There are two types of GIS software: open-source and commercial.
Open-source GIS software is free, and the source code is publicly available, allowing anybody to examine and modify it.
Free GIS software, in most cases, lacks the same capability and support as commercial GIS software. Nonetheless, some open-source alternatives remain fairly effective.
Commercial GIS, on the other hand, requires a paid membership or a one-time per-user price. These platforms are more likely to receive updates and have more features, but they can be extremely pricey.
Open-source GIS software is an excellent choice for organizations on a tight budget or anyone interested in learning GIS without making a large financial investment. Though free GIS platforms don’t have all of the features of paid GIS platforms, many of them are nonetheless fairly competent of completing a wide range of geospatial mapping and analysis activities.
The finest free GIS mapping software is reviewed below,
Along with ratings, features, mobile capabilities, and key use cases.
It is a free, functionally equivalent alternative to ArcGIS.
- Consumes all types of data
- Tools for advanced cartography
- A large plugin library adds to the functionality.
Best for desktop user and has no feature for for mobile
It may be used for both basic GIS operations such as map creation and geospatial analysis, as well as more specialized jobs such as catastrophe risk reduction, topography analysis, and environmental resource mapping.
The user interface is similar to ArcGIS, allowing experienced GIS users to rapidly get started and configure their tools and plugins.
QGIS can also be used to expand the capability of other open-source GIS systems.
The ability of QGIS to automate map construction, generate cartographic figures, and process geographical data earns it excellent scores.
Users can also view, edit, and analyze their geospatial data in both vector and raster formats as an added feature.
2. SAGA GIS
- Implementing spatial algorithms is simple and effective.
- An ever-expanding range of geo-scientific methodologies
- Easy-to-use user interface with a variety of visualization choices
best and free for desktop user has o mobile capability
This platform focuses on geo-scientific research. It can handle LiDAR data and provides 3D visualization, which is unusual for an open-source GIS.
SAGA is a favorite among those working on more technical geoscience projects because of its robust toolkits for raster processing, terrain analysis, and geoscientific data analysis.
Geostatistics tools are also available through SAGA. Users can perform numerous predictive exercises using regression analysis and semi-variograms. Despite the intricacy of these operations, users say the user interface makes them relatively simple to complete.
Despite the fact that SAGA’s cartographic functions aren’t very well developed, the unique geoscientific toolkits more than make up for it.
3. GRASS GIS
GRASS stands for Geographic Resources Analysis Support System. This platform offers advanced geoprocessing tools and is used primarily for land management and environmental planning.
best for Environmental planning and land management
has three prominent features
- Image processing of the highest level
- Specializes in the management of landscape.
- Robust raster and vector analysis tools
GRASS specializes in raster and vector manipulation, but it can also handle image processing, graphic production, and data visualization. It comes with over 350 geoprocessing tools.
GRASS has a few drawbacks, despite the fact that it is more developed than the ordinary open-source GIS. Unintuitive user interface and clumsy cartography tools are the main issues.
Though creating maps is possible, many claim that the procedure is time-consuming and not worth the effort considering the abundance of other, more effective solutions.
GRASS specializes on raster and vector manipulation, but it can also handle image processing, graphic production, and data visualization. It has over 350 geoprocessing capabilities.
GRASS has a few drawbacks, even if it is more developed than the ordinary open-source GIS. The main issues are a confusing user interface and clumsy cartography tools.
Although it is feasible to make maps, users claim that the procedure is time-consuming and not worth the effort considering the availability of alternative, more effective choices.
A free easy-to-use
has three prominent feature
- A mapping service created by the community
- updated on a regular basis
- Location data that is more detailed and up-to-date
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a community-driven mapping tool created by “mappers” all around the world.
This platform is pretty rudimentary compared to the other free solutions on this list, with decent cartographic capabilities but no geographic analysis tools.
However, it’s also incredibly simple and easy to use, making it ideal for new mapmakers. OSM is frequently used to digitally map hiking paths and is popular among outdoor lovers.
Contributors from all over the world keep the system up to date with new information about roads, railways, trails, and other areas of interest.
Making changes to the map does not require approval, so whatever a user adds will be immediately accessible to the rest of the community.
has a feature for both Mobile and Desktop users
That concludes the discussion. Our top eight selections for the best free GIS applications available. Whatever functionality you require, there is almost certainly a platform that will meet your requirements.
Try a demo of Unearth’s OnePlace if you’ve explored the free choices and want more support and capabilities. OnePlace is a cloud-based, user-friendly platform built for critical infrastructure businesses.