This series of posts will try to show how to learn to use a GIS without previous knowledge and through several practical exercises. To make learning entertaining we are going to use a series of layers related to Game of Thrones fiction world. And we will use gvSIG Desktop as software, an open source GIS used in more than 160 countries. They will be very easy posts where we will delve into the basic tools of a Geographic Information System little by little. We are going to start with something basic, adding files with cartographic data.
You can download installable version as well as portable one for the different operating systems from the gvSIG Association website. If you have any problem with the installation or using the software you can use the users mailing list to comment it with the community and for supporting.
Data to be used in this series of posts can be downloaded from here.
Firstly we will open our gvSIG. We will see the interface with these components:
- Menu bar.
- Buttons bar
- Project manager. It allows to manage all the documents which make a project.
- Work area. In this space we will be able to have the different project documents
opened and work with them.
- Status bar. The status bar provides information about coordinates, distances, etc.
to the user.
The document that we are interested in is the document called “View”. It allows to work with cartographic data. In a View, the geographic information is represented as a dataset.
As the “View” document is selected by default (it’s highlighted) we only have to press “New” button and a new View will appear. We will maximize the window.
Now we are going to add layers in our View. For that we only have to press the “Add layer” button, that we can find at the “View” menu, or at this button:
We are going to press “Add” button to load our first layer. For that we are going to search it in our data folder, selecting “Land.shp” file. This file goes with another one called “Land.gvsleg” (you can check it in your browser), that includes a predefined legend. Therefore the layer will be loaded in green colour and without background (in another post we will see how to change a legend). It represents the known earth area in Game of Thrones. At the left side (called table of contents) of the View you will see the name of the layer and its legend.
Pressing on the name of the layer with the secondary button of the mouse, a contextual menu will appear, that includes the “Add to locator” option. We select it and we will be able to see that the same layer appears in the bottom left-hand box. The locator will show the visible area of the View in a red rectangle.
Now that we know how toadd layers we are going to add Islands, Landscape, Lakes, and Rivers layers. Dragging each layer at the table of contents we can change their order of visualization. With that we would have a physical map of Game of Thrones.
Finally we are going to change the background colour of the View from white colour to a light blue one, that will allow us to identify it as sea. At the “View” menu we will select the “Properties” option. In the new window we will se the option to change the background colour.
The final results will be similar to this one:
Save your project and see you in the next exercise…