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I'm looking for a free and reasonably licensed alternative to ArcGIS Desktop (or maybe just ArcGIS Server). I'm quite new to GIS, so I'll state some of the things I want to be able to do and you can tell me what alternatives are out there.

I need to be able to convert from GML or Shapefile format to some GIS database format, (I bet I can't do this with GDAL/OGR but I'm not sure). And then I want to be able to programmatically query the database for assets of certain types within specified bounds. For instance, I would like to find all roads within a lat/long box and extract their names and their polyline representations.

At this point I am only interested in a programmatic API. I'm not interested in anything with a GUI.

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  • There are already similar questions to this one on the site. gis.stackexchange.com/questions/24/… gis.stackexchange.com/questions/187/…
    – Zachary
    Aug 23 '10 at 16:44
  • those questions are related but not similar. John is looking for a framework for GIS software development not an end user product, and Open Source is not a requirement. Aug 23 '10 at 17:56
  • John I recommend adding "for software development" or similar to the subject line to emphasize the "no GUIs please" aspect of the question. Aug 23 '10 at 18:12
  • Understood. The reason I pointed them out is to avoid bogging the site down with variations of the same questions.
    – Zachary
    Aug 23 '10 at 18:20
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OGR can convert GML and/or shapefile to PostGIS, SpatiaLite and a number of other datastores, and has a well developed API. Both postgis and spatialite can support the kind of query you want, though I personally have not done so (actually depending on the details of your queries, you may be able to do all of it in OGR).

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Based on your description, you will need the OGR library (to convert from GML/shape to your database) and a spatially enabled database (I would recommend PostGIS).

If you are happy with a raw database to query with SQL, that's all you need. There are plenty of postgres utility libraries, and one for your programming language of choice.

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Free GIS Alternatives:

http://www.qgis.org/

http://udig.refractions.net/

http://www.openjump.org/

http://grass.itc.it/

Web GIS

http://mapserver.org/

http://geoserver.org/display/GEOS/Welcome

*Some require plugins or additional steps to incorporate your GIS requirements

Mapperz uses all of the above with Postgres (with Postgis) as the Spatial Database.

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