Whitebox Geospatial Analysis Tools

Welcome to the Whitebox GAT home page

The Whitebox GAT project is an exciting new open-source GIS project. Whitbox is as much a philosophical approach to geomatics as it is a GIS/Remote Sensing package. This philosophy of transparency, from which Whitebox derives its name, has led to the development of some rather unique and innovative features in the software. To learn more about this philosophy of transparent GIS/RS, please follow this link.

Whitebox GAT has its origins embedded in an older freeware GIS/RS software, the Terrain Analysis System (TAS). Whitebox offers some real improvements over this older software. This includes the following:

  1. Whitebox is open-source and transparent software. The concept of software transparency that has guided the development of Whitebox is a very novel contribution and improvement over traditional open-source development strategies that we hope will encourage an active development community. Imagine using a GIS for a specific application or teaching. You may use a certain tool and wonder, 'how exactly does this work?' You might first try the help documentation, but it may not be detailed enough (i.e. down to the level of the implemented algorithm) to give you the information you desire. Now image that you could press a single button that is on the tool's dialog box and it would bring you to the very page in the enormous library of the GIS packages code that is the tool's algorithm. Even better, imagine that you then had the capability to translate the code from its original source file into a programming language that you can read! That's exactly what transparent software is all about.
  2. Whitebox possesses a new process for accessing spatial data that allows for the processing of much larger (massive) spatial datasets.
  3. Whitbox is extendible. Users are able to create and embed custom tools that take advantage of the Whitebox user-interface and functionality to the same degree of integration as built-in functions. It is possible to use the .NET programming languages (e.g. Visual Basic and C#) to develop new tools, as well as use built-in Python scripting. The New Script/Tool Wizard can be used to automatically generate much of the code needed to create and implement new tools.
  4. Whitebox has very good documentation. Each tool has rich documentation built into the tool dialog box and the software has an excellent help program. The help for each tool also documents who wrote the help and the tool algorithm and when. This is also part of Whitebox's transparent philosophy. The user has a right to know who created the tool.
  5. Whitebox is easy to use, despite being a powerful software package for performing advanced geospatial analysis operations. This fact, combined with the rich help documentation and the ability to easily drill down into the workings of each tool's algorithm, makes Whitebox ideal for education as well as research.

John Lindsay
Department of Geography
University of Guelph



If you would like to join the Whitebox GAT listserv follow this link. You can use the listserv to get help from Whitebox experts and offer your expertise to the Whitebox user community.

We're in the process of internationalizing Whitebox and need volunteers to translate into various languages. If you're interested in helping please contact John Lindsay (jlindsay(at)uoguelph.ca)

Follow the Whitebox blog here