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GIS software encompasses a broad range of applications, all of which involve the use of some combination of digital maps and georeferenced data. GIS software can be sorted into different categories.[1] Below is a list of GIS software applications.

Open Source Software

The development of open source GIS software has - in terms of software history - a long tradition[2] with the appearance of a first system in 1978. Numerous systems are nowadays available which cover all sectors of geospatial data handling.

Desktop GIS

The following open source desktop GIS projects are reviewed in Steiniger and Bocher (2008/9)[3]:

Quantum GIS
  • GRASS GIS – Originally developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, open source: a complete GIS
  • SAGA GIS – System for Automated Geoscientific Analysis- a hybrid GIS software. SAGA has a unique Application Programming Interface (API) and a fast growing set of geoscientific methods, bundled in exchangeable Module Libraries.
  • Quantum GIS – QGIS is an Open Source GIS that runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, and Windows.
  • MapWindow GIS – Free, open source GIS desktop application and programming component.
  • ILWIS – ILWIS (Integrated Land and Water Information System) integrates image, vector and thematic data.
  • uDig – Open source GIS desktop application (API and source code (Java) available).
  • gvSIG – Open source GIS written in Java.
  • Open JUMP GIS / OpenJUMP – (Open) Java Unified Mapping Platform (the desktop GIS OpenJUMP, SkyJUMP, deeJUMP and Kosmo emerged from JUMP; see [3])
  • Geospatial Analysis Tools|Whitebox GAT – Open source and transparent GIS software
  • Kalypso (software) – Kalypso is an Open Source GIS (Java, GML3) and focuses mainly on numerical simulations in water management.
  • TerraView – GIS desktop that handles vector and raster data stored in a relational or geo-relational database, i.e. a frontend for TerraLib.
  • Capaware – Capaware is also an Open Source GIS, a C++ 3D GIS Framework with a multiple plugin architecture for geographic graphical analysis and visualization.
  • FalconView – FalconView is a mapping system created by the Georgia Tech Research Institute for the Windows family of operating systems. A free, open source version is available.

Other GIS tools

WebMap Server

  • Mapnik - C++/Python library for rendering - used by OpenStreetMap.
  • GeoServer.
  • MapGuide Open Source – Web-based mapping server.
  • MapServer – Web-based mapping server, developed by the University of Minnesota.
  • ST-Links – Connection tool for working with ArcMap and spatial databases PostGres/PostGIS, SQL Server spatial.
  • Chameleon (GIS)|Chameleon – Environments for building applications with MapServer.
  • MapPoint, a technology ("MapPoint Web Service," previously known as MapPoint .NET) and a specific software program created by Microsoft that allows users to view, edit and integrate maps.

Spatial Database Management Systems

  • PostGIS – Spatial extensions for the open source PostgreSQL database, allowing geospatial queries.
  • TerraLib is a spatial DBMS and also provides advanced functions for GIS analysis.
  • SpatiaLite – Spatial extensions for the open source SQLite database, allowing geospatial queries.

Software Development Frameworks and Libraries (non-web)

  • GeoTools – Open source GIS toolkit written in Java (programming language)|Java, using Open Geospatial Consortium specifications.
  • GDAL / OGR
  • Orfeo toolbox

Software Development Frameworks and Libraries (for web applications)

  • OpenLayers – open source AJAX library for accessing geographic data layers of all kinds, originally developed and sponsored by MetaCarta.
  • MapFish
  • GeoBase (Telogis GIS software) - Geospatial mapping software available as a Software development kit, which performs various functions including address lookup, mapping, routing, reverse geocoding, and navigation. Suited for high transaction enterprise environments.
  • Geomajas, open source development software for web-based and cloud based GIS applications

Cataloging application for spatially referenced resources

Desktop GIS Providers

Note: Almost all of the below companies offer Desktop GIS and WebMap Server products. Some offer Spatial DBMS products as well.

Companies with High Market Share

  • Autodesk – Products include Map 3D, Topobase, MapGuide and other products that interface with its flagship AutoCAD software package.
  • IGIS – developed by ScanPoint Geomatics Ltd. a complete GIS.
  • Bentley Systems – Products include Bentley Map, Bentley Map View and other products that interface with its flagship MicroStation software package.
  • ERDAS IMAGINE by ERDAS Inc; products include Leica Photogrammetry Suite, ERDAS ER Mapper, and ERDAS ECW JPEG2000 SDK (ECW (file format))are used throughout the entire mapping community (GIS, Remote Sensing, Photogrammetry, and image compression).
  • Esri – Products include ArcView, ArcGIS, ArcSDE, ArcIMS, ArcWeb services and ArcGIS Server.
  • Intergraph – Products include G/Technology, GeoMedia, GeoMedia Professional, GeoMedia WebMap, and add-on products for industry sectors, as well as photogrammetry.
  • ENVI (software)|ENVI - Utilized for image analysis, exploitation, and hyperspectral analysis.
  • MapInfo|Pitney Bowes Software by Pitney Bowes – Products include MapInfo Professional and MapXtreme.
  • Smallworld – developed in Cambridge, England (Smallworld, Inc.) and purchased by General Electric and used primarily by Public utility|public utilities.

Companies with Minor but Notable Market Share

  • Aquaveo - Developers of GMS (software)|GMS, WMS (hydrology software)|WMS, SMS (hydrology software)|SMS, which are modular hydrology programs with 3D mapping features.
  • Cadcorp – Products include Cadcorp SIS, GeognoSIS, mSIS and developer kits
  • Caliper Corporation|Caliper – Products include Maptitude, TransModeler and TransCAD
  • Dragon (remote sensing)|Dragon/ips – Remote sensing software with some GIS capabilities.
  • Field-Map : GIS tool designed for computer aided field data collection, used mainly for mapping of forest ecosystems.
  • IDRISI – GIS and Image Processing product developed by Clark Labs at Clark University. Affordable and robust, it is used for both operations and education.
  • Manifold System – GIS software package.
  • Netcad – Desktop and web based GIS products developed by :TR:Ulusal_CAD_ve_GIS_Çözümleri_A.Ş.|Ulusal CAD ve GIS Çözümleri A.Ş.
  • RegioGraph by GfK GeoMarketing; GIS software for business planning and analyses; company also provides compatible maps and market data.


  1. "GIS Software - A description in 1000 words", S. Steiniger and R. Weibel
  2. Source GIS History - OSGeo Wiki Editors|accessdate=2009-Mar-21
  3. 3.0 3.1 Overview on Current Free and Open Source Desktop GIS Developments - Steiniger and Bocher|accessdate=2011-Aug-05