Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a powerful open source desktop GIS application. Its functionality rivals many closed source desktop GIS applications, and it’s free. So why not?
Download from here: http://www.qgis.org/wiki/Download
After you’ve installed it, this is what you’ll see.
Let’s see if we can make this a bit more inviting. Go to View > Toolbars, and untick the offending toolbars. The ones you’ll want to keep are File, Manage Layers, Map Navigation and Attributes.
You can always return to View > Toolbars if you want to turn any back on.
It’s starting to look a bit better now. Move the toolbars up onto the first row by clicking and dragging them by their left-hand edge. In addition, you can slide the toolbars to the left to obscure some of the lesser-used buttons on other toolbars. Here’s how it looks now.
Fixing Info Tool Behaviour
By default, QGIS only returns info results on objects in the ‘active’ layer, which is the layer that is highlighted in the layer control. Of course you’ll want to see the results of objects from all layers under the mouse click, so let’s fix that.
Go to Settings > Options > Map tools, then change the Mode from ‘Current layer’ to ‘Top down’.
Now when you use the info tool, results will be return for all objects under the mouse click, regardless of whether the layer is ‘active’ or not.
There are a few plugins that many users will find immediately useful. Set yourself up to make use of plugin resources by activating the 3rd party plugin option.
Plugins > Fetch Python Plugins > Repositories > Add 3rd party repositories
Click OK to the warning and any ‘HTTP request failed’ messages.
Back in the Plugins tab, search for and install the following plugins:
We’re now ready to start adding layers and creating maps.