I think my GIS needs would be considered simple for the 3500 acre estate I manage:

  1. create maps of our roads, trails, fields, and buildings, and show distances on the roads and trails;

  2. calculate areas in SF or acres for tasks such as fertilizing fields or forestry projects.

It would be nice if I could produce a database of the results so I can automatically calculate the miles of certain road types we have, water resources, or the acres of various areas to be fertilized or timbered. I want to use layers of satellite photos or topo maps (which I can geo-locate), my drawing layers, and import Garmin data also.

I guess that can be done with a pretty simple system.

I use fGIS (Forestry GIS) which was free but buggy, with no hope of being fixed now that they stopped updating the free version. It was relatively easy to learn, but extensive editing of polygon areas leaves visual anomalies, and the database does not update reliably when editing areas.

What's out there that can do my simple tasks (reliably) without having to learn a lot of complex things I'll never use. I'll pay for a simple program (up to $200?) if that's what it takes to get reliability.


It is finally a matter of taste but if I should use only one program I would select one of

  • QGIS
  • gvSIG (or gvSIG CE)
  • Kosmo GIS
  • uDig

Map Window and OpenJUMP are also worth mentioning. They are more simple but with less features, especially OpenJUMP which suits best for certain vector processing.

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  • @user31132 My recommendation would be biased since I've only worked with QGIS or even really heard of that one. But that bias might be a selling point - there's a large user base and if you run into problems you're more than likely going to find a lot of help out there to solve them. It also give you a lot of room to grow if you want to learn more complex things. – Chris W Jun 7 '14 at 18:24
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    I too have only used QGIS; I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of tutorials, plugins and help available... for an open source product it's surprisingly good and well documented. of course there are still bugs, but take it from me there's bugs in every software even the expensive ones (not naming names). It will do everything you have listed (with plugins) and more! – Michael Stimson Jun 8 '14 at 0:39
  • Thanks, all. QGIS certainly has gotten the lion's share of votes. I had already been trying it, but got frustrated with the buggy labeling process. Other than that, it seems richly featured, maybe more than I need. I'll have a go at the others--I need to get my GIS skills up and running again in my current job.. – CallMeChaz Jun 14 '14 at 14:42

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