GIS software recommendation

Boyd

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All that legalese is enough to scare me away in and of itself! But you might be missing something in your detailed analysis. I think this is the key...

"It is the same software but priced for an individual user to be used for personal, noncommercial projects such as professional development."


I don't see how you get around that. As I read it, if you create a map with the personal version then it doesn't matter what the "customer content" is. That map can only be used for "personal noncommercial projects". IMO, "personal" means that you only use it yourself. If you share it with others, then it's "public".

Can they enforce these restrictions? Would they even know if you violated the license? No idea. They do hold all the cards however, since it's cloud-based subscription software that "phones home" each time you use it, they could lock you out.
 
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SuperChooch

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But... whatever. You just want to use ArcGIS and have convinced yourself that it will be ok.
That might be a slightly unfair characterization of the situation. ;) I would say I am taking the caution your raised pretty seriously, tried to understand the details of the license, provided my thoughts based on how I intend to use it and solicited feedback on my interpretation:)

"It is the same software but priced for an individual user to be used for personal, noncommercial projects such as professional development."
I don't see how you get around that.
I actually saw that too on the promotional page and went digging into the master agreement, looking for where that was referenced and I couldn’t find it. It seems Esri's "Entire Agreement Clause" at the top of the master agreement would exclude the language on the web page. It is also possible I missed a reference to it.

On to Global Mapper next… I requested a demo copy and waiting for the response.
 
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Boyd

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Yeah, I was rather harsh and in fact had just edited my reply before you responded, sorry.

I know the website mentions requesting a Globalmapper demo, but you can just download and install. All you need is an account on their site, which is free. IIRC, it will ask you to login the first time you start the program and then it will display a message about being unlocked for two weeks. It will nag about this each time you start, but no big deal. What isn't documented is that (in my experience) you can only export a small number of files, not sure how many, maybe 3 or 4. After that, it will say you have used your quota and need to purchase to make further exports. Everything else should still work however.
 
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Boyd

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Not sure what you ended up doing, but this is interesting. Have really been liking the new version of Globalmapper (23), it's much faster than my 10-year-old version, even though I run it in a virtual machine on my Mac. They have also added a new option that makes it easier to create huge maps with millions of tiles by updating existing tilesets.

I'm creating a huge tiled elevation dataset of the world that will allow realtime elevation readout and will also support 3d maps without using Mapbox data (which isn't free). So, I asked if they would consider adding an export option to natively support the mapbox elevation format. Within less than 24 hours they added it to their "to do" list. Of course, there is no promise as to when it might happen but the personal touch impressed me. Not sure I'd get that kind of response from a big company like ESRI. ;)
 
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SuperChooch

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Ok, so after going on this journey for several weeks, I think I've learned a lot about these tools and my summary is: the right choice for you will depend very much on your requirements. I've decided to give ArcGIS a whirl for a year. For my specific needs, which includes some heavier GIS functions, a lower sensitivity to licensing risk, and lower sensitivity to cost, it made sense for me. I created this below table comparing the tools I looked and in more detail and I tried to make it generic to help anyone who might be looking at these tools. (not just someone with my same requirements) I did try other tools such as OpenStreetMaps, Google Maps and Mapbox, but I didn't spend enough time with them to add them to my analysis in an objective manner. Open to feedback and updates and I hope this maybe becomes helpful to someone else who comes across this thread.

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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Boyd

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Note that qGIS does run natively on the Mac but GlobalMapper does not, it's is a Windows-only program. I run it in a Windows virtual machine on my Mac, but not all Macs are capable of that. I would not recommend it to Mac users unless they already run Windows.

There's Cartographica for the Mac however. I have never used it, but was a beta tester for their iOS app (CartoMobile)and it was pretty nice. Their software is not cheap however.


Bottom line is that all these packages are just tools and what matters is what you DO with them.
 
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SuperChooch

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Note that qGIS does run natively on the Mac but GlobalMapper does not, it's is a Windows-only program. I run it in a Windows virtual machine on my Mac, but not all Macs are capable of that. I would not recommend it to Mac users unless they already run Windows.
Oops, I missed that. Fixed.
 
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