Earth Science

GRASS – advanced geospatial technologies

Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) is an open source Geographic Information System (GIS) used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics/maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization.

It consists of more than 400 modules for processing vector (2D/3D), raster and voxel data. Many interfaces to other programs in related domains like geostatistics, databases, mapserver and even other GIS software exist.

It can serve as a Desktop GIS and as the backbone of a complete GIS infrastructure.

It was created in the 1980s by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (USA/CERL) and has been enhanced by many others.

GRASS is currently used in scientific applications, commercial settings and by public officials all over the world.

Features include:

  • wxPython graphical user interface (wxGUI):
    • Layer Manager – includes map layer management, integrated command-line prompt, and command output window tab.
    • Map Display Window – integrates basic tools for zooming, panning, data querying, and map elements (north arrows, barscale, etc.).
    • Module dialogs enable running GRASS modules.
  • 2D raster analysis and 3D voxel management (volumes).
  • 2D/3D Vector engine with SQL based DBMS support.
  • Image processing modules.
  • Vector network analysis, Linear Referencing System.
  • Visualization of 2D, 3D maps and volumes.
  • Interoperable with standard raster and vector formats.
  • Modular architecture and scripting capabilities for batch processing.
  • Supports various RDBMS (Relational database management system) and embedded databases. SQL (Structured Query Language) queries are directly passed to the underlying database system.
  • Over 400 built-in analysis modules and 100 community supplied add-on modules and toolboxes can be downloaded for free.
  • Python interface to the C  library – create new  modules in a simple way while at the same time creating powerful and  fast modules.
  • Can be used either as a stand-alone application or as backend for other software packages such as QGIS and R geostatistics.

Support: Documentation, Quickstart, FAQ, Mailing Lists
Developer: Refractions Research
License: GNU Lesser General Public License


GRASS is written in C, C++, and Python. Learn C with our recommended free books and free tutorials. Learn C++ with our recommended free books and free tutorials. Learn Python with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

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