Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Free and Open Source GIS Software

While Open Source GIS software is free and very flexible, and many are tailored to specific mapping functionalities, many of these do not offer concrete user support, resulting in much responsibility being placed on the user to maintain and upgrade the software as needed. SPRING was described in an earlier article. The following is a brief on five types of free and open source GIS software with varying functionalities, with information that can potentially aid in the selection process of using such software. How does a user who needs to render spatial data select among the many open source GIS platforms available today? Kindly share your experiences with these or any other Free and Open Source software platforms with us.

Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) has raster, vector, image processing and graphics production capabilities.
Package Name GRASS GIS Version 6.2, Oct. 31, 2006.
Source Organization Baylor University
Source Website
OS Linux, MS-Windows, Mac OS X, POSIX compliant systems.
Features Topo 2D/3D Vector Engine, Vector Network Analysis
Community Widespread, Active.

Mapserver is a spatial development platform
for web-based spatial applications. This software is specifically designed to render spatial data for the internet.
Package Name MapServer Version 4.10.0, Apr. 10, 2006.
Source Organization University Of Minnesota ForNet Project with NASA and
the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resouces
Source Website
OS Cross Platform (Linux, MS-Windows, Mac OS X)
Features Advanced cartographic output, thematic mapping, raster & vector
data formats.

Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a user friendly Open Source GIS that supports vector, raster and database formats and also supports many common spatial data formats.
Package Name QuantumGIS
Source Organization All-Volunteer Group
Source Website
OS Cross Platform
Features Supports common spatial data formats and plugins.
Community Widespread. See

JUMP Unified Mapping Platform (JUMP) is a Java based GIS and programming framework that was initially created to perform conflation functions of various topological features from different digital maps.
Package Name JUMP GIS
Source Organization Vivid Solutions Inc., 2002.
Source Website
OS Platform Independent
Features Full geometry and attribute editing, extensible GIS programming
Community Growing.
Notes See also

PostGIS is an open source GIS that adds support for geographic objects to the PostgreSQL object-relational database.
Package Name PostGIS
Source Organization Refractions Research
Source Website
OS Cross Platform
Features Coordinate transformation, data validation.
Notes See also

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

ArcGIS 9.2 is shipping

For those ArcGIS fans - I'm sure most of you are - version 9.2 is now shipping. Read the press release here and check out what's new. From what I've read so far, it seems that this version is another evolutionary step forward for ArcGIS - bug fixes, some new features and better end user experience. Hopefully, I'll be using it soon and will post more on my experiences with it. I'm looking forward to ArcIMS 9.2, ArcSDE 9.2 and ArcGIS Server 9.2; the former 2 are the products I'm mostly using now but I'll like very much to start working with ArcGIS Server since I've been hearing it'll make ArcIMS obsolete sometime in the future.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An overview of SPRING

SPRING is a state-of-the-art GIS and remote sensing image processing system with an object-oriented data model which provides for the integration of raster and vector data representations in a single environment. SPRING is a product of Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE/DPI (Image Processing Division) with assistance from other natural resource agencies within Brazil.

It supports both raster and vector data geometries and integration of remote sensing data into a GIS, with functions for image processing, digital terrain modelling, spatial analysis and data base query and manipulation.

SPRING is free and may be downloaded from the INPE website; new versions with improvements and corrections are released periodically.

During the just concluded ACTO/Pan-Amazonian II Seminar held at INPE, SPRING was used to identify deforested areas within the South American Amazon. Countries from the South American continent were invitied to share the experience of using SPRING and a complement of free remote sensing data courtesy of the Brazilian/Chinese Government, as a monitoring tool for the Amazon Land Cover. Proceedings and other information of the Pan-Amazonian II Seminar can be found at

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Notes from Atlantis 2

From URISA 2006
The URISA 2006 Caribbean GIS Conference is steadily en route to meeting/ exceeding expectation. A full summary will be posted soon, however it must be mentioned that the opening ceremony produced a pleasant surprise - from the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, who spoke with commanding knowledge of the importance of GIS to the success of the Bahamas as a country, and for the Caribbean region as well.

Speaking with only minor references to notes for facts and figures, the Prime Minister - a trained lawyer - eloquently "argued the case" for GIS and distinguished himself in an auditorium of GIS specialists and practitioners, and probably amongst his own peers in the region as well, with his confident and well-informed grasp of the technology and its application to planning and economic development. The historical record here, here and here should have hinted of this; nonetheless, a pleasant surprise Mr. Prime Minister.