DESKTOP MAPPING WITH FREE AND OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE
In the age of the internet and multimedia, visualisation is a key concepts for the communication and analysis of geospatial information. Geodata – the basis for the generation of geoinformation – have always been represented in map form. The professional map, including map-like representations, is the defining medium for the presentation, dissemination and use of geoinformation. Until now the digital design and production of quality maps is the classic application domain of Desktop Mapping (DTM). Free and open source software (FOSS) can be considered a technologically as well as economically effective alternative to map production based on costly proprietary software. Not only can FOSS save software costs and license fees. Open access to software interfaces and interoperability also facilitate linking GIS and VIS functionalities for professional data-based map production. Open source vector graphics programmes, such as Inkscape, provide flexible graphic functionality comparable to that of proprietary systems, and open source GIS data storage and processing functions equal those of proprietary GIS. That is why FOSS-based quality map production is both a technologically and economically viable option for cartographic SMEs and public or research institutions as well as the individual map producer. This paper discusses a FOSS-based cartographic visualisation and map production workflow. Potentials of relevant FOSS and the interoperability of selected graphics software with FOS GIS will be evaluated by a benchmark test of typical map construction tasks. Software-based coupling of GIS and VIS will also be dealt with. From the results of the study practical recommendations for FOSS-based DTM and VIS-GIS interoperability applicable to cartographic SMEs will be derived and discussed.
Rita Engemaier - University of Potsdam