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

Paulo van Breugel p.vanbreugel at gmail.com
Fri Jan 23 00:22:13 PST 2015

On Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 5:53 AM, Michael Barton <Michael.Barton at asu.edu>

>  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.

That seems like fundamental to me, by allowing to mix maps with different
projections in one mapset we would loose the checks that ensures the
correct handling of data, one of the very strong points of GRASS.

> 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.

The current database set up is really robust (it is fairly difficult to
mess up the database)  and at the same time flexible (one can easily move
around mapsets or location/mapsets). Perhaps the same can be achieved in
different ways, but please let's not sacrifice this just to make it
possible to make a simpler startup.

The whole issue of locations and mapsets may be confusing for the first
time users, but in my experience this is just an initial hurdle, after
which the whole structure is actually quite helpful in keeping one on top
of the data (especially if you have to deal with different data sources
with different projections).

>  Michael
>             ____________________
>  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> wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 12:16 PM, Michael Barton <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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