has its drawbacks, and both are constantly used and tested.

Graphical User Interface

If you followed the guide about Installing Total Open Station, you should be able to start Total Open Station.

The basic usage of Total Open Station is made of the following steps:

  1. download raw data from the total station
  2. save raw data (optional, but recommended)
  3. export raw data to an output format

Saving raw data enables you to open data files even at a later stage and process them when it’s more appropriate.

Downloading raw data

To download raw data, your total station must be connected to the computer you are using, and the connection parameters must be known and set in the program. Total Open Station saves certain parameters across work sessions, but not all of them are saved, yet.

The normal download procedure is a four-step operation:

  1. once the right parameters are set, click on the Connect button
  2. a small window appears, telling that the program is ready to start the download
  3. start the data transfer from the menu of the total station
  4. press the OK button in the small window (the order of these two last steps matters)

Downloaded data will be shown in real-time in the main program window. A short information dialog will appear at the end of the transfer. If any error blocks you in this procedure, please send a detailed description to the mailing list so we can help you.

Saving raw data

Raw data shown in the main program window can be edited if you need, and saved to disk clicking the Save raw data button. We highly recommend to save all data to disk before any other action, because it prevents data loss and it is a very convenient way to have a backup of your work. Plus, raw data files are generally very small in size if compared to the exported files.

By default saved files get a .tops extension, but it is absolutely optional to have this extension.

Opening previously saved data

The Open file button lets you open any ASCII file you have on your disk for processing with Total Open Station, either previously saved with TOPS itself or not.

Data can be edited in the text area. Editing patterns include:

  • removing lines of data that don’t need to be processed
  • correcting errors in data
  • pasting more than one data file together

Please note that if you do not know well the raw data format you are editing, data may become inconsistent, and it will not be possible to process them properly later. If you are unsure, do not edit raw data.

Exporting data

The main purpose of Total Open Station is to export raw data in formats that are not read by GIS and CAD programs, to common formats that are easy to import.

To start exporting data, make sure that the text area in the main program window contains the data you want to export. If this is not the case, you can either download data from your total station or open a previously-saved data file.

Click the Process data button. A window will appear, allowing you to choose two processing options:

  • the input format
  • the output format

Select the input format of the raw data you have (if you are using the same total station all the time, it will be probably the same – we are working on adding a way to save the last used formats across different working sessions).

Then select the output format you want to use, and proceed with the OK button. You will be asked where you want to save the exported file.

You can now open your exported data in the GIS or CAD program of choice for further processing. Should you need to go back to the original data, you can always repeat the above procedure starting from the saved raw data file.


After Installing Total Open Station, there will be three new executable programs in your path. Two of them are meant for being run in a terminal, and are extremely useful for batch operations and easy repeating of common tasks with minimum time effort.

totalopenstation-cli-connector and totalopenstation-cli-parser are two command line programs that make the same features of the graphical interface available to those who prefer working in a terminal. They are well documented, and they make it possible to process large amounts of data files via shell scripting, or to drastically reduce the time needed for downloading raw data.

These two programs also provide a basic but complete example of how to use Total Open Station as a programming library.