I was answering a question on Super User about basic "GIS", which was really more about custom web maps for end users, and wanted to point to a simple resource of GIS software. You know, the top 5 gratis (free beer), libre (open source), affordable, professional software programs/platforms out there. I was somewhat bemused to discover I don't have a clue where that might be.

  1. Does such a beast exist?
  2. If not, or maybe even if it does, should we create one here?
  • 1
    Very tongue-in-cheek 1 Symap, 2 Preview, 3 MIGS, 4 Eppl7, 5 Spans plus a cast of those that preceeded (I can't even remember what Roger Tomlinson's program was called even if it had a name)
    – user681
    Commented May 5, 2011 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


Possibly not, but a canonical "How do I get started with GIS as a power user?" (not an exact title, just a concept) question might work.

More detail:


Help us build a great library of canonical answers. If you keep seeing the same form of questions, whether it’s mod_rewrite rules on Server Fault, freezing computers on Super User, or how to use regular expressions to parse HTML, write a great, canonical answer, once and for all. Make it community wiki so that as many other people as possible can make it great. Work really hard on writing something that is clear, concise, and understandable by as wide an audience as possible.

The only reason I'd pause here if this isn't actually based on real demand, e.g. nobody (or almost nobody) is really asking for this.

  • 3
    So do we need a tag to indicate potential canonical answers, say canon-fodder ? And for good answers duplicated on multiple questions maybe loose-canon tag? Commented May 7, 2011 at 1:43

re#2: Stack Exchange generally discourages these kinds of questions, and I personally am not sure it really fits. Lists-of questions tend to be kind of static. Once "answered" people very rarely go back and downvote out of date answers and it's hard for the currently "most correct" ones to rise to the top.

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