late biased review of QGIS 1.0 “Kore” part 2

qgis icon The previous post talked about my 5 favorite feature of QGIS “Kore”. This time, I appeal to the QGIS developers to add a few more features. Once again, this is from user’s POV and I believe these “little” features could make me perform better in my geo-job. πŸ™‚

5 feature request

Custom key bindings – An option/plugin to customize assignment of shortcut keys to call any QGIS function. Several commands supports this feature like “Zoom to full” (“F”) and “Zoom to selection” (“Ctrl-F”). But AFAIK, you cannot assign other shortcut keys. A Python plugin would be great.

CAD-like digitizing tools – as we acquire more high-res imagery, digitizing features in ultra-detailed resolution is and will still be an enormous task. There are automated techniques, available, but it has it’s limits. We need more CAD-like tools within the digitizing toolbox (such as creating arcs/circles/regular polygons; mirror and array existing objects).

cad digitizing
No, this isn’t QGIS but QCAD πŸ™‚

Metadata generator – we were always reminded by this rule:

Never trust data without metadata.

Needless to say this is the rule I always break. A good way to get the hang of creating metadata is to integrate a metadata creator tool within QGIS. No I don’t mean the standard where most fields are blank. All we need is a simple model on the “what, where, when, who” of the data. Perhaps DClite4G is a good starting point.

Multiple map views– I was going to propose a plugin to split the main map canvass into multiple views, where we can add independent map layers and vary the zoom levels. But a prototype is already in development. Nice work Aaron!

Bring back the standalone MS Windows installer – When I introduce FOSS-Geo to people, QGIS is the first app I mention.

“Dude! Better try QGIS! Just download and install the latest version.”

The latest windows installer is bundled under the OSGeo4W installer package. The OSGeo4W installer is an excellent way to package several OSGeo apps for MS/Win users. It should make the install process of several geo-apps (QGIS, GRASS, MapServer, etc.) easier.

osgeo4w advanced setup
What packages!?

But it isn’t. Even the “Express Install” asks you to select several packages you might not need (at the moment) to install QGIS. A “not-so-easy-to-install-in-windows” gives the impression that it’s “not-so-easy-to-use”. I know there are several issues (technical and manpower) that limits the release of a single binary installer. There is a workaround, but I still believe a single binary installer is the best way to easily encourage new users.

That’s my top 5 request feature, I hope the developers can take a peak and take interest :). What’s your list? Post them here or even better, add them to the QGIS trac.

Other people’s wishlist:

12 responses to “late biased review of QGIS 1.0 “Kore” part 2

  1. I have been working on various corporate GIS products for a few years by now and I have never thought that there might be a stand-alone and open source GIS solution under the General Public Licence that is actually being developed and looked after.

    The requested new features clearly shows that this product will soon-to-be in the leageu of major GIS platforms and it is nice to see that there is still something that can be accessed by any users without paying a fortune – or even anything – for. I am sure that these features will be accounted by the developer and incorporated into the current product in no time.

    I must admit I’ve got a bit excited now and I am already installing it. Mind you, don’t thick all of them boxes at the express install option as the download will take ages then. As to repeat ourselves here, the product clearly screams for a single binary installer but hey…we can’t have anything in one go, can we?

    I wonder when will these new features be included in the product yet I am sure that we will see further postings about QGIS here:)soon enough.

  2. @ tamas
    Depending on your needs, FOSS-Geo products can pretty much replace proprietary gis products. But again that’s depending on your needs.

    QGIS is already in my top list as a good GEO app. But you can’t have everything in a single app. That’s why I use various tools to solve different geo-problems (mostly within the OSGEO stack).

    I would love to hear how are you faring with the use of QGIS.

  3. I agreed with the points about improved digitizing tools and a stand-alone installer points.

    I find the lack of quality digitizing tools to be the one major drawback that prevents me from me using QGIS as my (almost) exclusive tool of choice.

    The installer was a minor complain for me, but your point about it discouraging new users is quite valid.

    My next biggest suggestion would be major improvements to the “Print Composer” – I find a lack of quality cartographic tools is a major drawback to ALL current Open Source GIS products, and the current version is still lacking flexibility and usability.

  4. @ darren
    The “print composer” has improved a lot, but not quite as good as arcgis. I agree that this should also get major “love” from qgis devs. In time I guess.

    For other FOSS-Geo products there are several tools you can use for high quality cartography.

    1. GRASS’s module
    2. GMT
    3. MapServer
    4. Mapnik

    This has been my dilemma right now. What tool should I use for my “hard-copy” output.

  5. @maning

    Interesting thoughts. How would you use Mapnik to produce a hardcopy map layout? Does it have a ‘composer’ type GUI, or would it all have to be done in an XML file? What I’m hoping/dreaming of is a WYSIWYG style that will let you create a hardcopy map layout with multiple views, legend, scale bar, north arrow, etc.

  6. I’ve been following and using QGIS for years now. My relationship with it pretty much ended with the introduction of OSGeo4W installer. I’m not terribly fond of a package that functionally only serves to insert bloat into a world that had previously been famous for avoiding bloat. Thanks for the link to the workaround, though. I’ve been kind of missing QGIS, so maybe I’ll give it another go.

    Also, I’m with you on the need for an open source app that can produce a decent paper map. I’ve been searching for one for years to no avail. There’s always the option of exporting a map as a graphic and dressing it up in GIMP or somesuch, but this only suffices if you’re trying to produce a pretty picture. If you need to produce an actual map (of the kind that can be taken into the field and actually be useful), you’re just plain out of luck in the open source world. Of course, this shortcoming may be more of a comment on GIS than on open source software.

  7. @ terry

    Hey thanks for the link to the return of the standalone win installer. [feature request # 5 fixed]

  8. With the recent work on the Print Composer, things are looking up in that respect. However, (now I’m dreaming) – it would be really nice to see some of the beautiful rendering from say, Mapnik in QGIS. Since Mapnik doesn’t have a layout creator (MapnikViewer aside, since it appears to only show you an existing file, not create/modify it? – please correct me if I’m wrong?), it would be nice to integrate the two!

    As for editing tools, it’s true that Shapefiles may not support arcs, circles, etc., but there are still many improvements that can be made. For example, KOSMO GIS has a significantly more usable editing toolset.

    Another thing I’ve found myself wanting is a ‘field calculator,’ which I’ve also been bumping to KOSMO for. These two features are now more or less the only thing I’m using outside of QGIS.

  9. Maning,

    I would love to give a try to QGIS yet I am so badly overloaded in my work that the last thing I’d like to see on my computer is a GIS application. I will however, give a try perhaps later on this summer and will leave my comments in this blog if you like.

  10. @ croaxis

    The good thing about it is, you don’t have to pay just to try it πŸ™‚ This blog is always open for sharing experiences about QGIS and anything about Geo-FOSS.

    Good luck!

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