I'm looking for a package to develop a simple offline GIS desktop application that works on a tablet/laptop for using it on the terrain (namely for annotating existing maps).

The program has following requirements:

  • Able to show/load vector and image data offline (formats doesn't matter much)
  • Able to edit basic data. So able to save vector data.
  • Desktop or Android
  • We want to create our own routines for editing the data.

I have looked a bit to ArcGIS SDKs, but offline is in beta there so I was wondering if there are other (maybe open source) toolkits that some of you have experience with.

I'm not interested in things like buffering, geoprocessing,... We want to be able to show vector and image data and provide our interface on top of that.

  • Just to add another option: Maybe a HTML5 webapp will do? Setup your own local webserver on the machine, and run it from there. Anotherone would be ArcPad.
    – til_b
    Nov 18, 2013 at 10:38
  • @til_b: I have been thinking about HTML5 too, but what webserver would you suggest then? ArcGIS Server is too expensive to install on every machine. Also, the machines that will be used are not the most powerful (they have to be used on the terrain). I've been looking at ArcPad, but I'm not sure it can be customized enough (we want our own routins for editing the data).
    – tmske
    Nov 18, 2013 at 13:23
  • 1
    QGIS with Android hub.qgis.org/projects/android-qgis
    – Mapperz
    Nov 18, 2013 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


I'd suggest starting with something that has good support for various formats, is open source (so you have flexibility to fix the one thing that isn't exposed in the SDK that you end up "really needing") and provides you some basic UI (to at least get started).

A candidate: QMap. Build on QGIS, python customisation. Check Nathan's blog for more suggestions (e.g. how to make a custom form)

Others have written about simplifying the UI and making it talk to "your data"

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