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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Services: Software & Tools

This guide gives a basic overview of Geographic Information Systems and the resources available to Texas State University library patrons.

Relevant GIS Software and Tools

  • ArcGIS Desktop (Also known as ArcMap. Current version - 10.8.1) - An integrated suite of GIS applications designed by ESRI for manipulating and displaying geographic data. Its associated extensions include:
    • 3D Analyst
    • Aviation Charting
    • Business Analyst Standard
    • Data Interoperability
    • Data Reviewer
    • Geostatistical Analyst
    • Maritime Bathymetry
    • Network Analyst
    • Publisher
    • Production Mapping
    • Schematics
    • Spatial Analyst
    • Tracking Analyst
    • Workflow Manager
  • ArcGIS Pro (Current version 2.8.1) -  A professional desktop GIS from Esri with the capabilities for viewing, exploring, analyzing, editing, and sharing (via the internet) maps and data. An ArcGIS Pro project can contain many maps and layouts as well as tables, charts, and other items. 3D capabilities are native to ArcGIS Pro; any 2D map can be converted to a 3D scene. All the extensions listed under ArcMap above are also available here.
  • ArcGIS Online - A web-based, collaborative web GIS that allows patrons to use, create, and share maps, scenes, apps, layers, analytics, and data. It is one of the products of ESRI.
  • ArcPad - A mobile field mapping and data collection software designed by ESRI for GIS professionals.
  • AutoCAD - A leading GIS software that has 3D capabilities for planning, design, and data management applications.
  • Geocodio - An online geocoding service. Comparatively, it is one of the cheapest online-based geocoding engines available.
  • Pix4Dmapper -  A photogrammetry software for professional drone mapping.

  • SimplyAnalytics - A web-based mapping and data analysis application that allows both non-technical and advanced users to easily create professional-quality thematic maps and reports using extensive demographic, business, and marketing data.
  • Social Explorer - Social Explorer provides users the capacity to visually analyze and understand demographic patterns in the U.S. through the use of interactive maps and data reports.
Free and Open-Source
  • BASINS 4.0 - A multipurpose environmental analysis system designed for watershed and water quality-based studies.

  • CrimeStat - A spatial statistics program for the analysis of crime or point incident locations.
  • DIVA-GIS – An open-source GIS application for mapping and conducting geospatial analysis.
  • DNRGPS -  A free utility to download data from major GPS units.
  • EasyGIS – A free software that allows the uploading, downloading and display of data from GPS units.
  • ET GeoWizards - A free set of powerful functions that complements ArcGIS functionality in performing some specialized data analysis.
  • Fusion/LDV - An open-source LiDAR viewing and analysis software developed by the Silviculture and Forest Models Team, Research Branch of the US Forest Service.
  • FW Tools - A set of open-source GIS binaries for Windows (win32) and Linux (x86 32bit) systems produced by Frank Warmerdam (ie. FW). The kits are intended to be easy for end-users to install and get going with.
  • GeoDa (pronounced geo-dah; it stands for Geographic Data Analysis) - A free and open-source software tool that serves as an introduction to spatial data analysis. It is intended to provide a user-friendly and graphical interface to methods of descriptive spatial data analysis, such as spatial autocorrelation statistics, as well as basic spatial regression functionality.
  • Geospatial Modelling Environment - An open-source application that comprises a suite of analysis and modelling tools driven partly by the R software; a powerful and well documented open-source application.
  • Google Earth Pro – A 3D interactive globe that provides a platform for viewing and digitizing earth features. It is a product of Google originally designed as the business-oriented version of Google Earth.
  • GPSBabel – A free software useful for managing GPS data (eg. converting waypoints, tracks, and routes) from popular GPS receivers such as Garmin or Magellan and mapping programs like Google Earth.
  • GRASS GIS – A free GIS software suite for performing varied geospatial analyses such as data management and analysis, image processing, spatial modeling and making maps.
  • HydroDesktop - A free and open-source GIS application useful for searching, downloading, visualizing, and analyzing hydrologic and climate data registered with the CUAHSI Hydrologic Information System.
  • LAStolls - An open-source LiDAR viewing and processing software known for its speed and high productivity.
  • MapWindow GIS - A free spatial data viewer and GIS application capable of user modification through programming.
  • Opticks - An expandable remote sensing and imagery analysis software platform that is free and open source.
  • Orfeo Toolbox - An open-source project for state-of-the-art remote sensing with the capacity of processing high resolution optical, multispectral and radar images at the terabyte scale and performing functions like ortho-rectification or pansharpening, classification, SAR processing and many more.
  • PostGIS - An open-source software program that adds support for geographic objects to the PostgreSQL object-relational database. Visit this site for documentation.
  • pgRouting -  An extension of PostGIS/PostgreSQL that provides geospatial routing functionality.
  • QGIS – A free and open-source GIS application with several functionalities for GIS analysis.
  • SAGA GIS - A free and open-source GIS application designed to provide GIS analysts an effective but easily learnable platform for the implementation of geospatial techniques.
  • Scikit-image - A collection of algorithms for image processing which is available free of charge and free of restriction. 
  • Soil Data Viewer - A tool built as an extension to ArcMap that allows a user to create soil-based thematic maps. It can also be run separately, but the output is limited to a tabular report.
  • Texas A&M Geocoder Service  - Use this service for your geocoding, reverse geocoding, and address parsing and standardization needs. Simply put, turn your addresses into latitude/longitude or vice versa with this service. Register to geocode initial 2500 points for free. Afterward, varying charges apply.


  • JMP Pro - A commercial statistical analysis software from SAS for advanced analysis or sophisticated modeling tech­niques.

  • IBM SPSS Statistics 22 - A proprietary software package for performing statistical analyses. It is available to Texas State community members.
  • QSR NVivo 10 - A proprietary software package designed for analyzing qualitative data. Access to this software on Texas State campus is very restricted. For further information, visit this webpage.

Free and Open-Source

  • GNU PSPP - A program for statistical analysis of sampled data. It is a free replacement for the proprietary program SPSS, and appears very similar to it with a few exceptions.


  • Geocode a limited number of addresses with this tool and display them on Google map. You may also export the obtained coordinates and use it in subsequent GIS analysis.

Calculate Distance Between Two Points

  • Calculate straight line/Euclidean/crow flight distance and bearings between any two locations on earth.

Convert me (Length Converter)

  • Convert any length in any unit to another including English or imperial units like furlong, and link, and even rarely known international measures like the Japanese shyaku, Chinese chi, Thai sawk etc.


  • An interactive web tool for obtaining crop data as well as other basic geometric and statistical information like total acreage of defined areas.

DMS/DD Converter

  • Convert lat/long coordinates between degrees, minutes, and seconds and decimal degrees.

FME (Feature Manipulation Engine)

  • Touted as the Swiss army knife for data processing. It can convert a wide range of data formats used in CAD, GIS, KML and imagery analysis.

Land Area Calculator

  • A free planimeter tool used to measure the enclosed area of a user-defined polygon on a map.

Lat/Long - PLSS Converter

  • This tool maps the United States Public Land Survey System onto Google Earth. It also displays townships, sections, and quarter-quarter sections (western states have quarter/quarters mapped, central states do not).  Displays calculated area and corner points.

Map Projection Transitions

  • A quick visual overview of several map projections.

Unit Converter

  • An online resource for all type of calculators and metric conversions.

U.S.A Geodetic Benchmarks Finder

  • Find National Spatial Reference System maintained by USGS. The data include elements of spatial reference such as latitude, longitude, elevation, shoreline information and their changes over time.

U.S.A. Address to Township or PLSS Converter

  • Use this utility to obtain the PLSS township information associated with an address. Follow these steps: after opening the link, find on the left side of the screen a gray bar labeled "Other Featured Data" to see the list of viewable layers. Put a checkmark next to "BLM Public Land Survey System (PLSS)". The map will display the meridians and baselines. Now type an address in the search box at the top of the screen. In the search results at the left, click on "Zoom to" underneath one of the results. You will see Township and Range and Section Numbers.

World Map Changes (Wikipedia)

  • A comprehensive historical track of world geopolitical changes.

Worldwide Coordinate Systems Finder

  • Use this tool which is maintained by the European Petroleum Survey Group to find coordinates of specific locations around the world.

Zonums KML to ship

  • This web system provides a variety of tools for various analysis. They include Epoint2GE: Excel to Google Earth; Kml2shp 2: Google Earth to shapefile; Shp2kml 2: Shapefile to Google Earth; Epoint2CAD: Excel to AutoCAD; Ucons: Units Conversion Tool; Color-it: Color your Map; KMLTolbox: KML online tools


  • Qualtrics: An advanced, secure, professional survey tool . Members of Texas State University have access to this software. Visit this link for more details.

Free and Open-Source

  • 7zip – A free software for compressing and decompressing files.
  • Gephi - A free and open-source software for visualization and exploration of all kinds of graphs and networks.
  • Notepad++ - A free windows-based expanded text and source code editor software.
  • OpenRefine (formerly Google Refine) - A powerful tool for working with messy data: cleaning it; transforming it from one format into another; and extending it with web services and external data.
  • Texmaker - A free, modern and cross-platform LaTeX editor for linux, macosx and windows systems that integrates many tools needed to develop documents with LaTeX, in just one application. Texmaker includes unicode support, spell checking, auto-completion, code folding and a built-in pdf viewer with synctex support and continuous view mode.

Free and Open-Source

  • GeoServer  - A well-known free GIS data server.
  • makepath -  A site dedicated to using cutting-edge scientific Python open source libraries, design thinking, and real-world validation to help scholars or corporate bodies to make sense of their data.
  • NetLogo - A programming platform for simple spatial simulations.
  • PostgreSQL - A free high performance object-relational database management system (ORDBMS) with an emphasis on extensibility and on standards-compliance. It is also equipped with some spatial extensions.
  • PyCharm - A free windows-based Python integrated development environment (IDE) equipped with troubleshooting capabilities.
  • Pyscripter - A free windows-based Python integrated development environment (IDE).
  • Python  - The leading programming language for spatial applications.
  • R - A language and environment for statistical computing, including a large number of spatial extensions.
  • R-Studio - A graphic user interface (GUI) environment for R.
  • Weka - A famous free machine learning software written in Java, developed at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.