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.
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Package Name GRASS GIS Version 6.2, Oct. 31, 2006.
Source Organization Baylor University
Source Website http://grass.baylor.edu/
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.
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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 http://mapserver.gis.umn.edu/
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.
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Package Name QuantumGIS
Source Organization All-Volunteer Group
Source Website http://www.qgis.org/
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.
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Package Name JUMP GIS
Source Organization Vivid Solutions Inc., 2002.
Source Website http://jump-project.org/
OS Platform Independent
Features Full geometry and attribute editing, extensible GIS programming
environment.
Community Growing.
Notes See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenJump

PostGIS is an open source GIS that adds support for geographic objects to the PostgreSQL object-relational database.
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Package Name PostGIS
Source Organization Refractions Research
Source Website http://postgis.refractions.net/
OS Cross Platform
Features Coordinate transformation, data validation.
Notes See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PostGIS

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