Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Looking at data in open-source QGIS

I decided to play around a bit with the free, open-source GIS software Quantam GIS (QGIS). QGIS is able to display many different types of raster and vector data, including some ArcGIS formats. It also integrates with the open-source Geographic Resource Analysis Support System (GRASS) to provide a lot of the data analysis and modeling tools you would find in the Arc Toolbox. QGIS is pretty easy to use, though somethings are certainly harder to do than in Arc. In order to add any polygons, lines, text annotation, etc., they must be digitized on a separate vector layer. The graticule plug-in also creates a new vector layer, which I found somewhat difficult to work with. So far it seems that QGIS might be great for initial visualizing and working with data, but not for final map/chart production. I have not tested out any of the GRASS features yet.

Here is what QGIS looks like up and running on Mac, with NOAA chart 13283 and some multibeam data displayed:

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