Monday, January 1, 2007


I am looking for 10 votes from 10 different bloggers to determine if I should dedicate a section of ForestPal to GRASS gis. It is a freebie after all. I have never used it but have heard it is a powerful and robust Geographic Information System.

When giving your nod to this please let me know what your background is with respect to GRASS.



What's GRASS?
General Information | Features | GRASS Programming | Supported Platforms | Import/Export | Data Management capabilities

General Information
Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, commonly referred to as GRASS GIS, is a Geographic Information System (GIS) used for data management, image processing, graphics production, spatial modelling, and visualization of many types of data. It is Free (Libre) Software/Open Source released under GNU General Public License (GPL).

Originally developed by the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories (USA-CERL, 1982-1995), a branch of the US Army Corp of Engineers, as a tool for land management and environmental planning by the military, GRASS has evolved into a powerful utility with a wide range of applications in many different areas of scientific research. GRASS is currently used in academic and commercial settings around the world, as well as many governmental agencies including NASA, NOAA, USDA, DLR, CSIRO, the National Park Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, USGS, and many environmental consulting companies.

The new GRASS 6 release introduces a new topological 2D/3D vector engine and support for vector network analysis. Attributes are now managed in a SQL-based DBMS. A new display manager has been implemented. The NVIZ visualization tool was enhanced to display 3D vector data and voxel volumes. Messages are partially translated (i18N) with support for FreeType fonts, including multibyte Asian characters. New LOCATIONs can be auto-generated by EPSG code number. GRASS is integrated with GDAL/OGR libraries to support an extensive range of raster and vector formats, including OGC-conformal Simple Features.

The GRASS Development Team has grown into a multi-national team consisting of developers at numerous locations.

[see also: | entry | Wikipedia entry]
GRASS Features
GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) is a raster/vector GIS, image processing system, and graphics production system. GRASS contains over 350 programs and tools to render maps and images on monitor and paper; manipulate raster, vector, and sites data; process multi spectral image data; and create, manage, and store spatial data. GRASS uses both an intuitive windows interface as well as command line syntax for ease of operations. GRASS can interface with commercial printers, plotters, digitizers, and databases to develop new data as well as manage existing data.

GRASS and network support for teams
GRASS supports workgroups through its LOCATION/MAPSET concept which can be set up to share data over NFS (Network File System). Keeping LOCATIONs with their underlying MAPSETs on a central server, a team can simultaneously work in the same project database.

[see also: GRASS capabilities]
GRASS Programming
GRASS is released under GNU GPL, the source code (5.x: more than 1 million lines of C; 6.x 500k SLOC) is completely available. GRASS provides a sophisticated GIS library which can be used for own developments. A GRASS Programmer's Manual is available for download.

[see also: GRASS Development]
Supported platforms

* GRASS is written in ANSI-C and is POSIX compliant : C-API
* A preliminary C++ interface is available
* Architectures: Intel x86, Motorola PPC, SGI MIPS, Sun SPARC, Alpha AXP, HP PA-RISC, CRAY, others.
* Operating systems: GNU/Linux (Intel, PowerPC, Sun, ...) Solaris (SPARC, i86), SGI IRIX, HP UX, Mac OS X (Darwin), IBM AIX, BSD-Unix variants, FreeBSD, CRAY Unicos, iPAQ/Linux handhelds and other UNIX compliant platforms (32/64bit), additionally MS-Windows native or Cygnus.

Source code and selected binaries can be downloaded.
Import/Export: Data formats supported by GRASS

* 2D raster data,
* 3D raster data (voxels),
* topological vector data (2D and 3D)

In detail:

RASTER: The GDAL library ( is used, see the GDAL project format list for full capabilities. Examples include:

* Raster: ASCII, ARC/GRID, E00, GIF, GMT, TIF, PNG, ERDAS LAN, Vis5D, SURFER (.grd) ...
* Images: CEOS (SAR, SRTM, LANDSAT7 etc.), ERDAS LAN, HDF, LANDSAT TM/MSS, NHAP aerial photos, SAR, SPOT, ... can be read

VECTOR: The OGR library ( is used, see the OGR project format list. Examples include:

* Vector: ASCII, ARC/INFO ungenerate, ARC/INFO E00, ArcView SHAPE (with topology correction), BIL, DLG (U.S.), DXF, DXF3D, GMT, GPS-ASCII, USGS-DEM, IDRISI, MOSS, MapInfo MIF, TIGER, VRML, ...
* Sites (vector point data lists): XYZ ASCII, CSV, dBase, ...

* List of GRASS raster import and export modules
* List of GRASS vector import and export modules
* List of GRASS volume import and export modules

Data Management capabilities of GRASS

* Spatial analysis
* Map generation
* Data visualization (2D, 2.5D and 3D)

* Data generation through modelling (list of simulation models)
* Link to DBMS (PostgreSQL, mySQL, SQLite, ODBC, ...)


ForestPal said...

For those of you wanting to learn more about GRASS their URL is



beaverheadriver said...

I looked at grass a couple of years ago. At that time, fGIS was much better and supported. I would like to see a grass section as it is currently supported and available. It seemed to need a little bit more help than fGIS. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Grass GIS has new GUIs available now, and is not as difficult to get started with. You can use GRASS functionality from within the very easy to use Quantum GIS desktop package now too, as the v0.8 setup includes a complete install of native GRASS for Windows. The main Windows version of GRASS 6.2x still has to run under the Cygwin unix emulation environment, but there is an experimental native windows version for GRASs 6.3x that you can use if you don't mind experimenting with beta software.

Anonymous said...

Grass is very well the most powerful open source GIS out there. It does have a good international community, as well as an active mail list.

I'd like to see it here.

Ben said...

"I am looking for 10 votes from 10 different bloggers to determine if I should dedicate a section of ForestPal to GRASS gis."

Here's a vote from North Dakota State University to feel free to dedicate a section of ForestPal to GRASS gis. :)

Thanks for providing such an excellent resource; I'll be passing it on to my Landscape Architecture students and faculty.

Ben Bernard
Computer Support Specialist
North Dakota State University
Department of Architecture & Landscape Architecture

ForestPal said...

Thank you Ben, much appreciated. Since I can't count :) I will be adding the Grass section to the new site I am working on.

Please keep spreading the word to keep this valuable resource growing. In the end this site is all about helping others.


Anonymous said...

Here is another vote! GRASS GIS is powerful although a bit complicated to run. Now QGIS makes it easier as it now includes many GRASS analysis and edition functionalities. I am quite sure that a GRASS+Linux combination has a great future. In many countries, computers come with a Linux desktop. These past few years, there has been some good developments concerning GRASS and you can find good references such as:
GRASS is also found on handhelds:

eco hotels said...

hello, good morning to all, I read his blog yesterday, comparing information, and reach the conclusion, that their information is very professional, I would love to have your blog update about GRASS. Thanks for creating and sharing this information.!

Clark Adams said...

So I guess there are a lot more things that a data management system can do. In the case of GRASS GIS, it's integrated as one of its main functions. Any data gathered from the geographic info system must be accessible as they are archived. To answer your question, I'm saying yes, you should dedicate a section of your blog for GRASS. I want to know more about this, and I think it's not just me who wants to.

Data management systems have become very useful as the technology improves day by day. It can be used as an aid for accreditation management, certification management, compression of archived data, and all that. I'm really looking forward to how this software uses data management as one of its main functions.