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New 3.7 Vector Functions


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In late 1984, the ITC in the Netherlands was awarded a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), with which it developed  a Geographic Information System (GIS) which could be used as a tool for land use planning and watershed management studies. With both raster and vector capabilities; it was the first fully integrated raster and vector GIS / remote sensing software programme in the world. Originally primarily used and tested within the institution, by the end of 1988 the DOS version 1.0 of the Integrated Land and Water Information GIS and remote sensing progamme, ILWIS was officially released. Two years later, the integrated raster + vector GIS + remote sensing programme ILWIS was made commercial with ITC establishing a worldwide distributors network. ILWIS 2.0 for Windows was released at the end of 1996, and ILWIS 3.0 by mid 2001. On 1st January 2004, ILWIS 3.2 was released as a shareware (one month trial offer).Since July 1st 2007, ILWIS has been distributed as an open source raster + vectos GIS / remote sensing software under GPL license by 52 North

In the following table you can see the history of the development of ILWIS. It clearly shows that this Geographic Information System (GIS) has a very long history of development and is no doubt the most versatile and flexible open source vector + raster remote sensing / GIS programmes in the world. 

Version Release date Significant changes
Release Date


Subsidy 1984 Subsidy and Initial development
ILWIS 0 1985 - 1988 Development and testing phase
ILWIS 1.0 1988 Official introduction of raster + vector GIS / remote sensing programme ILWIS

ILWIS 1.0 commercial

1990 Worldwide commercialization of ILWIS
ILWIS 2.0 1996 Release 2.0
ILWIS 3.0 June 2001 Release 3.0
ILWIS 3.1 April 2002 Release 3.1
Patch 3.11 September 2002

Direct import of Aster satellite images level 1a and 1b, including all needed geometric and radiometric corrections. This functionality is integrated in the Import Map Wizard.

Stereopair from DTM - Stereo pair from DTM operation creates a stereo pair from a single raster map and a Digital Terrain Model (DTM). These stereo pairs have the same usability as the Epipolar Stereo Pair.

Patch 3.12a August 2003

ID Grid map - creates a polygon map given a coordinate system and an attribute table. The polygon map consists of rectangular grid cells with a unique ID and can be linked to a table with attribute data when sample data is available.

Spherical Distance option was added to the operations Spatial Correlation, Cross Variogram, Nearest Point, Moving Average, Moving Surface, Kriging and CoKriging. This option calculates distances over the sphere instead of in a plane.

Export to ArcPad .PRJ - ILWIS coordinate systems can be exported to an ArcPad .prj file.

ILWIS 3.2 January, 2004

ILWIS becomes a raster + vector GIS / remote sensing shareware software and is offered for 100 Euro per license after 1 month

WICE launches as a ILWIS-users website.

Spatial Multiple Criteria Evaluation (SMCE)

Hydrologic Flow Operations
Find Datum Parameters Wizard
GARtrip import
Patch 3.21 August, 2004

Extensions in Spatial Multiple Criteria Evaluation - Slicing, histograms, aggregated values, and an improvement in class map standardization.

Improvement in calling external executable files - Support for parameter passing, wait-till-finished option and error handling, and inclusion in a script as part of a batch process.

Support for coordinates for images from the MeteoSat-8 satellite.

ILWIS 3.3 September 2005

The SMCE application extended with overlay of reference maps, combination of spatial and non-spatial MCE, and interactive function graphs for standardization.

New applications for DEM hydro-processing implemented, like topological optimization, drainage network extraction, catchment extraction, horton statistics etc.

Georeferencing with additional supports up to 8 fiducial marks, sub-pixel precision and 3D coordinate transformations using 7 or 10 datum parameters.

Import and export using the GDAL library.

Projections for geostationary satellites.

Calculation and statistical functions for map lists.

Patch 3.31 June 2007

Improvements in the Hydrologic Flow Operations - Flow Direction now includes parallel drainage correction over flat surface, added a 'cut terrain' option to Fill sinks, and added operations 'Flow Length to Outlet' and 'Flow Path Longitudinal Profile'.

The SMCE application was extended with options to generate contour maps from suitability maps, and to directly view the standardized version of any of the criteria.

Added Hungarian EOV projection and 1972 Datum, the Mercator Scaled projection, the GRS 67 ellipsoid, and ellipsoidal cases for the Goode, Mollweide and cylinder Sinusoidal projections.

Added a spectral angle classifier.
Exporting Shapefiles now also exports the coordinate system to a .PRJ file.
ILWIS 3.4 Open July 2007
ILWIS becomes an open source raster + vector GIS / remote sensing software

GPL version from 52° N with proprietary components removed.

ILWIS 3.5 Open September 2008 Added an OGC compliant WMS client.
Added a Surface Energy Balance System (SEBS) application.
ILWIS 3.6 Open
April 2009
  1. Full integration of GDAL, a library that offers access to many raster formats;
  2. ILWIS supports Postgres tables and Postgis point and segment maps through native access from a Postgis database. A first implementation has been made to access these sources of data. It will be further extended in the future; 
  3. Extension and improvements of the SEBS functionality.
  4. User interface for Import has been improved to support a plug-in model for imports. They now largely follow a plug-in model (some old ones excepted). New imports can be added without changing ILWIS.
  5. The plug-in model has been extended to cover plug-ins stored in zip files that need their own folder structure to organize their functionality.
  6. Surface energy balancing (SEBS) has been extended and improved.
  7. Improved Installation program
ILWIS 3.7 Open March 2010

The new functionality of ILWIS 3.7

ILWIS 3.7 has been developed to upgrade ILWIS on its vector functionality. The vector functionality in ILWIS 3.6 and earlierwas a bit basic and Martin Schouwenburg is doing a great job upgrading the vector capabilities to be more up-to-date and to be able to answer some needs for future extensions that would have been difficult to realize within the 'old' ILWIS.
To make this happen he had to rewrite most of the internal handling of vectors to make it compatible with simple features specification. Particularly in the Polygon domain almost all old code had to be rewritten. The advantage of this new design is that it is much easier now to add a number of  new vector applications that would have cost a lot of time to write in the old structure. Added features are:
SegmentMapTin ( not sure yet if this one will make it to the final)

General improvements are:

bulletWith respect to coordinate information, ILWIS is now internally fully 3D although this interface has not been exposed yet to the outside world, but this is forseen for future extensions. Under this new design, the Polygon files binary was no longer compatible with earlier versions of ILWIS. It can still read them, but no longer write them. Due to time constraints and the complex nature of the original Polygon format an export to the old format is not present in ILWIS 3.7 yet.
bulletThe SEBS module and the HydrologicalFlow module are updated and for SEBS help is included in seperate help files.
bulletWMS has been slightly improved ( UI and error handling).
bulletPostgres database access works now as intended.


Read instructions on the new functions


Thank you for your interest in ILWIS, the world's most user-friendly open source raster + vector GIS / remote sensing software



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