[OSGeo-Discuss] Celebrating 30 years of GRASS GIS!
neteler at osgeo.org
Tue Jul 30 09:32:30 PDT 2013
*29 July 2013*
Today marks 30 years of GRASS GIS development
Today the Free Software community celebrates the *30th birthday of GRASS GIS
*! GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) is a *free and open
source* Geographic Information System (GIS) software suite used for
geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics and map
production, spatial modeling, and 3D visualization. GRASS GIS is currently
used in academic and commercial settings around the world, as well as by
many governmental agencies and environmental consulting companies. GRASS
GIS can be used either as a *stand-alone application* or as *backend* for
other software packages such as QGIS and R geostatistics. It is a founding
member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo<http://www.osgeo.org/>)
and can be freely downloaded at http://grass.osgeo.org/download/software/.
[image: 30 YEARS OF GRASS GIS!]
In 1982, Lloyd Van Warren, a University of Illinois engineering student,
began development on a new computer program based on a master's thesis by
Jim Westervelt that described a GIS package called LAGRID – the Landscape
Architecture Gridcell analysis system. Thirty years ago, on 29 July 1983,
the user manual for this new system titled "*GIS Version 1 Reference Manual*"
was first published by J. Westervelt and M. O'Shea. The software continued
its development at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction
Engineering Research Laboratory (USA/CERL) in Champaign, Illinois; and
after further expansion version 1.0 was released in 1985 under the
Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS)*. The GRASS GIS community was
established the same year with the first annual user meeting and the launch
of GRASSnet, one of the internet's early mailing lists. The user community
expanded to a larger audience in 1991 with the "Grasshopper" mailing list
and the introduction of the World Wide Web. The users' and programmers'
mailing lists archives for these early years are still available
In the mid 1990s the development transferred from USA/CERL to The Open
GRASS Consortium (a group who would later generalize to become today's Open
Geospatial Consortium -- the OGC <http://www.opengeospatial.org/>). The
project coordination eventually shifted to the actual *international
development team* made up of governmental and academic researchers and
university scientists. Reflecting this shift to a project run by the users,
for the users, in 1999 GRASS GIS was released the first time under the
terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). A detailed history of GRASS
GIS can be found at http://grass.osgeo.org/history/.
Since these early days GRASS development has progressed and grown,
adjusting with and often at the forefront of new technologies as they
became available. Today GRASS's software development is maintained by a
team of domain experts as visualized in this beautiful new video
animation<http://youtu.be/MR4_5GSID2A>which stylistically details the
codebase evolution and modifications from
*1999 through to 2013*, up to and including the latest GRASS GIS 6.4.3
30 years of active growth: where are we now?
Recent versions of GRASS GIS come with exciting new features like:
- A *new modern graphical user
* complete with integrated workflow-wizards and interactive tools,
- A *new Python interface<http://grasswiki.osgeo.org/wiki/GRASS_and_Python>
* to the core C geoprocessing libraries, permitting Python developers to
create powerful new modules in a quick and simple way,
- Fully-fledged *topological vector
editing and tools for topological analysis and data cleaning,
- Hundreds of *new modules* to analyze raster and vector data of all
scales and types, with hundreds more contributed in an active community
- Support for *massive data processing* (e.g. relevant for LiDAR
processing) and Large File Support (> 2GB, 64-bit files on 32-bit systems),
- A codebase *portable* to all of today's major Operating Systems,
- Installed on everything from low-power dataloggers and field laptops
to high performance Grid Engines and TOP500 supercomputers.
GRASS GIS is currently developed by a global team of around twenty core
programmers, plus numerous add-on contributors, testers, and translators.
Overall, more than seventy core developers have worked on the code in the
past thirty years, making over fifty-thousand modifications to the code.
All the while, hundreds more have provided peer review and improvements to
algorithms and documentation while using GRASS GIS in professional,
educational, and research contexts.
Where to next?
Development on GRASS GIS continues with as much energy and interest as
ever. *Version 6.4.3 has been released as a birthday
Parallel to the *long-term maintenance* of the GRASS 6 stable series,
effort is well underway on the new cutting-edge major release, *GRASS
bringing with it many new features, modules, enhancements, and cleanups. As
in the past, the GRASS GIS community is open to any contribution, be it in
the form of programming, documentation, testing, financial sponsorship or
any other form of support.
* <http://grass.osgeo.org/>*M. Neteler (GRASS GIS PSC Chair) and GRASS
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