GIS, Cartographic and Spatial Analysis Tools: QGIS

This guide provides an overview of geographic software, libraries and tools supported by or recommended by RDS staff.


QGIS is a popular GIS platform that parallels the functionality of ArcGIS in many respects.  Notably, QGIS has the benefit of being free and open source as well as cross-platfor. It is available for Windows, MacOS, BSD and Linux operating systems.   In fact, QGIS may be better described as a desktop platform that leverages a collection of open source tools.  Most installations will include SAGA, GDAL and GRASS tools.  Users may also access R, the Orfeo Toolbox and hundreds of other external plugins created by the QGIS community.

Access:The easiest way to access QGIS is to download the application directly from the QGIS website. We recommend most users start with the current long term release (LTR). 

Training Materials. New GIS users should see the text and materials for the excellent GIS practicum with QGIS from Baruch College Library.

Columbia's Center for Spatial Research has a number of QGIS tutorials available as well.