The fosGISWorkflow Guide

A guide to the use of FOSS to view, edit, create, analyse and map geospatial data

Introduction, background and preamble

©Simon Christopher Cropper (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia). 18 July 2013.


This guide has been developed to present tutorials in English on the use of Free & Open Source Geographic Information Systems like gvSIG, QGIS, OpenJUMP and SAGA.

The impetus for this project comes from the lack of detailed tutorials, in English, in the use of gvSIG - the package I use daily to conduct geospatial analysis in my company Botanicus Australia Pty Ltd. Having been developed in Spain for Spaniards, little to no documentation is available in English. This maybe the reason why this package has not been adopted more widely in English-speaking countries.

The primary choice of workflow tutorials presented in this guide is a list of typical tasks conducted by myself for every project that I work on (Cropper 2010a, 2010b). The tasks can be grouped based on whether they relate to viewing, editing, creating, analysing and mapping geospatial data.

All these tasks are done using the normal desktop version of gvSIG with the Sextante plug-in installed, both in the office using a desktop computer and in the field using a Tablet PC (Cropper 2010b).

Although it is possible to complete all the typical things done in the company using gvSIG, on occasion other packages are used to complete certain tasks. This is particularly apparent when viewing and manipulating data supplied in proprietary formats (e.g. CAD files or ECW images) or when conducting some esoteric task (e.g. exploding a vector file into numerous distinct new files based on an attribute). Sometimes it is simply a matter of utilising a package that is easier to use in a particular situation (e.g. warping vector files is easier using the tools in OpenJUMP than the tools in gvSIG). Consequently, on occasion, tutorials on how to use other tools that may or may not be open source will be provided. All will however be free to download, use and will view and manipulate industry standard vector and imagery data. That said, where practical, every endeavour will be made to use free and open source software.

The examples, analysis and presentation presented in this guide will also have a distinctly Australian flavour, with data relevant to the region being used to demonstrate a particular functionality. Although not essential to demonstrate how a package works, it helps familiarise the reader with nuances in local datasets and makes them comfortable in using data in particular projections.

This guide and the tutorials within are released under the 'Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia' licence. If you are unfamiliar with this licence please at least refer to the human-readable summary available on the Internet.

In essence, permission is given to you to copy, distribute and transmit this guide and/or the individual tutorials, and if you feel so inclined adapt them to your needs. If you do adapt these tutorials to your needs a copy of the derivative will need to be provided so that it can be assimilated as a variation into this guide - if you find your version valuable others may also. Refer to the section on Contributing to this Guide on how to create tutorials in the correct format and familiarise yourself with Licensing and Copyright Issues for Editors & Translators.

All the tutorials provided consist of text, reproductions of a software package's graphical user interface or command-line interface and various representations of data. All these elements are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence or more liberal licence. For example, although images of gvSIG are presented in these tutorials they are actually covered by the GNU General Public Licence, version 2. For unambiguous understanding of your rights and the rights of the various copyright owners every tutorial has a human-readable metadata section at the end of the page. This metadata section is reproduced in the HTML and PDF versions and should never be removed or obscured.

Workflow Tutorials

Software Installation

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Installing gvSIG 1.10 on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS gvSIG Ubuntu 10.04 LTS en flag en 29 October 2012
Installing gvSIG 1.10 on Windows XP gvSIG Microsoft Windows XP en flag en 29 October 2012
The basic configuration of gvSIG for normal use gvSIG independent en flag en 29 October 2012

GIS Basics

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Datums and Coordinate Systems used in South-eastern Australia N/A N/A en flag en 29 October 2012
How gvSIG handles Coordinate Reference Systems gvSIG Independent en flag en 29 October 2012

Data Acquisition and Standardisation

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Acquire aerial photography of study area and vector data showing existing features gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Manipulate the various data sets so they all overlap in the appropriate Spatial Reference System (i.e. reproject vector layers) gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Convert CAD data into Shapefiles gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA

Preparation for Data Entry or Creation

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Identify extent of study area based on cadastral data and the objectives of the client gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Extract data from state government managed databases and geospatial libraries of environmental data like flora, fauna, vegetation, geology, wetlands, etc. Incorporate into project. Includes the need to import tables as Event Layers. gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Stratify study area based on aerial photography interpretation, contours, soils and vegetation data (data just represented visually, stratification done manually). gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA

Data Entry or Creation

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Adjust boundaries of strata based on field observations. gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Mark extent of any significant plant population or animal habitat on base map using features visible on aerial photography. gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA

Basic Analysis

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Clean up the vector data created in the field. gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Calculate and store area of each stratum in attribute table. gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Collate landscape, neighbourhood and other miscellaneous attributes for each stratum (i.e. direct data entry into tables and joins) gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA

Complex Analysis

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Using shapefile table data in external packages gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Terrain analysis using contour data gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA

Map Production

Tutorial Software OS Language Date
Create basic maps showing the results of the analysis - the map should have grid lines showing the CRS of the View gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Exporting gvSIG data to images for use in reports gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA
Export map into format that can be directly imported into a Word Processor gvSIG Independent en flag en TBA

Training Data

This guide focuses on teaching the reader how to complete multiple tasks forming part of a typical workflow for someone involved in the collection, editing, analysis and presentation of geospatial data. Each tutorial aims to work through a task and augments the text with copious images of software dialogue boxes and windows with data being manipulated in some way. In order to allow the reader to reproduce the steps shown in the tutorials, the data used to create them is available from this website.

Typical data made available to people involved with natural resource management in Victoria (e.g. contractors, local government agencies and land managers) has kindly been supplied by the State of Victoria, Australia under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia Licence to assist in creation of this educational resource and future derivatives. This data can be legally downloaded, viewed and used to create derivatives, which in turn can be used to create other educational resources.

Georeferenced aerial photography and vector data for a 5-by-5 km block centred on Riddell Creek have been supplied to provide realistic data for these tutorials. Download the sample data from here ( 19MB). It is recommended this data is unzipped in a directory called FWG_Data in your home directory.

The following vector files can be found in the data bundle. A link to the metadata for the statewide dataset for each vector file is provided in the following list.

In addition, 0.35m/pixel georeferenced aerial photography in ECW format is also provided. This imagery is typically of what is available to natural resource managers throughout the State of Victoria, although in some urban areas imagery with higher resolution is typically available.

The currency of data made available in this bundle varies considerably. Past experience, shows the variation present in the vector data is typical of what would normally be available for any project. Imagery however is usually more current and of higher resolution, particularly in highly populated areas, as there is a competitive industry of aerial surveyors in Australia regularly photographing the landscape. Consequently, you can usually find imagery in urban areas less than 12-months old.

For each data file found in the data bundle, a summary of pertinent metadata, the copyright owner and the licence conditions under which it has been released, has been summarised in an XML file of the same name. The following sample for the geol250_polygon.shp vector file found in the Riddell Creek data bundle shows the contents of it's metadata file geol250_polygon.xml. This file also illustrates how the XML files should be formatted when creating derivatives for public release of any of this data.

<xml version="1.0"?>

        <title>Geological polygons (1:250,000)</title>
        <changes_made>Reprojected into AGD66 Latitude/Longitude</changes_made>
        <copyright>(c) State of Victoria, Australia; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia</copyright>
        <creator>Simon Christopher Cropper</creator>
        <content_type>vector - polygon</content_type>
        <datum>Australian Geodetic Datum 1966</datum>
        <crs>Australian Geodetic Datum 1966</crs>

        <title>Geological polygons (1:250,000)</title>
        <copyright>(c) State of Victoria, Australia; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia</copyright>
        <publisher>Botanicus Australia Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia (under licence, Reference Number 2559d)</publisher>
        <content_type>vector - polygon</content_type>
        <datum>Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994</datum>
        <crs>Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994, Map Grid Australia Zone 55</crs>
        <data_accuracy>Generally accurate to 1:250,000</data_accuracy>

        <series_title>The fosGIS Workflow Guide</series_title>
        <series_publisher>Simon Christopher Cropper</series_publisher>


External links and resources

Metadata related to this document

Series Metadata

The fosGIS Workflow Guide - A guide to the use of FOSS to view, edit, create, analyse and map geospatial data
©Simon Christopher Cropper

Document Metadata

Introduction, background and preamble
Simon Christopher Cropper
18 July 2013
Introduction, background and preamble to the fosGIS Workflow Guide
gvSIG Sextante GIS FOSS tutorial how-to
©Simon Christopher Cropper
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia
©Generalitat Valenciana 2009
©State of Victoria, Australia 2010
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia
FamFamFam 2011 (Terms and Conditions of Use)

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