GEOG 583
Geospatial System Analysis and Design



Recent years have seen the emergence of a wide array of new open source software projects, licensed under a variety of sharing schemes (which you will read about on the following pages). Such projects offer developers and system designers the ability to draw from existing, freely-available work in order to begin customizing their own tools and applications. Note that, many times, open source libraries can be used in conjunction with proprietary (or "commercial") GIS. Open source projects go beyond simple sharing, however - the design of open software should itself reflect an open architecture that can suit a diverse range of possibilities (visit Open Source Initiative for more details on the major aspects associated with being "open").

In fact, the content you are reading right now is part of an "open" initiative for educational courseware. Some universities have recently decided to share their content with the world via the web. In our system at Penn State, we provide content with the caveat that it must be attributed, if it is reused in any way, using a Creative Commons license. We hope to ensure exposure to our content to a wide range of people (anyone doing a Google search for "Geospatial System Design Course" or "GEOG 583" in this instance) in addition to providing our content to anyone who might benefit from it. Of course, those who enroll and pay for the course gain the benefit of the assignments, instructor engagement on those assignments, interactions with other students, amongst other things.

In this lesson, we will focus on the ongoing evolution of open source projects and their impact on GIS designers as well as vendors at for-profit companies who leverage open standards, open source projects, and open source code in their own efforts.


At the successful completion of Lesson 6, students should be able to:

  • Compare the advantages/disadvantages of open source versus proprietary software options
  • Discuss how you would implement open source software in a workflow you carry out regularly
  • Discuss how open core software will affect GISystems in the near future
  • Explain how open core or proprietary software and data can be integrated in the GISystem Design in the Term Project


Lesson 6 is one week in length. Please refer to the syllabus or the course calendar for specific assignment instructions and due dates.


If you have questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them in the General Questions Discussion Forum. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses and comments if you are able to help out a classmate.