In a typical GIS setup what are the different components that need to be there?

For example:

  • there needs to be a client program that can show the tiles and layers
  • there needs to be some GIS server that can query that layer database and return results that can be overlayed on MAP on client
  • Do we need a tile server for serving tiles or is it also job of GIS server?
  • There needs to be a database that saves all the GIS data
  • We can have shape files locally on the client machine

What other components can be there?

  • 1
    This question is all over the place.
    – CaptDragon
    Apr 12, 2011 at 18:18
  • 1
    @Hasan: could you clarify your question? What specifically are you trying to achieve?
    – scw
    Apr 12, 2011 at 18:42
  • I'm just trying to understand what are the client and server software required for a GIS app to work. Apr 12, 2011 at 19:03
  • 1
    @Hasan - as in a web GIS set up, or a desktop setup? On a desktop you don't have to have a server Apr 13, 2011 at 9:35
  • i meant both setups Apr 13, 2011 at 10:09

4 Answers 4


Ok, so this is a very broad question. Most GIS systems scale based on your demand. The questions you need to look at first are:

Who are your users? Are they web-viewers? Are they transactional updaters? And how many? What formats of data do you need to work with? Will you be exchanging data with third parties?

In some cases QGIS might be a quick answer, running on a linux machine for very little cost.

Or you might see yourself needs high speed, transactional GIS with large scale datasets talking between systems where you might be looking at ESRI ArcGIS Desktop (ArcInfo) in conjunction with a ArcGIS/ArcSDE Server talking to a PostGIS or even Oracle backend using a ETL tool like Safe/FME.

So you first task; as you start to answer these questions is to look at your requirements and ascertain how much you really need to do. From there you can then target how many users, how much data, and how you need to serve and support it...


That's a nice article you mention above, I found this white paper helpful when I was wrapping my head around the "GIS Stack".

The OpenGeo Suite community edition provides a mapping server (Geoserver), tile cache (GeoWebCache), and a nice thin client (GeoExplorer). Then for the heavier users they can use QGIS or uDig to access the same PostGIS database. It's a reasonably flexible setup, when you get the backend stuff right.


  • Great article. This is what I was talking about. Apr 15, 2011 at 10:50

Simple and Good GIS set-up.

QGIS +Postgres/postgis

note: for RASTERS you must use the most recent version of postgres/postgis as PostGIS now supports rasters (WKTRaster)




A Spatial Reference System (SRS)

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