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Wisconsin Forestry Creates Forestry GIS Product from the TatukGIS Developer Kernel

September 23, 2004

The following comments were contributed by Brian Brown, the University of Wisconsin Forestry software developer who used the TatukGIS DK-VCL to create the Forestry GIS (fGIS) application now in use by forestry professionals in the State of Wisconsin and beyond. 


"For decades our foresters have been using compartment maps, aerial photographs, and compasses to help manage state, county, and private forests in Wisconsin. From the mid-90's up until recently, our GIS needs were met by a few power-users utilizing industry standard GIS software. But with the advent of inexpensive PCs & faster networks, the increasing availability of quality basemap data, and the spreading knowledge of the power of GIS, the demand for GIS software in forestry has exploded!

One of the barriers to providing GIS software for all the foresters that wanted it was the cost. The leading GIS software firm recently changed their licensing scheme making the cost of maintaining our existing GIS licenses (much less acquiring more licenses) prohibitive. In addition, Wisconsin forestry has several programs that require data exchange between state foresters, county foresters, and private foresters. Most of these foresters have a need for GIS software.

With all of this in mind, one of our recent projects was to evaluate the existing low-cost GIS software for their ability to meet the following GIS needs for the non-power-users of our organization:

1. View, query, and map most of the GIS layers available in our GIS library (shapefiles, MrSID airphotos, TIFF DRGs, etc.)

2. Create shapefiles with certain attributes (especially polygons representing forest stands, etc.)

3. Measure distances and areas

4. Must be easy to use, easy to install, and low-cost

For this project we evaluated several low-cost GIS software packages. Each had their strengths, but none provided the tools that our foresters specifically needed. During this time we also evaluated the TatukGIS DK and I made a simple viewer/shapefile editor to compare with the other GIS software that we were reviewing. I was amazed at how easy it was to create a small, powerful GIS application. In a very short amount of time we (one programmer [me] and a master forester) were able to create fGIS. (fGIS is available as a free download from the following link: www.digitalgrove.net/fgis.htm).

Because of the low cost of the DK, the royalty-free license, and the speed at which we were able to create fGIS, we are able to provide fGIS for free for our foresters in Wisconsin -- and indeed, anyone in the world! fGIS has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Slovak, Czech, Polish, & Portuguese and is being used around the world! One of our users even reported using it for AIDS orphan research in Africa!

Needless to say, the success of fGIS is mostly due to the high quality and ease of use of the TatukGIS DK. The documentation and user support are excellent. Most support emails are answered within the hour. I've programmed with ArcObjects and the DK has most of the power, more speed, less overhead, and is easier to use at a fraction of the price.

For our organization, the DK has allowed us to create an application that is used by our non-power-users who need to view data, create maps, and make vector data. The DK is scalable and the technology can be used for our other GIS needs. It also works well with our existing GIS databases and infrastructure.

I can't say enough good things about the DK! Thanks for the DK and keep up the great work"


Brian Brown
GIS Analyst/Programmer
University of Wisconsin Forestry
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
E-mail: Brian.Brown@dnr.state.wi.us