[GRASS-dev] Try GRASS GIS online: rollApp - rollapp.com

Vaclav Petras wenzeslaus at gmail.com
Fri Dec 20 07:48:04 PST 2019

Dear all,

Following posts on Binder - mybinder.org [1] and CoCalc - cocalc.com [2,
3], I would like to introduce also rollApp - rollapp.com, another
alternative for "Try online" link. It is a freemium service providing
access to many (mostly) open source applications through a web browser
(i.e., in cloud). You need to log in (e.g., with Google Account) to access
it and you can't save data without purchasing a plan, but you can run
applications and access the Internet. (With a plan, you can connect
different storage such as Drobox or Google Drive.)

It can run GRASS GIS for couple years already. You can try it here:

https://www.rollapp.com/app/grassgis (page with a Launch button)
https://www.rollapp.com/launch/grassgis (direct link with possibly
sub-optimal results)

[1] https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/grass-dev/2019-August/093053.html
[2] https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/grass-dev/2019-August/093058.html
[3] https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/grass-dev/2019-December/093910.html

Right now, it would not work well as a "try online" tool, but it could.
Continue reading if you want to know details.

I worked with them in the past I bit and made some fixes in GRASS GIS which
helped rollApp to start GRASS GIS.


Some additional commits since then (for example, removal of tput) also
improved start in environments such as rollApp.


One ongoing issue (which is possibly relevant to CoCalc, too) is that GRASS
GIS can start only with terminal. You can reproduce the issue locally on
Linux using `nohup grass` or, at least on Ubuntu with Unity, by pressing
Ctrl+F2 and typing "grass".


Nevertheless, you can start GRASS GIS even with free account, in the
startup screen change the database directory to /tmp, download a sample
location, and start GRASS GIS. I think the GUI is little bit faster than in
CoCalc. The command line is worse than what you have in CoCalc (fixed size
xterm versus in-browser one).

There is couple things which can be done in GRASS GIS or in rollApp to make
this a great "try online" option (even perhaps as a secondary one in case
we want to favor an open source platform). In any case, I would like to
find a place on the new website to have rollApp listed as one option for
using GRASS GIS online.

Let me know what you think,
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