GIS software recommendation

SuperChooch

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Aug 26, 2011
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I’m a techie and enjoy exploring the pines. I have historically used Google Earth Pro to look at areas I want to explore, create routes or points of interest, import various maps or overlays etc. When I go out exploring, I record a track using GaiaGPS on my phone and then import the results into Google Earth. Google Earth is great, but limited in it’s ability to import, export and manipulate various datasets and so I was looking at something a little more capability. Going forward, I’m interested in creating my own maps by merging existing dataset with my own data. I also want to share my results with myself (i.e. publishing the map somewhere where it could be read by GaiaGPS when I’m out and about) or sharing it for others use and enjoyment. I play around with both vector and raster data, but I would say that using vector data is more important to me. So far, I’ve tooled around with OpenStreetMaps, Mapbox, and was about to play around with a trial version of ArcGIS desktop and ArcGIS Online. So far, OpenStreetMaps and Mapbox don’t seem to be good fits for me. I know several of you are very familiar with this territory. I don’t mind spending money on my hobby and I’m guessing that ArcGIS probably would meet my needs, but not sure at this point if I should go that route or if there are other better and more simple alternatives. Thoughts?

UPDATED: Here is the summary of my analysis

Rating Scale: 1 = worst, 5 = best
ToolLicensingCostOS SupportUser Interface / Ease of UseCapabilitiesCommunity Support (Ability to share and use shared data, availability of information in forums and on YouTube )Summary
Google EarthFree$0Windows, Mac523Dead simple and easy. No GIS background required. No cost. Easy and intuitive folder structure for managing features and layers. However, has no real GIS capabilities and is very limited in the type of data that can be exchanged. (can only import/export KML/KMZ) If you need to do any real GIS work, you will quickly outgrow this tool.
ArcGISSubscription$100 per year, plus hosting credits if data is shared onlineWindows Only455Ubiquitous in the GIS world, lots of data to use, instructional videos on YouTube and robust user forums. The most capable tool, with the least about of work. Provides a turnkey professional experience. However, this experience comes at a cost: uses a subscription cost model (i.e. you will continually have to pay for as long as you use it). There are additional costs if you want to host your data online. It also has limitations on commercial use with personal use license. There is a higher risk of vendor "lock in" than say, QGIS, which uses totally open standards.
QGISFree, Open Source$0Windows, Mac354Can do everything ArcGIS can do, with just more steps. ("The Rube Goldberg of GIS tools" - from Boyd) - Very apt analogy. However, it is very hard to argue with free and open source software. If you are looking for the most capability at the least cost and don't mind a little extra work, this is the choice for you. There are no limitations and it has a vibrant user community
Global MapperPerpetual License$599, one time cost. Additional cost for upgradesWindows443As capable, or nearly as capable as ArcGIS or QGIS. Easier to use than QGIS and provides a slightly less turnkey experience than ArcGIS. Uses a perpetual licenses model and has no license limitations. Very responsive company.

Here is some guidance based on some common use cases: (my opinion)
  • If you just need a tool for organizing tracks, planning routes, using maps to look for areas to explore and are and not willing to spend anything, Google Earth is probably a good choice
  • If you additionally need to do more advanced data processing or need work with data tables, are looking to integrate multiple data sources, Google Earth will not meet your needs. In that case, consider the following:
    • If cost is king and you don't mind a little trial and error in the tool, choose QGIS
    • If you are willing to spend money, and want a top tier product, and don't mind some potential ornery license restrictions, or a subscription model, ArcGIS might be the best choice
    • If you are willing to spend money and want to avoid any sort of licensing restrictions and/or are opposed to a subscription model, Global Mapper might be the best choice
    • If you are exclusively a Mac user, ArcGIS and Global Mapper are not for you, consider QGIS
 
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bobpbx

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This year, in my plant surveying, I've had to import data to and from Excell and a GPS. I am in no way a techie, so I needed something easy and stable. I purchased a one year subscription to Expert GPS. It comes with an aerial now. I don't know all of it's capabilities, but you should at least look into it. They have a free trial period, and that worked for me, so I got it for a year.

 
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Boyd

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This year, in my plant surveying, I've had to import data to and from Excell and a GPS.

FWIW, you can create/edit/import/export waypoints with my free boydsmaps web app. It has capabiities that go pretty far beyond what Garmin can do. You can use the mobile version of the app in the field to create waypoints (with a bluetooth gps receiver if you want really high quality data) or just import/export waypoints in Garmin-compatible .gpx files (it can read/write waypoint files from Basecamp, Mapsource or your GPS). The mobile and desktop versions of the app have the same capabilities but the user interface is a bit different. It's possible to work with thousands of waypoints if your phone or computer is fast enough.

To get an idea of what's possible, download the sample files here

https://boydsmaps.com/download/wpts.zip

Here's a screenshot of the state park POI file

spreadsheet.jpg


Click the gear at the top left to access the waypoint functions

wpoptions.png


The Layout function is used to customize the spreadsheet data fields

layout.png


Individual waypoints can be edited from the spreadsheet or by simply clicking them on the map. If you have elevation display enabled, it will be automatically added when you create a waypoint. Or you can add it later by clicking the lookup button.

edit.jpg



The .gpx file format - especially Garmin's version - is very limited and aside from the coordinates and symbol, there are only two data fields supported (name and comment). To take full advantage of my app, use the boydsmaps format which is just a tab-delimited text file. MS Excel can read/write these files

excel.jpg


So it's very easy to go from boydsmaps to Excel. But once you look at how my format works, it should be quite simple to create your own spreadsheets that can be imported into boydsmaps. BTW, each waypoint you create includes a full link to the map it was created on. So you can use waypoints like bookmarks in the boydsmaps app.

Use the Help function in the app for full documentation of all these capabilities. So far as I know, Al is the only person here using any of this. Or perhaps there are others who just haven't mentioned it? Anyway, a lot of effort went into the waypoint module, it's all my own code, written from scratch. So check it out sometime if you are so inclined. :)
 
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I’m a techie and enjoy exploring the pines. I have historically used Google Earth Pro to look at areas I want to explore, create routes or points of interest, import various maps or overlays etc. When I go out exploring, I record a track using GaiaGPS on my phone and then import the results into Google Earth. Google Earth is great, but limited in it’s ability to import, export and manipulate various datasets and so I was looking at something a little more capability. Going forward, I’m interested in creating my own maps by merging existing dataset with my own data. I also want to share my results with myself (i.e. publishing the map somewhere where it could be read by GaiaGPS when I’m out and about) or sharing it for others use and enjoyment. I play around with both vector and raster data, but I would say that using vector data is more important to me. So far, I’ve tooled around with OpenStreetMaps, Mapbox, and was about to play around with a trial version of ArcGIS desktop and ArcGIS Online. So far, OpenStreetMaps and Mapbox don’t seem to be good fits for me. I know several of you are very familiar with this territory. I don’t mind spending money on my hobby and I’m guessing that ArcGIS probably would meet my needs, but not sure at this point if I should go that route or if there are other better and more simple alternatives. Thoughts?
I'm a wildlife ecologist and almost exclusively use QGIS when doing GIS work. It's open-source (free) and does pretty much everything that ArcMap can.

 

Boyd

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Thoughts?

Plenty, but will just mention a few...

I have been using Globalmapper for everything since around 2007 and have upgraded a few times along the way. It used to be relatively inexpensive, but of course the price increased over time. Awhile ago, the company was bought by Blue Marble and they added other capabilites, increased the price and made the licenses more restrictive. I have been using version 12 which is almost 10 years old until yesterday when I finally upgraded to version 23, which set me back about $630. :eek: I put this off for a long time because my old version still runs fine on Windows 10 plus it was very comfortable, like an old pair of jeans. But finally convinced myself some of the new features were worth the upgrade. Time will tell if that was right. You can download a free trial that works for a couple weeks, although you it will only allow you to export a few files, so don't get too carried away with that.

I considered going with ArcGIS but decided against it. From what I could tell, it would be a $700/year subscription for my kind of usage. That's a bit pricey, but I might have gone with it. However, I run Windows in a Macintosh virtual machine and it failed the compatibility checker program. Also, I was a bit reluctant to learn completely new software after so many years with Globalmapper - at least I know all its quirks and limitations.

If you are just doing this stuff for fun, ArcGIS used to have a personal version that was very inexpensive. I thought about switching to that years ago, but it looked like a trap - after your are used to their software and make some maps, if you want to sell one someday, then you would have to upgrade to the expensive full version.

I have used the Maptalks API to build my own app, it has an interesting history. Originally developed by YUM brands during their expansion in China, they used it to study locations for Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, LOL. Afterwards, they turned it into free open-source software at github. Just a few weeks ago I started digging into Mapbox and - wow - I'm impressed. A lot of the stuff I needed just wasn't documented but I eventually figured out how to fully integrate it into my own app inside a Maptalks container. The 3d stuff still blows me away, have you seen this thread? I wrote a lot about this towards the end, if you haven't seen it yet.

https://forums.njpinebarrens.com/th...ps-web-app-is-finally-here.13910/#post-166882

I'm not really clear on what you want to accomplish, but Mapbox is very powerful when you "look under the hood". You will need to learn how to use some very complicated command-line tools like their rasterio to do the really cool stuff.

Have you used qGIS? It's a free, open-source, very powerful GIS package. I have used it a bit an am always impressed... but at the same time really frustrated by the weird user interface and random bugs. Worth checking out however, it can do almost anything and runs on all platforms.
 
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SuperChooch

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Aug 26, 2011
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Plenty, but will just mention a few...

I have been using Globalmapper for everything since around 2007 and have upgraded a few times along the way. It used to be relatively inexpensive, but of course the price increased over time. Awhile ago, the company was bought by Blue Marble and they added other capabilites, increased the price and made the licenses more restrictive. I have been using version 12 which is almost 10 years old until yesterday when I finally upgraded to version 23, which set me back about $630. :eek: I put this off for a long time because my old version still runs fine on Windows 10 plus it was very comfortable, like an old pair of jeans. But finally convinced myself some of the new features were worth the upgrade. Time will tell if that was right. You can download a free trial that works for a couple weeks, although you it will only allow you to export a few files, so don't get too carried away with that.

I considered going with ArcGIS but decided against it. From what I could tell, it would be a $700/year subscription for my kind of usage. That's a bit pricey, but I might have gone with it. However, I run Windows in a Macintosh virtual machine and it failed the compatibility checker program. Also, I was a bit reluctant to learn completely new software after so many years with Globalmapper - at least I know all its quirks and limitations.

If you are just doing this stuff for fun, ArcGIS used to have a personal version that was very inexpensive. I thought about switching to that years ago, but it looked like a trap - after your are used to their software and make some maps, if you want to sell one someday, then you would have to upgrade to the expensive full version.

I have used the Maptalks API to build my own app, it has an interesting history. Originally developed by YUM brands during their expansion in China, they used it to study locations for Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, LOL. Afterwards, they turned it into free open-source software at github. Just a few weeks ago I started digging into Mapbox and - wow - I'm impressed. A lot of the stuff I needed just wasn't documented but I eventually figured out how to fully integrate it into my own app inside a Maptalks container. The 3d stuff still blows me away, have you seen this thread? I wrote a lot about this towards the end, if you haven't seen it yet.

https://forums.njpinebarrens.com/th...ps-web-app-is-finally-here.13910/#post-166882

I'm not really clear on what you want to accomplish, but Mapbox is very powerful when you "look under the hood". You will need to learn how to use some very complicated command-line tools like their rasterio to do the really cool stuff.

Have you used qGIS? It's a free, open-source, very powerful GIS package. I have used it a bit an am always impressed... but at the same time really frustrated by the weird user interface and random bugs. Worth checking out however, it can do almost anything and runs on all platforms.
Thank you for the detailed reply! I had a feeling you might weigh in. :) I dinked around with Mapbox for a bit but it didn’t really seem to be a good fit, since I’m not building an amazing app like you did. ;-). I will read your post on the 3D capabilities. That is what got me looking at ArcGIS next and you’re right, the personal usage license is reasonable ($100 p year), but you’re also right, I need to look more into the limitations. I got my demo license today but haven’t been able to play around. I will also try qGIS too. I’ve tried other open source alternatives to big name apps and weird UIs is something that annoys me so if that is the weakness with it, I would probably lean toward shelling out $$. I’ll give these a shot and report back.
 
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Boyd

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but you’re also right, I need to look more into the limitations.

I just couldn't go along with it. But if you are only going to make maps for your own use, and are SURE you will never want to pick up fifty bucks for making a map for somebody, I guess it's a good deal. But if you later want to do something commercial, you are stuck with their expensive subscription service. Also, it's not just you, if you give a map to somebody else, they also have to abide by these terms. Then, if ESRI disagrees with you, they can lock you and anyone else using your maps out of their software.

Sorry, no thanks. ;)

"Noncommercial Use" means Your authorized use of the Services wherein you provide the Services to third parties at no charge, and that You and/or Your third party customers do not generate income, promote the generation of income, promote the generation of income, or any other means of commercial advantage or private financial gain from such use. Esri reserves the right to determine if Your use of Noncommercial Services that access through ArcGIS Online qualifies as a no charge Noncommercial Use, or as a Commercial Use that requires a separate license and license fee. Esri may at any time, and at its sole discretion, change, alter, or discontinue the ArcGIS Online services provided to You or any third party customer accessing these free services.

 
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SuperChooch

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So I’ve been playing around with ArcGIS and I’ll admit, I like it a lot! Now, that being said, it is a proffessional, paid program so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it is very capable. I’ve been keeping a pros/cons list of what I’m finding with each of the apps and when it gets a little more mature, I’ll post it here for anyone else who stumbles upon this in the future.

Question in the meantime: for what I’m trying to do, I’m looking for a surface water layer of the pines. I found this:

https://njogis-newjersey.opendata.a...hd-streams-2002-for-new-jersey-download/about

but it just appears to vector lines (in other words, for example, the Mullica river, or Atsion lake, even at its widest, only appears as a narrow line, vs a polygon).

You may wonder why I want this vs using any number of raster layers that show this info and the reason is that I was trying to create a simplified map that does not include some of the other features that appear in those raster sources, so I was hoping to isolate the surface water in its own layer. If you know the answer to this question, I have the same question about trying to find layers that isolate elevation topology as well as wetlands, I just haven’t started looking for them yet.
 

Boyd

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Question in the meantime: for what I’m trying to do, I’m looking for a surface water layer of the pines. I found this:

As the title says, that is a stream dataset which (naturally) only consists of lines. You want areas (polygons) for waterbodies. The NHD (national hydrology dataset) has that and it can be downloaded via the national map. However, last I checked they are just using the NJ Land Use/Landcover (LULC) data which is available at njgin. That is what I use on my maps

https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/lulc12c.html

It's a bit confusing because it's organized by watersheds, so you need to figure out which you need and then extract the data you want. This is a very cool dataset with a wealth of data beyond just waterbodies. You will need to understand the Anderson classification system in order to extract the polygons you want

https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/digidownload/metadata/lulc12/codelist2012.html
 

SuperChooch

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As the title says, that is a stream dataset which (naturally) only consists of lines. You want areas (polygons) for waterbodies. The NHD (national hydrology dataset) has that and it can be downloaded via the national map. However, last I checked they are just using the NJ Land Use/Landcover (LULC) data which is available at njgin. That is what I use on my maps

https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/lulc12c.html

It's a bit confusing because it's organized by watersheds, so you need to figure out which you need and then extract the data you want. This is a very cool dataset with a wealth of data beyond just waterbodies. You will need to understand the Anderson classification system in order to extract the polygons you want

https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/digidownload/metadata/lulc12/codelist2012.html
You rock! Exactly what I was looking for! For this use, just filtered on "TYPE = "WATER" but I see there are all kinds of other cool feature classes in there as well!

Screenshot 2022-01-27 125715.png
 
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SuperChooch

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I'm a wildlife ecologist and almost exclusively use QGIS when doing GIS work. It's open-source (free) and does pretty much everything that ArcMap can.

@Average Bog Enjoyer - Are you also familiar with ArcGIS? I'm really trying hard to do an unbiased comparison. I've now started comparing what I learned with ArcGIS to QGIS. What I've found so far is that it seems (to me) that ArcGIS is a little more turnkey and polished. For example, ArcGIS just has a bunch of basemaps you can choose from where I need to seem to have to set up my own sources for QGIS. Likewise, it seemed ArcGIS had some very good symbology options that looked "professional" right out of the box, where the base QGIS symbology seems more "cartoony" and I'd have to spend more time formatting it. I didn't' find anything (so far) that I could do in ArcGIS that I couldn't do in QGIS, but I just seems like there are more steps to everything. Do you agree with that general assessment or am I just biased because I am now familiar with how the ArcGIS operates?
 

Boyd

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LOL, you can't even compare them. QGIS is "Rube Goldberg" open source software cobbled together by a bunch of different people with a core of GDAL, a command-line open source GIS application. ARCGIS is expensive, slick commercial software that costs thousands of dollars to legally use for real work. No offense, but just the way you have have posed the question says that QGIS isn't for you. It was never intended to make something "look professional right out of the box". ArcGIS is like hiring a contractor to remodel your home, QGIS is like borrowing your neighbor's beat-up old tools and doing it yourself. :)
 

SuperChooch

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LOL, you can't even compare them. QGIS is "Rube Goldberg" open source software cobbled together from a bunch of different sources with a core of GDAL, a command-line open source GIS application. ARCGIS is expensive, slick commercial software that costs thousands of dollars to legally use for real work. No offense, but just the way you have have posed the question says that QGIS isn't for you. It was never intended to make something "look professional right out of the box". ArcGIS is like hiring a contractor to remodel your home, QGIS is like borrowing your neighbor's beat-up old tools and doing it yourself.
Lol, ok, than it wasn’t just me. I was trying to keep an open mind and the way people seem to rave about it, I thought maybe it was just me. It reminded me of when I gave GIMP a try. (FOSS version of Photoshop). Just overall janky.
 
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Boyd

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Yes, exactly. Not really meaning to put it down however, as I said earlier, it can do almost anything. But it certainly doesn't have a polished feel, it's awkward and can be rather buggy. I used it a few weeks ago to make the recent LIDAR maps because it worked better with some command-line software from Mapbox to create elevation maps in their special format. But I experienced a number of odd issues along the way. For example, opening a big geoTIFF file (I mean BIG - almost 100gb) the image wouldn't appear on the screen even though the file was loaded. But if I just let it sit for awhile, eventually the image would appear. Weird.

However, it had the advantage of running natively on my Mac so it was faster than my old version of Globalmapper in a virtual machine for processing big files that take days of rendering. Of course, the other advantage is that QGIS is free. I would still think hard about your future use of ArcGIS because the limitations of that personal version are extreme. For example, I have helped two members of this site by making some maps. I didn't charge them anything, so that's fine. However, the ways in which they used those maps would violate the ArcGIS license.

You can't even give a free map to somebody if their use would "generate income, promote the generation of income or any other means of commercial advantage or private financial gain from such use".
 
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bobpbx

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In what I'm doing, I'm working for Audubon, who does have ArcGIS, so I took the job after obtaining a committment from them that I can submit my data in Excel and they'll do the mapping for the report. The report will have maps of course, and some of the maps have to import local data already assembled into maps by the customer, like soil type, vegetation, plant alliances, infrastructures, and water bodies. I'd rather be in the field than on a computer any day.
 

Boyd

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Right, and that makes perfect sense for you. But @SuperChooch wants to make maps and that is something which cannot be done with Excel. :)

I’m interested in creating my own maps by merging existing dataset with my own data.

However, this is what I think could be a problem with ArcGIS for his use...

I also want to share my results with myself (i.e. publishing the map somewhere where it could be read by GaiaGPS when I’m out and about) or sharing it for others use and enjoyment.

Sharing maps made with the personal version seems like a gray area to me, because you don't know what other people might do with them. Maybe it's fine? And probably the company would never know anyhow. But you never know. And then there's the bigger issue of getting locked into such a restrictive license if you have the opportunity to make a few bucks from your maps in the future, which would force you into the expensive $700/year subscription. Personally, I just didn't want that hanging over my head. I would not feel comfortable publishing maps made with the personal version of ArcGIS on my site, even though it is free.

Completely aside, I have mixed feelings about that company. Virtually every state/county/city uses their platform, it's become the de-facto standard. I guess it just bothers me to see such a cozy relationship between a private company and the public sector (funded by our tax dollars). Even the USGS recently switched to their platform. Guess I'm old fashioned, but I don't like to see proprietary map formats being used for public data. But that's just me.

Anyway, I'm still quite happy with Globalmapper. It's a one-time purchase, not a subscription. $600 isn't cheap, however I kept my last version for 10 years which would work out to $60/year instead of a $100/year arcGIS personal subscription. Anyway, ArcGIS won't run on my computer and (FWIW) it wouldn't run on yours either Bob, based on the specs you posted awhile ago. It needs a discrete GPU.
 
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SuperChooch

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I just couldn't go along with it. But if you are only going to make maps for your own use, and are SURE you will never want to pick up fifty bucks for making a map for somebody, I guess it's a good deal. But if you later want to do something commercial, you are stuck with their expensive subscription service. Also, it's not just you, if you give a map to somebody else, they also have to abide by these terms. Then, if ESRI disagrees with you, they can lock you and anyone else using your maps out of their software.

Sorry, no thanks. ;)

"Noncommercial Use" means Your authorized use of the Services wherein you provide the Services to third parties at no charge, and that You and/or Your third party customers do not generate income, promote the generation of income, promote the generation of income, or any other means of commercial advantage or private financial gain from such use. Esri reserves the right to determine if Your use of Noncommercial Services that access through ArcGIS Online qualifies as a no charge Noncommercial Use, or as a Commercial Use that requires a separate license and license fee. Esri may at any time, and at its sole discretion, change, alter, or discontinue the ArcGIS Online services provided to You or any third party customer accessing these free services.



I went way further down a rabbit hole than I intended, considering I still don't intend to ever use this software for commercial use, but here I am. . The link that you shared was definitely concerning and so that is what caused me to head down this rabbit hole. First off, so far as I can tell, this link only applies to the use of the ESRI website / ArcGIS Online functionality:


The terms that apply to the client software, ArcGIS Pro are covered in the their Master Agreement:
https://www.esri.com/content/dam/esrisites/en-us/media/legal/ma-full/ma-full.pdf

which can be found on their legal page, here:
https://www.esri.com/en-us/legal/overview

What concerned me was: How can Esri claim I need a commercial license for content I created and, since it is a subscription service, how would that even work? So, if I created a single vector line in their tool, and then I exported that line to an open format and then sold it, would I require a commercial license? And then if so, am I required to renew it in perpetuity, so long as that single vector line exists? This seemed to be heading toward a reductio ad absurdum so I needed to dig in further. As I said, I really don't intend to sell my data so I'm not that concerned from that perspective, but I am concerned about my data portability, meaning, if I decide want to cancel my subscription to ArcGIS Pro, can I take my data with me and are there any restrictions imposed on it.

If you dig into the Master Agreement, it is clear that ESRI has full control over what it defines as "DATA" and citing their definition directly it is:

Data means any commercially available digital datasets(s) including, but not limited to, geographic vector data, raster data reports, or associated tabular attributes that Esri bundles with other Esri Offerings or delivers independently.
(Appendix A, page 14)

It is clear, that is you provide any of that data to anyone commercially, it is subject to commercial licensing and that makes total sense and is reasonable. After all, Esri would have to spend money to either license or create that content and you should not be able to profit off it for free. The thing I'm worried about is the data or other open source data that I manipulate. It seems according to their definition, that is actually what they call CUSTOMER CONTENT, which their definition is:

Customer Content means any Content that Customer provides, uses or develops in connection with Customer's use of Esri Offerings or Services, including Value-Added Applications. Customer Content excludes any feedback, suggestions or requests for improvements that Customer provides to Esri.
(Appendix A, page 14)

So, if I create a map of Wharton, let's say, create my own vector lines and polygons, and points of interest and import open source data to make a map, that data is Customer Content. Section 1.0 of the document covers General Grant of Rights and Restrictions and section 1.4 covers Customer Content and says:

Esri does not acquire any rights in customer Customer Content under this Agreement other than as needed to provide Esri Offerings and Services to Customer

I'm not sure what would qualify under the "as needed to provide Esri Offerings and Services to Customer", but if you put that aside, I think the point is that Esri is saying you own the content you create as long as you don't merge it with their data. Which again, I think is reasonable. That story changes however, if you attempt to bundle your content with theirs. (at that point you move from the CUSTOMER CONTENT clause to the DATA clause) In other words, if I take the map I mentioned above and use their symbology and base layer, then it is no longer solely Customer Content. Again, that seems reasonable to me. On the other hand, if I decide I want to quit ArcGIS and go to another tool, and maybe, even sell that data that I created, as long as I don't export any of their content, it seems I am free to do so.

So, after all that, I think I am less concerned than I originally was because it seems that the data that I create is mine and I can do with it what I want. I'm open and welcome to differing interpretations.
 
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