"OpenOSX Grass does what it says"
Version: OpenOSX Grass 6.2.1
This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
OpenOSX does what it sets out to do: opens GRASS under OSX. Unless you are competent with binaries and the innards of programming and other things I don't understand, you won't get into GRASS. This product allows you to do that.
Now, once you are inside GRASS, as one of the correspondents correctly noted, it looks very PC-ish. That's GRASS. That's not OpenOSX, so it is unfair to criticise OpenOSX for the look of another product.
Also, I'll have to contradict another contributor's comments. OpenOSX is FREE. It is. If you want additional features you pay for those features. We Ã¢?? that is the community of software users Ã¢?? should be grateful that there are people like this developer who spend time giving us for free, products we may want to use. This particular one is a teaser for his PRO product. And if I wanted to use GRASS I'd be shelling out.
As for the non-response of the developer to emails: I contacted the developer yesterday when I couldn't open Grass via his product, and he was back to me within minutes. A second email an hour or so later had the same response.
GRASS appears to me to be a very sophisticated program. I ran through the introductory lesson that OpenOSX provided (itself a little tricky to get through) but I got there and I was impressed with the capabilities of GRASS. To be able to generate shading (ie shadows) from a topographical contour map impressed me. And that's only one of the many capabilities of GRASS.
But, GRASS is not for me. It's too complicated. I don't need it's power and a lot of people who simply want to generate maps, like me, won't need it's power either.
As far as I have been able to establish, there are only two other free mapping programs for Mac:
Try ArcExplorer, a basic program used for education; or the more powerful QGIS (up to version 0.9) with quite a few bugs, but very usable and much more Mac-ish than GRASS. QGIS can run a limited version of Grass.
Summary: Unless you have a real need for GRASS ie you are a professional, I'd stay away from it. I learnt how to use most of the features in Photoshop and InDesign in less time than I spent trying to open GRASS, run through the introductory tutorial and reading through a few of the more difficult ones. I gave up because after several hours I couldn't even create my own project. I didn't need the power of GRASS anyway. To me, it's VERY complicated - but powerful.
Try ArcExplorer (very stable but limited) or QGIS (not quite ready yet, but usable).
I'm still amazed that I can download for free from the mapping agency of the Australian Government (and other places), all the data needed to generate maps that I can produce at home to a quality almost as good at the professional topo maps.
I can see QGIS becoming THE geographic program within a few years when its code is tamed. And then we'll all be able to generate maps like we now manipulate images or text.
For anyone new to GIS (as I was a week ago) I'm putting together an intro tutorial for my own benefit. It's very basic and will show you how to generate your own map using shapefile data that is freely available. It's just an introduction to the technology so you won't have to spend three or four days teaching yourself like I had to. You can generate superb basic maps within an hour!
Email me at email@example.com if you'd like a copy.
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