GIS Tips – Don't be afraid of QGIS….there is support out there if you need it

Writing this I am quite aware of the irony of a GIS consultant with over 10yrs of experience writing about how there’s a world of help and not being afraid of QGIS.

Well, here’s a secret *shhh!!* – I only started using QGIS about 3yrs ago due to having to find alternative ways of doing things as a certain expensive commercial GIS software was costing me hours of downtime. A lot has happened in those 3yrs, QGIS was so easy to pick up that I started building web applications and am even looking to run some QGIS courses myself to help those wanting to get started.

The reason it’s been so easy to progress so far so quick is due to the QGIS community, they are dedicated and always there to help, I’ve got to admit in the last few years I have had some REALLY stupid questions but even so, I haven’t been laughed at (as I had been once on the big commercial forum for asking about geospatial transformations) instead I’ve found help at every step.

Okay, enough promotion, you get the idea, rather than getting a phone line to ask fr support, you have a wealth of help through social media and forums. I’ve put a little list of the resources I found most useful below:

Twitter: I cannot promote this resource enough, there are some really great QGIS users out there and for the more complicated issues, a few astoundingly brilliant developers (@madmanwoo & @Underdarkgis). I would recommend perusing through my “twitter friends” and adding some of the QGIS relevant ones.

StackExchange: An open forum for GIS questions but many of the QGIS developers and some very respected GIS users and cartographers hide behind the scenes to answer your questions (yes, that includes you @nordpil).

Commercial Support (Thanks @madmanwoo): As well as the wealth of free help, there are many companies willing to help, whether it is a simple question or a whole new add-in which your company needs and the prices are VERY good, in my experience I have only enquired a couple of times about developing a few things and it has been cheaper than getting a solution created in-house. This is also ideal if you are working within a company and IT are scared because you are using open source software, the moment they use the line “It’s not supported” you can turn around and say “well, actually it is….”.

QGIS Blogs: For reading up on functionality or for some not so obvious tips and hints, I cannot recommend hitting the blogs enough. You have probably seen some of the information I have on my blog, for the beginner it is a fantastic resource. My first port of call would always be Anita Grasers blog, for more blogs have a look at my list of GIS blogs here.

QGIS Mailing Lists: Mostly a help for issues with the software, though you may find a helpful developer if there is functionality which you can’t find (after you’ve tried the above), the term “mailing list” is a bit deceptive as this is monitored 24/7 and you will usually get an answer within a couple of hours, if not, within 24hrs.

If, after you tried all these, you are still struggling then maybe you should try an online course or some training, there is a wealth of resources out there. I am looking to run some basic QGIS courses later this year if there is enough interest.

So, don’t be afraid of QGIS!!

Nick D

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