Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

On Getting Considerably More Than You Pay For

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This week I have actually been doing some real GIS work for a change, rather than going to meetings, writing bids, writing reports, fixing computer problems and showing other people how to do stuff. I think this is the first time in approx 2 years that I’ve done this, and I was pathetically excited about the prospect at the beginning of the week.

It has also been an opportunity for me to really put my money where my mouth is, regarding using open source GIS, since last time I did some real analysis it was with the Redlands offerings. So, I loaded up PostgreSQL and PostGIS, and Quantum GIS with the Grass plugin and Shapefile to PostGIS Import Tool (SPIT), and wrangled half a million polygons of historic landscape data into submission (ie merged, dissolved, reclassified, cut, pasted and cleaned).

I have a confession to make. It was easy! It was quick! I hardly had to go near the command line (with the exception of creating indices and merging tables in postgis).  OK, I had a few crashes (mainly python errors in windows) and I had to try a couple of different approaches to get my dissolves and merges to work, but I would expect that with any program dealing with large amounts of data.

I’ve been evangelising about open source GIS for a number of years now, but until now I’ve had to take other people’s word on the performance aspect. It’s always nice to get your own personal confirmation about something (albeit in a totally un-scientific, non benchmark sort of way), and even better, to have it exceed expectations.

So, to all you developers out there- thanks!