After a long delay, I finally managed to put out a release of Portable GIS version 6 this week. You can find it here: https://portablegis.xyz/post/get, and for details of the software versions see the documentation https://portable-gis-docs.readthedocs.io/user_docs.html#included-software-with-versions.

This new version doesn’t just include later (I’d like to say latest but that would be fibbing) versions of the included software, but also includes a number of enhancements and infrastructure improvements behind the scenes. Firstly, people have been asking (OK one guy asked) for the capability of installing Portable GIS in any directory rather than just the root of a drive. I have been keen to do this for a long time, but it required a review of all the scripts, the installation code, and the menu, and was, quite frankly a bit daunting! Sometimes though, you want to escape your family at Easter for a few hours, so you suddenly find it’s a lot less daunting.

Secondly, I’ve completely overhauled the documentation, which is now all hosted on ReadTheDocs https://portable-gis-docs.readthedocs.io/. This includes full documentation on how to build your own Portable GIS, but also all the user documentation. This has all been updated too. What I love about ReadTheDocs are the commit hooks for most, if not all popular repositories, so when you commit your changes to the source documentation in GitLab or GitHub, the new version gets built automatically.

There’s more cool geeky automated goodness with the website (https://portablegis.xyz) itself. It’s a static site, built in Hugo (https://gohugo.io/) and hosted on GitLab. Certificates are courtesy of LetsEncrypt (https://letsencrypt.org/), and GitLab now allows automation of the update process. Email is courtesy of mailgun (https://www.mailgun.com/), and emails to help [at] portablegis [dot] xyz trigger automatic ticket creation in a GitLab Service Desk (https://gitlab.com/archaeogeek/portable-gis/issues/service_desk), going into a Kanban board for tracking. All free of charge and automated, for which I am eternally grateful. It’s really very cool indeed that you no longer need masses of technical knowledge to do this sort of thing, or even very much money.

I have to admit though that this release nearly didn’t happen. I nearly gave it all up, because it is a lot of work, there is only me doing it, I have a day job, and actual hobbies that involve being outside, away from computers. Finding out cool ways of automating things helps though, as do the occasional nice comment mentioning @portablegis on twitter, so let’s see if I can keep this going for a while longer!

What’s next?

1) I need to completely rewrite the menu in something that is a) not from the 90’s and b) open source. This is the new “daunting thing” because I know absolutely nothing about coding guis, and it’s an area that progresses quickly. Let me know on twitter if you have some suggestions for good packages to use. Is Atom the “thing” these days?

2) Compiling, installation and testing are extremely time-consuming (3 hours for compiling and installation before you even know it works), and also require a number of manual steps that I sometimes (OK, quite often) forget. I really need to automate, or at least idiot-proof the workflow. Speeding up the installation would be a huge bonus.

3) Finally, in an ideal world I would also add a different build method, whereby rather than me producing a full release with all the downloaded software in it I produce a batch file that does all the downloading and configuration. This is still very much just an idea though, as it replicates a lot of what OSGeo4W https://trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w/ does, and the entirely off-line installation process is useful for people with little or no network connection.

OK, well I hope you enjoy the new release- hopefully I can do a new one slightly more quickly in future!