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Thread: Free/open source GIS program?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Free/open source GIS program?

    I'm just starting GIS classes and the course is providing us with one year of free ArcGIS. Apparently this quite the pricey program, so I won't be shelling out personal cash to extend the license, but I wonder if there are any decent free GIS programs? Mostly just to fool around and get a feel for GIS outside of what I need to do for classes.

    I saw some online, but I'm unsure as to how good they actually are.

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Most, if not all, are horrible. ESRI has a bear hug on the market... one that Hacksaw Jim Duggan couldn't get out of.

    Open street map is pretty interesting, but I haven't looked into it much...

    http://www.openstreetmap.org/

    The concept is good though. So who knows, hopefully someone will break the market, and ESRI will stop thinking it is acceptable to charge $1.5k for maintenance
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    Most, if not all, are horrible. ESRI has a bear hug on the market... one that Hacksaw Jim Duggan couldn't get out of.

    Open street map is pretty interesting, but I haven't looked into it much...

    http://www.openstreetmap.org/

    The concept is good though. So who knows, hopefully someone will break the market, and ESRI will stop thinking it is acceptable to charge $1.5k for maintenance
    One of the guys in my planning program works for a company that is trying to make a free/opensource gis program, but they're still in the construction stage.

    Yes, apparently my professor said the program was basically a $6k program and my head exploded.

    I'll take a look at what you sent. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ddomin4360 View post
    One of the guys in my planning program works for a company that is trying to make a free/opensource gis program, but they're still in the construction stage.

    Yes, apparently my professor said the program was basically a $6k program and my head exploded.

    I'll take a look at what you sent. Thanks!
    IIRC I've seen this discussion several times on this board. I also seem to recall alternatives in those threads. I have an older version that I still use for some things on an old PC.
    -------
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    If you're good enough at it, you can use R.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian pjhooker's avatar
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    I used ESRI products for several years and now I choose the open source world for reasons of power, sometimes unspoken, of these.
    I am waiting fact that these are expressed, and meanwhile I've found that QGis, can completely replace, the ESRI ArcMap, for Land Use Planning in simple and advanced mode.
    I found many benefits compared to the product of ESRI and in particular the complete connection to PostGIS / Postgres which follows the development of interfaces with PHP and OpenStreetMap / OpenLayers.

    Very interesting and simple.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by manonthemoon View post
    If you're good enough at it, you can use R.
    I frequently use R for advanced statistical analyses in my Ph.D. program. I did not know R was capable of GIS/mapping. Can you tell me more about it?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The basic version of ArcGIS will run $1,500. Extensions vary in price up to $7,500 (if I remember correctly). The basic version will allow you to create maps and perfom a number of functions. But you will likely find you want extensions like network analyst or spatial analyst. I wonder if they offer a student license?
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    +1 for qgis.

    http://www.qgis.org/

  10. #10
    Cyburbian pjhooker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The District View post
    +1 for qgis.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    The basic version of ArcGIS will run $1,500. Extensions vary in price up to $7,500 (if I remember correctly). The basic version will allow you to create maps and perfom a number of functions. But you will likely find you want extensions like network analyst or spatial analyst. I wonder if they offer a student license?
    Yes, they do! I'm running it right now. It's definitely lacking in extensions, but if all you need is mapmaking capability without more complex analyses, the student version is A-OK. The license is good for one year. I would encourage students to check with their departments (or the engineering or geography departments -- or their IT department) for the free disk and license.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Admittedly, I'm better with GIS than R, so I haven't done it myself... but I have seen it done. There are a few different ways of using R in conjunction with some other free stuff.

    Hope this helps.

    http://gislounge.com/making-maps-with-r/

  14. #14
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I found this while looking for something else today...

    http://www.giscorps.org/index.php?op...d=13&Itemid=48
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Thank you guys, this is fantastic stuff.

    I've opted to splurge a bit and update my home system for the gis and design work I'll be doing soon. I look forward to this.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Lots of good suggestions here. Iíll throw in FW Tools because it provides easy, command line access to a bunch of tools for manipulating vector and raster data. If youíre interested in databases, Iíll second Postgres/Postgis. Iíll also suggest SQL Server Express which is free and supports spatial data. Another +1 for qgis, and you may want to look at udig gis, too. Google around, and you can find lots of info, including some good tutorials.

    originally posted by Hink
    Most, if not all, are horrible....
    I agree to a point. On the plus side, Iíve played with this stuff on and off over the last couple of years, and the programs seem to keep improving, and becoming more accessible.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Not to double post, but I came across this article: Game Changer: Open Source Mapping in Windows. Game changer? I'm not sure, but it does seem to fit with this conversation.

  18. #18
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    Accuglobe is also getting easier to use and can be loaded onto others computers easy for sharing projects. http://www.accuglobe.net/

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Have you heard of GRASS?

    http://grass.fbk.eu/

    Haven't used it myself, but several of the graduate students at my school mentioned that it works pretty well.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Ilwis - another option of a free GIS

    Hello,

    besides qGIS also Ilwis is a nice GIS package for free - it comes also with a spatial multicriteria evaluation tool, which is nice for land use planning etc. Ilwis can be downloade for free http://52north.org/communities/ilwis

    Best,
    Monika

  21. #21

    qgis.org: Wroclaw, version 1.7.

    VERY user friendly - especially the "free" part. Except it isn't really free - everyone contributes to the evolotion of the program. Classic "from each according... to each according..."

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Some free GIS data

    Open Street map is great - some more free GIS data - a nice list is given on this website: http://freegisdata.rtwilson.com/

  23. #23
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    Another recommendation for QGIS here. It's very versatile and has an active community. If the base program can't do what you need to do you can usually install a plugin to do it in a few clicks. And if there isn't a plugin yet someone likely has posted some python code you can paste and run into the built-in console. My cheap-ass school taught us GIS on Quantum, but I was quickly able to learn ArcMap when I encountered it in a professional setting.

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