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.


3 Answers 3


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).


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.


Free GIS Alternatives:








*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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