I leave the space open for reflection; The blog reading space is short, so I warn you, we will have to be somewhat simplistic.
When we talk about "Free GIS tools“, two groups of soldiers appear: a large majority that asks the question
... and what are those?
... and there are users of them?
While a minority is located on the other side of the stage, with answers such as:
… I do more without spending money
Here are some reasons why free platforms are not in the fashion of the vast majority of GIS users.
1. The learning curve.
In the case of GRASS, To give an example, this tool works with Linux and Windows, which has a API In c good Documented, what's wrong with it Tutorials quite complete, after testing it we verify that it does the functions of ARCGis, and several of its extensions that are worth thousands of dollars.
... but who gives you a GRASS course in a Latin American country?
I'm not talking about training for developers, they learn on their own, without the common operators of spatial analysis, image processing, conversion of raster data to vector ... those things that GRASS does very well. Surely imparting a GRASS training should be very easy, barely 24 hours, but the vicious circle that there is very little demand for these courses means that training companies do not schedule conferences on this subject. Let's not say of other free or free programs like gvSIG,
Spring, Saga or Jump that are less known.
So the fact that the learning curve is very widespread makes users expensive ... in the same way that Linux is free, but a well-supported RedHat service costs a lot of money.
2. It is easier to hack than to learn
It is clear that ESRI and AutoDesk are popular because piracy has given them a hand… or a hook. Although they are very robust, varied tools and undoubtedly very endorsed by a renowned firm, a micro or small business dedicated to the cartographic area should invest at least $ 48,000 dollars in ESRI products just to start a development department of 5 users (ArcGIS , ARCsde, ARC Editor, ARC IMS… without GIS Server). So open source platforms are a good draw for developers, but ordinary desktop-only operators… will put on an eye patch and spend $ 1,500 online :).
3. It is better to go with the more popular ones than with the best ones.
We see this custom even when spending money, the user knows that Mac is better than PC, that Linux is better than Windows, that some CAD tools are better than AutoCAD; so these platforms that compete like David and Goliath remain in the hands of “select users” who pay similar prices.
While in the competition between the "almost free" and the "expensive", the wall becomes gigantic, more than once I was Taken by gentil, for using Manifold ... although it is not free. So, we use tools that cost $ 4,000 just to stay Geek, although most users don't license software, but companies.
… In conclusion, we see that it is a necessary evil that large companies exist, charging thousands of dollars for a license so that the demand for this technology is sustainable. And it will continue to be another necessary evil, that a group continues to fight from the side of open source, although the vast majority will consider them Nerds.