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 who ask 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
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 Tutoriales 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 do not speak of training for developers, they learn alone, 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, just about 24 hours, but the vicious circle that there is very little demand for these courses means that companies dedicated to training do not schedule conferences on this subject. Let's not say about other free or free programs like gvSIG,
Running, Saga or Jump that are less known.
So the fact that the learning curve is widespread makes users expensive ... in the same way that Linux is free, but a well supported RedHat service costs a lot of money.
2. It is easier to hack than to learn
It is clear that ESRI and AutoDesk are popular because piracy has lent them a hand ... or a hook. Although they are very robust, varied and undoubtedly very supported tools by a reputable firm, a micro or small company 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 attraction for companies dedicated to developing, but ordinary operators who will only use desktop ... they will put a patch in the eye, and spend $ 1,500 online :).
3. It is better to go with the more popular ones than with the best ones.
We see this custom even when it comes to 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 that these platforms that compete with 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 keep us Geek, although most users don't license software, but companies.
... in conclusion, we see that it is a necessary evil that there are large companies, 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, for a group to continue fighting from the open source side, although the vast majority will consider them Nerds.