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ArcGIS vs PostGIS: What are the differences?

Key Differences between ArcGIS and PostGIS

ArcGIS and PostGIS are both powerful geospatial databases used for managing, analyzing, and visualizing geographic data. While they share some similarities, there are several key differences between the two:

  1. Data Store: ArcGIS uses a proprietary file geodatabase format (GDB) for storing geospatial data, which can only be accessed using Esri software. On the other hand, PostGIS is an extension of the PostgreSQL relational database management system (RDBMS) that allows for the storage of geospatial data in a standard SQL database.

  2. Licensing: ArcGIS is commercial software developed and sold by Esri, which means users need to purchase licenses to use it. PostGIS, on the other hand, is open-source and freely available, making it a cost-effective choice for organizations with limited budgets.

  3. Spatial Functions: ArcGIS provides a wide range of spatial functions that can be used for spatial analysis, cartography, and data visualization. These functions are built into the software and can be accessed through ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Pro. In contrast, PostGIS offers a comprehensive set of geospatial functions that can be executed using SQL queries. This allows for more flexibility and customization when working with spatial data.

  4. Interoperability: ArcGIS is known for its interoperability with other Esri products and formats, such as Shapefiles and KML. It also supports various data formats and standards used in the GIS industry. PostGIS, on the other hand, supports a wide range of open standards, including the Simple Features for SQL (SFSQL) standard, which ensures compatibility and interoperability with other GIS software and databases.

  5. Performance and Scalability: ArcGIS is designed to handle large-scale geospatial datasets and can take advantage of multi-threading and distributed processing to improve performance. It also offers advanced caching and indexing mechanisms to optimize data retrieval. PostGIS, while not as scalable as ArcGIS, can handle moderate to large datasets efficiently, especially when combined with appropriate indexes and query optimization techniques.

  6. Development Ecosystem: ArcGIS has a well-established ecosystem of extensions, tools, and APIs that allow developers to build custom applications and workflows. This includes ArcPy for Python scripting and the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. PostGIS, on the other hand, provides a rich set of open-source tools and libraries for geospatial development, including GDAL, GeoServer, and QGIS. It also has excellent integration with popular frameworks and programming languages.

In summary, ArcGIS is a commercial software with a proprietary data format, extensive spatial functionality, and strong interoperability with Esri products. PostGIS, on the other hand, is an open-source extension of PostgreSQL that offers a standard SQL database with geospatial capabilities, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

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Pros of ArcGIS
Pros of PostGIS
  • 7
  • 4
    A lot of widgets
  • 4
    Data driven vizualisation
  • 2
    Easy tà learn
  • 2
  • 1
    Easy API
  • 25
    De facto GIS in SQL
  • 5
    Good Documentation

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