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A couple of days ago I installed the demo of spatialware 4.9 from MapInfo into my SQL Server 2005 install and loaded all the larger dataset into it. I was quite impressed with the performance vs the old file based approach but it got me thinking what other options are out there and what are the pros and cons with them.

A con I would have to say with spatialware is the fact that it is $5000 p/a and only MapInfo can read the objects from it. Which at the moment is fine because MapInfo is all we use.

I'm wondering what other people have gone with and what their experiences are.


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Looks like you have a lot of options with MapInfo:… PostGIS, SQL Server, etc all seem to support native spatial data types. – JasonBirch Jul 23 '10 at 0:19
True, I just installed PostGIS and I can say I'm impressed, works like a charm and you can use it with entity framework in C# so I can write my mapping applications around it. WIN! – Nathan W Jul 23 '10 at 1:25
up vote 29 down vote accepted

PostGIS based on PostgreSQL is a popular database for GIS.

I haven't used it much myself, but a pro is that it's open source and that many other GIS uses it so it have an active GIS community.

I find with PostGIS / pgrouting, there is a bit of a steep learning curve, but once you get over it, it's really quiet excellent and gerat – dassouki Jul 22 '10 at 23:18
PostGIS is actually the most mature spatial implementation (comparing sql server 2008, oracle spatial, db 2 spatial blade (or whatever name it is), mysql spatial, etc.) Routing, Geocoding, Spatial logging, raster support. for free! – George Jul 23 '10 at 0:29
+1 for PostGIS. Its my central data store that works well with Arc, R and Python without a flaw so far – radek Jul 23 '10 at 12:54
I've also found the learning curve steep, but postgis/postgresql is excellent. I highly recommend PostGIS in Action ( if you do consider using it! – djq Dec 31 '11 at 21:23

SQL Server 2008 comes with geospatial capabilities in-built. Even the free Express Edition supports the full geospatial features, as far as I know.

Further reading:

SQL Server 2008 seems to work just fine but it's excruciatingly slow compared to more mature products like PostGIS and Spatialware. – Damien Jul 30 '10 at 23:36
any benchmarks to support that statement? – Simon Jan 1 '12 at 4:08
It's the best integration if you use Microsoft's technology : SQL Server 2008 / C# / VB / IIS. – user3120 Jan 3 '12 at 23:23

Although my vote would go for PostGIS as well, SpatiaLite extension for SQLite might be woth looking at as a lightweight alternative.

As Nathan is using MapInfo SpatialLite isn't really an option - at least not at the moment - as MapInfo doesn't support this. – Peter Horsbøll Møller Sep 11 '11 at 18:41
From MapInfo Professional version 11.5.2 and newer versions, SQLite is also supported by MapInfo Professional – Peter Horsbøll Møller May 17 '13 at 12:49

You also can use NoSQL databases to store geographic data. Scaling GIS Data in non-relational data stores is easy due to the nature of its architecture.


PostGIS is certainly the best one, for most of the use cases in GIS.

If you need an advanced managment of topology, I would advice Gothic.

I thought Yeoman disposed of everyone that understood Gothic, or is the same name being used for new software? – Ian Nov 1 '11 at 13:24

The most popular in the world are Postgresql-PostGIS and Oracle-Spatial (locator). Postgresql-PostGIS is the most advanced opensource Spatial DB. It is reliable, used successful in many productive systems, big community and tested on many systems. I have bad experience with Oracle-Spatial and locator. It is slower, hard to use, more complicated than PostGIS. New GIS features (implementing OGC standard) come after large time delay. The perormance of oracle is much lower than postgis.

Performance test of Oracle and PosGIS is here:


Pro Postgis - bounding box which is one of the most important options for rendering big number of data. Mysql doesn't have bbox option.


Here are a few real-time, big-data, geospatial databases:


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