GeoApt Spatial Data Browser

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2019-10-31 -- I wrote the following in 2010, I checked the GeoApt site today and see nothing about the browser.

GeoApt, LLC has released a Spatial Data Browser that runs on Linux.

There is a discussion group

The data browser is new it does not even have a name yet. I call it Geoapt here.

I sent my features list to the Google discussion list Nov 18, this section is extracted from that.

Guiding principle

Make GeoApt so useful that people who have access to ArcCatalog use will GeoApt in preference.

I like that philosophy for open source in general. Don't make a free but inferior version of a commercial product. Take a new look at the problem and come up with a better solution.

"Better" can mean simple but elegant instead of the traditional closed source approach: "includes 9000 tools you will never need".

Open source does not have to get market share or produce a new version every 12 months to keep people signed up for maintenance contracts. We can pick the 10% most required features of the commercial competitor and then just do those 10x better.


Currently all you can do is view data. I also want basic tools:

  • move files
  • rename files
  • delete files
  • copy files

In this context "file" could refer to a group of files, for example all components of a shapefile are considered as one file.

Move the preview controls to the top of the preview panel.

Make the pan tool be the default, esp if you ignore my suggestion to disable scroll wheel -- then you can pan with click and drag and zoom with wheel

Show scale and position on the preview panel frame

Pan operations should not always cause a repaint (when full extent of layer is visible moving the cached image should be enough)

Allow sorting the directory listing by clicking on the column header

Additional formats

  • File geodatabase support (not possible unless ESRI releases specs!)
  • MrSID -- done
  • Text (.txt extension) files, they often ride along with data and

give useful information. At least list them, if not view them. Double click to open in a text browser?

  • PDF files - same thing. Allow listing and viewing even if geopdf's

are not handled

  • GPX routes/waypoints/tracks

Option to show metadata instead of shape preview or show both - allow two panels on right one for metadata and one for shape

"Help" documentation

all it does currently is show supported formats.

I don't know what Themes and Databases are so I need some help here.


Allow filtering -- many things we could do here

  • date ranges
  • search metadata
  • I suppose that was where you were going with themes too?
  • Some way to show usage restrictions (and filter on them) would be

great, for example I have data from Linn County that is only for use by Linn County firefighters, yet I'd like to keep it in the same warehouse as all the other GIS data, for ease of maintenance and backups etc.

Preview stuff (the right panel)

  • allow user to disable preview
  • instead of generating a preview on the fly, allow a background task

to generate thumbnail previews

  • allow inserting a preview thumbnail manually
  • generate preview on a separate thread so it does not lock up the

browser while it's being generated

  • allow interrupting painting of the preview
  • allow user to disable scroll wheel zoom (it causes anguish when you

have to wait for preview to update AGAIN)

Image collections

I have folders full of images, it would be great if there were a way to automatically treat them as raster catalogs, assembling the preview image area into a grid of the thumbnails. Might help me to select rasters to drag and drop them into QGIS if they are spatially organized instead of just listed by name. Also might help me to see gaps in the coverage so I could know what tiles I need to download.

Big picture

Perhaps make it more like a photo organizer?

I use Digikam to organize my photos, and it does a lot of things I'd love to be able to do in a GIS data browser. It maintains a database about the images including thumbnails generated offline, It lets you see various metadata / header information and to filter and sort based on that metadata, it lets you add keywords to help sort and filter images. Generally I think many of the features in a photo browser would apply to a GIS data browser.

I played around with a copy of ArcSDE recently (I got it running on CentOS/PostgreSQL). I need a practical way to store and organize a lot of GIS data, not large files, just lots of them. SDE was of no real help. It's just another big dusty warehouse I can throw data into. I suppose the versioning would be useful if I could afford it but versioning is coming to Postgis and the way its implemented in SDE does not really address my needs.

I still consider myself a "relative newcomer" to GIS (time flies, been using it almost 10 years now) but I am still amazed at how rough-edged and incomplete things are in the GIS world.


Why is it I can never browse by PLACE? This is a SPATIAL data browser. I want to be able to find all data on Curry County, Oregon, without having to remember to check the folder for USGS DEMs that I downloaded a year ago and stored in a folder called USGS_OR. I want the browser to remind me.

Also I don't want to have 3 copies of the same data pulled down and stored in different project folders because of my bad memory.

Implementing the wish list

Adding MrSid support

Geoapt uses GDAL. So all you need to do to add MrSid support to Geoapt, is to add MrSid support to GDAL.

Complete instructions for Ubuntu are here:

As part of this process I added the "unstable" GIS repo and updated all my existing GIS packages to the latest versions.

I had to become a LizardTech developer to download the SDK. If you want MrSid support, you do too. This means giving them your contact info and promising not to give anyone compiled copies of the GDAL plugin.

The above instructions worked, I now have a MrSID enabled gdal.

After restarting Geoapt and testing, I find I now also have MrSid support in GeoApt. YAY!!

Development notes

I am using Komodo 6 running on Ubuntu 10.10 as my primary development platform.

I had to make a couple changes so that I did not have to run script then I can run directly in Komodo.

GeoApt is built on QT4 so I installed qt4-dev-tools, pyqt-tools

I need the UI files, I requested them this morning in the discussion group. Ask and you shall receive!

$ git clone geoapt-trunk
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/bwilson/src/geoapt/geoapt-trunk/.git/
remote: Counting objects: 320, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (129/129), done.
remote: Total 320 (delta 189), reused 320 (delta 189)
Receiving objects: 100% (320/320), 83.58 KiB, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (189/189), done.

Now I can edit the UI files in QT Designer and compile python files from them. Actually the UI files for this project are very simple. Most of the widgets are added in the python code.