I'd like to get involved with GIS, im a marine engineer and clueless about it and although i've tried to research it, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of programs available & information. I wanted to do a personal project, what i have in mind is try to map the flow of Natural Gas.
So how should i go about it to complete my project? I need a free program to start? Which one would you suggest? and does it have forums / documentation support? (I'm alone on this, so the easier i can get info/answers the better). I'd rather get a local program ie. not web based. I run windows7.
As I understand it i need also: a) a world map with countries? b) some import/export data which i think i've found. c) What else would I need to do the analysis from the program pov? d) some analysis tool to get the flows? is that included in the program or must i find an addon or something like this?
My future targets include finding/plotting sea routes & also pipelines, would the suggested program be capable of doing that? would it automatically be able to plot the sea routes?
edit1: sorry if i wasnt clear but what im asking what free gis program can do all of the above? is there a step by step guide to learn?
edit2: As Suggested from the posts QGIS is a starting point & read its manual with a goal to do networks analysis. ArcGIS is the industry standard and when i have enough money i should consider it... getting a book as well would help. Longterm doing python programming or something. thnx all :)