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This is my first visit to and first question on this site, I hope this newbie question is suitable here.

Our lab has about 10 projects in ArcGIS 9 (a couple are made in ArcGIS 10) that includes the following in each:

  1. A georeferenced (WGS1984 geographical projection) raster seafloor image, representing areas of about 20m x 20m.
  2. A layer of points across the image, each of which is hyperlinked to documents residing on the same computer.
  3. A few layers of points (feature class) representing features in the raster image.
  4. A few layers of polygons (feature class) representing features in the raster image.

With the above, we have been able to:

  1. Analyse the areas outlined with the polygons and added buffers to some of them.
  2. Answer questions like: Does this kind of fish (represented by a layer of points) always occur near a certain rock type (represented by polygons or points).
  3. Add new seafloor images (as new layers) representing the same area, but taken at a later time, to see if the distribution of features in it have changed over time (i.e. there's 15% more fish, etc.).

In the future, we would like to add bathymetric data so that we can make a 3D view of seafloor represented by our images.

Finally the question: Can the above be successfully migrated to QGIS and HOW do I do it? (so we can save licensing fees and also use open source software, etc.)

P.S. Based on my initial look a QGIS, most of what I outlined above can be done, but can anyone confirm that?

P.S.2. If we do this, it needs to be done within the next couple of months, all by ourselves with no programming ability. (we don't have funds to hire someone to do the migration for us, or to add feature to QGIS)

Thank you very much for your answers.

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What is the file format of your vectors? If they are FGDBs, you probably need to convert it to a more common format that OGR/GDAL can read/write into QGIS. I'm not sure of th current state of FGDB support in OGR/GDAL. –  maning Mar 31 '11 at 6:16
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Presumably you pay license fees for your existing system.... –  BWill Apr 25 '11 at 13:33
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4 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

To be honest the time frame you mentioned for the migration sounds really tight, especially if you want to research, test, evaluate and deploy!

We have recently migrated from using ArcGIS as our desktop client to QGIS. While everything you have mentioned sounds possible the biggest issue I have found is managing the storage of Raster datasets, but like Nick mentioned earlier I too am waiting for PostGIS 2 to solve my problems there!

We created a "functionality matrix" and I believe you should do this as well at some stage. What we did is over a period of time (1-2 months) was create a list of tools from the geoprocessing toolbox and ArcGIS application that we used to achieve our daily tasks. Then we spent time replicating these tasks and searching for these tools in the QGIS application, we simply gave the task a tick if it could be done in QGIS or a cross if we couldn't do it. If it couldn't be done we then looked for alternative ways to achieve the same results.

We have now employed QGIS as our desktop GIS client, but this method gave us a clear idea on whether or not QGIS was a viable option. To be honest I think it is quite suitable desktop application with a strong and active community. I believe paired with PostGIS it is as good as our previous ArcGIS, ArcSDE/Oracle combination!!

Good luck, but make sure you test vigorously, document your challenges and ask lots of questions here and on the QGIS forum during your testing.

Ando

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1) Analyse the areas outlined with the polygons and added buffers to some of them.

Buffers are supported. For further help, we'd need to know what "analyse the areas" means.

2) Answer questions like: Does this kind of fish (represented by a layer of points) always occur near a certain rock type (represented by polygons or points).

You can check if there are fish points outside the polygons.

3) Add new seafloor images (as new layers) representing the same area, but taken at a later time, to see if the distribution of features in it have changed over time (i.e. there's 15% more fish, etc.).

No problem.

In the future, we would like to add bathymetric data so that we can make a 3D view of seafloor represented by our images.

Some work has been done to include 3D viewer into standard QGIS distribution but it's still far from production quality. A serious supporter would be helpful.

Can the above be successfully migrated to QGIS and HOW do I do it?

If all your data files can be read by OGR/GDAL, you shouldn't encounter any problems. (Which formats are you using?) Simply give it a try. It really shouldn't take much more than an afternoon to find out.

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great news about the 3d viewer, I didn't know it was in the pipe. –  Nicklas Avén Mar 31 '11 at 13:57
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As you say yourself I think all this can be done in QGIS.

If not, just use some of the saved money to pay someone to fix it :-)

that is the most important part of open source. anything is possible.

you might also want to look at storing your data in PostGIS. when postgis 2 is out you will have rastersupport in the database and you will be able to do a lot of raster analysing directly in the database. and show the result in qgis.

/Nicklas

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It is great to know that it should work! Unfortunately, we don't have the time and money to pay someone to do the migration, or to program/add features to QGIS to make it work. Can you provide more specific instructions on what I should do? Thanks! –  hpy Mar 30 '11 at 22:46
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To be honest, your work on GIS does not seem to be complicated and is definetly possible in QGIS. What you should do is read a software documentation to check if it has what you need, as nobody else would know your needs better. Migration process does not have to be a deadline, probably you should start to play around with QGIS to check if its ok for you. Check all your files if those can be open in QGIS. Probably you will need to spend some time to create new workspaces, where you will notice that despite of all range of QGIS advantages it is quite poor with map layouts. You do not have to be programmer to do this. The sad thing is, if you do not have money to pay someone, you have to do it yourself. Good luck.

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