Welcome to the wonderful world of Geographical Information Systems (GIS)! Quantum GIS (QGIS) is an Open Source Geographic Information System. The project was born in May of 2002 and was established as a project on SourceForge in June of the same year. We’ve worked hard to make GIS software (which is traditionally expensive proprietary software) a viable prospect for anyone with basic access to a Personal Computer. QGIS currently runs on most Unix platforms, Windows, and OS X. QGIS is developed using the Qt toolkit (http://qt.nokia.com) and C++. This means that QGIS feels snappy to use and has a pleasing, easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI). QGIS aims to be an easy-to-use GIS, providing common functions and features. The initial goal was to provide a GIS data viewer. QGIS has reached the point in its evolution where it is being used by many for their daily GIS data viewing needs. QGIS supports a number of raster and vector data formats, with new format support easily added using the plugin architecture. QGIS is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Developing QGIS under this license means that you can inspect and modify the source code, and guarantees that you, our happy user, will always have access to a GIS program that is free of cost and can be freely modified. You should have received a full copy of the license with your copy of QGIS, and you also can find it in Appendix `gpl_appendix`_. QGIS offers many common GIS functionalities provided by core features and plugins. As a short summary they are presented in six categories to gain a first insight. You can view and overlay vector and raster data in different formats and projections without conversion to an internal or common format. Supported formats include: You can compose maps and interactively explore spatial data with a friendly GUI. The many helpful tools available in the GUI include: You can create, edit, manage and export vector maps in several formats. Raster data have to be imported into GRASS to be able to edit and export them into other formats. QGIS offers the following: You can perform spatial data analysis on PostgreSQL/PostGIS and other OGR supported formats using the fTools Python plugin. QGIS currently offers vector analysis, sampling, geoprocessing, geometry and database management tools. You can also use the integrated GRASS tools, which include the complete GRASS functionality of more than 400 modules (See Section `sec_grass`_). QGIS can be used to export data to a mapfile and to publish them on the Internet using a webserver with UMN MapServer installed. QGIS can also be used as a WMS or WFS client, and as WMS server. QGIS can be adapted to your special needs with the extensible plugin architecture. QGIS provides libraries that can be used to create plugins. You can even create new applications with C++ or Python! QGIS offers a growing number of external python plugins that are provided by the community. These plugins reside in the official PyQGIS repository, and can be easily installed using the Python Plugin Installer (See Section `sec_plugins`_). Please note that this is a release in our ‘cutting edge’ release series. As such it contains new features and extends the programmatic interface over QGIS 1.0.x and QGIS 1.6.0. We recommend that you use this version over previous releases. Source.