The case for open-source GIS

Logos of Open-source GIS projects

I have nothing against ESRI, they have been innovators in the geospatial software world from the beginning. I got into GIS from a natural resources background and I know that they have supported the conservation community for decades through their conservation grants program and many other ways. Jack Dangermond’s recent donation of $165 million to the Nature Conservancy to purchase one of the last large undeveloped parcels of southern California coastline stirred my heart and made me well up in tears with pride in the GIS community. I am not opposed to companies selling GIS software for profit. I believe in capitalism. I believe that entrepreneurs should be rewarded financially for producing high quality products at a fair price. Continue reading “The case for open-source GIS”

Quick start to spatial databases with QGIS and SpatiaLite

In a recent post, I attempted to answer the question What can a spatial database do for you? That post was a broad overview of the advantages of storing your geospatial data in a spatial database. This post follows up with more specific information on how to get started and step by step instructions on using one type, SpatiaLite, with the popular open source GIS software QGIS. Continue reading “Quick start to spatial databases with QGIS and SpatiaLite”

Why QGIS should be part of everyone’s GIS toolbox

QGIS is an open source desk-top GIS program. It plays the same role as ArcMap in the ESRI ecosystem. QGIS even comes with QGIS Browser, which is similar in function to ArcCatalog. Most GIS analysts in the US learn ArcGIS in college and work for companies that have ArcGIS available. Many people are under the impression that if they have access to ArcGIS, there is no advantage to their company for them to learn QGIS.

I felt the same way for over a decade. Over the past several years I have come to believe that QGIS has many advantages over ArcGIS.  This is true  even for companies that already own ArcGIS licenses. There are some things QGIS does much better. Some things it does much cheaper. And admittedly, there are some things that ArcGIS does better.  The important thing is to understand the differences and when to use QGIS and when to use ArcGIS. Continue reading “Why QGIS should be part of everyone’s GIS toolbox”