November 14, 2019


GIS is "Geographic information systems". It is hard to find a really good definition. If you are dealing with data and concerned about where it is located (spatial aspects of the data), you are dealing with GIS.

The big dog in the GIS business is ArcGIS, which is a commercial product from ESRI. I am a private individual, without the budget for this, so I am looking at alternatives.

"Grass" GIS has caught my attention for the time being. I also hear good things about QGIS, but a fellow has to start with some one thing, so I chose Grass.

Grass versus Qgis

Grass is older. Is this bad or good? Since Grass dates from pre 1990, it may be as crusty and as weird as things like IRAF. As a single litmus test, searches on "import PDF into grass" yield nothing useful, whereas the same search on Qgis yields a lot of valuable information. The fact that there is active discussion of importing a PDF file in the Qgis context and not at all with Grass is a strong indication that there is an active Qgis community and Grass has grown stale and dormant. The first release of Qgis was in 2002, pretty much 20 years after Grass. So it has had almost 20 years to grow and has avoided the ancient early times of Grass.
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