OA Digital Training in GRASS Workstation GIS PDF Print E-mail

Workstation GIS are a class of software designed for command line driven and scripted data analysis. They are best employed in situations where repetitive processing tasks with little user interaction have to be performed, such as calculating a series of models with varying parameter values.

GRASS GIS is a powerful, open source workstation GIS. Featuring more than 400 geoprocessing modules, an enormous range of supported geodata sources and formats and full 3D vector and raster data models, GRASS is ideally suited for heavy-duty geodata management and scientific model building. Compared to a typical desktop GIS, GRASS seems intimidating at first and has a steep learning curve. However, in comparison with other workstation GIS it presents a very cleanly structured and straight-forward interface. This course aims at removing the most frequent obstacles to learning and productively using GRASS, providing users with all the GRASS essentials on which they can confidently build further skills.


This course will gently introduce users to the GRASS command line interface and its peculiar, yet powerful data storage paradigms. Windows users in particular will have to know about Unix style command line usage and this course will provide them with all they need to know to become proficient. 3D data processing is one of the absolute highlights of GRASS' capabilities and this course will look into interpolating and visualizing 3D raster (voxel) and vector data:

  • efficient use of GRASS' Unix command line
  • the GRASS data storage paradigm
  • using Quantum GIS and the GRASS plug-in as a graphical user interface
  • importing and exporting data
  • basic data manipulation
  • advanced geoprocessing
  • 3D data processing and visualization
  • writing simple shell scripts to automate data analysis and repetitive tasks
Exposure to the GRASS graphical user interface (GUI) will be kept to the basics needed for creating map displays and launching processing modules using the graphical parameter input forms.


GRASS is an excellent tool for scientific data analysis and this course will elaborate on that property. Its behaviour is rigorous and all of its algorithms are available in open source form, so that there is no "black box" in the data processing chain, allowing fully reproducible research. However, well-defined processing behaviour can only be achieved through strictness and this means that clean data structures are of great importance. Thus, this course will review and emphasize some crucial GIS theory, such as topology, in detail.

GRASS' processing capabilities cover every imaginable GIS task. Let us know if there is an application that you are particularly interested in, so we can make it part of the training.

The VTK data format and ParaView will be used for 3D data visualizations.

At a glance

Recommended for: Users with good GIS fundamentals, users interested in scientific geodata analysis
Contents: GRASS usage, Unix workstation data processing paradigms, GIS theory, advanced geoprocessing and scripted analysis
Skills needed: proficiency in at least one desktop GIS application, ability to use a command line at a speed sufficient to follow instructions

screenshot of GRASS GIS 6.4