uDig (User-friendly Desktop Internet GIS)
True to it’s name, one of this user friendly desktop GIS application’s strengths is its support of geospatial web service layers (WMS, WFS, WCS, KML).
This relatively new software is produced by a community led by Canadian-based consulting company Refractions Research. With the project’s recent acceptance by LocationTech, the open source licensing was updated. Under this new dual license (EPL and BSD), uDIG is still a free download.
One of the reasons uDIG is generating interest in the Open Source GIS community is that it shares its use of GeoTools with Geoserver.
My experience? uDig is one of those simple programs that opens a little faster than ArcMap. Once open, you can drag and drop a shape file into your uDig map for viewing with Open Street Map as a background. Did I mention it’s free?
In two weeks, Part 5: OpenJUMP…
gvSIG (Generalitat Valenciana, Sistema d’Informació Geogràfica)
In 2004, one of Spain’s regional government agencies, seeing the benefits of community-driven support and development, began a migration to free and open source software to suit their operational needs.
With local and EU government funding, gvSIG saw a lot of professional development from 2004-2008. Since 2009, development has declined.
I admit having a bias for using Quantum GIS (it will be covered later), gvSIG is said to have some innovative qualities worth investigating.
Though I’ll admit having a bias for using Quantum GIS (to be covered later), being aware of a wide variety of software projects is an important part of expanding one’s software toolkit. gvSIG is said to have some innovative qualities worth investigating.
In two weeks, Part 4: uDIG…
GRASS (Geographic Resource Analysis Support System)
Just as every skilled craftsman accumulates a variety of tools for the daily work, GIS professionals continually expand and evolve their software knowledge base.
While ArcGIS users are accustomed to working within the framework of Basic, Standard, and Advanced levels of licensing, open source GIS users gather their tools from a multitude of places. GRASS will be the first of the desktop applications this series will cover.
GRASS is the granddaddy of all open source GIS applications. With roots almost as old as ESRI’s ARC/INFO, it was originally developed by the U.S. Military as a tool for managing military-owned lands in the early 1980s. Today, GRASS’ software development is managed by a multinational team, licensed under the GPL.
GRASS is free, extremely powerful, and contains over 350 programs and tools for managing and analysing data. There is a learning curve for first time use; luckily, not too long ago, GRASS’ coordinator Markus Neteler uploaded this introductory full day workshop with videos. Plenty of supporting documentation is also available on the homepage, and there is a useful book on the subject.
If GRASS’ learning curve isn’t for you, fret not. The other upcoming software applications covered in this series are gui-driven and extremely user-friendly.
Next blog in four weeks, Part 3: gvSIG…
Not all open source licenses are alike.
Whether using Firefox to browse the web or using LibreOffice to type a research paper, we enjoy an ever increasing pool of powerful, free software applications. Far fewer of us are familiar with the licensing that allows us to freely use and share open source software.
To help clarify concepts of open data, open standards, and open source software, ESRI published an article in last summer’s addition of ArcNews, Defining Open.
Some open source licenses allow their code to be distributed with proprietary software, while others do not. One example is Mac OS X, containing portions derived from FreeBSD. Elements of Linux, licensed under the GPL, will not be found on your Mac.
Far from having an “us versus them” mentality towards open source, ESRI is an active member of the Open Source Community. To keep abreast of their efforts, visit esri.com/opensource.
Next blog in two weeks, Part 2: GRASS…
In the world of open source software, one fact is clear. Everyone has different opinions about which software they prefer. Newcomers to open source GIS software are often confused by a seemingly chaotic mix of software applications.
So where do we start learning?
For the newcomers, this is an introduction to a short series of blogs covering the most commonly known open source GIS applications for the desktop, plus a few key concepts. The software is free for anyone to install and is typically user-friendly to those already familiar with ESRI’s ArcGIS. The future topics are listed below.
Part 1: Defining Open – Not All Open Source Licenses are Alike
Part 2: GRASS (Geographic Resource Analysis Support System)
Part 3: gvSIG (Generalitat Valenciana, Sistema d’Informació Geogràfica)
Part 4: uDIG (User-friendly Desktop Internet GIS)
Part 5: Open JUMP (Open Java Unified Mapping Platform)
Part 6: GDAL/OGR - (Geospatial Data Abstraction Library/OGR Simple Features Library)
Part 7: QGIS (Quantum GIS)
Part 8: An Open Source Alternative to the File Geodatabase (Sort of)
Part 9: A Few Notes About Map Projections
Part 10: OSGEO, The Organization
Part 11: Why Learn About Open Source GIS?
In the spirit of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, think of this series as an introductory tour of your local open air market for open source GIS. If anyone has any ideas to contribute, please send me an email!
Next blog in two weeks…
The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) “…was created to support the collaborative development of open source geospatial software, and promote its widespread use…”
Scattered local chapters exist around the globe, and the California Chapter is holding its annual meeting on Saturday, October 13, 2012 in San Jose. The meetings are said to be laid back, and “…presentations (are given) in a relaxed setting…” to talk about open source GIS.
One of their members is Landon Blake, who I have met on a few occations. He is an avid proponent of and contributor to the OpenJUMP GIS project and is a very entertaining speaker at conventions.
“OpenJUMP is an open source Geographic Information System (GIS) written in the Java programming language.” Freely distributed under the GNU GPL license, it is worth exploring as an alternative to ArcGIS (among others like QGIS, GVsig, etc.). OpenJUMP is best known for its user-friendliness and its highly developed set of drawing tools.
ImageMagick (visit the home page or the wiki) is a free, open source software suite, capable of reading and writing over 100 raster image formats. It is sometimes mentioned as an open source GIS software application because GIS users have found ImageMagick very useful for preparing scanned maps for creating seamless raster mosaics.
Instead of being a GUI-based image editor like Adobe Photoshop, ImageMagick is a collection of command line utilities you can run in a DOS or UNIX shell. Powerful scripts can be created that can process several images in a single batch file. A few of us were scanning some very large color maps that needed to be sent via email. After scratching our heads, we used the following ImageMagick script
convert image1.tif +dither -posterize 2 image2.png
To ‘posterize‘ an image is to reduce its file size by eliminating the number of colors. The number 2 is the lowest settting for color reduction. The script above started with a raw uncompressed TIF file image1.tif (our original scan was 400 MB) and created a much smaller file image2.png (1.5 MB). The PNG file format reduces its file size by eliminating unneeded colors.
After cropping and cleaning our PNG in a program like Photoshop, our last step was to write another script to convert the PNG to PDF.
convert image2.png image3.pdf
A great place to begin using Imagemagick is to try some of the numerous example scripts at http://www.imagemagick.org/Usage/. There is also a page for Windows users at http://www.imagemagick.org/Usage/windows/.
To this point, I find QGIS to be the best open source alternative to ESRI’s ArcMap product. So I thought I would pass this along.
Today is a big day for GIS users. QGIS 1.8 is out and about. Check out the new features on their website.
A couple features that I like:
- QGIS Browser which should be very familiar to those who’ve used ArcGIS Catalog.
- DBManager which is now no longer a plugin. I’m a big users of it so this should be very nice.
- New plugin repository! I’m always amazed at how many plugins there are available.
- Microsoft SQL Server support.
- Expression based labeling (YES!)
- support for Zip/GZip layers
I’ve already downloaded mine from KyngChaos.
John Hickok passed this along.
Event: The SoCal URISA Chapter presents an OPEN SOURCE GIS WORKSHOP
Date and Time: Saturday, March 31, 2012, 9:00am-4:00pm
Cost: Free for URISA members! or join for $30 (students $10) Includes all workshop materials, lunch and breaks are included.
Location/Host: Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, 3535 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Map of the Location
See flier for more details.
Link to the code
I wanted to pass this along and send a thank you to Kristen. I would love for someone to create a network dataset for all of LA County – it would be a valuable resource:
I did some researching and found a way where I could acquire roadway data and assemble it into a network dataset for route analysis in ArcMap.
The process mainly involved downloading the Open Street Map data and using the program, “Open Street Map to Network Dataset” (OSM2NDS). Users of OSM’s website are limited in how many nodes that can download from the OSM website at a time. As a work around, I downloaded segments of the entire geography I was interested in, converted the OSM files to network datasets, and then appended the source files of the network datasets into a larger files and rebuilt the network dataset using the specifications of the network datasets created by OSM2NDS.
You can download OSM2NDS at this location:
And the OSM to Network Dataset conversion program is open source.
If you haven’t caught wind of this, feel free to pass this along to your colleagues.