What is QGIS?

QGIS is a free and open-source Geographic Information System (GIS) that allows users to create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial data. 

QGIS is licensed under General Public License (GPL) and as open source software, its source code is publicly available on GitHub QGIS repository. Premade binaries could be downloaded and used for free for Windows, macOS, and Linux. 

The project is led by the OGIS non-profit organization, involving the project steering committee, voting members, software developers and a vibrant community of volunteers and users. Many companies provide commercial support and development services around QGIS and the open-source GIS ecosystem.

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Frequently asked questions

What is QGIS used for?

The QGIS ecosystem can be used for visualizing, editing, analyzing, managing and publishing geospatial data. QGIS can handle hundreds of various formats through usage of GDAL and has an extensive support for projection thanks to PROJ.

QGIS projects contain a background map, typically in raster or vector tile format, either offline or as an online service. Other data are usually included as vector data stored in local formats such as GeoPackage or in databases like PostgreSQL/PostGIS. Recently, QGIS got 3D support, including point clouds, and it is used to display and manipulate data gathered from lidar and other 3D data sources. 

Users can utilize the QGIS processing toolbox to perform powerful spatial analysis tasks and derive insights from their geospatial datasets. QGIS supports very advanced cartographic features, allowing users to create visually appealing maps for presentations, publications, or decision-making purposes.

Its open-source nature fosters a collaborative environment where users can extend its functionality through plugins, customize workflows to suit specific project requirements and integrate the solution to their wider software stack. 

QGIS finds applications across diverse domains including environmental science, urban planning, agriculture or construction, making it a valuable tool for professionals, researchers, and enthusiasts involved in spatial data analysis.

Is QGIS as good as ArcGIS?

In terms of functionality, both QGIS and ArcGIS provide robust tools for GIS analysis, data management, and cartography. While the feature set and the interface differs a bit, all common GIS tasks could be equally performed by both platforms. 

QGIS, as part of open source GIS ecosystem, excels in interoperability and integration with other software tools as well as its extensibility by plugins and custom developments. 

Ultimately, the choice between QGIS and ArcGIS depends on the factor of budget. QGIS can be used, even commercially, totally free. On the other hand, ArcGIS license fees are rather expensive. 

How can I download QGIS?

QGIS is available for free download on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Users can access the latest releases from the official website. QGIS offers a LTR (long term release) version that is very stable and gets bug fixes updates for a whole year. Also there is a PR (point release) version twice a year that contains all new features. Users can also install experimental nightly releases to test new features in upcoming LTR and PR releases. As QGIS is open source, it is allowed to download all versions for free.

Is QGIS written in Python?

QGIS is primarily written in C++/Qt. However, some core parts are indeed written in Python and the Python interface called PyQGIS is used for custom user plugins to extend the functionality of the core application. Custom plugins are used for automation, analysis, simplifying repetitive tasks and extending user interface and functionality. Most of the QGIS functionality can be accessed via QGIS's API (Application Programming Interface).

Does QGIS work on Windows?

Yes, QGIS is fully compatible with Windows operating systems. Users can download and install QGIS on Windows computers from the official QGIS website, and it supports various versions of the Windows operating system, including Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows 11.

What is a QGIS server?

QGIS server is a server that serves maps in WMS, WFS, WCS or as other online services. QGIS server is based on the same core libraries as QGIS desktop, so it reads and renders the same QGIS projects as are used on desktop. It can be installed on any operating system, but typically on Linux or Windows based servers.

Does QGIS work on Android and iOS?

QGIS is only designed for desktop operating systems like Windows. It does not have an official mobile version for Android or iOS devices. Nevertheless, there are third party applications that are officially supported by the QGIS organization that are recommended to use for Android devices and iPhones. We are proud that Mergin Maps is one of these officially recognized applications.

Does QGIS work online in a browser?

There is recent development to compile QGIS on browsers as WebAssembly binary. While this projects is still experimental, you can track the progress on its official GitHub repository qgis-js.

To serve your QGIS project online, you can also use QGIS Server with QGIS Web Client 2 (QWC2), GIS3W or Lizmap. You can also use one of many freely available open source WebGIS projects for the browser client. Another option is to use QGIS2Web plugin for a completely serverless solution. 

Does QGIS have official support?

QGIS does not have an official support service, however, various chat channels and social media user groups are provided by the community. Additionally, there are commercial QGIS support partners officially recognized by the project. One of the officially recognized companies to provide commercial support is Lutra Consulting Ltd., the developer of Mergin Maps.

Does QGIS have official training? 

QGIS does not have official training, but there are many private companies offering both public and private training. Organizations can become QGIS Certified Organizations to be officially recognized by the project and can issue official QGIS training certificates. One of these companies to provide commercial training is Lutra Consulting Ltd., the developer of Mergin Maps.

Who are the developers of QGIS and QGIS plugins?

QGIS is a free and open source software which accepts contributions from everyone, so long as certain standards are met. But there are several companies and individuals who have been historically active in the community and they are forming the core of the project To fix bugs or develop new functionality in QGIS, it is best to approach the core contributors  who are capable and familiar with QGIS. 

There are several companies who develop  QGIS plugins, mostly using Python and PyQGIS. Nevertheless, companies or individuals involved in main QGIS development bring more effectiveness to the process due to their close involvement with the main project development.

Lutra Consulting Ltd., the developer of Mergin Maps, have been core contributors to QGIS since 2013 and we are able to satisfy your software development needs in QGIS or with custom plugins.

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