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At IU, how can I access free GIS software?

Many free GIS and spatial data viewers are available to the public. This is a short list of applications UITS recommends. If you are interested in purchasing GIS or remote sensing software (such as ArcGIS and ERDAS IMAGINE), see At IU, how can I obtain GIS and remote sensing software?

GIS applications

  • ArcGIS for Desktop, available by request from Esri, is for visualizing, managing, creating, and analyzing geographic data. This trial software includes many analysis and productivity ArcGIS extensions at no cost for 60 days. Tutorials and sample data are also provided.

  • AccuGlobe is an easy-to-use tool designed for developing, editing, and viewing GIS data. Custom extensions to expand upon the core, as well as plug-ins that add functionality to the core application, are also available.

  • GeoVIEW-3D provides an object-oriented approach to 3D visualization, process modeling, and simulation.

  • Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) handles geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics/maps production, spatial modeling, and 3D visualization.

  • Open Source Software Image Map (OSSIM) is a high-performance software system for remote sensing, image processing, geographical information systems, and photogrammetry. It is written in C++, employing the latest techniques in object-oriented software design. A number of command-line utilities, GUI tools and applications, and integrated systems have been implemented with the baseline. Many of those tools and applications are included with the software releases.

  • Unidata is a diverse community of over 250 institutions vested in the common goal of sharing data, and software to access and visualize that data.

Note: Indiana University faculty can request free ArcGIS software for students in their GIS or GIS-related class; see At IU, how can faculty request ArcGIS software for students?

GIS software extensions and tools

  • ESRI supports Python for ArcGIS as the scripting language for data analysis, data conversion, data management, and map automation.

  • The NOAA Coastal Services Center provides several tools and extensions that make spatial data more useful. For environmental analysis, you can use the Habitat Priority Planner, the Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool, and the Impervious Surface Analysis Tool. You will also find tools for storm mapping, hurricane tracking, and hazard assessment.

Data viewers

  • ArcGIS Explorer is a free Esri application designed to help you view and share geographic information. In ArcGIS Explorer, you can use a variety of maps and layers, including imagery, topographic maps, physical features, shaded relief, historical maps, and street maps, provided free by Esri. You can combine layers with local data or other services to create your own custom maps, which you can easily share.

  • Esri's ArcReader is a free mapping application to view, explore, and print maps and globes. ArcReader views Published Map Files (.pmf), created using the ArcGIS Publisher extension from Esri, similarly to the way Adobe Reader displays PDF files created with Adobe Acrobat.

  • ERDAS ViewFinder, a free viewing tool with basic image viewing and manipulation capabilities, includes the ability to display .img files, .tiff files, GeoTIFs, and MrSID image files. This application permits image enhancement, spatial queries, and image reprojection.

  • Brava! Reader, a free viewer for Windows desktop, allows users to view PDF, .tif, .tiff, .sid, .csf, and .xdl images. After installation, from the Options menu, select Set as Default Viewer. Next to Imaging Formats, check .sid, .tif, and .tiff, so you will be able to view these files.

  • Google Earth, a free application, combines satellite imagery, maps, and Google Search. You can search for an address, view terrain in 3D, and share your searches with others.

  • Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) is a Java-based software framework for analyzing and visualizing geoscience data.
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Last modified on January 16, 2014.

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