GIS APPROACHES THE STATE OF THE ART
This paper describes GRASSLAND, a Geographic Information System
Software. For more information please contact LAS' sales department
at 1-800-584-0345, by fax at (514) 389-9373 or
by email: GRASSLAND@las.com
In recent years, the evolution of GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
has advanced rapidly. With the development of GRASS (Geographic
Resources Analysis Support System) software by the US Army Corps of
Engineers in 1981, analysis and management of land-based operations
of all kinds began to enter the information age.
GRASS represented a major step forward, but remembering the more than
250 keywords, together with each one's numerous options and/or
parameters, challenges even the most programming-oriented GIS
Yet GRASS is currently in use at several thousand sites around the
world, mainly because of the unprecedented quality of its spatial
analysis capabilities. Many powerful new applications based on the
GRASS software engine are now becoming available on the GIS market.
Setting a new standard
At the forefront of this wave of new customized GIS-based applications
is L.A.S., a Montreal company founded in 1989. L.A.S. specializes in
developing software for the display, analysis and transformation of
geographic data for the earth sciences and military applications.
L.A.S.'s GRASSLAND software package is a GIS decision-assistance tool
that facilitates strategic planning, management and tracking of
land-oriented operations. Intended for use by decision-makers
responsible for the management of any land-based resource or
operation, GRASSLAND brings state-of-the-art information technology
to the complex field of geographic information management.
Whether in mining, forestry, natural resources, military command and
control, research or other applications, GRASSLAND is indispensable
to any person or organization requiring detailed, customizable
cartographic displays and information manipulation capabilities at a
With a powerful built-in map builder, GRASSLAND's intuitive graphical
user interface lets you drag and drop overlays onto your map
background to display rivers, tree cover, geological layers,
topography, wildlife population or any other GIS element to create
fast, customized visual decision-assistance tools. GRASSLAND also
lets users familiar with GRASS initiate tasks from the command line.
"The basic program offers a wide range of optional display and
analysis configurations, and comes complete with a software
development tool kit that allows almost unlimited custom application
building," says Gilles Clement, President of L.A.S.
For Clement, the decision to develop GRASSLAND was based on a number
of problems in the field of GIS. He cites existing software that is
too complex and difficult to learn, a lack of standardization in
geographic data exchange and the high cost of data, software and
"GRASSLAND is our attempt and we believe successfully, to transform
GRASS into the best software for the land resources management
specialist, and for command and control applications," says Clement.
Whereas GRASS requires a separate command, with its parameters and
options specified correctly, to perform each function, GRASSLAND
features descending menus that display commands, together with all
of their options and parameters, on screen at the same time.
The Procedure Workbench is another very popular feature. From the
Workbench,the user can specify a series of sequential tasks that
will be applied to the data in turn. Procedures saved within a
library can be chosen from a menu and linked in series to accomplish
the most complex series of tasks by simply linking the desired icons
on screen with the mouse.
GRASSLAND also handles data from almost all major GIS packages,
integrates cartographic and satellite data, runs on both high-end
UNIX workstations and on less expensive PCs, and sells for just $849.
GRASSLAND's technology includes client/server architecture, an open
system approach, a Software Development Kit, raster/vector display
and printing, image analysis, an easy to use graphical user interface
based on Tcl/Tk.
The software offers numerous other important features, including a
very fast map viewer to replace the original GRASS "d.mon"
visualization tool, dynamic cartographic symbology, WYSIWYG display,
spreadsheet and graphing capability, a visual programming environment,
and client/server architecture that facilitates data integration from
various geographic data banks. GRASSLAND also features an open GUI
development environment based on Tcl/Tk instead of the Bourne shell,
and enhanced printing and data import/export capabilities.
The visualization tool was developed based on near real-time command
and control work for the Department of National Defence. The tool
uses concepts that were not available in GRASS, including a map viewer
intelligent enough to display multiple layers simultaneously, and the
ability to pan across the display or change scale with a simple mouse
GRASSLAND is available for the UNIX X Windows, Windows 95 and
Windows NT platforms. It will very soon be available as a freeware
for a few flavor of UNIX, including Solaris 2.4 and Ultrix. The
software is compatible with all of the major GIS data exchange
formats, including DIGEST VRF/VPF/VMAP, Arc/Info(tm) coverages, DLG,
DXF, Erdas(tm) rasters and many others.
Within the forestry industry, numerous applications are envisaged.
The product allows automated generation of forestry inventories from
satellite images, acts as a decision tool for harvest planning,
allows diverse analyses on digitized forest inventory data, assists
in performing technical and economic calculations to improve
management of forest development and significantly reduces overall
Examples of such use would include facilitating the creation of
access routes while minimizing wood cutting, allowing reduction of
harmful environmental impacts, facilitating the preparation of
integrated forest development plans and assisting in determining the
optimal track for transportation routes as a function of volume to
extract, gradient and soil quality.
The product would also allow the user to evaluate the visual and
environmental impacts of a cut, facilitate the implementation of
long-term cutting programs, allow calculation of the volume of wood
that can be extracted immediately and in several years, and let the
user easily calculate cutting zones allowing for environmental
factors such as the proximity of lakes and protected wildlife
habitats, and perform harvest planning as a function of growth and
planting, and relative to the possibility of infestation.
In mining, the software facilitates the identification of sites with
strong mineralization potential, allows the user to establish a
cartographic or satellite image basis on which several geological
thematic layers can be superimposed and on which numerous analyses
can be performed, allows precise positioning of the exact geographic
location of digitized geological maps (satellite images), allows
simultaneous acquisition, analysis, storage and utilization of
numerous large-scale data banks for regional exploration projects,
and permits enhanced logistical and administrative management of
Examples used would include verification of mineralization models
from digitized mineralogical, geophysical, radiometric and
geochemical data and from remote-sensing information (satellite
images), and simulation of a mineralization model on a large
territory to obtain an index of mineral probabilities.
For the military, GRASSLAND allows visualization of land-oriented
and tactical data, integrates easily into existing command and
control systems, facilitates mobility analyses, allows simulation of
maneuver scenarios, allows calculation of visibility analyses, and
constitutes an ideal tool for developing real-time applications.
Natural resources management and development organizations
In resource-based organizations, GRASSLAND assists natural
resources managers in making the best decisions faced with a world
in which environmental constraints are increasingly complex. The
product facilitates integrated resource management, offers a choice
among numerous natural resource development scenarios, allows rapid
visualization of matrices and vectors as well as basic matrix
manipulation, and assists in optimal decision-making for wildlife
These capabilities facilitate the management of endangered species
and the analysis of habitat quality indices, and allow unconstrained
analysis of the ecological landscape.
Although users find the software extraordinarily useful, Mr. Clement
is not content to rest on his laurels. He plans to enhance the
software with more datastore servers, add a 3D visualization tool and
include more editing capabilities, more complex AI features, and more
image-processing and spatial analysis features as the program evolves.
Using the following ftp access, you can get the Postscript/RTF/
Word6.0 versions of this article with screen snapshots.
* FTP : ftp ftp.lasinc.login.net *
* Login : anonymous *
* Passwd: your e-mail address *
* cd /clients/lasinc *
* bin *
* get gl_ps.zip for Postscript *
* get gl_wd6.zip for Word6.0 *
* get gl_rtf.zip for RTF *
If you need more information about GRASSLAND commercial version,
please contact GRASSLAND@las.com or our direct line 1-800-584-0345
Raymond Rivest | >;;<
Tech-Sup, Q-A | //// Raymond's law : Your code is
LAS Inc. | (@ @) SAFE until I `PLAY' with it !!
email: firstname.lastname@example.org |--o00o-(_)-o00o------------------------------
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