[OSGeo Africa] reminder: Survey of FOSS GIS usage in South Africa

nyaladzi nyaladzi at vrl.co.za
Tue Sep 4 07:27:26 PDT 2012

Hi Gavin

I am a GIS specialist but I work mainly for/with Architects and Engineers. Because I don’t work in a highly specialized GIS environment I have over the last 5 years worked on different spatial information aspects of several projects using several FOSS GIS software and Licensed Software aswell.

Rather than give you particular projects and respective software I used at that time I will just highlight to you the trends  I have noticed over the last few years that reflect general GIS related software use.

ESRI developed software still dominates the South African market as most specialized GIS projects are carried out by large cooperate organizations and have not as yet filtered to small medium enterprises or free lance GIS specialists. In my working environment you have a similar situation with how Autodesk still holds the greatest market share of customers for Architecture and design software despite it being very costly.

However geo-referenced files such as .shp,.kmz,.dxf,.gxf formats have become increasingly popular file types utilized by a multitude of professionals such that there is a large number of Desktop GIS software that allows users to display, query or analyse.

In the past I have worked mainly off Quantam GIS (QGIS).For me its main function has always been data viewing. However in my industry the biggest let down with most Desktop GIS has been the quality of Desktop publishing. If you have worked with Graphic design programs such as Corel and Photoshop you will appreciate how poor most of the quality of exports you can make from both FOSS GIS software and licensed software. So that’s the main reason I would move from one FOSS product to the next. Unfortunately QGIS is developed on a C++ platform which made it less adaptable for most developers who prefer object oriented programming language like Java.

I eventually moved over to uDigg which gave me the capability of viewing and editing directly in databases and over the web. uDigg is developed in JAVA (using the Eclipse platform) and was initially focused on editing of vector data. Another FOSS product I found useful was Kosmo. Its functionality is similar to that provided by ESRI’s ArcView  and also programmed off the JAVA platform which allows scope for developers to easily improve the program given the popularity of Java especially in the App environment. Both of these work nicely with our WGS84 datasets with very few issues or errors.

Issues that I have found that FOSS GIS programs have addressed over the years are compatibility of file types across different platforms. This is the biggest achievement of FOSS GIS Software I have seen in the few years I have been a GIS specialist.in the past most files would either not be compatible from one program to the next or if they are compatible the progression would change.

There are areas that I feel FOSS GIS programs will eventually address such as the quality of Desktop publications (exports) that can be made from most Desktop GIS software.
Other limitations involve query capability.

I hope this gives you a perspective of my impression in terms of FOSS GIS software use be it with spatial databases, viewers, libraries  or programming.


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From: Gavin Fleming [mailto:gavin at afrispatial.co.za]
Sent: Monday, September 03, 2012 10:58 AM
To: chapter discussions, Africa
Subject: [OSGeo Africa] reminder: Survey of FOSS GIS usage in South Africa

Thanks for your responses so far. This is a reminder to send your response today describing any FOSS GIS work you've done or know about (details below). You are welcome to send it to the list as some of you have but you can also send it to me off-list at gavin at afrispatial.co.za<mailto:gavin at afrispatial.co.za>.

--------[sent last Friday]

Hi fellow FOSS GISers

I'm conducting a snap survey of FOSS GIS in SA - please respond by Mon 3 Sept! I will use later responses but they won't be guaranteed to make it into the proceedings (deadline 5 Sept).

I'll be presenting a paper at the GISSA Ukubuzana in October with the following abstract:
Free and Open Source GIS Software is being used widely across South Africa in diverse applications. This presentation will showcase a number of projects implemented with FOSS GIS in government, private industry, civil society and other sectors. Case studies will be drawn from various companies, consultants and service providers.
I'd like to showcase what's being done and if I get a big enough response, to compile some stats.

So, please send me some brief information about FOSS GIS work that you are or have been involved with or that you feel we should know about.

I'm looking for work done with FOSS GIS in southern Africa by anyone OR work done by South Africans anywhere in the world.

Any project counts, from a helpful script to a backend database to a big web application to a desktop GIS rollout - anything goes.

Please send roughly the following:

- a brief description
- if web-based and public, a url
- otherwise, send screenshots, publications, etc.
- reasons why you or the client chose to use FOSS GIS
- which FOSS GIS technologies you used

PS: Apologies for the short notice but I was only notified of paper acceptance yesterday [last Thurs now].




Gavin Fleming


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