Free Software, Free Knowledge, Free Humanity: National Conference on Free Software15 – 16 Nov 2008, CUSAT, Cochin, India
the end of the Army's support for GRASS, its team was disbanded, never to work togetheragain on GRASS. Thus commercial interests of the suppliers drove the demise of GRASS.But 1999 GRASS had a sort of revival with the intervention of Mitasova (USA) and Neteler(Germany). GRASS now again has a large user and developer group. It supports 2Draster/voxel display and analysis, 2D/3D vector editing, vector network analysis andimage processing. The capabilities are comparable to that of ArcInfo. GRASS finds usemostly in research and academia in environmental analysis, fire management,hydrological analysis and geological mapping. Still, many people unaccustomed toUNIX/LINUX find its UNIX heritage discomfiting. Also there was no Windows version ofGRASS, requiring Cygwin to emulate Windows under UNIX (with v6.3.0 a native Windowsversion has been released) (Mitasova and Neteler 2004). But tutorials on GRASSinstallation have always existed on the net (Pradeepkumar 2003).GRASS had quite a few mirror sites from which it could be downloaded and theBaylor University was a defacto location. Indian involvement cam elate, with a mirror sitehosted by the Center for Ecological Sciences, at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalorein 2003. GIS analysis on GRASS currently is done in few places in India like IISc, NIC,IIITMK-Trivandrum, IRTC-Mundur-Kerala etc.
QGIS – Quantum GIS
QGIS development started in 2002 with the aim of giving Linuxsystems an efficient GIS data viewer. But QGIS turned out as a GUI for GRASS. QGISworks on Windows, MacOS, Linux and can handle raster and vector data, web serversderived data. It is programmed in C++, with GUI on the Qt4 library. QGIS extensions are inC++ and Python.
uDig – user-friendly Desktop GIS
uDig (Refractions Research Inc. Canada, 2004) aims atcapability for viewing and editing directly in databases and over the web. PostGIS forPostgreSQL database is also by the same company. uDig is under JAVA-Eclipse platformand has both vector and raster capabilities. uDig's jGRASS team aims at bringing GRASSfunctionality JAVA based programs and upgrade GRASS to production environment, thusmaking it competitive with ArcGIS. The user and developer documentation of uDig, QGISand GRASS are very good.
gvSIG - Generalitat Valenciana, Sistema d'Informaci Geogràfica
This Spanish project(2003) with European Union funding and active collaboration of researchers from allEuropean nations, including Germany and the company IVER S.A. of Spain is the largestproject in GIS these days. gvSIG was initiated by Regional Council for Infrastructure andTransportation of Valencia province of Spain in response to the municipality’s decision tobecome completely FOSS-based. It thus needs to have all the functionality of ArcView. Ithas a simple GUI and very good user documentation. Raster, vector analysis is possibleand database connectors are available. gvSIG is JAVA-based. ArcView's capabilities aresometimes overtaken by gvSIG. C++ and JAVA libraries like GDAL-OGR and GeoTools areused, but such library dependencies are difficult to assess and to do customisedprogramming (Alfaro and Rico 2003; gvSIG, 2006).In India one of the first introductions to gvSIG took place in the WebGIS workshopat IIITMK-Trivandrum (Oct 28—30, 2008), where Prof Dietrich Schroeder of the StutthartUniversity of Applied Sciences, Germany used it to demonstrate it spatial analysiscapabilities. The audience found its capabilities inspiring and comparable to or evenbettering those of ArcGIS.
SAGA – System for Automated Geo-Scientific Analysis
Developed in 2001 at theDepartment of Geography, University of Gttingen, Germany for raster analysis. Used for
morphometric analysis and visualisation, and soil mapping. It is based on C++ with an APIfor customised developments.
ILWIS - Integrated Land and Water Information System
ILWIS and GRASS had similarhistories and are quite robust FOSS GIS. ITC, The Netherlands developed it in the 1980s. Ithas GIS and image processing functionality. Documentation is very good, and is apedagogic tool in many GIS courses. Visual C is the language used, and now ILWIS is