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I want to bring up this question (again?). This may not be a burning question as it used to be.

I have used ArcGIS for several years. It is the well-acknowledged leader in the GIS market, constantly pushing new technologies and architecture change, releasing new APIs for easier development, moving into 3D, build rich symbology, active and wide user community. It has its peculiarity, but does provides the most comprehensive products to build your solution.

I know very little about MapInfo. However, What I recently have learned about MapInfo suggests MapInfo is not as bad as I imagine. It has a suite like ArcGIS. MapInfo Pro is probably equivalent to ArcMap. Geocoding provides USPS-certified addresses. Routing J Server provides routing. MapXtreme 2008 using the Pictometry Navigator TM API delivers bird's eye view. But I feel the architect is old: not SaaS, still on SOAP, mainly server-based, making the front-end rather static. The company is not doing well and the SW dev is hurt. No upgrade on MapXtreme since 4 years ago?!

To me GeoServer seems a simply a mapping server or platform. Besides mapping, you will have to write most things yourself. It's good for some non-GIS folks to add some maps to their sites. Even mapping, the symbology is limited and editing SLD is such a pain. Cheap or free is good, but you end up paying for writing the code if you want to do something sophisticated. A little disappointing, to be honest.

Anyone interested in adding/commenting/arguing?

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closed as off topic by underdark Jun 11 '12 at 8:59

Questions on Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange are expected to relate to geographic information systems within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I would prefer to see a more specific question. –  PolyGeo Jun 10 '12 at 21:31
"adding/commenting/arguing" is not within the scope of gis.stackexchange. See the FAQ gis.stackexchange.com/faq: "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page." –  underdark Jun 11 '12 at 8:59

1 Answer 1

Why do you restrict yourself to ArcGIS, MapInfo and GeoServer? What about ERDAS, Idrisi, GDAL/OGR, QGIS, LandSerf, TNT by MicroImages, etc. The sea of GIS is very rich and very full.

You discount free as 'good but you end up paying for writing the code'. Well, yes, but you also have to effectively pay for the code in ArcGIS by buying very expensive add-on modules. If you work for a large corporation that has an ArcInfo Licence, this is something you probably never consider. For a solo freelancer, it is a major impediment to using ArcGIS (which, like you, I grew up on, so to speak). I have found FOSS4G to provide a comprehensive solution in all areas of GIS and am able to do all the tasks I used to do with ArcInfo plus Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst and data Interoperability Suite using entirely FOSS4G. With ArcGIS, you are buying convenience for a very high price tag (ESRI quoted me £12,000 for the set-up I was used to!).

You state that ArcGIS is the most comprehensive for 'you solution'. You need to define what 'your solution' is. My solution involves a lot of 3D work and ArcGIS is woefully inadequate. In fact, GRASS is probably one of the best with its voxel capabilities and ERDAS Imagine always used to be better than ArcGIS, but the best solution I have ever used for this work is a "roll-your-own" solution I put together with FOSS integrated into 3D modelling package via their respective Python APIs. Again, for web-mapping ArcGIS provides some capabilities but is doboutful that it is it the most comprehensive. I don't think so. GeoJango with a PostGIS back-end is probably more comprehensive or an Apache-based web-stack with Mapnik and TileCache (ro some such configuration) is preferable (and cheaper). Again, for many people MapInfo and GeoServer provide everything they need for their solution at a price that suits them.

Your question is a bit like saying that Oracle is better than Access and Excel, but if all I need is a spreadsheet, why would I buy Oracle and if I do want a database, why restrict yourself to just Oracle and Access when there are so many more databases available? Surely it is better to consider ALL the available options and weigh them against your particular use-case (whilest bearing in mind that, for many people, Access might be all they need).

My point is that ArcGIS, does a lot and does it well. However, it is not a one-size-fits-all package for every GIS need. It is also not always the best for many niche applications and often requires many bolt-on modules that many users take for granted until they have to pay for them themselves. Therefore, unless you define your specific requirements, there can be no sensible debate about which software is better.

I suggest an edit to your question.

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