[GRASS-dev] a proposal to rename "location"

Vaclav Petras wenzeslaus at gmail.com
Sat Jun 2 08:14:57 PDT 2018

On Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 6:51 PM, Michael Barton <Michael.Barton at asu.edu>

> As one of the most venerable desktop GIS packages and perhaps THE most
> venerable still in existence, GRASS has some quirks that harken back to its
> origins long ago. Most are simply quirky. But the folder hierarchy called a
> “location” is very confusing in today’s GIS world. Originally, it did
> primarily refer to maps referencing a geographic location in the world.
> Although that meaning still exists in the ‘default region’, GRASS locations
> primarily refer to a coordinate reference system (CRS). In fact, while the
> CRS of a location cannot be changed (unless you manually alter some of the
> files in the directory, at the risk of making maps unuseable), the default
> region can be. So a location now refers to a fixed CRS and a changeable
> geographic extent.
> Use of the anachronistic term “location” to refer to a CRS is a quirk that
> makes GRASS more confusing to initial users.

I agree that the current situation is not satisfactory and I think your
description of the situation is very good. The "project location" or just
"project" or even "coordinate system" were all terms which were used in the
6.4 startup/welcome window:


I though it will be much better in order to avoid confusion to go with just
one term and properly explain it. Without changing anything, I of course
needed to go with location in the new startup window and documentation:


However, I think it is still quite hard for users to understand and it
becomes difficult to talk about location because of the general meaning of
that word. Possible solutions include better interface (e.g. the new
startup), change in paradigm (in interface or also in core), and a
different name.

Generally, the new name should be considered together the related terms,
such as [default] region, database, mapset, and [vector] map.

I'm not in favor of "CRS" because a CRS is description of the reference
system. It is a property of the data or a name of particular part of
metadata. Location in GRASS GIS is a collection of spatial data with a
common CRS.

I've tried to use "Location" (with capital L) and "GRASS Location" to make
it clear what location we are talking about, but it suffers from the same
issues as simple "location". For example: Is GRASS location directory on
your computer where you have GRASS GIS installation?

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