[GRASS-dev] Making start of GRASS GIS easier for newcomers

Michael Barton Michael.Barton at asu.edu
Wed Jan 21 22:15:13 PST 2015

Beginners perhaps need to think about projections at the outset more so than advanced users. But I don’t think a ‘beginner’ and ‘advanced’ user version of the interface is a good idea. If we work out a way to simplify and/or streamline starting GRASS, it should just be the way the program works for all.

C. Michael Barton
Director, Center for Social Dynamics & Complexity
Professor of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution & Social Change
Head, Graduate Faculty in Complex Adaptive Systems Science
Arizona State University

voice:  480-965-6262 (SHESC), 480-965-8130/727-9746 (CSDC)
fax: 480-965-7671 (SHESC),  480-727-0709 (CSDC)
www: http://www.public.asu.edu/~cmbarton, http://csdc.asu.edu

On Jan 21, 2015, at 11:06 PM, Yann Chemin <ychemin at gmail.com<mailto:ychemin at gmail.com>> wrote:

On 22 January 2015 at 11:30, Michael Barton <Michael.Barton at asu.edu<mailto:Michael.Barton at asu.edu>> wrote:

This is a good start. Here are some suggestions for simplifying the text even more.


[Select GRASS GIS database directory]

(make this a button rather than a text box with browse; no need to show this path)

"A GRASS GIS database directory contains one or more Locations”

(no need to say that you can have more than one GISDBASE)


"All GIS data in a Location directory are in the same coordinate reference system (projection). Locations contain Mapsets.”


"All GIS data in a Location directory are in the same spatial projection. Locations contain one or more Mapsets.”

(Locations are not necessarily related to ‘projects’. Mine are very much projection based—e.g., I have a single latlon Location for ALL my latlon data regardless of which research project it is used for. Do we need to say “coordinate reference system (projection)”? Doesn’t just “projection” cover it well enough? These are directories, so it might help to say this.)


"A Mapset contains GIS data. Every Location automatically has one Mapset named PERMANENT that also contains projection information for the Location."

(A Mapset may or may not relate to one task; that depends on the user. Some of mine do and some don’t. The ‘common data’ in PERMANENT is not really important except in a multi-user setup, which is not what most people use today. Mapsets are directories too, but as someone mentioned, maybe we shouldn’t stress this in case someone tries to move stuff around in a mapset. On the other hand, and unlike Arc, entire Locations and entire Mapsets CAN be moved without any harm).


I would not mess with trying to start GRASS without the standard database/location/mapset that we have now in 7.0 until we have some time to think it through and talk about it some. One easy to do thing would be to add a button to this screen (instead of inside the location wizard only) to create a latlon region and open GRASS in its PERMANENT mapset. But I’m not even sure that this is a good way to go yet.

Thus the idea of a starting flag "grass -b" to get a lat/long region and open a PERMANENT mapset. The whole thing can be a /tmp/random_name.


On Jan 21, 2015, at 9:36 PM, grass-dev-request at lists.osgeo.org<mailto:grass-dev-request at lists.osgeo.org> wrote:

From: Vaclav Petras <wenzeslaus at gmail.com<mailto:wenzeslaus at gmail.com>>
To: GRASS developers list <grass-dev at lists.osgeo.org<mailto:grass-dev at lists.osgeo.org>>
Date: January 21, 2015 at 9:35:40 PM MST
Subject: Re: [GRASS-dev] Making start of GRASS GIS easier for newcomers

On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 5:15 PM, Vaclav Petras <wenzeslaus at gmail.com<mailto:wenzeslaus at gmail.com>> wrote:

To satisfy everybody, I suggest to provide a buttons with something like "Take me to LL", "Take me to default location" and "Take me to XY". What do you think about that?

But the real improvement should be the messages which would guide you through the process.

So, here is screenshot and diff for new layout of the window together the description what the things are useful for. The descriptions can be easily changed, they are wrapped texts, so they will work well with translations. So, feel free to suggest different ones. We can also make them "gray" as suggested earlier.

I used GRASS Location and Location. I though that GRASS could help to emphasize that it is something GRASS-related and few people were using Location and Mapset with capital letter which could say that it is a something like files format or spatial database name. I aimed to address the things I considered confusing. I'm not sure about the GRASS GIS data directory as I mentioned earlier.

Now it is higher then the old one but with removal of the image it will be smaller. If a small-enough image is used, it could be the same. I would like to not include the image to have more space for the error messages (currently one line between GISDBASE and Location boxes), so messages can be longer and perhaps some what to do next tips can be shown as well. The position of this text can/should be changed, now middle of the window (usually these are at the bottom or at the top). However, without image it might be actually a little boring.

I reorganized the buttons to manage the (list of) Locations and (list of) Mapsets, so now it looks like any other lists, e.g. in Simple Layer Manager or in Cartographic Composer. In future we can add buttons, for example unpack a zipped location or download sample datasets in case of Locations and show existing maps button in case of Mapsets.

A "Skip" button can be added next to Start button, once implemented. I think that XY location in /tmp/grassdata would be appropriate.


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