We are living in a continuing development of computational techniques and we may see this progress in many aspects of our lives. Geospatial applications are in the same situation and we may notice that nowadays creating and developing spatial data is something common even for non-specialists. In this post, I will try to make a short introduction regarding the most important geospatial software and applications.
Open Source vs. Commercial Geospatial Software
If you are interested in creating some spatial data, you have to find the best software for this task. But which is the best geospatial software? Well, this question may have many answers, from a large variety of perspectives. First of all, you have to know if you want to buy that software or not. Because you have to know that you will find a wide range of GIS software and applications. You will have the chance to choose among both free applications and products for a fee.
Free GIS applications are also called as an Open Source Software because you may come up with your own scripts and modules. The pros of this open source software include availability for operating systems, possibility to create applications and have a license of these apps for the developers, and the possibility to create apps for your needs and tasks.
On the other hand, the pros of commercial geospatial software include intuitive interface, excellent technical support and geospatial tools for spatial analysis.
The main difference between both softwares is that those commercial products support private companies incomes, while open source applications are developed by a large community of developers that are looking to improve constantly their apps.
The Best Geospatial Software for Desktop
In a rapidly growing market, you can choose among a wide range of geospatial software for desktop, both open source and commercial. You will find different rankings and recommendations regarding this software, so I will try to come up with some of the most used GIS software for desktop.
If we speak about open source geospatial software for desktop, I may recommend you to try products such as Quantum GIS, Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS), Flow Map, gvSIG or uDig GIS.
Speaking of the most important commercial geospatial software for desktop, I will list here products like ArcGIS, MapInfo Professional, Global Mapper, IDRISI (Clark Laboratories) or Surfer (Golden Software). If you would like to explore other software, you can access the website gisgeography.com and compare more than 15 commercial products.
These are some of the best geospatial products for desktop. According to your needs, you have to choose which suits you most.
The Best Geospatial Applications for Mobile
In the digital age, mobile devices are becoming more complex every day and geospatial applications can be used on these devices. As in the previous section of this post, where I have mentioned commercial and open source geospatial software for desktop, for the mobile applications we have also both free and for a fee products.
If you need a geospatial application for your smartphone, then you may choose the applications provided by ESRI, such as ArcGIS, BAO and Geo Medicine. If you are not satisfied with these previous products, then you may try other mobile applications for spatial data, including MapDroyd , EpiCollect or OpenPaths.
If you prefer free mobile geospatial applications, then you should try Mappt, GIS-Mobile Imperious or GIS View.
The main advantage given by mobile geospatial apps is that you can collect data even you are moving, traveling or walking. And then you can download these data on your desktop software and use that data into your spatial analysis. Nowadays is much easier to collect your own data using mobile to collect geospatial data.
The geospatial software market is still developing and new products are released daily in both desktop and mobile domains. I hope that based on this post, you will have a first contact with such applications if you are a beginner in this domain. And based on your requirements and budget, you will be able to choose the best software and applications to reach your goal.