GIS software - Services for Research
Here you can find a collection of GIS tools that are used most widely. Unless marked otherwise, most of the tools are open-source. The first link for each tool leads you to its homepage. If software is installed on Puhti or included in our software consortium, there is an extra link to read more about it on our software-specific pages.
Desktop GIS software
This type of software is used for analyzing and visualizing spatial data on a local PC or laptop. It has a GUI (graphical user interface) for easy use. If you are looking for a user interface in Finnish, ArcGIS Pro, QGIS and MapInfo are your main options.
Software for general use
- ArcGIS is the most used commercial GIS software for general purposes. CSC organizes ArcGIS software consortium for Finnish universities.
- QGIS. QGIS in Puhti.
- GRASS contains a lot of tools, but is a little difficult to start with. GRASS in Puhti.
Software for specific use
- CloudCompare is used for editing and processing 3D point clouds. CloudCompare in Puhti.
- OrfeoToolBox is for processing high resolution optical, multi-spectral and radar images. OrfeoToolBox in Puhti.
- SAGA GIS is used for terrain analysis. SagaGIS in Puhti.
- SNAP is used for remote sensing applications. SNAP in Puhti
- Zonation is for large-scale conservation planning. Zonation in Puhti.
Web server software
This type of software is used for providing spatial data according to Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) web service standards (WMS, WMTS, WFS, and WCS). It can also perform spatial analysis, if the Web Processing Service (WPS) interface standard is supported.
Web client software
- OpenLayers has more features.
- Leaflet is lighter and faster.
- Google Maps API is a commercial option.
Database software is useful for storing large amounts of data (specifically vector data).
- PostGIS is a spatial data add-on for a PostgreSQL database. See the instructions for using it on cPouta.
- SpatiaLite is an extension of SQLite.
Various libraries are useful for specific or lower-level tasks.
- GDAL is a Swiss army knife equivalent for spatial data manipulation. GDAL in Puhti.
- PDAL is a library for translating and manipulating point cloud data.PDAL in Puhti.
- GPSBabel is used in converting GPS data.
- FORCE is an all-in-one command line tool for mass-processing of medium-resolution satellite images. FORCE in Puhti.
- LasTools is used for LiDAR processing. LasTools in Puhti.
- OpenDroneMap is useful in processing aerial drone imagery. OpenDroneMap in Puhti.
- PCL is used in 2D/3D image and point cloud processing. PCL in Puhti.
- WhiteboxTools has a wide selection of spatial analysis tools. WhiteboxTools in Puhti.
Scripting helps to automate analysis. Both R and Python have their own GIS-specific packages. Additionally, they have packages for accessing some other GIS-software functionality. For details see the table below.
- RCRAN spatial view was originally meant for general statistical analysis of data, but now also has a lot of packages for spatial analysis and statistics. R in Puhti.
- Python is a general-use programming language, which is widely used also for Python for spatial data analysis. Python in Puhti.
- Shell has several software packages that provide a command line interface (CLI), which can be used for automating processes with shell scripts. Additionally, both R and Python support running CLI commands from the script.
|ArcGIS||R – ArcGIS Community||ArcPy, ArcGIS API for Python||-|
|GRASS||rgrass||GRASS GIS Python libraries||GRASS CLI|
|OrfeoToolBox||-||OTB Python API||OTB CLI|
|PCL||-||pclpy, python-pcl, but both without proper maintenance||Yes|
GIS software for parallel computing
If you need to analyze large amounts of data, the best option for speeding the process up is to use parallel computing. Only some of the GIS software packages support parallel computing out-of-the-box (meaning that software can use several cores for computations right away).
The following software that is available on Puhti supports parallel computing to some degree:
Most of the server-type software, such as GeoServer and PostGIS, supports parallel computing. GeoServer and PostGIS can be set up on cPouta. Also, ArcGIS Pro has several functions that can run in parallel with multiple CPUs.
For additional information about analyzing big spatial datasets, see our geocomputing page.