Am I ready To Change My Identity?
I discovered QGIS by sheer coincident. At work, people kept throwing the name QGIS around especially in serious technical GIS discussions. At first I was entirely agnostic because I had no intention of changing from my beloved ArcGIS. Why should I? It took me a combined 8years working at Danish Refugee Council, Danish Demining Group, University and gruesome sleepless nights to master all the tricks I know in the ArcGIS book
I have no intention of just throwing all my ArcGIS tricks and expertise to the gutter, well not me, not now not EVER!!
But there comes a time in the life of every professional man including a GIS Analysts and he takes a good look at the direction of his career in the shinning mirror of GI industry and asks himself, is it time yet?
Well that time came for me in 2013 and I told myself enough is enough, Jal i kuru ngo?. A GIS software is just a tool pe ku meno? And like most tools, it has its strengths and weaknesses. You really can’t afford to make professional or career decisions on the altar of emotional blindness. A tool is a tool and ArcGIS is just one of the several GIS tools.
With this realisation, I went to the QGIS’s website (http://www.qgis.org/en/site/index.html
) and downloaded the application. I spent quality time doing both technical and mental comparative analysis of ArcGIS versus QGIS.
QGIS (previously known as “Quantum GIS”) is a cross-platform free and open source desktop geographic information systems (GIS) application that provides data viewing, editing, and analysis capabilities.
Similar to other software GIS systems like ESRI ArcGIS, MapInfo, Global Mapper, etc, QGIS allows users to create maps with many layers using different map projections. Maps can be assembled in different formats and for different uses.
QGIS allows maps to be composed of raster or Vector layers. Typical for this kind of software the vector data is stored as either point, line, or polygon-feature. Different kinds of raster images are supported and the software can perform georeferencing of images.
Technically, QGIS ticks all the boxes as a standard GIS Software and it can hold it’s ground when compared with the bigger industry players.
Some Technical Capabilities of QGIS
- Topology Building
- Thematic mapping
- Attribution tables
- Map layering, etc
- WMS and WFS
- Raster data processing and Analysis
Interoperability Capability of QGIS
QGIS is robust and powerful to use. It recognises the business and technical use-cases for importing files from other formats. QGIS 2.0 offers superior interoperability capabilities that will make ArcGIS and MapInfo envious.
It can read files from mainstream GIS applications and 21 file formats such as ESRI’s (Shapefiles), or Personal Geodatabase format (.MDB), ArcInfo Export file (.e00), Geographic Markup Language (GML), Mapinfo (.TAB), AutoCAD (.DXF), Google’s Keyhole Markup Language (KML), PostGIS, etc
A World Class GIS Software with A Ugandan Price
A few months ago, I did a comparative price analysis for major GIS software that I know are very popular in Uganda. Below is an idea of the cost of each software in Ugandan currency “Shillings”
1 Global Mapper – UGX 1,150,000 ($399)
2 ArcGIS – UGX 9,000,000 ($3,500)
3.MapInfo – UGX 6,000,000 (£1,400)
QGIS is entirely funded by VOLUNTARY donations from users. You are not compelled to donate before downloading the software and using.
I don’t have to compare a Toyota Premio with a Ferrari, but the fact is a Premio (representing QGIS) can also provide superior driving experience and we can leave the Ferraris (ArcGIS) to the super rich people like yourself. You will need over UGX 9,500,000 to use a legal license of ArcGIS. That is the cost of a clean used car in Uganda. You know what? I don’t need ANYTHING to use QGIS!!
Statistically, almost 60% of all GIS software currently in use in Uganda and across Africa are “Quack”
(Acholi word for pirated/fake) The prohibitive costs of professional GIS software means almost 98% of Ugandan GIS students and Experts and over 50% of Ugandan companies offering mapping and GIS integration solutions cannot afford to acquire valid licenses of ESRI’s ArcGIS
or Pitney Bowes’ MapInfo
. This has therefore given rise to increased incidents of pirated copies and licenses by peddlers and unscrupulous criminals.
I am not in away condoning software piracy, however from a costing point of view, it will take another 1million years for ArcGIS to do what QGIS can achieve.
I have said it that Ugandan mapping experts or Surveyors have absolutely no excuse to use over PRICED or pirated Arcview or Mapinfo anymore. QGIS is the hero who is coming along in shining armour to defend the honor and professional integrity of the Ugandan GIS Analysts and African GI Industry.
What I think of FREE GIS Software
I am always skeptical and very suspicious of free software. I keep thinking that there must be a catch somewhere. I can assure Ugandan and African mapping and GIS gurus that I have been using QGIS now for sometime and there is no catch. It is free, yes FREEEEEE!!!
So if you know of any Surveyor, Geographer, or Ugandan GIS Analyst, looking for a world-class GIS software that costs ABSOLUTELY nothing, then point them in the direction of QGIS.
Remember this wonderful software is FREEEEEEEEeeeeeeeee!!!!!
If you are a Ugandan user and you are experiencing any trouble using QGIS, I would be happy to assist.