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QGIS Planet

How to effectively get things changed in QGIS

I’ve been heavily involved in the open source QGIS mapping project for a number of years now. During this time I’ve kept a close watch on the various mailing lists, issue trackers, stackexchange, tweets and other various means users have to provide feedback to the project. Recently, I’ve started to come to the conclusion that there’s a lot of fundamental confusion about how the project works and how users can get changes made to the project. Read on for these insights, but keep in mind that these are just my thoughts and not reflective of the whole community’s views!..

Firstly – QGIS is a community driven project. Unlike some open source projects (and unlike the commercial GIS offerings) there is no corporate backer or singular organisation directing the project. This means two things:

  1. The bad news: No-one will do your work for you. QGIS has been created through a mix of user-led contributions (ie, users who have a need to change something and dive in and do it themselves) and through commercially supported contributions (either organisations who offer commercial QGIS support pushing fixes because their customers are directly affected or because they’ve been contracted by someone to implement a particular change). There HAS been a number of volunteer contributions from developers who are just donating their time (for various reasons), but these contributions are very much the minority.
  2. The good news: YOU have the power to shape the project! (And whenever I say “you” – I’m referring directly to the person reading this, or the company you work for. Just pretend it’s in 24 point bold red blinking text.) Because QGIS is community driven (and not subject to the whims of any one particular enterprise) every user has the ability to implement changes and fixes in the program.

So how exactly can users get changes implemented in QGIS? Well, let’s take a look at all the possible different ways that changes get made and how effective each one is:

  1. YOU can make the changes yourself. This implies that you have the c++/Python skills required to make the changes, are able to find your way around the source code, and push through the initial hurdles of setting up a build environment and navigating git. This can be a significant time investment, but the ultimate result is that you can make whatever changes you want, and so long as your pull request is accepted you’ll get your changes directly into QGIS. You’ll find the QGIS team is very open to new contributors and will readily lend a hand if you need assistance navigating the source or for advise on the best way to make these changes. Just ask!
  2. YOU (or your employer) can pay (or “sponsor”) someone to make the changes on your behalf. Reinvesting some of those savings you’re making through using an open source program back into the program itself is a great idea, and everyone benefits. There’s numerous organisations who specialise in QGIS development (eg… my own consultancy, North Road). You can liaise with these organisations to get them to make the changes on your behalf. This is probably the most effective way of getting changes implemented. These organisations all have a history with QGIS development and this experience generally translates to much faster development then if you code it yourself. It’s also somewhat of a shortcut – if you hire a core QGIS developer to make your changes, then you can be confident that they are familiar with the coding style, policies, and long-term goals of the project and accordingly can get the changes accepted rapidly. The obvious down side of paying for changes is that, well, it costs money. Understandably, not everyone has the resources available to do this.
  3. Following on from option 2 – if you can’t directly sponsor changes yourself, you could help indirectly raise funds to pay for the changes. This is a great way to get changes implemented, because everyone has the power to do this. You could seek out similar organisations/users who have the same need and pool your resources, get involved with the local QGIS user group and raise funds together, organise a crowd-funding campaign, etc.
  4. Ask a developer to make the changes for you. This is not terribly effective – you’re basically asking someone to work for free, and take time away from their family/job/hobbies/social life to do work for you. That said, it does sometimes happen, and here’s a few reasons I can think of why:
    • You’ve build up enough “karma” within the project through other contributions. If someone has been heavily involved in the non-development side of the project (eg translations, documentation, helping users out on mailing lists/stackexchange, organising hackfests or user groups, etc) then developers are much more likely to want to help them out in turn.
    • You’ve got a fantastic idea which has just never occurred to anyone before. By bringing it to the attention of a developer you might trigger the “wow, I could really benefit from that too!” impulse which is hard-wired into some of us!
    • It’s a particularly interesting or challenging problem, and sometimes developers just like to extend themselves.
  5. (For bugs only) File a bug report, and hope it gets picked up in one of the pre-release bug fixing sprints. This is basically the same as option 2 – expect that in this case someone else (the QGIS steering committee) is paying for the development time. There’s no way of guaranteeing that your bug will get fixed during this time though, so it’s not a particularly reliable approach if the fix is critical for you.

Finally, there’s two more very ineffective approaches:

  1. File a bug report/feature request, and wait. This isn’t very effective, because what you’re doing is basically the same as 1-4 above, but just waiting for someone else to either do the work or sponsor the changes. This might happen in a week, or might take 10 years.
  2. Complain about something and hope for the best. This is… not very effective. No-one is particularly motivated to help out someone who is being a jerk.

That’s it. Those are the ONLY ways changes get made in QGIS. There’s no other magical short-cuts you can take. Some of these approaches are much more effective than others, and some require skills or resources which may not be available. If you want to see something change in QGIS, you need to take a look at these options and decide for yourself which best meets your needs. But please, just don’t choose option 7!

Update: a follow up to this article was published


New stable release of GRASS GIS 7.0.0!

The GRASS GIS Development team has announced the release of the new major version GRASS GIS 7.0.0. This version provides many new functionalities including spatio-temporal database support, image segmentation, estimation of evapotranspiration and emissivity from satellite imagery, automatic line vertex densification during reprojection, more LIDAR support and a strongly improved graphical user interface experience. GRASS GIS 7.0.0 also offers significantly improved performance for many raster and vector modules: “Many processes that would take hours now take less than a minute, even on my small laptop!” explains Markus Neteler, the coordinator of the development team composed of academics and GIS professionals from around the world. The software is available for Linux, MS-Windows, Mac OSX and other operating systems.

Detailed announcement and software download:

The Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (, commonly referred to as GRASS GIS, is an open source Geographic Information System providing powerful raster, vector and geospatial processing capabilities in a single integrated software suite. GRASS GIS includes tools for spatial modeling, visualization of raster and vector data, management and analysis of geospatial data, and the processing of satellite and aerial imagery. It also provides the capability to produce sophisticated presentation graphics and hardcopy maps. GRASS GIS has been translated into about twenty languages and supports a huge array of data formats. It can be used either as a stand-alone application or as backend for other software packages such as QGIS and R geostatistics. It is distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). GRASS GIS is a founding member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo).

The post New stable release of GRASS GIS 7.0.0! appeared first on GFOSS Blog | GRASS GIS Courses.

QGIS 2.6 ‘Brighton’ released

In the new release of QGIS 2.6.0 a series of new features have been added concerning

  • General: new features and bugfixes,
  • DXF export (improvements),
  • Map Composer (enhancements),
  • Processing (including a new modeler implementation),
  • QGIS Server (improvements),
  • Symbology (including user interface improvements),
  • User Interface with improvements.

A visual changelog is available for more details with lots of screenshots.

Congratulations to all QGIS developers! Looking forward to see the Fedora RPM available…

You can download QGIS 2.6 at

The post QGIS 2.6 ‘Brighton’ released appeared first on GFOSS Blog | GRASS GIS Courses.

Video: GRASS GIS development visualization from 1999 to 2013

Watch how the community based GRASS GIS 6.4 software development evolved! You can see how the individual contributors modify and expand the source code:

  • Dec 29, 1999: GRASS GIS 5.0 is being stored in an online source code repository in December 1999…
  • Dec 02, 2000: The developers work on all parts of the code…
  • Jan 15, 2002: Working on the future GRASS GIS 5.1 release
  • Nov 25, 2002: Starting GRASS 5.1 development with code restructuring
  • Jun 14, 2004: GRASS GIS 5.7 released in June 2004
  • Nov 09, 2004: Source code restructuring to get a better directory layout (all other developers waiting…)
  • Nov 09, 2004: … thousands of files are modified in this operation …
  • Nov 10, 2004: All developers resume their activities after the restructuring
  • Jan 10, 2005: Preparing the GRASS GIS 6.0.0 release…
  • Apr 09, 2005: GRASS GIS 6.0.0 published, release branch being split off from trunk for easier maintenance
  • Feb 22, 2006: Release of GRASS GIS 6.0.2 and new source code refactoring startedApr 05, 2006: Heavy development activity in trunk (development branch) …
  • Oct 25, 2006: GRASS GIS 6.2.0 released in October 2006
  • Apr 10, 2007: Preparing the GRASS GIS 6.2.2 release…
  • Jun 16, 2007: GRASS GIS 6.2.2 released in June 2007
  • Nov 01, 2007: Raster and vector modules being actively maintained…
  • Apr 02, 2007: New graphical user interface development speeding up (wxGUI)
  • Feb 20, 2008: Copyright statements prettified in many files
  • May 31, 2008: New GRASS 6 development branch being split off from trunk (which becomes GRASS 7)
  • Jun 10, 2008: Developers moving over to new branch
  • Feb 23, 2009: GRASS 6.4 release branch split off from GRASS 6 development branch
  • Apr 03, 2009: GRASS GIS 6.4 preparations starting…
  • Feb 24, 2010: Intense maintenance in GRASS 6.4 release branch
  • Sep 15, 2010: GRASS GIS 6.4.0 released in September 2010
  • Apr 12, 2011: GRASS GIS 6.4.1 released in April 2011
  • Jun 27, 2011: GRASS GIS 6.4.svn matures for the upcoming 6.4.2 release
  • Aug 16, 2011: Intense maintenance in GRASS 6.4 release branch (GRASS GIS 7 development not shown here)…
  • Feb 19, 2012: GRASS GIS 6.4.2 released in February 2012
  • Nov 13, 2012: Backporting graphical user interface bugfixes from GRASS GIS 7 to GRASS GIS 6.4
  • Apr 17, 2013: Further maintenance in GRASS 6.4 release branch
  • Jul 10, 2013: Fixing odds ‘n ends for the new stable release
  • Jul 27, 2013: GRASS GIS 6.4.3 released in July 2013

The corresponding timeline is also available at


Rendering: Markus Neteler
Audio track editing: Duccio Rocchini & Antonio Galea

Le bruit peut rendre sourd – Track 6/18 Album “Sensation electronique” by Saelynh (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Software used:
Gource software: (GPL)
OpenShot video editor: (GPL

The post Video: GRASS GIS development visualization from 1999 to 2013 appeared first on GFOSS Blog | GRASS GIS Courses.

OSGeo-Live 7.0 Released

The OSGeo-Live geospatial software collection version 7.0 has been released, featuring more than sixty open source, standards compliant geospatial desktop applications, web applications and frameworks. A complete installation kit and high-quality sample data in multiple industry standard formats are included. The OSGeo Live will be officially launched at FOSS4G 2013 in Nottingham, UK, 17-21 September, 2013.

Release Highlights

Projects new to this release include:

  • GeoNode — a web-based application and platform for developing geospatial information systems (GIS) and for deploying spatial data infrastructures (SDI)
  • Leaflet — a modern, open source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps
  • ncWMS — a Web Map Service (WMS) for geospatial data stored in CF-compliant NetCDF files
  • netCDF dataset — daily maximum temperature and rainfall, worldwide

All geospatial applications on the disc have been updated to their latest stable releases.

About OSGeo-Live

OSGeo-Live is a self-contained bootable DVD, USB flash drive and Virtual Machine based upon Ubuntu Linux (version 12.04 LTS). OSGeo-Live is pre-configured with a wide variety of robust open source geospatial software. All applications can be trialled without installing anything on your computer, simply by booting the computer from a DVD or USB drive, or running in a Virtual Machine environment. Each featured package is accompanied by both a publication quality one page descriptive summary and a short tutorial on how to get started using it.

OSGeo-Live includes:

  • Over sixty quality geospatial Open Source applications installed and pre-configured
  • Free world maps and geodata
  • One page overview and quick start guide for every application
  • Overviews of key OGC standards
  • Translations to multiple languages


Over 160 people have directly helped with OSGeo-Live packaging, documenting and translating, and thousands have been involved in building the packaged software.

Packagers, documenters and translators include:

Activity Workshop, Agustín Dí­ez, Aikaterini Kapsampeli, Alan Beccati, Alan Boudreault, Alessandro Furieri, Alexander Bruy, Alexander Kleshnin, Alexander Muriy, Alexandre Dube, Alexey Ardyakov, Alex Mandel, Amy Gao, Andrea Antonello, Andrea Yanza, Andrey Syrokomskiy, Andry Rustanto, Angelos Tzotsos, Anna Muñoz, Antonio Falciano, Anton Novichikhin, Anton Patrushev, Argyros Argyridis, Ariel Núñez, Assumpció Termens, Astrid Emde, Barry Rowlingson, Benjamin Pross, Brian Hamlin, Bruno Binet, Cameron Shorter, Christophe Tufféry, Christos Iossifidis, Cristhian Pin, Damian Wojsław, Dane Springmeyer, Daniel Kastl, Daria Svidzinska, David Mateos, Denis Rykov, Diego González, Diego Migliavacca, Dimitar Misev, Dmitry Baryshnikov, Dominik Helle, Edgar Soldin, Eike Hinderk Jürrens, Elena Mezzini, Eric Lemoine, Estela Llorente, Etienne Delay, Etienne Dube, Evgeny Nikulin, Fran Boon, François Prunayre, Frank Gasdorf, Frank Warmerdam, Friedjoff Trautwein, Gavin Treadgold, Giuseppe Calamita, Gerald Fenoy, Grigory Rozhentsov, Guy Griffiths, Hamish Bowman, Haruyuki Seki, Henry Addo, Hernan Olivera, Howard Butler, Hyeyeong Choe, Ian Edwards, Ian Turton, Ilya Filippov, Jackie Ng, Jan Drewnak, Jane Lewis, Javier Rodrigo, Javier Sánchez, Jesús Gómez, Jim Klassen, Jing Wang, Jinsongdi Yu, Jody Garnett, Johan Van de Wauw, John Bryant, Jorge Arévalo, Jorge Sanz, José Antonio Canalejo, José Vicente Higón, Judit Mays, Klokan Petr Pridal, Kristof Lange, kuzkok, Lance McKee, Lars Lingner, Luca Delucchi, Lucía Sanjaime, Mage Whopper, Manuel Grizonnet, Marc-André Barbeau, Marco Curreli, Marco Puppin, Marc Torres, Margherita Di Leo, Maria Vakalopoulou, Mario Andino, Mark Leslie, Massimo Di Stefano, Mauricio Miranda, Mauricio Pazos, Maxim Dubinin, Michaël Michaud, Michael Owonibi, Micha Silver, Mike Adair, Milena Nowotarska, M Iqnaul Haq Siregar, Nacho Varela, Nadiia Gorash, Nathaniel V. Kelso, Ned Horning, Nobusuke Iwasaki, Oliver Tonnhofer, Òscar Fonts, Otto Dassau, Pasquale Di Donato, Patric Hafner, Paul Meems, Pavel, Pedro-Juan Ferrer, Pirmin Kalberer, Raf Roset, Ricardo Pinho, Roald de Wit, Roberta Fagandini, Roberto Antolin, Roberto Antolí­n, Roger Veciana, Ruth Schoenbuchner, Samuel Mesa, Scott Penrose, Sergey Grachev, Sergio Baños, Simon Cropper, Simon Pigot, Stefan A. Tzeggai, Stefan Hansen, Stefan Steiniger, Stephan Meissl, Steve Lime, Thierry Badard, Thomas Baschetti, Thomas Gratier, Tom Kralidis, Toshikazu Seto, Trevor Wekel, Valenty González, Vera, Xianfeng Song, Yoichi Kayama, Zhengfan Lin

Sponsoring organisations


4th GRASS GIS Community Sprint: Exciting achievements

The GRASS GIS community is delighted to present the outcome of the 4th Community Sprint that took place in a warm and sunny Prague, Czech Republic, from July 12 to July 18, 2013. The event happened after the Geoinformatics conference at the Czech Technical University in Prague. The Community Sprint was once more a creative gathering of both long-term and new developers, as well as users.
This meeting was held in the light of 30 YEARS OF GRASS GIS!

We wish to cordially thank the Department of Mapping and Cartography, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague for hosting and technical support. In particular, we gratefully acknowledge our association sponsors OSGeo  and FOSSGIS e.V., and many individual donors: Peter Löwe, Andrea Borruso, Massimo Di Stefano, Alessandro Sarretta, Joshua Campbell, Andreas Neumann, Jon Eiriksson, Luca Casagrande, Karyn O Newcomb, Holger Naumann, Anne Ghisla, Helena Mitasova and Lubos Mitas, Dimitris Tamp, Mark Seibel, Markus Metz, and Tawny Gapinski. These financial contributions were used to cover costs such as meals and to help reducing travelling and accommodation expenses for participants with far arrival who came on own expenses.

Developers and users who joined the event came from various countries like Italy, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Poland, Sri Lanka/France, USA and Germany.
The Community Sprint focused on:

  • testing/bugfixing of the upcoming GRASS 7 version,
  • backporting new functionalities to the stable GRASS 6.4 series,
  • testing/bugfixing related to Mac OS X, MS-Windows and Linux,
  • presenting and developing the new Temporal GIS Algebra in GRASS 7,
  • connecting GRASS 7 with the planetary science software ISIS,
  • discussing integration with software, a powerful multidimensional raster processor,
  • creating 3D vector test data for 3D interpolation,
  • discussing vector conflation,
  • discussing Bundle Block Adjustments,
  • presenting the state of image processing in GRASS 7, and discussing its future,
  • improving documentation, with focus on image processing and Temporal GIS Algebra,
  • developing/refactoring and bugfixing several wxGUI’s components,
  • further developing customizable wxGUI Toolboxes concept,
  • improving translation in Polish and Romanian languages,
  • fixing v.krige in GRASS7 and proposing merge with the recently developed v.kriging module,
  • meeting between Google Summer of Code 2013 mentor and students.

A lot of topic oriented discussions happened among small groups of participants: for more detailed information, please visit the Wiki pages at and the related discussion page at

The Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, commonly referred to as GRASS GIS, is an Open Source Geographic Information System providing powerful raster, vector and geospatial processing capabilities in a single integrated software suite. GRASS GIS includes tools for spatial modeling, visualization of raster and vector data, management and analysis of geospatial data, and the processing of satellite and aerial  imagery. It also provides the capability to produce sophisticated presentation graphics and hardcopy maps. GRASS GIS has been translated into about twenty languages and supports a huge array of data formats. It is distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). GRASS GIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo).

GRASS GIS Development Team, July 2013

GRASS GIS 6.4.3RC4 released

Fourth (and last) release candidate of GRASS GIS 6.4.3 with improvements and stability fixes
A fourth release candidate of GRASS GIS 6.4.3 is now available.

Source code download:

Binaries download:

To get the GRASS GIS 6.4.3RC4 source code directly from SVN:
 svn checkout

Key improvements of this release include some new functionality (assistance for topologically unclean vector data), fixes in the vector network modules, fixes for the wxPython based portable graphical interface (attribute table management, wxNVIZ, and Cartographic Composer), fixes in the location wizard for Datum transform selection and support for PROJ.4 version 4.8.0, improvements for selecting the Python version to be used, enhanced portability for MS-Windows (native support, fixes in case of missing system DLLs), and more translations (esp. Romanian).

See also our detailed announcement:

First time users should explore the first steps tutorial after installation.

Release candidate management at

Please join us in testing this release candidate for the final release.

Consider to donate pizza or beer for the upcoming GRASS GIS Community Sprint in Prague:
Thanks to all contributors!

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