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Free GIS platforms, why are not they popular?

I leave the space open for reflection; The blog reading space is short, so I warn you, we will have to be somewhat simplistic.

When we talk about "Free GIS tools“, two groups of soldiers appear: a large majority that asks the question
... and what are those?
... and there are users of them?

While a minority is located on the other side of the stage, with answers such as:
… I do more without spending money

Here are some reasons why free platforms are not in the fashion of the vast majority of GIS users.

1. The learning curve.
Grass gis In the case of GRASS, To give an example, this tool works with Linux and Windows, which has a API In c good Documented, what's wrong with it Tutorials quite complete, after testing it we verify that it does the functions of ARCGis, and several of its extensions that are worth thousands of dollars.

... but who gives you a GRASS course in a Latin American country?

I'm not talking about training for developers, they learn on their own, without the common operators of spatial analysis, image processing, conversion of raster data to vector ... those things that GRASS does very well. Surely imparting a GRASS training should be very easy, barely 24 hours, but the vicious circle that there is very little demand for these courses means that training companies do not schedule conferences on this subject. Let's not say of other free or free programs like gvSIG, Spring, Saga or Jump that are less known.

So the fact that the learning curve is very widespread makes users expensive ... in the same way that Linux is free, but a well-supported RedHat service costs a lot of money.

Gis esri

2. It is easier to hack than to learn
It is clear that ESRI and AutoDesk are popular because piracy has given them a hand… or a hook. Although they are very robust, varied tools and undoubtedly very endorsed by a renowned firm, a micro or small business dedicated to the cartographic area should invest at least $ 48,000 dollars in ESRI products just to start a development department of 5 users (ArcGIS , ARCsde, ARC Editor, ARC IMS… without GIS Server). So open source platforms are a good draw for developers, but ordinary desktop-only operators… will put on an eye patch and spend $ 1,500 online :).

Autocad map 3d

3. It is better to go with the more popular ones than with the best ones.
We see this custom even when spending money, the user knows that Mac is better than PC, that Linux is better than Windows, that some CAD tools are better than AutoCAD; so these platforms that compete like David and Goliath remain in the hands of “select users” who pay similar prices.

While in the competition between the "almost free" and the "expensive", the wall becomes gigantic, more than once I was Taken by gentil, for using Manifold ... although it is not free. So, we use tools that cost $ 4,000 just to stay Geek, although most users don't license software, but companies.

… In conclusion, we see that it is a necessary evil that large companies exist, charging thousands of dollars for a license so that the demand for this technology is sustainable. And it will continue to be another necessary evil, that a group continues to fight from the side of open source, although the vast majority will consider them Nerds.

Golgi Alvarez

Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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5 Comments

  1. Answering a question I was asked by mail:

    GIS running on Apple:
    -QGIS. This is built on C ++
    -gvSIG. Built on Java, somewhat limited on Mac as it runs like a portable version. Its best use is in Linux and Windows
    -Open Jump. On Java, but before this is preferable gvSIG.

    Other options are running on Paralells, which makes Windows applications run on a Mac.

    My recommendations:

    Combine gvSIG with SEXTANTE, for those who are not afraid of Java
    Combine qGIS with GRASS, for those who prefer C ++

    For web development

    GeoServer for Java
    MapServer or MapGuide over C ++

  2. According to Jc. This post is from 2007, at this point we have seen the evolution of the open model, and we all have expectations that its final results will be sustainable.

    a greeting

  3. I think it is a matter of time for the imposition of open source software, what is needed is for a community to develop it.
    In the case of gvSIG, this community is very active and it is expanding at great speed, with training courses in many places and technical support. It is true that for large amounts of information the system slows down and probably ArcGIS or any other proprietary software is better prepared and works much better. But the question is how to organize the data, that is, the implementation of GIS in public administrations and companies is growing, and the tendency is for each producer of information to elaborate their information on their own systems, and then put it into common in data infrastructures, through compliance with standards (WMS, WFS, etc.) with which instead of centralizing data, they are diversified into servers that share information, and for that volume of work, open source software, as gvSIG, written in Java, if it is useful.
    I trust and bet on open source software, because in other types of fields, it is taking away the proprietary software (framework like Drupal, CMS WordPress, elgg, etc.)
    The future lies in the connectivity and integration of all open source software, in the end Richard Stallman will be right.

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