[Freegis-list] ArcInfo to Free conversion
09 Jan 2001 09:07:44 -0800
On 09 Jan 2001 09:27:15 +0000, Markus Neteler wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 08, 2001 at 04:16:58PM -0600, email@example.com wrote:
> > Hello,
> > We just got a bill for our ESRI ArcInfo "Maintenance Contract": $7400. I have
> > permission to investigate alternatives. We currently are using ArcInfo 8 and
> > have developed many megabytes of land parcel maps on their software. My basic
> > question is, can we use something like GRASS?
> ... why not :-)
Let me first state that I have not used GRASS in a production
environment so listen to those who have and take their advice over mine.
This is principally a note of caution.
The answer to your question is that it depends, and depends especially
on three things:
1) the use to which you are putting ArcINFO 8
2) the level of training of the employees using the system
3) the cost of retraining vs the "tax"
ArcINFO 8 allows for geographical objects which previous versions did
not and I believe GRASS has not yet adopted (CORRECTIONS ANYONE?). If
these are the elements you are storing in your database then you are
using the most powerful part of the commercial system and you won't be
able to convert. If you happen to be using simpler functionality then
you could convert but consider:
-the graphical user interface of ArcINFO 8 is vastly supperior to
-the graphical user interface of ArcINFO 8 is "windows-like" and
therefore vastly easier to understand than GRASS's
-the integration of ArcINFO 8 with other software will be much easier
for the forseeable future.
2) GRASS was built on UNIX systems and still seems to be UNIX like at
heart. In this way it is closer to ArcINFO 7.x. If you have been using
earlier versions of ArcINFO and are willing to live (or enjoy) a
command-line interface then GRASS is a reliable alternative. Do the
employees who use the software know UNIX? Are they at least well trained
3) the transition from one system to another always costs a whole lot.
If you have a reliable system up and running it will invariably cost you
more to change than to keep paying the "tax". That's why the "tax"
So my belief and recommendation for your situtation is that you will
probably have to pay the tax. HOWEVER, that does not mean that you can't
plan to get yourselves away from it. Make yourself or another employee
keep an eye on the development of GRASS and other software (like OSSIM).
Some of these projects are going really fast now and could quickly
become viable alternatives. Try to get a sense of how you are using
ArcINFO and what you would need to have as a replacement (in abstract
terms such as: we need to run transactions of land-parcels, updated
nightly and displayable over the web). Finally, talk to the neighbouring
counties. Every county in the country has the same problem as yours. If
you could all get together (not ALL but many) and decide to up your tax
$1000 a piece for the next couple of years, you could easily pay to have
programmers write Free software that served exactly your needs. Talk up
the idea with your neighbours and in a few years you may have