GIS Education Center

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Open-Source Geospatial Web Design

Course #: GIS-105P
Dates: April 11, 18, 25, May 2
Time: Saturday morning 10:00am -1:00pm
Instructor: Silas Toms
Level: Prerequisite Limited javascript used/comfortability with javascript or programming language
Cost: Early Reg. $150 | Full $180
(Early registration fee is available up to one week before the start of class)
Location: Mission Campus - Room 476
1125 Valencia St. San Francisco Ca 94110

This workshop will help (semi)-experienced developers understand how to use geospatial data and databases, and integrate them into websites. It will focus on the use of spatial SQL to perform common GIS analysis tasks. Free and Open Source GIS tools will be used, especially geodatabases such as PostGIS and Spatialite, as well as the editor and viewer Quantum GIS. Javascript and Python will be emphasized as programming languages- prior Javascript and Python experience is important, unless one is comfortable with standard programming conventions.

Students will answer questions such as:

  • At what location was a geo-enabled JPEG taken?
  • What neighborhood has the most geo-tagged tweets?
  • What is the fastest method to sort and search thousands of records in a geo-enabled database?

The workshop will focus on:
• Understanding various kinds of geospatial data and how to find geospatial data;
• Available Open Source tools (geodatabases, geometry engines, projection libraries, and viewers) ;
• Spatial SQL nomenclature and how to use it on geospatial data, i.e. performing common geospatial analyses such as 'Buffer', 'Near', 'Intersect', 'Within', 'Crosses', spatial records indexing using R-Trees, and more.
• The process to extract/transform/load geospatial data and convert it into common web formats such as JSON or KML.
• Interacting with geospatial data servers (WFS, WMS).
• Using geospatial Javascript libraries to add basemaps to webpages, and add data on top of the basemaps.

At the completion of this course, students will be comfortable with using spatial SQL and will understand the database extensions needed to make these queries possible. They will be able to integrate maps into web pages and place geospatial data in top of basemaps. These skills will be applicable for app and web development.

Prereqs & Organization
(1) This workshop requires no previous GIS skills. However, students should poses basic knowledge and experience with javascript or python.

(2) Students need to possess an intermediate-level knowledge of the Windows XP operating system. This includes creating new files and folders, copy and paste, transferring data between computers using a flash drive, and other basic desktop functionality. Familiarity with creating and managing new worksheets in Excel and working with a wide range of file types (e.g. TXT, CSV, XLS) is helpful but not required.

(3) Additional skills expected: storing, copying and management of multiple data types; managing multiple windows and applications; and the discipline to save work frequently.

(4) A strong motivation to learn, explore and have fun with computer applications is essential.  This workshop will require a significant amount of independent work and relies heavily on student initiative.

(5) An openness to working with other students in the class as a shared learning experience in order to complete assignments, build contacts in the professional GIS world and to support relatively new GIS learners.

The structure of each class will generally consist of a short lecture followed by 2 - 2.5 hours of hands-on lab time and a short break halfway through the class period. Homework, quizzes, and readings are assigned in order to reinforce GIS concepts and techniques.

Textbook & Materials
Flash Drive
Not all lab/exercise data are available online as GIS files can be large. It is recommended you bring a  1GB or greater flash drive. If you plan on taking additional GISEC workshops we recommend at minimum 2GB flash drive though encourage 4GB.

No textbook is required for this workshop. However, those students with little or no GIS experience the second edition of  'Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop' is available for enrolled students through a web viewer.


Why is this class scheduled over several weeks and not over a weekend?

The answer is simply this: learning the basics of a desktop GIS software package, terminology, and concepts isn't feasible, in our honest opinion, over two or three days. Feedback from students has been clear in that they felt more time was needed to digest the material and feel comfortable working with the desktop GIS application. We believe our model best suits students who want to learn and retain GIS skills without feeling lost after a weekend crash course and don't desire a semester long course.


Do I really need to bring a storage device like a flash drive?

Yes. You will want to take your data with you. Even if you don't have a computer at home you may want practice at work or in the open lab.

Some web-based services such as and provide free transfer of single files up to a certain size, usually 1 GB.  Multiple data files can be consolidated into a single ZIP file prior to transfer.  Notification of successful transfers arrive via email.

There is no server space provided to store your work.


Can I bring my own personal computer to class?

Students are welcome to bring their personal computers into class to work on assignments. You will need a USB flash drive for saving files and transferring them to the personal computer. In addition, students should install the following software:

Required Software
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint

Mac users
ArcGIS is not distributed for Mac's, you must have: BootCamp, SWSoft's Parallels, VMware Fusion, or VirtualBox installed.

Please note CCSF does not provide Wi-Fi service at this time.



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