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Soil Scientist by day...


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#1
dylan

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Open Source GIS / Cartography Enthusiast by Night.

Greetings from Davis, Ca.

I am an M.S. student in the Soils and Biogeochemistry Deptartment here at UC Davis working on soil-landscape and soil-environment modeling. Mapping soil and vegetation properties and trends is a big part of what I do. Not surprisingly I am quite fond of map making and analysis.

Most of my undergraduate study was done using the standard suite of ESRI tools, which for the most part did everything I wanted. I was very put off by the fact that I couldn't take the software home to work on personal projects. In the first few months of my M.S. program I became an avid follower of the Zen which is UNIX and open source software. Since then, I have been doing about 95% of all my map making, and analysis with open source software tools. Some of my favorite are:
  • GMT - The gnereic mapping tools
  • GRASS - GIS/Image processing
  • GDAL - geospatial abstraction library
  • PROJ - projection library
  • Gimp - raster image app
  • Inkscape -vector image app
  • UMN Mapserver -online mapping made easy
  • MySQL - not really a mapping tool, but good for storing all my data
  • PHP - used as a glue code between Mapserver and MySQL
I am interested in all things related to soil science and mapping, especially soil mapping. Our lab website has some information on digital soils mapping, as well as some tutorials on using open source mapping tools. In addition, we have developed an online soil survey. If anyone is interested in this type of stuff, feel free to check it out here: Ca Soil Resource Lab

This is a great site, and I am looking forward to some interesting conversations.

Dylan Beaudette

#2
frax

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Welcome, interesting to hear from someone from that "other" camp. It would be great to see some of the maps you have prepared using those tools in the map gallery.

Also -- in case you have any experience with e.g. Illustrator, would you care to compare for instance Inkscape?

I am using a fair bit of open source tools myself, and I keep an open mind. Sad to say, I don't think there are or will ever be tools that match the higher end GIS and graphics software (adobe, esri and others). I was a big GIMP user for a long time, when on a student budget, but I can't really see myself going back from photoshop now...
Hugo Ahlenius
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#3
dylan

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Welcome, interesting to hear from someone from that "other" camp. It would be great to see some of the maps you have prepared using those tools in the map gallery.


Thanks for the welcome from the other camp :) . I would be happy to post some of the maps that we produce. However, much of what we produce is directed toward assisting field study and therefore not quite as flashy as maps for public consumption.

Also -- in case you have any experience with e.g. Illustrator, would you care to compare for instance Inkscape?


Sure. I prefere Illustrator any day. In fact, for detailed charts and posters I use Illustrator. Inkscape can do many things, and is evolving rapidly, but its not quite on par with Illustrator. I tend to use Inkscape and Scribus for simple vector illustrations such as flyers and small posters- as it is simpler to run on my Linux machine.

I am using a fair bit of open source tools myself, and I keep an open mind. Sad to say, I don't think there are or will ever be tools that match the higher end GIS and graphics software (adobe, esri and others). I was a big GIMP user for a long time, when on a student budget, but I can't really see myself going back from photoshop now...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Indeed, often times there are not many options outside of the commercial software. I don't see this as a problem per se (I am happy to pay for software like photoshop and illustrator), however some of the GIS options out there are frankly very over priced for what they do. Perhaps my favorite thing about open source software, especially GRASS, is that I can add and modify functionality at the source code level. If I think others might be interested in the changes, I can submit them to the lead developers. Once everything checks out, those changes will be incorporated into the software.

#4
RGKennedy

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...the Zen which is UNIX...

I love this phrase. I once had barely passing competence with UNIX, and admit that I enjoyed its fascinating obscurity. An operating system that will delete itself with a single, brief command is a wonder to behold. And the vi editor! What marvelous minimalism!

#5
Hans van der Maarel

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And the vi editor! What marvelous minimalism!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If only it had an interface <_<

Then again... it could be worse... Anybody here remember edlin?
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#6
frax

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Personally I do all my text editing in vim (including programming and ArcInfo AML scripts). Great piece of software, I run it mostly on Windows, but also on some Solaris servers.
Hugo Ahlenius
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