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

Markus Metz markus.metz.giswork at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 01:22:29 PST 2015

On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 10:01 AM, Rainer M Krug <Rainer at krugs.de> wrote:
> Markus Metz <markus.metz.giswork at gmail.com> writes:
>> On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 11:15 PM, Vaclav Petras <wenzeslaus at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 4:55 PM, Markus Neteler <neteler at osgeo.org> wrote:
>>>> On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 8:16 PM, Moritz Lennert
>>>> <mlennert at club.worldonline.be> wrote:
>>>> > On 21/01/15 19:35, Markus Neteler wrote:
>>>> >> In my opinion we should not have the location selection dialog at all.
>>>> >> Revolution!
>>>> >>
>>>> >> We should start GRASS right away in latlong like most GIS in the world.
>>>> >>
>>>> >> Then let the user open the dialog to change projection if desired from
>>>> >> inside.
>>>> >>
>>>> >> This would avoid a lot of questions right away.
>>>> >
>>>> > Please don't do this !
>>>> OK, now being back from phone to a real keyboard, I can write a few more
>>>> lines.
>>>> I am thinking about this issue for seeral years meanwhile (hint: I
>>>> started in 1993 to use the software, getting stuck at the text start
>>>> screen not having a manual :-).
>>>> So my full suggestions are
>>>> - beautify the actual screen (hence my recent suggestion which is
>>>> lively discussed here),
>>>> - optionally (!) allow to start GRASS without welcome/loc/mapset
>>>> screen but to open it in LatLong as described above. Again, as an
>>>> option. We could implement that in trunk and see how it goes. All the
>>>> tools to select locations, projections and such are there.
>>> I think that you have to go all the work anyway and the dummy location is
>>> there just to show that it is possible.
>>> There are some potential problems, for example how it works now with the
>>> .bash_history file?
>>>> > I find the fact that GRASS does not provide a default
>>>> > projection system, but forces the user to think about projection from
>>>> > the
>>>> > start, one of its strengths, both for work and for teaching.
>>>> On of it strenghts, yes. But I have been teaching GRASS a lot to GIS
>>>> professionals who got trained on different systems. And many asked
>>>> "why this screen? why cannot you just start like the other GIS"? And I
>>>> tend to agree (again: optionally). The point is that we, on the
>>>> contrary to many other GIS, still have all the control mechanisms in
>>>> place which avoid that the user mixes projections. So that's all fine.
>>> And what will you do after 'just starting'? Do you have your data as LL? Or
>>> will you use -o flag to ignore the projection check?
>>>> Also in Portland at the FOSS4G conf (where I showcased GRASS GIS 7)
>>>> people suggested to let 'em get into the system right away. They
>>>> explained to me that a newcomer wants to see the menu to understand
>>>> how powerful the system is. But they would get stuck at the welcome
>>>> screen... Yes, and they don't want to think before they open the
>>>> program but "just try", out of curiosity.
>>> This is a good point. I can see that. However, manual is also useful for
>>> this. This is what I use. Works for command line programs too.
>>> 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.
>> A suggestion for a compromise:
>> Have a minimal welcome screen that says something like
>> "Starting GRASS GIS in location X, mapset Y"
> Which would be the last opened mapset or, if opened for the first time,
> the demo mapset?
>> nothing else, no list of all the available locations and mapsets
>> Only two buttons: OK, Change
>> Make OK the default, Change will bring up the current welcome screen.
> I would add a third button which says "Start in demo location"
> to make it easier to return to the demo location after having already
> used GRASS GIS - for e.g. running examples and tests of other
> applications which use the demo dataset.

I disagree, keep the welcome screen as simple as possible, just short
of having no welcome screen at all. If you want to change the
location/mapset, you can click on Change.

With demolocation I mean the demolocation embedded in the source tree,
not one of the sample datasets.

Markus M
>> The user has then just to hit enter and GRASS is running. This would
>> reduce the (confusing) amount of information on the current welcome
>> screen. It would also give more space for a little graphic ;-)
>> Location and mapset can be taken from GISRC, if that does not exist,
>> create a new GISDBASE in the user's home, put the demolocation in it
>> and use this (I think the wingrass installer is already doing that).
> This sounds like a good compromise.
> And if then there is a nice QGIS like dialog to create a new location /
> mapset including projections, to start GRASS would be much easier.
> Thinking of it - a history of recently used mapsets on the welcome
> screen, which shows the projection, extent and the file path, is
> something which would be really useful.
> Cheers,
> Rainer
>> Markus M
> --
> Rainer M. Krug
> email: Rainer<at>krugs<dot>de
> PGP: 0x0F52F982

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