Using Open Source GIS

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This is one of the three books identified by the Education and Curriculum Committee that should be written. The other books are Developing Geospatial Solutions using Open Source and Developing Web Mapping Solutions Using Open Source.

Approach for writing this book

Using the application categories from we'll gather problems or use cases, maybe divide them into subproblems, and describe how they can be solved using the free tools.

The tools are GUI applications and, to a lesser degree, command line tools.

These are the categories. This book is about "how do I realize that I have ended up in a situation where software, a GIS tool, is useful, and how do I then take advantage of the tool to solve my problem?".

Question: who might I be?

  • Somebody with a new gadget X (GPS,...)
  • Civil servant having to plan something spatial
  • Business analyst thinking about locations of shops and

Describe these situations: possible situations are:

  • somebody/something gives me a bunch of data, which I need to convert into
    • something else (but a bunch of data)
    • a map or a visualization or a document for human purpose in general
  • I have a bunch of data and I want to
    • edit it because I know there are errors or things missing
  • I need to find data for a specific purpose

What does "taking advantage" comprise: download, install, set up, work

  • Misc/Fun
  • Visualisation
  • Interactive Viewing
  • Web Mapping
  • File-Format-Conversion
  • GPS
  • Base GIS
  • Projection-Conversion
  • Remote Sensing
  • Customizable with Add-ons
  • Flights
  • SDI Management
  • Mobile Geocomputing

Editing geospatial data

  • Problem: Editing shapefile
    • Subproblem: Add or delete a feature
    • A solution:
    • Subproblem: Change the location of the vertices
    • A solution:
    • Subproblem: Edit attribute data
    • A solution:
    • Subproblem: Alter the schema (add or delete fields)
    • A solution:


  • Problem: Compute the total area of polygons in a dataset