[Freegis-list] comparison

Jan-Oliver Wagner jan at intevation.de
Wed Nov 3 20:14:05 CET 2004

On Wed, Nov 03, 2004 at 06:30:35PM +0100, Paolo Cavallini wrote:
> In what sense you write that targets and requirements are different? Do not 
> you think that free GIS aims to be equivalent to non-free GIS, in the way 
> that, e.g., OpenOffice is equivalent to Microsoft Office (with their 
> respective strangths and weaknesses)?
> I ma thinking e.g. to a professional that wants to build up a GIS and has to 
> decide which one. Most probably he/she will be interested in cost as well as 
> in feature comparison.

Usually Free Software looses against a proprietary software if it comes
to a feature-by-feature comparison.
The reason is that the Free Software is needs-driven and for proprietary
software updates are sold only if there are new features (though
sometimes noone needs them).

Take GRASS for example. A extremely powerful GIS. But all the users
where quite comfortable with the command line for a long time. At least
noone invested into a full-blown GUI - money or man-power was invested
in further algorithms instead. Nowadays the user basis has grown and
GRASS starts to have nice GUIs.

So, the best approach for a user is to write down all the needs as a
first step. The second is to check whether the alternative tools do
fulfil the needs (maybe weithed in someway  to reflect adequacy).
The third step would be to analysis the costs for adding the mssing
features or fixing other drawbacks of the Free Software.
Then compare it with the costs for a proprietary software and you
get the first idea.
Unfortunately that is not yet all as you have
to calculate or estimate the Total Cost of Operation (TOC) to really
have a solid decision basis.

Also let me note that many people say that the GIS market is more
solution oriented than product oriented (with a growing tendency).
So, actually the product
counts only partly and the solution provider is important too.



Jan-Oliver Wagner               http://intevation.de/~jan/

Intevation GmbH                      http://intevation.de/
FreeGIS                                http://freegis.org/

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