shrug-l: ArcGIS Alternative

DeAndrae Spradley dredale7 at
Tue Apr 5 08:46:06 EDT 2011

DeAndrae Spradley
Sent from iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Hall, Melissa" <Melissa.Hall at>
Date: April 5, 2011 8:43:17 AM EDT
To: "DeAndrae Spradley" <dredale7 at>
Subject: RE: shrug-l: ArcGIS Alternative

I used MapInfo a few years back when I started with Food Lion.  It did not have the same analytical abilities then, but I haven’t kept up on it.


We did end up switching to ESRI.  In the end the costs were close, but the deciding factor was infrastructure.  As others have said, people learn ESRI and it what most people know in the US and all the local universities have ESRI based GIS programs.  I am not sure how you capture that cost, but it was compelling when I was working with another system.  It took me 6 months to learn and hiring anyone else was hard because they would be losing a skill set.


The other big concern from management was that we were going to end up with a program that would be very hard to support long term.  While it is great job security to work on a non-mainstream GIS most of the options you have to increase the force on a project, like consultants and contract/temp workers go away.  It makes your current staff a absolute bottleneck


The commercial options are pretty bad, if you need a real alternative I would look to open source.  Some of the disadvantages of alternative commercial software are offset by people who believe in the FOSS culture.


Of the FOSS options GRASS is the oldest and best developed, I can’t remember which program it is, but I think there is one university that teaches it.  I like FMaps and it is coming along, but it probably will not have the functionality you need if you have ArcInfo type analysis needs, making GRASS the only possible option.


The automation tools will just not be the same, FOSS systems tend to do customization through programming, so if you do have C programming in house be sure to include that in the budget.


Melissa Hall

GIS Tech

Florida Division of Emergancy Management

Melissa.Hall at

(850) 413-9905


From: shrug-l-bounces at [mailto:shrug-l-bounces at] On Behalf Of DeAndrae Spradley
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2011 7:53 AM
To: Luciano Campagnolo
Cc: shrug-l
Subject: Re: shrug-l: ArcGIS Alternative


I know some local governments use Map Info for their GIS. I'm looking forward to the conclusions as well. 

DeAndrae Spradley

Sent from iPhone

On Apr 5, 2011, at 12:58 AM, Luciano Campagnolo <lc at> wrote:

Hi, of course it can be replaced! But there are a LOT of things to consider.


I think that the really tricky part is the 'cost of adoption' meaning time, training, some development to tackle missing features...


As Yurong said: It would be great of you can share your conclusions.


Best regards



On Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 12:45 AM, "Yurong Tan (谭玉荣)" <tany at> wrote:

I have heard similar reasoning along that line.  Please share your results as some of us will be one day asked to do the same silly exercise.     

-Yurong Tan


On Apr 4, 2011, at 6:23 PM, "Keith Sandell" <Keith.Sandell at> wrote:

Hey Shruggers,


My purchasing department is making me do a cost benefit analysis of paying our annual maintenance to ESRI versus abandoning ESRI in favor of some other GIS software, if there is such as thing.


Are there any comparable GIS suites out there that have the same, or greater, functionality as Desktop and Server 10?


And what is there cost to replace, and implement, 2 ArcInfo concurrent use licenses, 1 ArcGIS Server Std Enterprise license and 1 EDN license?


Silly exercise, but one I have to do nonetheless.


Keith Sandell, MBA

GIS Manager, Corporate Analytics

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

2101 Maryland Circle, Tallahassee, Florida 32303


ofc. 850.521.8341   |   cell 850.727.2897


"If we are to achieve results never before accomplished we must expect to employ methods never before attempted." - Francis Bacon


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