I am a long-time programmer, new to GIS. I am trying to get a feel for various aspects of GIS. In addition to my question about database, I am wondering about a GUI.

The sort of applications I am liable to code would things like:

  • fleet management (land or ocean based vehicles)
  • employee tracking
  • inventory control (at a granularity of a physical position accurate to with a metre or so)

I would normally expect to be tracking no more than 1 few hundred (maximum, possibly a few thousand) items. Sometimes the items will be located in the same (large) building, series of building, city, country or world-wide, depending on the application.

I will be visually representing them either on a custom floor plan of a building but, more likely, in Google Earth or something similar.

What are the major alternatives, given that I wish to develop a marketable product? (which implies a stable GUI with good support)

Which of these would be cheapest for me as a developer? (e.g, I believe that Google Earth is free up to a certain number of views, but some more commercial rivals may require me to invest a few $k in their software long before I can develop my app & see return on my money)

Given the sort of applications which I am liable to develop, which system would best meet the needs of my end users, rather than me as a developer?

Given that it is a business app, would a Windows desktop program be acceptable or should I be looking only at browser based, given the trend towards slate PCs and smartphones?

I have done some reading, but was thinking of taking an online course. This one looks excellent, but alas is not currently available.

Can anyone recommend another, preferably free, or a good online source of information and training?

  • 1
    possible duplicate of (When) should I use a GIS-enabled database? Sep 27, 2012 at 6:25
  • I'll give you +1 (though not sure why ;-). Nope, I asked both and although there is a bit of cut & paste in the text, there are two extremely distinct questions - databse and the visual respresentation thereof. p.s why isn't the other marked as a possible duplicate of this? ;-) Sep 27, 2012 at 7:02
  • 4
    Can you create new questions - 6 Questions is too many for one answer. GIS SE is designed to have 1 question 1 answer. Thanks - you can related to the original question.
    – Mapperz
    Sep 27, 2012 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


For courses that you could take I'd recommend some of Penn State's open courseware. With particular reference to GEOG 863: GIS Mashups for GIS Professionals, GEOG 585: Open Web Mapping and GEOG 489: GIS Application Development.

Disclaimer: I wrote (but no longer teach) Geog585. I have no current connection to PSU or the Master's in GIS course.

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