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Open Source Geographic Information Systems

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the whereami dept.

Software 189

RGillig writes "The second MapServer Users Meeting and the first ever Open Source GIS Conference was held on June 9th to 11th in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The initial response from the Open Source GIS community is that the conference was a huge success. It was great to have people from private, government, academia, and communities all together discussing how Open Source GIS applies to their needs. Here is a presentation given by Paul Ramsey, Director, Refractions Research Inc. that outlines the current state-of-the-art for Open Source GIS, and includes links and information about all of the current software packages/efforts, etc."

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189 comments

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664142)

AIM 'Showdown Someday' on aol instant messanger for free gmail accounts.

fuck (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664146)

fuck

PS0T (-1, Offtopic)

monkeykong (795812) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664153)

frist ps0t

Re:PS0T (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664172)

Why would you do a first post with a SUBSCRIPTION account?

Re:PS0T (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664257)

YOU FAIL IT! hahahaha you so st00pid! monkeyschlong is teh su><0rs!

Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (5, Funny)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664155)

Isn't it ironic that they have to specify that Ottowa and Ontario is in Canada, when the whole article talks about maps?

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (5, Insightful)

xs650 (741277) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664178)

They realized that many of their geographically challanged friends from south of the border would read the report.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664850)

Spoken like true french canadian scum.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (1)

RayBlume (757791) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664864)

Hahahahahahaha you bonzied idiotosa! What planet you say U were frum?

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664915)

True though, try asking some random person how many states are in Canada some time. The answers will amuse you. For some other easy questions people seem to miss see: About how long does it take for Earth to orbit the sun? How often do we have a leap year? I think MSNBC did a survey with simmilar questions, I was shocked by the results.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664972)

Another good one is: Who is the vice president of the United States. You could stand outsite a grocery store all day asking people questions like that and not find more than maybe 3 of them that could answer 5 of them correctly. Amazingly enough, they still let these people register to vote.

Re: Questions about time and Earth (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665262)

About how long does it take for Earth to orbit the sun?
Or how long, to the nearest minute, does it take for the Earth to complete one rotation about its axis?
Or how long is a day in terms of rotations of the Earth?
Even dictionaries get this wrong [reference.com]:
  • The 24-hour period during which the earth completes one rotation on its axis.
  • time for Earth to make a complete rotation on its axis
These definitions are, of course, incorrect; in 24 hours, the Earth completes approx. 1 + 1/365.25 rotations on its axis, and the time for Earth to make a complete rotation on its axis is slightly less than a day (by about 4 minutes).

(Note to picky people who may wish to discuss sidereal days: I know what sidereal days are.
We are discussing here regular, 24-hour days.
Here is proof that a day is exactly 24 hours long:
$ units
1989 units, 71 prefixes, 32 nonlinear units

You have: 1 day
You want: hours
* 24
/ 0.041666667
You have:
)

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (4, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664244)

I know, its so strange, its not like there's any other Ottawa [ottawa.ks.us] or Ontario [ontario.ca.us] anywhere else in the world. Yep, only ones are in Canada, and while were at it only Americans don't know geography. Any other cliches you want to throw in?

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664251)

I love you.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (4, Insightful)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664336)

It does happen to be our nation's capital. That would tend to make it the default assumption for large meetings like this, rather than smaller places like you mention.

If I say "there's going to be a major convention in London", I would assume London, England - not London, Ontario, Canada - and expect others to assume the same.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (2, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664348)

Never assume anything. A large portion of the Canadian population doesn't know that Ottawa is the capital, Toronto is the first choice of many. Canadians don' know any more about geography then anyone else.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (2, Funny)

Jardine (398197) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664414)

A large portion of the Canadian population doesn't know that Ottawa is the capital, Toronto is the first choice of many.

You seem to have misspelled American. Do you have a source for this statistic?

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664456)

Only personal experience from Social Studies every year in school. I would do a study myself, but it would be restricted to people around here.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664612)

The source is that you are infact a Canadian and getting defensive when the topic is brought up.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664624)

That would tend to make it the default assumption for large meetings like this, rather than smaller places like you mention.

You know what they say about assuming... dont ever assume! It will make an ASS out of U & ME.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664894)

Yeah, like where is Washington? Uhh, I think the capital is Spokane or something...

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665323)

I would assume London, England - not London, Ontario, Canada
Right, like I live near Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
When most people refer to Atlanta, they don't mean Atlanta, New York, USA, which is a tiny village near Naples (that's Naples, New York, USA, not Naples, Italy).

OTOH, "Georgia" is ambiguous enough that you sometimes have to say "Georgia, USA" or "the country Georgia" (or "Georgia, Asia") to distinguish them, at least if you live outside the USA.
(Inside the USA, most people don't even know that there is a country named Georgia.)

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665379)

Yeah, we're all ignorant of world geography here in the US... yuk yuk!

Moronic assumptions and asshats, what's with them?

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665626)

What do you expect from a bunch of foreigners?

Yeah, I've got one (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664378)

In Soviet Russia, the geography doesn't know you!

Re:Yeah, I've got one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664644)

No, you don't have one. Now shut the fuck up.

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (2, Informative)

whiteranger99x (235024) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664597)

Well there IS a City of Ontario [ontario.ca.us] in California, USA

Granted while it a little out of scope, it indeed proves that there IS another Ontario anywhere else in the world :)

Still defensive... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664656)

He's still on the defensive it seems after the fiasco of his honeymoon in "Paris [city-data.com]".

"But honey, I never said France, now did I!"

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664273)

ha ha you got pwn'd!

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664960)

Long curious about the origin of this phrase, I did a google search after reading your post. I came across the story of the p-p-p-powerbook [p-p-p-powerbook.com] and man, that was some funny shit. Thanks for posting your lame-ass leetspeek.

You fool! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664432)

You blew it! You could've made so many funny jokes playing off the potential irony of attending a conference on mapping, instead of just stating the obvious. Examples set heretoforthwith:

"Yeah I was supposed to attend this conference...but I got lost on the way."

"The annoying thing about those GIS guys....they never stop to ask for directions."

"Yeah, well at least with the GIS guys you always know where you stand."

"Hey, did ya see the meeting agenda? It was like,
Opening Remarks: 45d19'23"N, 78d52'34"W
Workshops: 45d19'27"N, 78d52'29"W
Keynote Speech: 45d19'......"

OK, I didn't say they'd be good jokes, but they don't really have to be on /. ...

(Who's the geek who can tell me who to get /. to print a goddamn degree sign..won't print html special chars...)

Re:You fool! (1)

mnewton32 (613590) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664679)

hell, it won't even print a pound sign for the poor british folks. and look, it stripped all the capital letters out of my post!

Re:Where is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada? (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664884)

Isn't it ironic that they have to specify that Ottowa and Ontario is in Canada, when the whole article talks about maps?

No. It's not.

This is a good idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664174)

New users have often been confused about the exact geography of open source. This may be what linux needs to break through onto the desktop.

I tried to go to that (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664177)

Couldn't find the damn place though.

open source GIS (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664179)

So when is GIS going to be tied into the internet so when I search for a pizza joint the first result won't be a place that's 300 miles away?

Re:open source GIS (3, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664248)

I'd suggest sailing your ship a little closer to the coastline first... there aren't very many places that deliver pizza to ships in international waters 285 miles away from the nearest land mass. :)

Re:open source GIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664255)

Have you not tried local.google.com [google.com]?

[Or yahoo's yellow pages, for that matter.]

Re:open source GIS (1)

kelk1 (660671) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665445)

That is actually a good question, but difficult to implement. Google is getting closer with that local thing [google.com]. I also read that some people were taking pictures of the streets and geo-reference them (forgot where). You could virtually check how a street or a whole town looks like.

Area 51 (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664186)

This place does not exist. The US government will send in the Feds and CIA to bust you if you print this on your map!

It happened when? (3, Interesting)

rikkards (98006) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664208)

I live in Ottawa and never heard about it. Hmm. Maybe it was due to the fact that the two big summer events that anyone talked about here were the Hope beach volleyball tournament (today) and Bluesfest (which started yesterday).

Re:It happened when? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664270)

You forgot about the annual ribfest. Probably the best in North America. Also, watching the Senators lose to the Maple Leafs every year in the Stanley Cup playoffs is also great!!!

Re:It happened when? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664345)

The only thing stupider than yankees talking about ribs and blues,
is Canadians talking about ribs and blues.

opensource GIS predates Linux... (5, Informative)

prof_peabody (741865) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664234)

Many of you may have forgotten that GMT (generic mapping tool) is open source and predates linux. I'm glad to see more opensource work in the GIS field, as many companies charge bundles of cash for very basic GIS software.

This is good stuff (5, Informative)

goatstuffer (794548) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664239)

Outside of the end-user type applications (ESRI's ArcGIS and co.), open source in GIS is quite widespread.

Refractions Research maintains the PostGIS module for PostgreSQL, and while it is not yet complete (fix the ACROSS function guys!) it certainly makes the wrangling of data much easier as it implements the OpenGIS SQL specification.

Compare this to the old days of a dozen different formats which weren't convertable, it's much nicer with GML (Geographic Markup Language) and standard representations of geographic features made possible by the find folks involved in the OpenGIS consortium.

Props to the team at the University of Minnesota for MapServer, it's made my life a whole lot easier.

Texas Mesonet (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664340)

I did a lot of work with MapServer and GIS data at Texas A&M for a part-time job I had my last semester (this has been close to 2 years ago now). Check out the Texas Mesonet project at:

http://mesonet.tamu.edu/ [tamu.edu]

Click on Current Weather to see the MapServer-based map I helped create initially. It's all built with open-source software and (I think) freely available data from the national weather service. It's amazing how much data you get, and how easily it can be handled by one little machine in a windowless office somewhere (until it's slashdotted of course).

Refractions Research = excellend support (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664419)

Just want to say that Refractions Research's postgis mailinglist is one of the best customer support experiences I've ever had. A prototype of one of our future products (crime mapping software) is based on PostGIS, and 4am the night before a customer demo we were having some problems (postgres optimizer on geom indexes).

By 4:30 AM we had exchanged about 3 emails each way, fixed all the problems and had a great demo. If we land the client, we're hiring them.

Re:This is good stuff (3, Informative)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664769)

Indeed. I was glad to read of JUMP in this report because I was looking for something along the lines of ARCView for occasional use and had been very frustrated with GRASS. GRASS may be extremely powerful and flexible for geographers etc, but for occasional analysis (by non-experts) it really sucks. JUMP looks to be just the ticket.

I guess I'll know a little while once the download completes.

Danger, Will Robinson! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664308)

Just don't try to use MapServer unless you have a dedicated system on which you can have a modified PHP, modified PostgreSQL, and modified Apache. Probably other things.

doc file? (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664355)

Anyone else have a clue why information about an open source anything would be in a proprietary MS format?

Re:doc file? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664653)

Because open source anything doesn't imply open source everything so don't assume that it does.

Re:doc file? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665034)

"The State of Open Source GIS"

Gee and here I thought this headline (of the document) indicated this document was ENTIRELY about OSS.

Re:doc file? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664790)

What are you complaining about? open office reads docs just fine.

Re:doc file? (2, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665045)

That's hardly the point is it?

It's not exactly much of an endorsement for OSS if you use proprietary formats to distribute that endorsement.

I really wish people would stop pretending that simply because openoffice reads docs is some valid justification for using the format. For one, there is nothing you can put in a doc you can't put in an open format, and most of what is put in a doc should be put in an rtf or txt file.

For another, there is no guarantee MS won't change the doc format tomorrow, which is the entire point of NOT using their formats.

Re:doc file? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665386)

Good grief, quit your idiotic whining. It's a format tons of people choose just to get it to a widespread audience with a minimum of hassle.

Ideological fanatics irritate the hell out of me, they just can't help but read volumes into meaningless trivia...

You don't have a clue (1)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665341)

> Anyone else have a clue why information about an open source anything would be in a proprietary MS format?

Yes - the reason is that OSS fanatics like you fill the Internet touting how good OpenOffice is (including reading proprietary formats) and yet when someone uses the format you bitch about it anyway.

I suppose the politically correct way would be to spend more time time to create the same goddamn thing using OO or perhaps write everything by hand, scan it and save as PNG.
Hence the term "open sores".

(To those who will mod me down: go ahead. I have OO installed on all my Windows client systems. There's nothing wrong with the software itself but the way these Red Guards promote it does make a lot of people sick.)

Re:You don't have a clue (0, Troll)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665476)

"I suppose the politically correct way would be to spend more time time to create the same goddamn thing using OO"

Exactly what part would take longer to make in OO? Unless perhaps your used to the menu's in MS office (which are by no means intuitive).

And yes, it makes perfect sense to me that you'd write promote open software in an open format.

Believe it or not, the open source software you use, like OO. Actually wasn't written and worked on so that leeches such as yourself could get a free ride and then bitch about the people who write the software at every opportunity (while still enjoying your free ride I might add).

So get off your ass and contribute something back. Or take option B and keep leeching off the sweat and blood of others. But if you choose option A rather than B please do us all a favor and STFU because we volunteered to write some software you can use, we didn't volunteer to hear you whine.

It's not "fanaticism" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665533)

Agreed, it really isn't the point of this thread, but proprietary file formats really are a problem, and a major way in which Microsoft (as an example) tries to lock in their customers.

I don't think it would have taken any longer to have written it in OOo - afaik, maybe it was written in OOo, and the author saved it as a .doc file so that Windows users would know how to open it. Anyway, I think everyone who cares about freedom and open standards should consistently and politely recommend open file formats for all public communications.

Programmers' tools, not finished applications (5, Insightful)

isdnip (49656) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664368)

The "briefing" has a good collection of pointers to open-source applications out there. But as a fan of the commercial Windows GIS product MapInfo, I am frustrated by the lack of an open source alternative, and by the lack of comparable tools for Linux. GRASS is pretty powerful, but it's not something anybody can just start using; it's more like something a Unix GIS professional (difficult but powerful systems like ESRIs) would find interesting.

This note from the briefing is most telling:

Note: The saturated commercial market for cartography tools, the high level of effort to achieve a usable tools, and the appeal of other cutting edge projects have combined to deter any active development on user-friendly paper map production tools. As with the OpenOffice experience in Linux, it would probably require a dedicated multi-year funded project to produce a core product with sufficient technical mass that an open source community could reasonably continue with enhancements and support.

In other words, don't expect to find a complete open source end-user application within your lifetime.

This is, alas, common in the open source world. Everybody does their own toolkit that does 90% of what other toolkits do, adds 10% of its own, and assumes that the user is a person who gets their jollies from writing code, not actually using the application with production data.

Re:Programmers' tools, not finished applications (3, Insightful)

Frank Warmerdam (18907) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664517)

> In other words, don't expect to find a complete
> open source end-user application within your
> lifetime.

The comment you quoted addresses the specific topic of cartographic map generation suitable for printing. I don't see any reason that several of the existing projects can't include respectible map production suitable for most GIS end users.

Furthermore, as noted, a serious cartographic production system could be implemented within a couple of years given an appropriate project to drive it.

> This is, alas, common in the open source world.
> Everybody does their own toolkit that does 90%
> of what other toolkits do, adds 10% of its own,
> and assumes that the user is a person who gets
> their jollies from writing code, not actually
> using the application with production data.

Frankly, the report indicates that there is a great deal of sharing of supporting toolkits between the end user applications of various kinds. I think the open source world is much less to duplication of effort than the proprietary software world.

Also, many of the required applications do not require the end user to write code to do work.

There is still some way to go before any of the software packages is across-the-board competative with software offerings from ESRI or MapInfo but I would like to think that for end-user applications for much typical GIS work is coming together now. And many specific tasks are already filled better by open source tools in in this space, than by commercial tools.

In short, I feel your claim these are programmers tools, and not finished applications is unfair though I will conceed that none of these applications (with the possible exception of GRASS which has some ease of use issues) has as large a feature set as the major proprietary packages.

Re:Programmers' tools, not finished applications (2, Interesting)

geodude (513314) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664579)

There are a number of recent efforts in the exploratory spatial data analysis real that attempt to deliver on the "end user" side of things, for example:

Geoda http://sal.agecon.uiuc.edu/geoda_main.php

STARS http://stars-py.sf.net

Choro http://choroware.sourceforge.net/

Re:Programmers' tools, not finished applications (2, Informative)

SendBot (29932) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664697)

I use MapInfo at work, and was toying with a custom alternative using SVG output of the image_gis php module. More info here [appelsiini.net]

I didn't get very far as the documentation is pretty light, and I have a hard time coming up with info in the Arcinfo/E00 format or finding a decent converter.

Re:Programmers' tools, not finished applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665397)

This is, alas, common in the open source world. Everybody does their own toolkit that does 90% of what other toolkits do, adds 10% of its own, and assumes that the user is a person who gets their jollies from writing code, not actually using the application with production data.

There isn't anything quite like generalizing something to death and then using meaningless statistics just pulled out of the air to make an ideological argument...

"Facts? I don't need no stinkin' facts, this makes my argument and sounds like I know what I'm talking about!"

*sighs*

Re:Programmers' tools, not finished applications (2, Interesting)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665442)

GRASS is pretty powerful, but it's not something anybody can just start using; it's more like something a Unix GIS professional (difficult but powerful systems like ESRIs) would find interesting.

That's very interesting! I was wondering if you could give me some advice...?

This is the situatation: I'm looking at GIS now, as I need to expand my skills, and only solutions running on Linux will come under consideration. Furthermore, I wouldn't trust systems where I can't inspect the source code. It doesn't need to be free as in speech, but the source code must be available.

I've looked at GRASS, since it is in Debian. It segfaulted on me when I tried to load a data set, so I didn't get very far. It did indeed look rather hard to use, but since I am a long time UNIX user, and can do some hacking myself, perhaps it is for me anyway...? I'm also a long-time R user (I love that system), and the two are supposed to work well together.

So, what you're saying is that GRASS is a powerful system, but has a steep learning curve?

That's quite OK by me... But does it flatten some time? That is, is it designed so that when you've grokked the fundamentals, you can pretty much do anything?

I think what I'll do the most is to create topographic maps from DEMs. Then, I may do some tracings of LANDSAT or ASTER data, to add some rivers, glaciers and stuff like that. How hard would this be?

Its good, but not the complete picture (4, Interesting)

PierceLabs (549351) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664383)

What we need are good royalty and free-use datasets that allow open source products to actually be able to do high resolution GIS queries. Without a large volume of free data, having an open source GIS system isn't enough.

It's out there. (5, Interesting)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664534)

As an undergrad researcher currently doin a heavily GIS-intensive project, i have to say the data is out there. In the US, the USGS provides multitudes of data for free, as does the EPA (the BASINS dataset is HUGE and completely free). Granted, it's hard as fuck to track down if you don't know someone who has already had to sift through the many, many websites out there that hold the data - but it's out there. What needs to be done, I think, is for the community to create some kind of central portal that makes it easy to find, and then download all of the data. THAT would be helpful.

Re:It's out there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664662)

As an undergrad researcher currently doin a heavily GIS-intensive project, i have to say the data is out there... it's hard as fuck to track down if you don't know someone who has already had to sift through the many, many websites out there that hold the data Someone like you? And yet there are no links in your post...

Re:It's out there. (1)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664749)

heh. I do my work on campus in my office there. Today being saturday, and it being night time, i'm not on campus in my office, and thus do not have the links on hand. Google for USGS DEM and you'll find plenty of starting points.

We have plenty of 'free' data... (5, Informative)

jim_deane (63059) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664560)

There is a /ton/ of 'free' GIS data available on the internet.

I say 'free' because in reality the US taxpayers have paid for it, but take a look at things like:

Kansas DASC [ukans.edu],

Census Bureau TIGER data [census.gov],

collection sites like Geo Community [geocomm.com],

and an almost limitless number of other sites. Most states now have GIS sites of one form or another, with downloadable data.

Jim Deane

What about the rest of the world? (2, Insightful)

buchanmilne (258619) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665187)

Sure, the US has a lot of free GIS data, but maybe you've heard that there people who live outside the US? And, maybe they also prefer free software, open formats and more available data?

Re:What about the rest of the world? (3, Interesting)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665339)

There is at least the SRTM-3 data set [nasa.gov]. It is an excellent data set covering most of the landmass between 60 N and 58 S (which, unfortunately just barely includes me...). It has a spatial resolution of about 90 meters and an elevation resolution of about 15 meters.

It's in a simple binary matrix, easy enough to hack up something to import it whereever you want.

Re:We have plenty of 'free' data... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665245)

This is true, and for once the US has taken the lead in free data.

It is ironic that in Canada, where GIS was pioneered, they charge what can be consitered outrageous amounts of money for high-quality data. The situation is similar in the UK.

The fight continues, although there are some here in Canada which understand the benefits of making the data freely available, for instance the City of Prince George [pg.bc.ca] is one that I know offhand.

open source? (4, Funny)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664405)

Name : 2004-05-OSS-Briefing.doc

These "open source GIS" people need to learn a few things about "open source software." Presentation in Microsoft Word format? Faux pas!!

Irony strikes (1, Redundant)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664431)

As the sys admin for a GIS lab, I was curious and clicked the link, only to be amused to see:

2004-05-OSS-Briefing.doc

Heh, funny.

Here's Hoping (5, Informative)

Nilmat (626701) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664442)

Back in the summer of 2001 I used GRASS [grass.itc.it] pretty extensively. At the time, it could do a lot of the same stuff as ArcView and ArcGIS but was vastly clunkier in doing it. Think Gimp vs. Photoshop a few years ago. I'm glad to see that open source GIS lives on, since a workable alternative to ArcGIS is absolutely essential for those of us in academia. In fact, I've given up on ArcGIS and still use ArcView because I can't stand the damn thing. It also doesn't help that you can't run ArcGIS under anything OS but Windows, since its all written in VB. I've even tried to run ArcGIS under Windows via VMWare, but it doesn't recognize the necessary hardware key. Enough with rant there, but in any case I guess I'm just hoping that one of these open source alternatives will be viable in the near future.

Not true. (1)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664566)

ArcGIS runs in windows, linux, AIX, HP-UX and solaris. There's some functionality difference in ArcView once you enter the *nix/UNIX world, but it does exist.

check it out [esri.com]

It seems they might have changed things in version 9, but i'm not totally sure. Either way, i don't like the product.

Re:Not true. (1)

homesteader (585925) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665011)

Just recently looked at version 9, still ships for at least Linux HP-UX and Solaris, can't remember if I saw AIX there.

Re:Not true. (1)

Nilmat (626701) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665027)

Must be new for version 9. I gave up on it after version 8.something. Regardless, I don't think I'll go looking for it unless I can't avoid using it.

Re:Not true. (1)

Nilmat (626701) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665074)

Actually, after my last post I took the time to explore the ESRI website as you suggested. Please let me know if I'm mistaken, but it looks like the server products (ie ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS, etc.) run under various *nixes but the desktop products (ArcExplorer, etc.) do not. AV 3.x, of course, runs on a variety of platforms as does ArcInfo 7.x.

Re:Here's Hoping (1)

SsShane (754647) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665500)

Some ESRI rep told me they were porting ArcGIS to Unix/Linux. I think ArcGIS blows Arcview 3.x out of the water, by the way. In my opinion, open source GIS has a long way to go but I am happy that it exists in the first place. GRASS can do some stuff that ArcGIS can't such as compute aspects and such. Sure I have to go through the equivalent of sticking a hot iron in my eye but it's cheaper than the ~$2500 pricetag ESRI asks us for for the same functionality.

This would be a good thing for WiGLE (3, Insightful)

ONU CS Geek (323473) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664443)

I use and upload information into WiGLE (wigle.net), and having information like this would do wonders in having accuracy in mapping and plotting. There ahve been times where I've plotted information, but the information from Tiger isn't up to date, so my plots don't look like they're on roads.

Now, if we could only work on GPS accuracy. Sure, 21 feet is 21 feet, but, still...I'd love to be able to wardrive and know exactly where something is at. (Yes, for the subtle, I know that 21 feet doesn't make much of a difference with a Wi-Fi point, but, being able to accurately identify where a point is would be nice. Instead of knowing where on Randall Road something is, it'd be the bomb if we could pick up something like 4033 Randall Road from the GPS Coordinates.)

Maybe I'm just dreaming, or had one too many to drink on a Saturday night.

Re:This would be a good thing for WiGLE (1)

SsShane (754647) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665515)

What's WiGLE? wigle.net is dead on my end. Anyhow, if you spend the money, you can get GPS accuracy to within one centimeter according to the many consultants that court us. We currently use a Leica unit that talks to Coast Guard base stations on the fly which is called Real Time Kinematics or something that gives you sub-meter accuracy. To get the one centimeter accuracy you need to subscrbe to a serice that's only ~$700/mo, rougly ;) The accuracy in GPS lately has licensed surveyors in a bit of a tiff by some articles I have read. The word "flim-flam artist" comes up a lot.

I wouldn't trust an open source mapping system.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664451)

because I expect that where Redmond, WA is, the map shows a giant lake. :)

Re:I wouldn't trust an open source mapping system. (1)

csbruce (39509) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664655)

because I expect that where Redmond, WA is, the map shows a giant lake. :)

I would expect a giant glass-lined crater.

Re:I wouldn't trust an open source mapping system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665029)

More like a vacumm and a mud pit.

A doc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664508)

What a load of bs, someone does a paper about opensource software in a propritory format. Takes away a lot of that persons credibility, dosn't it.

Re:A doc (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665329)

I think it shows that Open Source is big enough not to worry about petty issues like demanding reliance on our own formats.

Just about every OSS word processor out there can read MS .DOC files, so it's not like they're causing us any hardship by using a format that's as common us muck, and not directly related to their field.

Data, not programs (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664595)

right now, what Canada needs is free access to high-quality current GIS data. The US has Tiger, we have nothing similar.
It's all controlled by municipalities. Toronto wants a small
fortune for copies of TAXPAYER paid-for data.

Re:Data, not programs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665240)

Take a look at this, it has most of the canadian road network available for free (as in speech): http://www.geobase.ca [geobase.ca]

GRASS COMPLETE! (1, Offtopic)

atheken (621980) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664617)

Well, I own a mac, so anything GIS that runs on it, I am happy with I just found GRASS Complete (like "Gimp.app") Anybody have a lot of experience with it and willing to "tutor me"?

Re:GRASS COMPLETE! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664809)

Per Swenson is writing a tutorial but it is incomplete.
You can find the draft here. [retropay.com]

Well, it's not open source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665214)

...But you can check out Route 66 [66.com]. I've heard mixed reviews...

I am so drunk (-1, Offtopic)

foidulus (743482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9664675)

it doesn't really matter where I am, open source or closed source. I think my best friend hit me because I am so drunk..,. with good reason. I don't want to die, if I don't respond to this email by tomorrow night, telll Yuka I love her, no matter what.

Donald Duck (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9664785)

Donald Duck is going to have a SCREAMING ORGASM when he uses his GPS un1t to tr4ck d0wn daisy duck and touch her hot body.

THERE'S NO DATA!!! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9665325)

For at least 90% of the world, there is no free GIS data at useful resolution. There's free data for most of the US, but not much for the rest of the world.

I'd say free data is the real issue, not free software.

Re:THERE'S NO DATA!!! (2)

kelk1 (660671) | more than 9 years ago | (#9665480)

You are so right. I think there are two reasons for that. First, the knowledge of positions has been and is somewhat still considered a military secret. Many mapping agencies (all?) come from a military background, so they are naturally reluctant to reveal the data. Second, they are making loads of green by selling the information to professionals who need them (e.g. surveyors).
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