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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday February 27 2014, @11:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the All-roads-lead-to-where-now? dept.

An Anonymous Coward writes:

"Good news, everyone! A brand-new version of QGIS has been released (changelog). QGIS, a full-featured GPL-licensed GIS program has been under active development for twelve years and is now at version 2.2. Funded by a wide range of organizations, the QGIS project lets users create professional-quality maps that compete well with the output of established proprietary GIS packages like ArcView and MapInfo. Notable features of the program include its support for a wide range of file formats, modular design, map server, web publishing, as well as easy python scripting, and an extensive python plugin library.

For those interested, versions are available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Windows, MacOS X, and Android here."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27 2014, @11:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27 2014, @11:28PM (#8158)
    I'm pretty sure you're not telling everyone "Good news, everyone!" correctly. I'd post the link, but no Youtube access from work.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by duvel on Thursday February 27 2014, @11:33PM

    by duvel (1496) on Thursday February 27 2014, @11:33PM (#8160)
    QGIS is catching up to the level of the commercial packets. Knowing that these packets are very often used in academic circles, where Open Source tends to be quite welcome, this may be a devastating blow to the commercial packets.

    And yet, one has to wonder if QGIS is able to map this: Map of the Internet [xkcd.com]
    --
    This Sig is under surveilance by the NSA
    • (Score: 1) by norite on Friday February 28 2014, @12:08AM

      by norite (3461) on Friday February 28 2014, @12:08AM (#8168)

      Agreed. Companies like ESRI ought to be getting worried; at the very least they should start dropping the price for the products. Why should businesses pay $$$ for an ArcInfo licence when it can be done for free in QGIS?

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday February 28 2014, @12:11AM

      by frojack (1554) on Friday February 28 2014, @12:11AM (#8171) Journal

      I think you mean packages.
      Packets carry data on a network.

      The thing about this field is that it is so labor intensive to, and requires a lot of diverse skills that the cost of the software ends up being a tiny part of the bill.

      Its wonderfully geeky work if you can get it.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 1) by Kromagv0 on Friday February 28 2014, @01:29PM

      by Kromagv0 (1825) on Friday February 28 2014, @01:29PM (#8470) Homepage

      Having played with various open source GIS tools (GRASS, UDig, and QGIS mostly) for my own projects this is welcomed. I have a couple of friends who work in the field and have used ESRI products as well as open source ones and have been told that it has been entirely possible to get by without the commercial package but is less convenient. Well now I will have to download it and give it a try and see what it makes easier.

      --
      T-Shirts and bumper stickers [zazzle.com] to offend someone
  • (Score: 1) by germanbird on Friday February 28 2014, @12:17AM

    by germanbird (2619) on Friday February 28 2014, @12:17AM (#8173)

    As something of a casual map geek, I've always been interested in GIS data and tools. However, every time I've looked into them, I've been somewhat put off by the learning curve (well that and the fact that I don't really have many personal projects involving a lot of geographical data). Anyone know of any basic primers or getting started guides that I might poke at in my free time?

    Also, if I understand things correctly, GIS software is not too useful without a good source of GIS data. Any recommendations for where I might find free GIS data? In the past, I've looked around at some of the government sites, but not had a ton of luck.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @12:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @12:27AM (#8174)

      Natural Earth [naturalearthdata.com] is a great source of data. It's at a large scale, meaning it isn't detailed enough for, say, a city or neighbourhood map. But, for national or provincial/state scale maps, it's very good.

      A very kind fellow has a regularly-updated site with shapefiles (vector data) extrated from Open Street Map; you can get datasets for continents, countries, or provinces, as desired (see here [geofabrik.de]).

      There's lots of free, usually government-funded, GIS data out there. For Canada, look for CanVec data (it's the base data set used for national topogrpahic maps), or search on GeoGratis. Many other countries have their own public GIS data on the web, too.

      Within QGIS, there is a very useful plugin called 'OpenLayers' which allows you to bring in Google/Yahoo/Bing/OSM maps and satellite imagery as raster layers (as an aside, OpenLayers makes QGIS a better Google Maps reader than Google Maps itself).

      And, of course, you can bring in your own GPS data to map places you've been, or trace data based on satellite imagery.

      Have fun!

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by iNaya on Friday February 28 2014, @12:55AM

      by iNaya (176) on Friday February 28 2014, @12:55AM (#8187)

      The learning curve isn't as steep as it may seem at first glance. A basic knowledge of geometry, and ability to learn should be enough. If you had an actual problem to solve with the GIS system, you'd probably learn a lot faster.

      Wikipedia has a list. Not comprehensive, but enough to get started.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_GIS_data_sour ces [wikipedia.org]

      As you would think, many governments have free downloadable data sources.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @01:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @01:52AM (#8200)

      GIS is based on layering georeferenced data, either vector data or raster data.

      Vector data is composed of points, lines, and polygons. Vector files contain one or more elements. Each element can have an arbitrary number of attributes. Attributes are either strings or numbers.

      Vector data can be filtered and displayed based on its attributes. For example, you might have a vector file with strings that represent roads. Each element could have a 'Name' field, a 'Class' field with either "Primary" or "Secondary", and a 'Surface' field with either "Paved" or "Unpaved". You could then filter your data to only show Primary roads, or display Paved and Unpaved roads with different symbols (solid lines and dashed lines, for example), or display the Name of the roads in text on your map.

      Vector data can either be displayed as a simple georeferenced image, or be used as a kind of bitmap. So, a scanned copy of a regular map can be brought into the software as a layer. Or, a georeferenced bitmap of, say, 1m^2 elements representing elevation can be brought in. Again, the software can filter and alter display based on attributes, so that elevation file can be filtered to show everything > 100m in elevation, or colour-code the points with a standard heatmap, for example.

      QGIS lets you create your own vector information and edit existing vector information, as well as perform calculations based on your data, so it can get more advanced, but basically you have program that can layer data like Photoshop and query/filter like a database.

    • (Score: 1) by internetguy on Friday February 28 2014, @03:21AM

      by internetguy (235) on Friday February 28 2014, @03:21AM (#8242)
      GIS is not hard. Just download some data and then import it into QGIS. Just keep in mind that GPS data is all points. Sometimes the point data is connected together to form shapes like Polygons and Lines. Using QGIS you can change the colors of the Points, Lines, and Pologon in the properties panel. There are a variety of buttons for navigating (Zoom in/out) and manipulating the raw data associated with each GPS point. A majority of States and Counties in the United States publish their data on their websites. Check your local city, county, or state GIS department website. The data depot http://data.geocomm.com [geocomm.com] has some files to download but they might be hard to import for a beginner. Searching the web for free GIS data is not hard.
      --
      Sig: I must be new here.
    • (Score: 1) by khakipuce on Friday February 28 2014, @08:29AM

      by khakipuce (233) on Friday February 28 2014, @08:29AM (#8373)

      There are some crowd sourced mapping projects out there doing real work helping with disaster relief and the like, get involved with one of those, I’m sure they will help you get started

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @09:40AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @09:40AM (#8392)

        Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (HOT)

        http://hot.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @09:38AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @09:38AM (#8390)
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Kromagv0 on Friday February 28 2014, @01:57PM

      by Kromagv0 (1825) on Friday February 28 2014, @01:57PM (#8491) Homepage

      My advice is when starting out to stay away from GRASS [osgeo.org] as there are steep learning curves and then there is GRASS. I would suggest starting off with UDig [refractions.net] as it has a fairly low barrier of entry and when using it you will start to learn the correct terms that should help make things easier. As an added bonus they have some sample data and a simple tutorial/walk through available to help you get going. I used it for several years and started running into its limitations. GRASS is verypowerful but the output sucks but it is wonderful for processing input to get what you want and is worth learning. It is what I started using but I wanted to create maps not do detailed analysis on data so I only use it now for cleaning and processing files. I have only recently started using QGIS and so far have been pleased but have found a few annoyances in the previouos version but with a new version I will hold off on judgment, but overall have been more pleased. It does have a higher learning curve than UDig does but is much easier than GRASS.

      As far as data sources to work with when learning I would suggest:

      The minnesota DNR Data Deli [state.mn.us] (personal favorite of mine)

      MN DOT GIS data [state.mn.us]

      The US Census Bureau Tiger data set [census.gov]

      MN GEO clearing house [state.mn.us]
      The US forest service [fs.fed.us] select a forest or grassland which will open in a new window and then click on "Land & Resources Management" and then click on "Geospatial Data" to see what is available. What is available varies greatly from one to another.

      The USGS [usgs.gov] I suggest using the National Atlas [nationalatlas.gov] or National Map [nationalmap.gov] to look for what you want.

      I hope this helps and most of finding out how to do what you want is figuring out what is the correct GIS term to put into google. Also most of the examples I provided are from the state of Minnesota simply because I live there and my main project that I have been working on is in the state. Other states usually have GIS data available through their department of transportation, department of natural resources, or department of wildlife, as well as some counties putting data up on their site for download as well. When using google to look for data the best restults usually come when I use the form:

      [large area name] GIS shape file

      --
      T-Shirts and bumper stickers [zazzle.com] to offend someone
      • (Score: 1) by germanbird on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:35AM

        by germanbird (2619) on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:35AM (#8991)

        Thanks. That is good info. I'll have to poke about some of the state websites and see what kind of data they have available.

    • (Score: 1) by Scruffy on Friday February 28 2014, @05:03PM

      by Scruffy (1087) on Friday February 28 2014, @05:03PM (#8600)

      I found this tutorial [harvard.edu] from Harvard instrumental in learning to use QGIS. It's currently geared towards version 1.7.3 but you should still be able to find your way around.

      My favorite source of geomatic data is GeoBase [geobase.ca] but I am biased, since I live in Canada. ;)

      I also recommend the OpenLayers plugin [qgis.org], which can underlay data from OpenStreetMap, Google or Bing. I used that plus my GPS-enabled smartphone to create field maps for several local farmers for a nominal fee.

      --
      1087 is a lucky prime.
      • (Score: 1) by germanbird on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:30AM

        by germanbird (2619) on Saturday March 01 2014, @06:30AM (#8989)

        I used that plus my GPS-enabled smartphone to create field maps for several local farmers for a nominal fee.

        That is a great idea. I can think of a couple of projects I could probably use this for out on the family farm. That might just be enough to get me started (assuming that I can carve out some time for it). Thanks.

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday February 28 2014, @11:24AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday February 28 2014, @11:24AM (#8420) Journal

    I've been involved with Civic Hacking here in NYC the past couple of years and something like this would be extremely useful to us for big data and visualization applications.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by ramloss on Friday February 28 2014, @03:24PM

    by ramloss (1150) on Friday February 28 2014, @03:24PM (#8539)

    I have followed with interest the development of QGis, in a relatively short time it has become a very good GIS software. The variety of formats it supports is astounding, and it's backed up many government and civil organizations. When compared to ArcGis, which is the de facto standard GIS software, it fares much better than for example The Gimp against Photoshop.
    I think that what has driven its adoption is the use of GIS software by local governments and non-profit organization that usually don't have too much money to expend on software, unlike say Photoshop or AutoCAD which are primarily used by commercial organizations where the cost is easily absorbed.
    Another factor is that commercial GIS packages are much more expensive than the average software, and vendors often try to sell you custom solutions that are even more expensive and just try to set up a server and see how they come up with annual contracts and monthly fees. That leaves out completely the individuals that just want to experiment or learn, and I think that's the reason so many free (in both senses) software has been developed.