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Mapping & GIS: Software

This is the LibGuide which contains tutorials on Mapping and Geographic Information Systems, as well as annotated links to useful sources for research and learning in GIS. Many of the tutorials are from past workshops. Please feel free to contact our mapp

GIS Software

  • QGIS: is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop GIS software which is as powerful as other commercial products. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. See tutorial here: Making Map in QGIS. If you are interested in using QGIS for your class or project, but don't know where to get started, request a consultation where Girmaye or Ben can get you started.

  • Esri ArcGIS: is the leading commercial software for desktop GIS mapping and analysis for windows operating system. Penn's Esri Educational Site license includes ArcGIS AdvancedArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Server, and access to training modules. ArcGIS licenses for Faculty, Staff and Departments are available from the Office of Software Licensing.  Licenses are available for both academic use and administrative useStudents using ArcMap in a Penn class will receive a one-year copy of ArcMap with ArcGIS Spatial Analyst, Geostatistical Analyst, Network Analyst and 3D Analyst extension. A professor who has secured a copy for their own instructional use may request student copies at the Student License Request page or by contacting the Office of Software Licensing.

  • The Penn Libraries has deployed a virtual computer lab (VLab) for students to access software applications normally accessible in Library computer labs including ArcGIS. Access and registration information is available at:

  • Grass GIS Free and open-source GIS with advanced analysis capabilities. Also accessible through QGIS interface. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

  • SAGA Free and open-source GIS with advanced GIS analysis capabilities. Also accessible through QGIS interface. Available for Windows and Linux operating systems.

  • MapWindow5: is another free and open-source desktop GIS for Windows operating system.

  • Manifold: Claims "Manifold Release 9 is a new GIS that runs far faster, delivers superior data science capabilities, cuts through routine GIS tasks, and handles bigger data with better quality than ESRI or any other GIS, all at a lower cost of ownership than free alternatives, only $145." 

  • GeoDa is a free and open source software tool that serves as an introduction to spatial data analysis. It is designed to facilitate new insights from data analysis by exploring and modeling spatial patterns.

Software and Labs

Statistical and GIS software availability by lab location: