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

Michael Barton Michael.Barton at asu.edu
Thu Jan 22 20:53:00 PST 2015

Hi Vaclav,

To be clear, I agree with you that GRASS should not start with a wizard and had did not intend anyone to think that.

The ‘step 1, step 2, step 3’ was simply to put this as text on the startup dialog, to help users know which step to do in what order.

The more radical suggestion that I made today involves fundamental change of how GRASS works. Change the file structure to GISDBASE/mapsets=working directories and get rid of locations as folders. Store projection information in a different way than as locations. Maybe store projection info in each mapset, or maybe some other way. Maybe each mapset still only contains maps from a single projection to keep maps of the same projection together. It may be necessary to do other things to make sure that users don’t try to combine maps of different projections.

This would make it possible to have a simpler startup. But it would take more thought and some programming to make it work.

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 22, 2015, at 8:22 PM, Vaclav Petras <wenzeslaus at gmail.com<mailto:wenzeslaus at gmail.com>> wrote:

On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 12:16 PM, Michael Barton <Michael.Barton at asu.edu<mailto:Michael.Barton at asu.edu>> wrote:
For this release, we need to focus on just tweaking the current startup screen and doing better graphics for the splash. The other topic is a much bigger issue.

Not everybody considers my suggestion as useful-enough change and there is the hard freeze (although the functionality changes are almost zero). As a result, I don't plan to commit it to release branch now. However, I consider it as a great improvement which I definitively want to use and I think it is very beneficial for beginners, so I will commit that to trunk when I get to it. Then we can continue in the other improvements.

To the other things. I also consider data in different projections as much bigger issue. GRASS has all the tools as described and also implemented by Markus Metz but it is too much for beginners. We should definitively make it more accessible (but it is also interesting business opportunity :-).

I still don't understand what the user could in the dummy/LL/XY/demo location besides looking to menus and being confused from wrongly imported data or no imported data at all because of projection issues.

Michael suggests to replace startup by some wizard and this is what QGIS is doing. So, is putting everything to wizard better then the window + optional wizard? We can go that way but note the difference between QGIS and GRASS, when QGIS is running the wizard, the app is already there, wizard is just an additional window. For GRASS, it would the window you get which might be strange. Even stranger if the window would be just some small one with "Will start in location xxx" and "Change" and "Continue" buttons.

It would be also useful to analyze why the thing which is done on MS Windows by the standalone installer is not enough. There should be a demo location already and set as last used. Also NC SPM can be downloaded, should it be checked by default?

Does somebody has a opinion on using "Location", "GRASS Location", or "GRASS location" consistently? You can see also "LOCATION" here and there in GRASS but I wouldn't go that way.

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