Monday, February 28, 2011

Quantum (GIS) Leap

So I'm typing this entry up on the Linux side of a dual-boot laptop, and for the last few months I've been experimenting with GRASS GIS.  At school we exclusively used ArcGIS which is still mostly a Windows-exclusive software suite, although I believe ESRI has been throwing the Linux users a bone or two lately.  The thing is, now that I'm not in school my access to ESRI software has been severely stymied by what might be considered cost-prohibitive software licensing. Thus I decided to experiment with open-source alternatives.
Maybe the Python-based GUI is a world better, but try as I might I can't seem to "jive" with GRASS.  I'm trying to break away from my dependence on GUI software and have been tinkering with it through the bash shell, but I find that in an inherently visual field like GIS, a GUI is amazingly beneficial.
So today I finally said "screw it, I'm trying QuantumGIS."
I'm so happy I did. I can just drop layers upon layers upon the screen, and they show up instantly! No turning on "monitors," which sounds somewhat archaic despite the growing trend of multi-monitor displays.  And guess what? QuantumGIS doesn't care if those layers have completely different projections! (even if I do)
I will be off to the interwebs to pilfer some free and informative geodata. Maybe I will be able to conjure up some cool maps to post!

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