2011 GIS Smackdown

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2011 Open Source Smackdown

GIS In Action March 29, 2011. PSU. 10:30-noon.

Catalog Description

Presenters: David Percy, Darrell Fuhriman, Christian Schumann-Curtis

Open Source GIS software has proven to be reliable, fast, and cartographically pleasing on the WWW, however it has lagged behind commercial systems on the desktop. In this session we will highlight the capabilities of some of the leading, most feature-rich, desktop applications in the open source ecosystem. These will include, but are not limited to, Quantum GIS, gvSig, ILWIS, and MapWindow.

Audience Notes

The goals of the panel were to present on Open Source GIS software that could do analysis at at least an ArcView 3 level.

Open Jump

Percy decided not to present on MapWindow due to it not doing a data join, which is important when working with Census data. Instead, he presented on Open Jump.

  • He commented that it loads shapefiles, but only after you tell it to look for them, as the software defaults to look for .gml files.
  • It can join shapefiles to .txt files.
  • Open Jump does not like large files. For instance, it will crash on RLIS taxlots. One work around is to change the computer's memory cache.
  • It does not do on the fly projections.
  • It can run a generalize operation on polygons to reduce verticies to make shapes more web friendly. Percy thinks it does this better than ArcGIS does, as Open Jump does not leave spaces between areas.
  • Percy's powerpoint presentation

Overall, Percy believed Open Jump will "out geek" most users and does not pass the Arc 3.3 test. As a result, Percy didn't exactly allow the audience to vote on this software.

Quantum GIS

This software was presented on by Christian.

  • QGIS will do on the fly projections
  • He demonstrated how to select by attribute
  • He performed a buffer.
  • QGIS can run a "definition" query that kind of works like select when other analysis tools are being run.
  • Under geometry tools, it can do a generalization for the web.
  • QGIS does intersect.
  • QGIS has an IRC and good forums to answer questions.


Darrell was the last to present, demonstrating gvSig, which was developed by the City of Valencia, Spain. It is recommended to use the "Oxford Archeology" version for its English use.

  • gvSig does projections
  • It has a search tool to find tools to use.
  • It can generalize and preserve shapefiles.
  • It can create and run models.
  • It has networking tools.
  • One frustration is that some tools are not found in menus, as they only have buttons to run them.
  • Be aware that it has "pop unders," where windows open underneath already open windows and can be hidden from the viewer.

Results of the Smackdown

The audience seemed to like gvSig the best.

Return to PDX-OSGEO 2011 GIS in Action/Unconference .