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Best Open Source programs to learn

- - - - - Open Source Graphic Design Web Map

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I'm a newbie who is still developing their skill set. My training focussed on use of ArcGIS, but I want to become familiar and proficient with a variety of Open Source programs. Specifically, I'd like to become proficient at using open source programs for graphic design, web mapping and desktop mapping. Any opinions about which programs are useful to learn as potential future tools in my professional cartographic endeavors?


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Hans van der Maarel

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For open source GIS I'd recommend looking into QGIS. Desktop mapping is not something I'd do in that to be honest (or any other GIS for that matter) but a lot of people get very good results by using QGIS to produce a map and then use Inkscape for any final touch-ups.

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I use the approach Hans mentioned... QGIS and then Inkscape (vector drawing program). Gimp is an open-source image editing software, comparable to Photoshop. 


QGIS is getting better and better for cartography with nice options for symbology, labeling, blend modes, and different layer effects. It is definitely worth playing around with since it's free. Layout and small adjustments are not quite as a practical, so that's where I like to export into inkscape and move things around. 


For web mapping, I prefer Leaflet (for the front-end). There are plugins for QGIS that will export your QGIS document to the html and js files for a web map. 

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Open Source, Graphic Design, Web Map

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