Learn about GIS Programming and Software Development

What You'll Learn in GEOG 485

Want to take your GIS skills to the next level? This class teaches you how to automate GIS tasks using the Python scripting language. Automation can make your work easier, faster, and more accurate, and knowledge of a scripting language is a highly-desired skill in the GIS profession. In this class, we dedicate time to programming fundamentals so that the skills learned can be applied to languages other than Python. You'll benefit by increasing your ability to solve geospatial problems through the use of programming.

Technologies You'll Use

Students who take GIS Programming and Software Development will use:

View the Syllabus

What’s the best way to determine if this class is for you? Check out the syllabus! This page shows all materials, how you’ll be graded, and lists assignments and a timeline for the class.

Degree & Certificate Programs

This class is part of Penn State's award winning Online Geospatial Education portfolio of programs, which includes the Master of GIS degree and certificates in GIS, GEOINT, and Remote Sensing. All of these programs are taught online and designed around the needs of working professionals.

let's talk

Questions about this course or our programs? We're here to help! You can talk to our faculty or touch base with students who have taken this class.

What Our Students Say

"With human resources being one of the major constraints of doing more with GIS, automation is a key, if not a necessary, part of our operation. Not only did GEOG 485 make me a better coder, it made me a better manager because now I have a better understanding of where to invest staff hours developing scripting tools to improve speed and accuracy"

- Jim Daly, GISP

"After taking the class, I was able to apply Python at work immediately. It has helped speed up long processes, and make projects more accurate and efficient. I now feel comfortable investing the time in writing code, instead of approaching things the long way."

- James Carpenter, GISP

Meet the Faculty

Jim Detwiler
James O’Brien
James O’Brien

I got involved in GIS via a different path from most people. I'd been introduced to GIS at a university event where it was described as "Computing and Environmental Studies." I liked what I heard about how the two could be combined and selected GIS as my undergraduate degree.

That degree led to my employment as a computer programmer, hardware technician, and a cartographer. I obtained a Ph.D. at Penn State and, after a year working in Australia, did Post Doc work for the Human Environment Regional Observatory project. Later I moved to Kingston University in London for work as a lecturer in GIS, and later yet I returned to Australia’s Mcquarie University for GIS work involving the modeling of the spatial distribution of natural hazards. As Chief Geospatial Scientist, I design and build spatial tools for analysis, particularly using Python. I'm based in Sydney, and have taught this class over 20 times. As always, I’m looking forward to it!

Jan Oliver Wallgrun
Jan Oliver Wallgrun

I am a researcher and instructor in the Geography Department at Penn State, but I’ve recently moved back to my home country of Germany. I’m a computer scientist by training, with a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Informatics, but I’ve been working in the areas of GIS and GIScience for a decade now teaching introductory courses in GIS and GIScience, geospatial data management and spatial databases, and object oriented programming for GIScience. I continue to perform research in affiliation with the Penn State GeoVISTA Center, where I focus on problems of spatial and spatio-temporal modeling and reasoning and also the interpretation and processing of human descriptions of spatial knowledge such as natural language descriptions or sketch maps. I’m interested in algorithmic problems of spatial data integration, matching, and query processing as a basis to build “intelligent” spatial retrieval and assistance systems.