FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GRASS-XMI


  • How does GRASS-XMI accommodate both version 4.x and 5.0 beta when they require a different command augument list for a particular program?New!
  • When did you begin/what is the history of development?New!
  • What are the unique features of GRASS which began your work and how have you enhanced those features in your version?New!
  • What are the reasons for the continued growth of your GRASS version (e.g. price, simplicity, integration of RS imagery, raster modeling functions)?New!
  • Who is your user community (e.g. novelty, research, education, production)?New!
  • What are the three most unique qualities of your version?New!
  • Do I have to install MOTIF on my computer to run GRASS-XMI?New!
  • Is GRASS-XMI another XGRASS for sale?
  • What are the benefits of using GRASS-XMI?
  • What GRASS programs are supported in your most recent release?
  • What is your plan for supporting the remaining programs?New!
  • How about if I have a special need for programs that are not in the main group?
  • What platforms do you support?
  • Do you plan to port GRASS-XMI to Win 95/NT?
  • What about other flavors of UNIX?
  • If I purchase a license for GRASS-XMI version 1.4.x now, do I get any free upgrade in the future?
  • What do I have to know to install GRASS-XMI on my computer?
  • What is the relationship between GRASS-XMI and GPZ's GlomaP-Z mapping product?
  • When will toolkits be available in GRASS-XMI?


  • Q. How does GRASS-XMI accommodate both version 4.x and 5.0 beta when they require a different command argument list for a particular program?
    A. Most GRASS programs have the same argument list in the 5.0 beta release as that in version 4.x. However, when there is a different requirement, GRASS-XMI will provide the graphic user interface for all arguments in both versions, and a brief reminder will be posted next to an uncommon argument indicating that it is only supported in some version of GRASS. Values that are not used by GRASS 4.x will be ignored when a GRASS 4.x program is invoked. Similarly, those that are not used by GRASS 5.0 beta release will have no effect on the execution of the GRASS 5.0 program.

    Q. When did you begin/what is the history of development?
    A. In late 1995, one of our customers asked us to develop an X/Motif interface for a small set of selected GRASS programs to be used in a decision support system.  After that project was completed, we thought an expanded version would make a very user-friendly, stand-alone product that could enhance the productivity of the GRASS user community and shorten the learning curve for new users.  Indeed, it is only through the use of GPZ Technology's proprietary GUI Builder Toolkit that we have been able to undertake the development of this software.  GRASS-XMI has gone through five major and seven minor releases since May 1997. The current release is available on both Solaris-SPARC 2.x and Linux-PC, and contains many new features and enhancement.

    Q. What are the unique features of GRASS which began your work and how have you enhanced those features in GRASS-XMI?
    A. GRASS has long been known as a powerful GIS tool for scientific and academic research, some might say "the most powerful GIS tool."  GRASS-XMI provides a simple, low-cost, efficient and user-friendly means to access GRASS.

    One of the most important features that GRASS possesses is its data compatibility across all platforms.  A user can work on the same set of data on any computer regardless of what OS is running on that computer.  Of course, there is a penalty for this feature -- relatively slow processing speed.  GPZ's long-range goal is to merge GRASS-XMI and GlomaP-Z (a full-featured field and desktop mapping system able to run on a laptop computer) into a single product.  When this happens, the user will achieve faster processing performance by converting the GRASS data formats into GlomaP-Z's internal formats.  In addition to having access to the powerful GIS analysis and image processing algorithms provided by GRASS, the user will be able to enjoy GlomaP-Z's many enhanced features, including the user friendly display and editing capabilities, spatial database management, and GPS connections.

    Another unique feature of GRASS is that each command can be executed either as a command within a GRASS shell or as a stand-alone program at a UNIX command prompt.  It may be challenging (if not daunting) for a new user to figure out what sequence of commands should be used to accomplish a task. In contrast, GRASS-XMI combines, whenever possible, several GRASS commands into a logical sequence the user can follow to accomplish a simple task without the need to know the commands executed for the task (Figure 4). Some GRASS programs require an input file which has to be created in another program.  For example, when running r.mfilter, the user may find that he needs to create a new input filter file and the program does not provide a tool to do this.  However, by clicking on the "New" button, GRASS-XMI does allow the user to edit the new filter file without leaving the program (Figure 5).


    Figure 4. GRASS-XMI combines vector and raster display programs together that reduces tedious data input to a few mouse button clicks.


    Figure 5. GRASS-XMI provides convenient means to edit a new filter file without leaving the program.

    Q. What are the reasons for the continued growth of GRASS-XMI (e.g. price, simplicity, integration of RS imagery, raster modeling functions)?
    A. GRASS is a useful tool for GIS users.  Many users have told us that their decision to use GRASS is not based on the fact that it is free, but rather because it is powerful.  As a software developer, GPZ Technology wants to provide the mapping community with the BEST software solutions available -- regardless of price -- for their GIS, GPS, remote sensing, and field mapping applications.  Because GRASS evolved through the contributions of many organizations and individuals, there exists a real need for coordination of future growth to achieve standardization.  As a simple example,some GRASS programs use the right mouse button to quit while others use the middle mouse button for the same operation.

    Q. Who is your user community (e.g. novelty, research, education, production)?
    A. Our user community includes military organizations, various US state and federal government departments and agencies, colleges, universities, and private business.  Their level of sophistication ranges from new users to those with many years of experience with GRASS. They are coming from five continents representing over twenty countries.

    Q. What are the three most unique qualities of GRASS-XMI?
    A. Simplicity, efficiency, and user-friendliness.

    Q. Do I have to install MOTIF on my computer to run GRASS-XMI?
    A. No, MOTIF libraries were statically linked to the GRASS-XMI executable, and you do not have to install other software to run GRASS-XMI. Furthermore, if you purchase the GRASS-XMI CD from us, it will include GRASS 4.2.1, 4.3 and 5.0 beta for your convenience.

    Q. Is GRASS-XMI another XGRASS for sale?
    A. No, GRASS-XMI is a commercial product developed to run GRASS through an X/Motif graphic user interface.
    Note: "XGRASS is an X/Motif interface that was developed for GRASS around 1992 and is available with the current release. Development and support on this version has been discontinued by CERL. Newer versions of Motif require a compile flag for back ward compatibility and some newer versions of Motif don't allow backward compatibility at all." -- Bill Brown, brown@gis.uiuc.edu

    Q. What are the benefits of using GRASS-XMI?
    A. You can benefit from using GRASS-XMI for the following reasons:

    1. GRASS-XMI will be distributed with the latest version of GRASS on a CD-ROM. Starting from version 1.3 release, you will have an option to install GRASS during the GRASS-XMI installation. The new installation program utilizes a graphic user interface to obtain the information needed and eliminates the necessity of using UNIX commands to install GRASS in a traditional approach. On ther other hand, if you just want to use GRASS-XMI with your existing GRASS, then all you need is to install GRASS-XMI.

    2. GRASS-XMI is a commercial product with full support from GPZ Technology.

    3. GRASS-XMI was compiled and statically linked with the standard X/Motif libraries , and NO additional software packages are required to run GRASS-XMI.

    4. XGRASS requires the user to run some complicated programs in the GRASS shell environment. In GRASS-XMI some of these programs are already programmed with a graphic user interface. Suggestion: Try "Mask" in the raster program group to see for yourself.

    5. GRASS-XMI is intuitive and does not introduce new concepts and terminology to users. In the simplest cases of executing a GRASS program, you can click on the icon button corresponding to the program group, then choose the program from the sub-menu for the group. Afterwards, a dialogue pops up showing parameters required to execute the program. You enter the parameters and the program starts execution. In more complicated cases, we have replaced some programs that require the most tedious user interface with more user-friendly programs.

    6. GRASS-XMI is easy to learn and to use. For new GRASS users, it alleviates the burden of memorizing a tedious command line syntax, thus shortening the learning curve. The average time that a new user spends to learn the software is less than half an hour without assistance. For an experienced user, it increases productivity by minimizing keyboard entries, and by allowing the user to repeat a GRASS program with varying parameters or data.

    7. GRASS-XMI does an exhaustive check on the data entered. If an error is detected, the erroneous entry will be flagged for re-entry. In this way, you will not have to re-enter all the input because of a single wrong entry. When an input file name is required, GRASS-XMI provides a list of the files available, all you have to do is "point and click".

    8. GRASS-XMI provides three levels of on-line help. A top level help file provides general information about the software. A second level of help can be activated from a sub-menu for each program group. Each help file at this level has a brief description about the program group as well as a list of programs available for that release. The third level of help is provided in each pop-up dialogue to assist you to use the specific program.

    9. GPZ Technology provides customization on top of the general version. If your organization requires certain functionality that is not offered by GRASS, we can add new programs to the general version at an affordable cost. GPZ can also help you with system integration and project consultation.

    Q. What GRASS programs are supported in your most recent release?
    A. The most recent release includes all the programs listed in the following table.

    A List of GRASS Programs Supported in GRASS-XMI Version 1.4 and later
     d.3d   d.ask  + d.area  d.colormode
     d.colortable  d.erase  d.font  d.frame
     d.geodesic  d.grid  d.his  d.histogram
     d.icons  d.label  d.legend  d.measure
     d.mon  d.points  d.profile  d.rast
     + d.rast.num  d.rgb  + d.rgbcolortbl  d.rhumbline
     d.save  d.scale  d.sites  d.text
     d.title  d.vect  + d.vect.cats  d.what.rast
     d.what.vect  d.where  d.zoom  exit
     + g.access  + g.ask  g.copy  g.filename
     g.findfile  g.gisenv  g.help  g.list
     g.manual  g.mapsets  g.region  g.remove
     g.rename  g.setproj  + g.tempfile  g.version
     + i.cca  + i.cluster  + i.gensig  + i.gensigset
     + i.grey.scale  + i.group  + i.in.erdas  i.fft
     i.ifft  i.his.rgb  i.maxlik  i.pca
     i.rgb.his  i.tape.mss.h  + i.smap  i.zc
     m.datum.shift  m.dem.examine  m.dem.extract  m.dmaUSGSread
     m.dted.examine  m.dted.extract  + m.flip  + m.gc2ll
     + m.ll2gc  + m.ll2u  m.rot90  + m.tiger.region
     + m.u2ll  + p.ppm  + ps.map  + ps.select
      r.average   r.basins.fill  + r.bilinear  r.buffer
     r.cats  + r.clump  + r.coin  r.colors
     r.combine  r.compress  + r.contour  + r.cost
      r.covar   r.cross  r.describe   r.drain
      r.grow  r.in.ascii  + r.in.doq  + r.in.gif
     + r.in.ll  + r.in.poly  + r.in.sunrast  + r.in.tiff
     + r.in.utm  + r.infer  r.info  + r.line
      r.los   r.mapcalc  r.mask  r.mask.points
     + r.mfilter  + r.median  + r.mode  + r.neighbors
     r.out.ascii  + r.out.ppm  + r.out.tga  + r.out.tiff
     + r.out.transect  + r.patch  r.poly  r.profile
     + r.random  r.reclass  r.report  + r.rescale
     r.resample  r.slope.aspect  r.stats  r.support
     + r.surf.contour  + r.surf.idw  + r.surf.idw2  + r.traj.data
     + r.volume  r.watershed  r.what  s.in.ascii
     s.out.ascii  + s.surf.idw  v.area  + v.cadlabel
     v.clean  + v.cutter  v.import  + v.in.arc
     v.in.ascii  v.in.dlg  + v.in.dxf  + v.in.dxf3d
     + v.in.tig.basic  + v.in.tig.lndmk  + v.mkgrid  + v.mkquads
     + v.out.arc  v.out.ascii  v.out.dlg  v.out.dxf
     + v.patcht  + v.prune  + v.spag  v.stats
     v.support  v.to.rast  + v.to.sites  v.transform
     + v.trim  + v.in.shape    

    +   is included in version 1.4 or later.

    GRASS scripts are supported in the GRASS-XMI version 1.4.1 and later. This includes running and editing GRASS scripts in the GRASS-XMI environment. A "Run GRASS Cmd or Script" pulldown menu has been added to the "GRASS-XMI Menu" bar. When the menu button is pressed, a command/script list dialog pops up showing all GRASS programs/scripts installed in your machine. This feature allows you to select a command/script from the list or type a command or a script file name in a text window below the list. You can execute the command or the scripts interactively, or non-interactively depending on the syntax required by the command/scripts. Instructions for using each program at the command line are available by invoking the "Manual" button in the "General Program Group".


    Q. What is your plan for supporting the remaining programs?
    A. Our plan is to merge GlomaP-Z and GRASS-XMI into one product. GlomaP-Z can handle applications such as image classification and registration (i,class, i.rectify, i.composite, etc.) in a very user-friendly way. Before this happens, we will continue to add and support more GRASS programs in GRASS-XMI releases.

    Q. How about if I have a special need for programs that are not supported in the standard versions of GRASS-XMI?
    A. We can provide a custom solution to meet your requirements for a moderate cost. For example, we help customers converting data between formats provided by different vendors.

    Q. What platforms do you support?
    A. Solaris 2.x on both SPARC and X86 platforms, and Linux on PC were all supported in versions prior to 1.5. Starting V1.5, we will not support Solaris for X86 since the demand for GRASS-XMI on that platform is no longer there.

    Q. Do you plan to port GRASS-XMI to Windows NT?
    A. We think that this is a good idea and are currently exploring the possibility of using OpenNT TM to allow a native UNIX application like GRASS-XMI to run in the Windows NT environment.

    Q. What about other flavors of UNIX?
    A. GRASS-XMI for LINUX running on Intel PC architecture has been released. (New!) Other versions, such as those for SGI IRIX, HP-UX and SunOS 4.1.3 depend on the market demand or can be developed through a service contract.

    Q. If I purchase a license for GRASS-XMI version 1.5.x now, do I get any free upgrade in the future?
    A. Minor versions, such as versions 1.4.1, 1.4.2, etc. are released for fixing bugs and improving the overall performance of the program. All licensed users of the major version will be entitled to a free upgrade to the corresponding minor versions.

    Q. What do I have to know to install GRASS-XMI on my computer?
    A. The GRASS-XMI readme file contains all the information needed to install the software.

    Q. What additional environment variables have to be set besides the GRASS environment variables?
    A. There is only one additional environment variable needed: GPZMAST. It must point to the GRASS-XMI installation directory. In addition, the run-time library path (i.e. LD_LIBRARY_PATH) must include /usr/dt/lib and /usr/openwin/lib. If you start the GRASS-XMI program using a script file included with the distribution, the script file will set the run-time library path for you.

    Q. What is the relationship between GRASS-XMI and GPZ's GlomaP-Z mapping product?
    A. Both software products were developed using the same GUI Builder toolkit. GlomaP-Z is a collection of remote sensing, image processing, DBMS, GIS and GPS tools primarily used for field data acquisition, management and mapping. GRASS-XMI provides a supplement to GlomaP-Z for GIS analysis. The data exchange between the two systems is through TIFF for imagery and DXF for vectors. We currently plan to support GRASS data formats in a future release of GlomaP-Z. Than users of GRASS-XMI will be able to enjoy many of the enhanced features offered by GlomaP-Z in their GIS/GPS mapping applications.

    Q. Can more than one person run GRASS-XMI on the same computer?
    A. Absolutely. For a standalone machine with additional X-terminals, each terminal can run a copy of GRASS-XMI assuming multi-licenses are purchased. For a network, more than one user can run GRASS-XMI on a machine while using other machines as display servers. However, there is one restriction, users running GRASS-XMI on the same CPU cannot share the same GRASS monitor. That is, each user must check the status of all GRASS monitors using the "List" option in the "Monitor Manager" before starting a new monitor on his display screen. However, if he tries to start a monitor that is being used by another user, he will not see the monitor on his screen.

    Q. When will toolkits be available in GRASS-XMI?
    A. We will provide toolkits for GRASS-XMI when external funding is available.




    GPZ Technology, Inc.

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