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GIS Commons: An Introductory Textbook on Geographic Information Systems

GIS Commons: An Introductory Textbook on Geographic Information Systems

'This is not a typical e-book; it is a free, web-based, open-source “textbook” available to anyone interested in using mapping tools to create maps. This e-text focuses primarily on Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—a geospatial technology that enables you to create spatial databases, analyze spatial patterns, and produce maps that communicate more effectively. While this GIS textbook is principally an introduction to GIS, most of the chapter’s concepts are applicable to other geotechnologies including remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), Internet mapping, and virtual globes. Creating good maps and analyzing spatial data is a time consuming and challenging practice, but recently, a new set of powerful mapping tools has enabled almost anyone with a computer to make maps... Show More


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Erin Rudders
Erin Rudders (Faculty)
2 years ago

The material is a creative commons licensed introductory textbook. It is well organized as a logical introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through a progression of chapters: Introduction, Input, Map Processing, Data Processing, Analysis and Output.  

The content achieves good compromise between the cursory introduction to basics that is done in ESRI Tutorial books and the overly technical onslaught presented in many expensive GIS textbooks.  

The only down side is that I had a hard time reading the material in a web browser and the graphics were hard for me to see. They certainly achieved their purpose, but I was distracted by the blurry text in images. The pdf version (available from the Acrobat link icon at the bottom right of each chapter) is easier to read but the graphics are still fuzzy.  

I am considering integrating this content in to our Introduction to GIS course. I will use it as source material to be parsed out in to our existing weekly instructional modules. Thank you for sharing!  

Used in course? Yes
Time spent reviewing site: 30 minutes