List of GIS software
ArcGIS Desktop. This software suite is now at version 10.2 and is made up of three primary components. The main component, ArcMap is used to display and analyze geographic data and to compose and print maps. ArcCatalog is analogous to Windows Explorer and is used to organize and preview data and to create/edit metadata. ArcToolbox contains a variety of tools for data conversion, manipulation, management, etc. Data are stored in a variety of formats, including shapefiles (.SHP), geodatabases (based on the Microsoft Access/Jet MDB format) and the new ESRI file geodatabase type (GDB).
ESRI packages ArcGIS in three licensing tiers/levels, in addition to the free ArcExplorer version. ArcGIS ArcView is the entry level version and retails for approximately $1,500 (US). While ArcView is the basic version, it has a wide array of cartographic and analytical tools and satisfies the everyday needs of many GIS users. ArcGIS ArcEditor includes all the functionality of ArcView and adds tools for data creation, but is considerably more expensive. The highest level of functionality, ArcGIS ArcInfo, includes all of the functionality of ArcView and ArcEditor and adds many more tools for analysis, modeling, data integration, etc. This version is priced at roughly ten times the cost of ArcGIS ArcView. ArcGIS users have the option of purchasing a software maintenance contract entitling them to toll-free tech support and free software upgrades.
In addition to ArcGIS Desktop, there is an ever growing list of specialized software extensions including Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, Network Analyst, Geostatistical Analyst, etc.
is now at version 10. Unlike ArcGIS, MapInfo is made up of just one component, with the option of importing in a variety of other custom designed tools. MapInfo also allows for custom tools to be designed from within the software using MapBasic.
Clark Labs IDRISI
is a free GIS package. While it is somewhat limited in functionality it has proved itself as an indispensable tool within the GIS industry.