Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Apologies for such basic questions, but google really doesn’t seem to be my friend today.

I am a long-time programmer, new to GIS. I am trying to get a feel for various aspects of GIS. In addition to my question about database, I am wondering about a GUI.

The sort of applications I am liable to code would things like:

  • fleet management (land or ocean based vehicles)
  • employee tracking
  • inventory control (at a granularity of a physical position accurate to with a metre or so)
  • errm, that's about it, really

I would normally expect to be tracking no more than 1 few hundred (maximum, possibly a few thousand) items. Sometimes the items will be located in the same (large) building, series of building, city, country or world-wide, depending on the application.

I will be visually representing them either on a custom floor plan of a building but, more likely, in Google Earth or something similar.

moderator note [Please make these separate questions you will get better answers from users]

Question: what are the major alternatives, given that I wish to develop a marketable product? (which implies a stable GUI with good support)

Question: which of these would be cheapest for me as a developer? (e.g, I believe that Google Earth is free up to a certain number of views, but some more commercial rivals may require me to invest a few $k in their software long before I can develop my app & see return on my money)

Question: given the sort of applications which I am liable to develop, which system would best meet the needs of my end users, rather than me as a developer?

Question: given that it is a business app, would a Windows desktop program be acceptable or should I be looking only at browser based, given the trend towards slate PCs and smartphones?

Question: I have done some reading, but was thinking of taking an online course. This one looks excellent, but alas is not currently available. Can anyone recommend another, preferably free, or a good online source of information and training?

Thanks very much in advance, and apologies for asking such a basic question. I did google, but with no conclusive result, so thought that I would ask the experts.

share|improve this question
possible duplicate of (When) should I use a GIS-enabled database? – Stephen Lead Sep 27 '12 at 6:25
I'll give you +1 (though not sure why ;-). Nope, I asked both and although there is a bit of cut & paste in the text, there are two extremely distinct questions - databse and the visual respresentation thereof. p.s why isn't the other marked as a possible duplicate of this? ;-) – Mawg Sep 27 '12 at 7:02
Can you create new questions - 6 Questions is too many for one answer. GIS SE is designed to have 1 question 1 answer. Thanks - you can related to the original question. – Mapperz Sep 27 '12 at 14:50
up vote 3 down vote accepted

For courses that you could take I'd recommend some of Penn State's open courseware. With particular reference to GEOG 863: GIS Mashups for GIS Professionals, GEOG 585: Open Web Mapping and GEOG 489: GIS Application Development.

Disclaimer: I wrote (but no longer teach) Geog585. I have no current connection to PSU or the Master's in GIS course.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.