Essentials of Geographic Information Systems
Jonathan Campbell, UCLA
MIchael Shin, UCLA
Copyright Year: 2011
ISBN 13: 9781453321966
Publisher: Saylor Foundation
Conditions of Use
As an introductory book on GIS, the authors have done a commendable piece of work. The book has a constant flow connecting all the ten chapters succinctly. Each chapter starts with a ‘learning objective’ and ends with a take –away summary and some... read more
As an introductory book on GIS, the authors have done a commendable piece of work. The book has a constant flow connecting all the ten chapters succinctly. Each chapter starts with a ‘learning objective’ and ends with a take –away summary and some simple exercises for the reader. The associated graphics and illustrations in the chapters are well conceived and literally say a thousand words! A good piece of work for the uninitiated as it tells a simple story of a complex subject.
'Essentials of Geographic Information Systems' covers almost all a beginner would like to know about GIS. It makes an interesting read and I found the contents precise and accurate.
The authors have written the book skillfully and retained its relevance although the world of GIS is transforming so rapidly with evolving technology and multi-disciplinary applications. The examples cited in the chapters are aptly put and retain their logical connection even though the book was first published in 2011.
The authors have demystified the complexity of GIS with a clarity of thought and purpose in this book. As an introductory book, the chapters give a peripheral knowledge that the student must possess. Connecting the chapters to practical to-do lab exercises may have made each chapter more interesting.
The book is consistent in its style and presentation. Complex and intricate terminologies have been avoided as far as practicable especially in the first five chapters to engage the reader and make the subject matter engrossing.
A requirement for modularity is to clearly define the interfaces between modules and enable the modules to work together. The steps involved in the transfer of the flow of control between the author(s) and reader seems well defined through the organization of chapters and dissemination of introductory information. Small chapters keep the readers’ focus better that the book clearly displays.
The book is well organized for the teacher and well- balanced for the taught. The structure, flow and organization of the various sections is tidy, well-kept and straight.
I do not see a Table of contents in the .pdf version. The online format looks better. I suggest a modification of the .pdf format for people to read and save offline. All the associated web links work well in the .pdf format. The Kindle file format may increase readership particularly among students with PDA's/mobile phones.
The book has been through multiple reviews to date. I did not notice any grammatical errors as such. The book has a lucid syntax and makes splendid reading.
The subject matter of the book is largely technical interspersed with management techniques. The examples and illustrations cited in the chapters could be drawn from multiple regions and industries, however. The world of GIS encapsulates almost every activity and it may interest readers and instructors far and wide.
I shall recommend this book to any reader who wants to understand the world of GIS. If a book can tell a complex subject and reads like a storybook, the authors have succeeded in making an impact on the uninitiated as well as the seasoned GIS practitioner.
Essentials of Geographic Information Systems is designed to be a book for an introductory book in GIS. It is comprised of ten chapters which include introduction, map anatomy, data/information and where to find them, data models for GIS,... read more
Essentials of Geographic Information Systems is designed to be a book for an introductory book in GIS. It is comprised of ten chapters which include introduction, map anatomy, data/information and where to find them, data models for GIS, geospatial data management, data characteristics and visualization, geospatial analysis (vector), geospatial analysis (raster), cartographic principles, and GIS project management. I would say the first and final chapter of this book are relatively unique when comparing it to other introductory GIS textbooks. The first chapter focuses on mental maps, which could be part of a more basic course typically called something like “spatial thinking”. The final chapter is a summary of elements of project management. It doesn’t hurt to introduce GIS students to PM in an introductory textbook, but many might find this the most surprising chapter to include. Each chapter begins with learning objectives and then gets into the main portion of the chapter. The authors include images that are generally informative and colorful. They end each chapter with key takeaways and exercises. The exercises are typically reflective (e.g. compare and contrast), or task oriented (e.g. find your home). This textbook does not include GIS exercises or labs, so instructors using this book would need to have another source of these. Finally, the authors end with a few references that are designed as overviews of the ideas such as Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps. This book covers the main basics of GIS, but is not a deep dive into the technology and what it can do at the introductory class level. It was originally published with Flatworld as an OER, then when Flatworld was purchased only available at a cost for a while, and now it is available again as an OER. I reviewed some of the original chapters in 2011 when they were first written, and like the style and writing.
I would describe the content as accurate, error-free and unbiased. Each author is going to have specific ideas about how to present content, but I think book does so in a fair and balanced manner. It focuses more on the concepts of GIS as opposed to how it works, which I think is appropriate for this type of introductory text.
The content covered tends to be the fundamentals of GIS, so I would say that the longevity is good by design. The big ideas in GIS covered in an introductory class are not evolving rapidly, but of course the software and applications are. This only means that this book would have to be coupled with other lab or exercises resources if the instructor wants to include hands-on GIS work in his/her class.
The writing is clear and concise. It doesn’t go too deep into the jargon, and clearly explains the terminology that it does use.
The materials in this book are consistent in terms of terminology. I am unsure what is meant by framework, but I would say at times the internal arrangement of materials was not always the most intuitive to me. For example, the final chapter on project management includes sections on working with CAD data, applications development, map series and grid-to-ground transformations.
This seems like a very modular textbook to me. However, since it only has ten chapters, I don’t think it could be used for more than an introductory course, and the materials here might not be enough to cover every topic in that course in sufficient detail, depending on the instructor’s curriculum.
The topics are organized in a logical manner, and probably follow the typical organizational structure of many GIS instructors when teaching an introductory course. There is always room for potential reorganization depending on how topics are covered, and the sections would help the instructor assign specific readings from chapters.
The book is available in both a pdf and online format. The online format is nice, and has a table of contents with links to all chapters and sections within the chapters. In summary, it’s very easy to navigate. I wasn’t as impressed with the pdf, as it doesn’t include a table of contents or links to specific chapters/sections. Moreover, only page numbers appear on each page, there is no indication of what chapter you are in unless there is a figure number or section heading. I’d suggest sticking to the online version.
I didn’t notice any grammatical errors. I also know that the original material was reviewed by external reviewers, so I hope that such edits were made during this process.
This material is not culturally insensitive in any way. The authors also try so show some maps related to social justice when appropriate, such as deforestation, worldwide life expectancy, GDP and literacy disparities, etc.
Good as an introductory textbook, but will need accompanying exercise/lab materials.
This is where I feel the text struggled the most. Some of the basic and very important topics, such as projections, data classification, and visual hierarchy, were mentioned in such brevity that the reader is left without proper instruction on... read more
This is where I feel the text struggled the most. Some of the basic and very important topics, such as projections, data classification, and visual hierarchy, were mentioned in such brevity that the reader is left without proper instruction on these topics. The text tries to cover so much that it often seems rushed and lacks comprehensiveness in many areas. No index or glossary is included.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the text mostly free of errors. However, with the text having been published 8 years ago some of the links provided were no longer active or incorrect. I did find some areas in which the terms or explanations used did not fit standard conventions. Additionally, in a portion of Chapter 9 the figures are not referenced to in the text, only empty parentheses are included.
With a technology like GIS, changes happen very quickly and with a major software revision to one of the most widely used commercial products occurring in 2015 updates would be needed to portions of the text to increase relevance. While some of the information may at first glance seem dated, the historical information presented provides the reader with background as to where GIS has been. On the converse, the text is not forward looking which is needed for a text based on computer technology.
The book was designed as an introductory text for individuals that are not familiar with GIS. It introduces “key concepts behind the technology with practical concerns and real-world applications”. There are a lot of terms to learn with each indicate in bold text and well explained, but no index or glossary is provided. If a term/concept is discussed in multiple sections of the text they are indicated as such so the reader can switch between sections to gain full understanding of the concept. Many practical examples are used throughout the text which helps the reader understand the application of the concepts presented.
I found no issues with internal consistency. The framework used - a chapter introduction, and learning objectives at the beginning and key takeaways at the end of each section lends to a well thought out text.
The text can be readily broken down into smaller sections, not only by chapter, but within each chapter there are multiple sections that are clearly divided by topic. However, there are multiple incidences in the text where the author refers to other sections/chapters of the text that could make some divisions more difficult than others.
I found the text topics did not flow well between a few of the chapters (3-5 and 6-9) with some rearrangement recommended. Furthermore, some of the chapter and section titles did not accurately represent the content or in one incidence repeated similar information. What did work was the use of an introductory section at the beginning of each chapter along with basic exercises provided at the end of each section within a chapter.
In the PDF form there are quite a few images that run off the page, but when viewing the text online these issues do not exist. Otherwise, the graphics and interface work well.
Well written with no grammatical errors found.
All information presented is done so in a culturally sensitive manner.
Campbell has covered GIS in a very complete way - the text may not include every possible element of the subject, but I think all the GIS essentials are given very complete explanations. I particularly like the excellent coverage of data... read more
Campbell has covered GIS in a very complete way - the text may not include every possible element of the subject, but I think all the GIS essentials are given very complete explanations. I particularly like the excellent coverage of data structures and statistics. These are areas sometimes given inadequate coverage, but Campbell gives them very good attention. The latter chapters on cartography and project management are often neglected in GIS textbooks, but Campbell provides solid chapters that should really benefit students. One area that could have more coverage is remote sensing, which is a closely related field, but that is seldom taught within a GIS course - it is best taught separately.
The book is quite accurate, in my opinion. I am a stickler for accuracy, but I found just a few errors - fewer than in most textbooks. One small error will be discovered by students in Figure 4.11, where the topology table is missing a few values. But other than that, and a few typos, I am impressed with the writing, editing, and overall attention to the subject.
The textbook is designed to be relevant for years. Published in 2011, it is now 8 years old, and it seems quite up-to-date. Yes, some of the references may seem outdated, but Campbell has written the book in such a way that the essentials are not hidden by a fascination with rapidly shifting technology. For example, the data structures and the computer languages being used in relation to GIS now are mostly the same or simply derivative of those the author describes. It would be impossible to keep up with all the computer language options in this kind of text - any professor will have to supplement the text with updates on that. This is not a flaw in Campbell's book. The same is true for examples. Campbell tries to avoid using examples that would be easily outdated.
The writing is clear and easy to follow. I think students should have no trouble reading and even being fascinated by the field as presented here. I do think three improvements could be made: A. The text could have more structural highlighting, such as bold terms, headings or colored guides, so that as a student reads she/he finds the important terms and concepts easily. B. Many of the diagrams could be better designed. I find quite a few of them to be overly simplistic, to the point where the reality being modeled is too hard to imagine. C. More examples from the real world should be included, particularly when talking about the most difficult subjects, such as data structures and project management. Students will easily follow the examples already shown, but in some sections, the author seems to have forgotten to maintain his good style.
The book is consistent in its presentation of the subject. Campbell shows he is a good writer and organizer. We should also credit the editor(s). The quality shows.
The chapters are logically structured and not too long. But sometimes the author goes on too long without subheadings, which can allow the reader to be distracted. Our modern culture creates short attention spans, unfortunately. The book should work to reflect the typical student reader's ability to focus.
Most teachers will find the book to be logically organized and each chapter properly connected to the others. One complaint I have is the decision to place cartography at the end of the book. In my experience, students enjoy knowing these design principles earlier, so they can apply them in the middle of the course.
I encountered no interface problems other than a few defunct links, which is inevitable. The simplicity of design helps in this regard.
I am a careful reader, yet I found no grammar problems. This is impressive.
The book is US-centric, but as far as I could see it is not insensitive to culturally diverse groups. Perhaps more examples from other cultures could be included. In act, as I think about it, it seems the book could use more examples, so if there is to be a second edition, the best choice would be examples from outside the US.
I like the book so much that I may adopt it for my course next year. Where it is flawed, I can make up the difference with a few adjustments (additional examples and diagrams).
“Essentials of Geographic Information Systems” provides an accessible foundation of GIS and mapping at the undergraduate level, suitable for readers without previous experience with GIS, mapping, or spatial thinking. The book is not very... read more
“Essentials of Geographic Information Systems” provides an accessible foundation of GIS and mapping at the undergraduate level, suitable for readers without previous experience with GIS, mapping, or spatial thinking. The book is not very concise, but it is well written, engaging, and promotes the critical thinking of the reader by interspersing several questions and comments to encourage the critical examination of the content presented (e.g., what is included in mental maps, section 1.1). I also appreciate that it helps developing a sense of the type of questions that can be examined using a GIS and spatial thinking skills. Each unit starts with a clearly laid out set of objectives and concludes with a summary of the main takeaways and a set of exercises. Altogether the units provide a broad foundation of GIS and mapping. Some of the main topics covered include: Spatial Thinking and GIS definition, map types (mental, reference, thematic, dynamic), map elements and scale representation, GIS data models and associated file formats (vector vs. raster), coordinate systems (only GCS) and projections, remote sensing and remote sensing data resolutions (very basic introduction), data quality (accuracy vs. precision), descriptive statistics and histograms, attribute and spatial queries, data classification methods, vector and raster data operations (including local, neighborhood, and zonal operations, and interpolation), cartographic principles and map design, and project management. Overall, the level of depth is adequate for an introductory textbook, but there are few potential weaknesses: i) the unit on coordinate systems and projections did not seem to offer the necessary depth, and did not include a discussion on planar coordinate systems, omitting two widely used coordinate systems in the U.S. (UTM and State plane), ii) the textbook does not cover how to read and specify coordinates from paper maps or USGS digital topo maps, iii) the unit on remote sensing is also quite brief and defines spectral resolution using the term wavelength without defining it first, some additional links would be helpful in this regard, iv) there is no coverage of the different types of thematic maps (choropleth, dot density, graduated symbols, flow maps, etc) and the data suitable to be represented by each type. Choropleth maps are briefly defined in unit 6, but the definition omits an important characteristic of them: the data represented in choropleth maps are aggregated by area (e.g., administrative areas). In addition, the authors use a choropleth map of population by county in the U.S. to illustrate the effect of different classification methods on the spatial patterns of the same dataset. Choropleth maps are ideal to identify spatial patterns, but their use with absolute numbers is discouraged because in many cases the aggregation units differ in size. Since it is difficult to make comparisons across units of varying sizes, transforming the data to percentages and rates is recommended when using choropleth maps. A table of contents is provided in the description of the textbook, but not in the version of the .pdf that I have downloaded. There is no glossary or index of terms, which would be very useful.
Overall, the content of the book seems accurate.
Most of the book focuses on the fundamentals of GIS, is up-to-date, and will remain relevant over the long term. Some references to GIS applications, external links, and software will need to be checked and updated on a regular basis.
The book is well written at an introductory level. Most of the concepts included are defined in a clear, accessible manner, with a few exceptions (e.g., wavelength).
The terminology used throughout the book is consistent.
The book is subdivided in a logical manner and can be read/assigned as separate chapters. There are internal references to other chapters in the book. It would be very useful to have a table of contents in the .pdf version with page ranges for easier navigation, reference, and identification of the length of each section.
The sequence of topics and chapters progresses logically, but personally I would have preferred having Chapter 9 (cartographic principles) after Chapter 6 (data characteristics and visualization).
A table of contents is included in the description of the book, but there is not a table of contents included in the .pdf of the book I downloaded from the Open Textbook library. This hinders navigating through the text and having a sense of the extent and structure of the book. It is also more difficult to refer to specific chapters for assignment. The online version starts with a hyperlinked table of contents and each chapter has links to the table of contents, as well as the previous and next chapter. The internal links to other chapters included in the text do not seem to work, this is also true for the .pdf version.
I have not found major grammar errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. The authors promote a critical examination of what information is presented in map and the implications of how it is presented (e.g., mental maps, section1.1; map abstraction, section 2.3). These discussions are not typically included in “traditional” introductory level GIS textbooks.
This text is an excellent resource as an introductory GIS course for undergraduate and graduate students in a computer technology curriculum who have not had any prior experience with GIS. As the introduction states it “is designed to be... read more
This text is an excellent resource as an introductory GIS course for undergraduate and graduate students in a computer technology curriculum who have not had any prior experience with GIS. As the introduction states it “is designed to be accessible, pragmatic and concise.” (pg.2).There are ten chapters in the text which review GIS in a logical flow beginning with chapter 1 explaining GIS and why it is used. Within this chapter there is a discussion of spatial thinking and how we use special thinking every day. Chapter 1 also provides an overview of geographic concepts which define GIS and how GIS is currently used and how it may be used in the future; in addition, there is a discussion on the geospatial web. All of this affords a good foundation for the remaining chapters. An important component of this online text is the student’s ability to click on the external links to additional information. The remaining chapters present understandable lessons on cartography and cartographic principles, maps, map types, data and information, data files and formats, GIS data models, satellite imaging, data visualization, geospatial analysis and GIS project management. Each chapter begins with learning objectives and ends with a review of concepts learned and topical exercises. In addition, the charts and illustrations provide good visual learning support.
The content seems accurate.
The content seems relevant and up-to-date since the authors provide link to pertinent websites. It seems that any updates can be added to the chapters if needed. An important component of this online text is the student’s ability to click on the external links to review additional information.
The text is clearly written and there are explanations of technical terminology.
It seems internally consistent.
A chapter or portions of a chapter could be assigned for each week of the semester.
There are ten chapters in the text which review GIS in a logical flow beginning with chapter 1 explaining GIS and why it is used. Within this chapter there is a discussion of spatial thinking and how we use special thinking every day. Chapter 1 also provides an overview of geographic concepts which define GIS and how GIS is currently used and how it may be used in the future; in addition, there is a discussion on the geospatial web. All of this affords a good foundation for the remaining chapters.
The text is accessible as are the external links.
Grammatical errors were not found.
There was no evidence of insensitivity.
Overall this text presents a well-balanced, clearly written and informative introduction to Geographic Information Systems. I enjoyed reading this text and will use it for the GIS course.
Comprehensive information about data formats, data operations, and analysis. Less coverage of fundamental concepts, applications, and cartography. The chapters about GIS data formats and data management are thorough and well-organized, though... read more
Comprehensive information about data formats, data operations, and analysis. Less coverage of fundamental concepts, applications, and cartography. The chapters about GIS data formats and data management are thorough and well-organized, though they too would read better if they included more narratives and concrete examples from the field. The information here is dense and thoughtfully explained, and diagrams support the concepts well. These chapters form the heart of the book, and represent the book’s greatest value.
No errors stand out; the book shows a certain level of generalization, appropriate for an introductory text.
This book takes an ecumenical approach to the choice of software; the authors wisely observe that GIS software changes quickly, and that students and instructors might choose any number of tools. This approach is welcome, in a world that too often teaches the details of one piece of software rather than the longer-lived principles that underly that software. Some more discussion of the ideas that programs embody, though, would help introduce in students a useful skepticism.
The text is clearly written. The quality of the graphics varies considerably, an issue in a book that leans heavily on diagrams, example data, and model maps. Some sections would be clearer with more skillfully-drawn graphics. The explanation of projections, particularly, suffers. Other sections, like the chapters on searches and queries, and on vector operations, are accompanied by excellent graphics.
A quite internally consistent book, in terms of perspective and use of language.
Chapters are self-contained and would read well in more than one order.
More case studies and narratives would help readers, particularly novices. The book offers a handful of examples—a glimpse at deforestation in the Amazon, or a hypothetical database query and its effects on returned data—but they are rare and abbreviated. More stories, and more real-world data, would help turn abstract concepts into concrete ones.
The design of the book deserves a note. I read the PDF-formatted book. Whether for screen viewing or for printing, the book would be far more readable if lines were shorter.
Generally neutral; appropriate awareness of the cultural frameworks that surround our use of maps.
Campbell and Shin’s “Essentials of Geographic Information Systems” provides a comprehensive overview of GIS. They begin with a general introduction to geographic and spatial concepts (and the role of GIS within geography), and proceed to lay out... read more
Campbell and Shin’s “Essentials of Geographic Information Systems” provides a comprehensive overview of GIS. They begin with a general introduction to geographic and spatial concepts (and the role of GIS within geography), and proceed to lay out the fundamental conceptual components of GIS in Chapters 2 through 5, including common elements of maps, common data types and metadata, challenges of researching, identifying, and finding relevant data, GIS data models (raster/vector), and database management. Chapters 6 through 9 are dedicated to visualization and analysis, including selecting, searching and querying data, classifying data, common single- or multiple-layer analyses, raster and surface analysis, and basic cartography (color, symbology, map design). Chapter 10 concludes with an important, albeit often overlooked, discussion about the challenges of effective project management, both in general and as specifically relates to the particularities of GIS projects. Subjects that could perhaps use greater exploration in Campbell and Shin’s book, include (a) geodesy (e.g., geoids, datums), (b) coordinate transformation, (c) global navigation satellite systems, (d) photogrammetry, (e) development of various satellite sensors, (f) lidar, (g) network analysis, and (h) types of geospatial models (e.g., weighted, spatio-temporal, agent-based). The concepts in Campbell and Shin’s book that are particularly unique for an introductory GIS textbook include (a) spatial thinking (e.g., mental maps), (b) map abstraction (e.g., what is a forest?), (c) the challenges of acquiring accurate and relevant data, (d) the challenges of implementing effective database management, and (e) the practice of good project management. Although aiming toward providing a broad overview of GIS, Campbell and Shin also elaborate on a fair amount of subfield specifics, but not so much as to obscure or distract from the central points of interest. The strength of the book is the emphasis on GIS practice and the actual decisions that lead from conceptualization and project planning to an effective deliverable with useful information.
Both in terms of broader GIS concepts as well as domain-specific and technical skills, Campbell and Shin’s book accurately provides the “essentials” of GIS. I found no glaring conceptual errors or omissions.
The book is generally relevant and up-to-date, as relates to the current ecosystem of common GIS software, hardware, workflows, and functions. That said, technology, data, methods quickly evolve, and the book will need to be updated as-needed. The structure of the book, especially in the online version, allows for flexible inclusion of new material or elaboration upon specific components of existing material. I was a little surprised that Python was not mentioned regarding development in GIS, especially related to its current role in Esri tool development and general rise in data science. That said, for an "essentials" book that is not focused on Esri software specifically, this omission does not seem that important.
The book is clear, and it is evident that the authors write from experience. Throughout the different sections, a good balance exists between detail and conciseness. Where detail is omitted, it seems that the authors implicitly suggest that some of the onus is on the student for a deeper understanding of the specific subfields, such as the case of transformations between projections, where the authors simply state that although “most GISs include functions to assist in map projections[...]an awareness of the potential and pitfalls that surround map projections is essential.”
The book is consistent in structure (e.g., primary learning objectives at the beginning and key takeaways and exercises at the end of each section), tone (e.g., a guidebook of “essentials” for working with and understanding GIS), and GIS-specific content (e.g., lists of relevant GIS definitions and geography-specific jargon are laid out prior to exploration of subject).
The book lends itself well to modular assignment of sections, as needed in coordination with lecture or lab topics. There are internal cross-referencing when topics intersect or overlap, but the references do not break the modular cohesiveness of the sections being read, especially in the online version where links are provided and use of the web browser enables easy navigation between sections.
The organization and structure of the subjects in the book are appropriate, beginning broadly with a discussion of geography and spatial thinking, moving on to GIS and maps (the most prominent or identifiable aspect of GIS), and finally the complex decision-making processes involved with data management, analysis, cartography, and project management. The balance that Campbell and Shin strike regarding detail and conciseness on specific topics also plays out well in the overall structure of the book, whereby chapters are split into a few manageable sections each. Compared with, hypothetically, on one extreme, a book with a few long chapters or (on the other extreme) many short chapters, Campbell and Shin have designed their “essentials” such that each chapter is suitable for about a week’s worth of reading and exercises, both in terms of required reading time as well as conceptual modularity.
Overall, the online interface is seamless. Navigation via linear links (i.e., next/previous section) and nonlinear links (i.e., table of contents) are available, as well as subject-specific links within the text. The charts are simple, appropriate to the subject, and intuitive.
Noticed one or two spelling or grammar errors, but overall the writing is professional and enjoyable.
In Chapter 1 and 2, the book contextualizes GIS in terms of the ongoing development of social technologies and the related democratization of GIS, which is important for introductory students to understand in terms of the moving ground upon which GIS is evolving. Additionally, the authors explore the ideas of bias and generalization, and the responsibility of GIS practitioners in the communication of information through maps. Also, occasionally, the book provides examples of the incorporation of social data into GIS workflows, primarily by providing brief references to data sources for social or demographic data (e.g., census data) or types of data in potential analyses (e.g., income data in mall suitability analysis).
No other comments other than I really like this book. Our current textbook is good, as well, but perhaps too detailed for an introductory class of students using ArcGIS for the first time. This book will be a good conceptual accompaniment to our Esri-based labs.
The authors cover a wide range of GIScience that would allow for a core foundation combining geographic abstraction and "spatial thinking," data models and structures, cartographic representation, and importantly, a variety of data sources (e.g.,... read more
The authors cover a wide range of GIScience that would allow for a core foundation combining geographic abstraction and "spatial thinking," data models and structures, cartographic representation, and importantly, a variety of data sources (e.g., GPS and remote sensing.) Some included content is rather surprising, yet also welcomed, such as the strong coverage given to "map anatomy" and GIS project management. Oftentimes other "cookbook" approaches to introductory GIS will omit the vital issues of cartographic principles (color, symbology, and design).
Fundamental GIS data and analytical techniques are presented very accurately. The conceptual basis of GIS is rooted in geographic and spatial abstraction, which provides for a sound mix of "spatial thinking" applied to actual GIS data. Terminology is introduced and referred later unambiguously.
Currency is an enormous challenge for any textbook in GIScience and Technology. GPS technology is presented rather lightly and historically, with accurate but limited currency, for instance on international GNSS constellations (GNSS includes Galileo, GLONASS, for instance, as well as regional satellites for positionining such as BeiDou-2 and WAAS.) Overall, however, the material presented at a fundamental learning level balances rigour and relevance with longevity. Map essentials or "anatomy" are critical and timeless in this sense. Raster and vector data models are also time invariant. As compared to some texts, the book focuses on essentials and not the rabbit hole of arcane historic structures (e.g., GBF DIME files). The revolutionary development of LiDAR, however, is something that may merit introduction at this level, and it blends vector and raster data structures (LAS files, point clouds, and derivative DSM and DEMs.) Unfortunately, LiDAR is not introduced.
Spatial data and analytical techniques are quite clearly presented in the text. Illustrative figures are well chosen and augment the textual content. A few additional graphics might further improve students comprehension of new, abstract spatial structures. For instance, TINs are introduced and only one graphic of a TIN surface model is given. This rather limits the fundamental notion of TINs as vector structures with attributes, as well as their intrinsic relationship to topography and surface modeling. TINs are not mentioned in the vector GIS data structure section nor the single-layer vector analysis section. Though there are moderate gaps in some of the individual sections, overall the content presented is clearly conveyed. The written explanations are easily followed. White space and interspersed figures supporting concepts are replete. The style and length of subsections allow for one to easily and non-fatiguingly read through chapters.
The layout and presentation are quite consistently organized among sections. Learning objectives, key concepts, and after-chapter mental exercises are very integrative as well as keeping the learner on track within chapters/modules. Between sections, key terms are also unambiguously mentioned. One COULD see a bit more synthesis or even repetition fruitfully employed, however. For instance, TINs not presented again after a cursory introduction in data structures, yet they could be reviewed or mentioned again usefully in the vector structures, spatial interpolation, or terrain mapping sections.
The chapter organization balances content and length very well. Ten chapters would conform very well to applications in weekly readings in a course that supplemented the text with other exercises, yet allowing for emphasis or de-emphasis as an instructor chose. No chapters too lengthy or conceptually overburdened. Some modules could be dropped in actual instructional use if, for instance, an instructor wished to use another source for greater detail. There is very little burden of self-referencing, almost to a fault, as some re-enforcement or application of data concepts might be useful.
A logical and cumulative structure of content is used that makes great sense and jives with most other GIS texts and authoritative pedagogical references (e.g., GIS Body of Knowledge and other related "core curricula".)
Available as a PDF and online, both formats are stylistically easy to navigate, cogent, and appropriately supported with embedded graphical content. The online format is easy to page and refer or jump to alternative sections.
The book is free from grammatic errors and would be easy to read and follow from a very wide range of readers.
No cultural biases are evident in the book, and there are no national or unusual localized biases toward data structures or sources or terms as sometimes can be found in GIS texts.
"Essentials of Geographic Information Systems" is exactly what it is entitled, providing introductory concepts that are importantly rooted in spatial thinking, mapping and related geographic concepts. Although a few concepts tend toward a light or cursory nature, these are easily augmented by an instructor with other resources. The book is to be prized for its accessibility, pragmatism, and provision of a rigorous yet easy to follow framework for GIS concepts, spatial analysis, and future learning.
I was thoroughly impressed by the comprehensiveness of this book. It covered most of the important aspects needed for an Introductory GIS class - from GIS and mapping basics all the way to project management. The book does not currently have a... read more
I was thoroughly impressed by the comprehensiveness of this book. It covered most of the important aspects needed for an Introductory GIS class - from GIS and mapping basics all the way to project management. The book does not currently have a glossary nor an index, which would make it even more useful for instruction. Therefore, I highly recommend that the authors include a glossary and index in the next edition. There are several new areas of GIS that were not covered in this book, due to the fact that it was published in 2011, more than 6 years ago. Since that time, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has become an invaluable addition to the GIS data inventory, and entire chapter could easily be devoted to this topic. Also, online mapping tools and mashups deserve more coverage in this book. However, I very much appreciated the generality of the book, i.e. it did not often mention specific formats or programs or data sources, which of course, are moving targets and would require continual and frequent updates.
The book was very accurate and error-free. The only misspelling I found was under the Table of Contents/Licesning Information instead of Licensing Information. Other than that silly error, the text was spot on with terminology and concepts. I have used mostly ESRI books in the past, which of course are biased toward their software platform and data formats. I believe the authors did a good job or presenting the wide array of GIS options, including open-source. Much of their information was generalized enough that it could be applied across a wide array of GIS platforms.
Because the author's did a good job of keeping the text as general as possible, the relevance of this 2011 book was a pleasant surprise. I expected it to be quite out of date, but not so. Of course, several of the links provided in the text were broken and need to be updated. Also, some of the images were pretty old and newer ones could be inserted. I think the authors could perhaps review some of the text that refers to specific sources of data, satellites, etc. and try to generalize even more. Also, some of the proposed exercises were perhaps a little too specific and might become outdated with new technologies and websites.
Due to the nature of the book, a certain level of jargon/technical terminology is to be expected. That is why a glossary would have been oh-so helpful. However, I felt that the terminology was appropriate for an entry level GIS book. Most of the book is very readable and easy to understand, even for a newbie. Perhaps several of the sections could be lightened up a bit, such as the vector data model topic.
The authors were very consist in terms of terminology and framework. I liked the way they often linked back to previous concepts to show the relevance of the newly presented information. The framework was also very consistent - learning objectives, materials in a digestible chunk (not too much, not too little for the most part), basic concepts learned, and further practice with exercises.
I found the modularity to be on of the best aspects of this book. Some GIS books have very long and complex chapters, and students get lost or distracted. Their chapters and sections are very concise, with clearly stated objectives. Many of the sections are stand alone and not highly dependent on other sections, which is excellent for those of us wishing to daisy chain elements from several books.
There are so many different ways that GIS instruction can be presented, but I thought their flow was as good as any of the other books I have used. The authors did jump around a bit between raster and vector, so perhaps those two aspects could be presented more cohesively.
I thought the interface was fine. The pdf file worked great in IBook and was easy to navigate. However, it could be improved by having a linkable table of contents (like it is in the html format), and a linkable glossary and/or index. I thought the figures and tables were very helpful, but some of them could use more descriptive captions.
My only suggestion for improvement would be too keep the same grammatical tone as much as possible throughout the book. In some parts, it's very light and readable, in other parts, it gets quite complex and deep.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. They included some diverse examples of GIS applications, but even more diversity would be appreciated.
I would use this book for sure, in the GIS class that I teach. I was pleasantly surprised by the rigor, breadth, and content.
The text is too convoluted for my students to follow alone. For my beginners GIS course, the book neglects to introduce the basic principles. It lacks practical exercises that allow the students to work directly in the ArcGIS workspace. Thus... read more
The text is too convoluted for my students to follow alone. For my beginners GIS course, the book neglects to introduce the basic principles. It lacks practical exercises that allow the students to work directly in the ArcGIS workspace. Thus familiarizing them with the software. The basic components of GIS are not covered in-depth. Students need to know how to create spatial features as well as to use them as representation. It does not explain GIS and its concepts to the novice student. The pdf lacks a glossary, Index or table of contents. As the Instructor, however, there are some chapters that I would use in my course during the mid portion of my term. Overall, the book is quite thought provoking and will provide a challenge and offer additional critical thinking to the concept of GIS.
The concepts were clearly explained. The content is accurate and unbiased.
Most of the text content is written in a way that updates will not be necessary in the near future. The content is up to date, but several of the resource links were broken. If this PDF is used in my course, I will have to supplement it with additional exercises, references, and expand upon the applications from a more basic perspective.
Some of the content in the chapters are advanced for my general education students taking GIS for the first time. The text is clear and comprehendible for me but I will have to supplement each chapter, maybe use PowerPoint.
The text is consistent with the chapter headings and subtitles
Great job was done in partitioning the chapters,subheading and sections. The lack of a table of contents made it difficult to navigate through the book; when searching for a specific topic
The organization and structure order appear to flow rather well, accept for The Cartography Chapter. This chapter should have been presented earlier in the book.
The text is satisfactory; the broken links are causing some navigation problems. The display features were necessary and relevant.
I found no grammatical errors.
The text is culturally relevant and not offensive.
Overall, the book is Good and I will recommend it to my colleagues and eventually to my students. It covers principles related to GIS but not the actual principles involved in GIS for the Novice. I would gladly use the book as a reference. I hope to incorporate portions of this book into my course with some adjustments and more hands on activities in ArcGIS Desktop. My students need to the fundamentals; i.e. the components of ESRI ArcGIS: ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcToolbox. In addition to how to create spatial features and data within the attribute tables. I do appreciate the efforts put forward in writing this Publication. Respectfully.
"Essentials of Geographic Information Systems" truly does cover the essentials of an introductory level GIS textbook. Campbell and Shin's discourse on the basics of GIS is exceptional while still maintaining a very "readable" text. Examples are... read more
"Essentials of Geographic Information Systems" truly does cover the essentials of an introductory level GIS textbook. Campbell and Shin's discourse on the basics of GIS is exceptional while still maintaining a very "readable" text. Examples are relatable and presented in a down to earth manner. From "What is GIS?" to basic spatial analysis, the GIS component is nicely covered. I appreciate the chapters on Cartography and Project Management. While Cartography is occasionally included in introductory GIS textbooks, the depth of the information is usually lacking. Everything is for naught if your intended audience cannot understand your final product. I also especially appreciated the chapter on Project Management. The information provided within this chapter offers the student an insight into how a project moves from inception to completion. With the costs of GIS textbooks climbing to well over $100, I am grateful that there is an online option. "Essentials of Geographic Information Systems" is a comprehensive and well written book... (minus some editing issues).
The content of the book is accurate. I did not find any errors of content within this book. I appreciate that the authors did not highlight one GIS program or company over another. The book focused on GIS basics that transcend individual GIS companies.
"Essentials of Geographic Information" will be able to stay relevant for quite some time as the concepts presented within this book (What is GIS?, Map Anatomy, Vector vs Raster datasets, Cartographic principles) are general and basic enough to ultimately be timeless. Even the technical explanations are presented in such a way that they too will not become obsolete quickly. The URL links are the only things that may become questionable, and as such, will need to be checked and updated.
The book is written very well. The headings, examples and figures provided in the first chapter are lighthearted keeping the tone of the book friendly and fun. The discussion of each chapter's topic is both clear and concise.
The book is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
The book makes it easy to assign any GIS topic in any order. The understanding of the material in one chapter does not depend on previous chapters. There are places, however, where the reader is referred to previous chapters where a definition and/or discussion of a term is located.
The organization of the book make sense. Chapters cover one topic and are broken down into subsections. Each subsection is preceded by bulleted "Learning Objectives" with "Key Takeaways" provided at the end.
I saw only two instances of where images had gone awry; pages 248 and 256. The information is not lost but the image is too large for the page. The bookmark navigation within the pdf is correct.
I saw no grammatical errors. However, there were several references within chapters 9 and 10 (citations and figures) that were omitted.
I don't believe "Essentials of Geographic Information Systems" to be offensive to anyone. The examples used in the cartography chapter, 9, are relevant to US elections.
I will use this book next year for my introduction graduate level course, Understanding Geographic Information Systems. It would be nice if the citations and figures within the last two chapters are corrected before then.
The book is comparable in scope to many GIS texts on the market, and would provide students with a level of detail appropriate for an introductory course. Its straight-forward explanations and emphasis on cartographic literacy make it a... read more
The book is comparable in scope to many GIS texts on the market, and would provide students with a level of detail appropriate for an introductory course. Its straight-forward explanations and emphasis on cartographic literacy make it a particularly strong choice for non-geography majors. In addition, the text covers some topics that are often excluded or glossed-over by other authors. I particularly appreciated the last two chapters on cartographic principles and project management. Although many introductory texts mention cartography, I have found that few explain it in sufficient detail to allow students to make consistent, informed choices when designing map products. The last chapter is similarly important for students wishing to pursue a career in GIS, who will be happy to have a basic knowledge of project management before landing their first GIS job. This text provides a solid introduction for students of many disciplines, as well as for working professionals who need to understand the strengths and limitations of GIS. Unfortunately, its usefulness as a potential reference resource is hampered by the book’s lack of a glossary or index.
I did not find any errors or evidence of bias.
The text explains the fundamental concepts of GIS, with a few references to emerging trends and technologies. It should remain relevant over the long-term, with a few judicious updates. However, the book includes many URL’s which would need to be checked and updated regularly.
The book does not assume any prior knowledge of the topic, beyond the basic map skills familiar to any adult. The writing is clear and understandable, without either talking down to the reader or using unnecessary jargon.
The book’s framework is consistent and useful. Every chapter includes an introduction and three of four subsections, each of which begins with one or more learning objectives, followed by topic headings, “key takeaways,” and exercises. Terminology is used consistently throughout.
The text does a nice job of using pop-ups associated with keywords to orient readers to definitions that have been covered in other chapters. For more in-depth coverage of concepts, the reader is referred to the appropriate chapter and section. These references are generally useful, but some of them seem unnecessary and might prove annoying if the chapters were assigned in a different order.
The topics within each chapter are organized in a logical order, as are the chapters themselves, with the possible exception of chapter nine. I would have preferred to keep the cartographic principles covered in chapter nine together with the information on “map anatomy,” which is located it the second chapter.
The pdf version of the book lacks a table of contents, which would make navigation much easier. However, the html version of the text begins with a hyperlinked table of contents, which includes separate links for each chapter and subsection. Furthermore, each portion of the book contains links to the previous section, next section, and back to the table of contents, making navigation easy and intuitive. Unfortunately, the in-text references to other chapters do not work as hyperlinks, as they were apparently intended to. The html version also includes bolded key terms that provide pop-up definitions for each term. There is also a Word version of the book available from http://www.saylor.org/books/. Although this version does not currently contain a table of contents, the text is organized under appropriate section headers, which would allow instructors to easily rearrange contents and construct a custom, hyperlinked table of contents. The word version also includes references in footnotes, rather than including them in the body of the text, improving the flow (references are cited in the body of the pdf and html versions). Unfortunately, the word version does not highlight keywords, which would likely be a problem for some students.
I did not find any grammatical errors.
The text is written in an inclusive and inoffensive manner.
The book covers all the essentials of GIS as its title says, and more so. The most comprehensive parts of the book are chapters 2 through 8 which cover Maps and Cartography, the differences between Data and Information, where to find data, Data... read more
The book covers all the essentials of GIS as its title says, and more so. The most comprehensive parts of the book are chapters 2 through 8 which cover Maps and Cartography, the differences between Data and Information, where to find data, Data models, Geospatial Data Management, Data descriptions and summaries, and Geospatial vector and raster analysis. These points are well presented, clear and easy to follow. The information is also general enough (and fundamental) and will not need to be updated soon. The last two chapters on Cartographic principles and GIS Project Management, are not always as thoroughly covered as they could be in basic GIS classes that I have reviewed and these two chapters are a welcome addition to the basic GIS coverage of the book. The first chapter where information related to the background of GIS is covered is adequate, but not as well organized as I had expected, especially on reflection after having read and reviewed the whole book. The first chapter doesn't introduce a definition of GIS until the third section. I found this slightly annoying as I felt that a first time reader would be slightly lost, not having a definition of the subject that the textbook is covering. When the definition of GIS is discussed it is discussed through an overview of the 'three approaches to GIS'. For my class when I teach it I prefer to augment this type of discussion with an explanation of my preference for what 'GIS' is. The second chapter does a nice job of overviewing maps and cartography and is useful as presented. In this chapter I would have also liked to see a more thorough discussion of moving from 3-D space to 2-D space and at least a mention of the the geoid, eillipsoid and more discussion of datums. A list of datums used worldwide would be a nice addition as an appendix. Another weakness to the book, but one that the authors cannot fix, is the way that the textbook is presented thorough umn.edu as it is without a title page, author page, or table of contents. This is a weakness to the presentation of the book and to the use of the book. It makes it more complicated for the user to assign specific chapters to students (as I like to do). Overall I would recommend this book for use in an intro GIS class or as a basic reference for the casual user (and have already done so). All the essentials are there and if the lecturer mixes and matches the chapters to their specific classroom flow, it will be a good complement to a class on GIS.
I didn't find any inaccuracies in the book. Concepts are clearly and accurately explained. The examples to the vector and raster analysis, and data models are very nicely laid out.
The book is general enough that it will not be outdated quickly as a basic text. However some of the online links are no longer up / available. That is a minor annoyance if one wants to click through to the book's linked examples.
From chapters 2 through 9 I found the explanations offered in the book very clear and concise and easily understood. Chapter 1 could be reorganized to provide a clearer introduction to the subject.
Except for the reversal of the order that vector and raster data and analysis are talked about from chapter to chapter I found the book consistent in its presentation.
Each chapter covers one subject. It would be easy to use the chapters as stand alone additions to a lecture course on GIS. However, the lack of a table of contents makes it harder to gain an overview of the modules and harder to direct the students to the specific chapter of interest.
The books organization is logical and consistent (expect for chapter 1).
It is easy to navigate through the book, although a table of contents and index would help with this aspect. The images and charts are easy to look at, expect for figure 1.6 which seems to run off of the page.
The book is well written with few grammatical errors.
No cultural problems jumped out at me as I was reading it. Examples are drawn from all over the world and overall culture is discussed neutrally in the book.
Overall this book covers the basics of GIS and can be easily and usefully adopted into an introductory GIS course. It is a very good alternative to the more expensive GIS texts which are otherwise available.
A new textbook covering fundamentals of geographic information systems (GIS) may cost a buyer between $25 and $150. Geographers Dr. Jonathan Campbell and Dr. Michael Shin have delivered an open textbook alternative to students and professionals.... read more
A new textbook covering fundamentals of geographic information systems (GIS) may cost a buyer between $25 and $150. Geographers Dr. Jonathan Campbell and Dr. Michael Shin have delivered an open textbook alternative to students and professionals. Compared to the paid for versions I am familiar with, their version is comprehensive with no sacrifice of content. The authors begin with a chapter on spatial thinking. They describe geographic questions before moving into a discussion in Chapter 2 on “Map Anatomy.” In this chapter, on page 24, is the actual definition of GIS—perhaps a bit too far into the text to adequately explain GIS. Chapters 3 through 8 pry deeper into the world of GIS. Chapter 3 covers the way data and information from various sources coalesce to move us from analog to digital maps. Chapter 4 covers the basic data models—vector and raster (order of the two models is not consistent in the text)—used in GIS, while chapters 5 and 6 detail how we manage information and work the data to make it visually accessible. Chapters 7 and 8 explain some basic analysis capabilities within information systems for vector and raster data models. Chapter 9 diverges from the discussion of GIS and introduces readers to basic cartographic principles. Campbell and Shin conclude their textbook with Chapter 10 and a discussion on management of GIS projects. The PDF version lacks an index and a glossary, which would benefit readers, particularly since GIS is such a jargon-filled tool.
The content is accurate and unbiased.
Campbell and Shin took care in making general statements about the application and use of GIS, which will help sustain this book. Some of the website links the authors placed in the text, on the other hand, have already broken (see pgs. 19 and 101, for example). Adoptees and readers, of course, will want to supplement the text with short articles on advancements in geospatial technologies, as the authors advise in Chapter 1.
This textbook is easy to follow and the inherent technical jargon of GIS is explained well. Repetitive sentences and unnecessary phrasing, however, abound, and a few of the context examples the authors provide are too in-depth for an introductory textbook. Such examples are more suitable for a GIS module/lab book.
Terms used in the text and the framework stay consistent for the most part. There is a noticeable variance in the ordering of discussions about the two types of basic data models in the textbook. In Chapter 4, the subsections are 4.1 Raster, 4.2 Vector, and 4.3 Satellite Imagery and Aerial Photography. But in the data model analysis chapters (7 and 8), vector appears first in Chapter 7.
The authors did an excellent job of partitioning the text. Not only do chapters contain subheadings to guide the reader, but each chapter is broken up into three to four subsections—5.1, 5.2, 5.3, for example. The length of these subsections will serve well the needs of instructors as they assign course readings or of professionals looking to brush up on their GIS terminology. The chapters can easily be rearranged to meet the needs of the user.
Aside from the raster/vector order discrepancy already mentioned, the general flow and organization within the chapters is fine. However, the chapter flow is interrupted with Chapter 9’s placement. The information in Chapter 9 would fit better after Chapter 2 or as the conclusion to the book.
Overall, the text is satisfactory. Some images and tables, however, have awkward breaks between the pages, such as the Exercise Table on pages 119 to 120. The PDF document I downloaded from the Open Textbook Library at the University of Minnesota lacked the table of contents and the list of figures and tables, and the blue links (or at least that is what I thought they were) on certain captions, endnotes, and figures for navigating the PDF did not work. In Chapter 2, the authors placed a box at the end of the chapter called a “Waypoint,” which contained an intriguing dialogue on satellite images. The authors could place more of these boxes throughout the text to showcase the power of geospatial technologies.
Grammatical errors were minimal, but several words and sentences could be removed to make the book more concise.
The text is culturally relevant and not offensive. Branching out and discussing what other countries and unions are doing with geospatial technology, particularly regarding satellite data collection, would add to the overall picture the authors present on GIS.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Map Anatomy
- Chapter 3: Data, Information, and Where to Find Them
- Chapter 4: Data Models for GIS
- Chapter 5: Geospatial Data Management
- Chapter 6: Data Characteristics and Visualization
- Chapter 7: Geospatial Analysis I: Vector Operations
- Chapter 8: Geospatial Analysis II: Raster Data
- Chapter 9: Cartographic Principles
- Chapter 10: GIS Project Management
About the Book
About the Contributors
Jonathan E. Campbell is a GIS analyst and biologist based in the Los Angeles office of ENVIRON. ENVIRON is an international environmental and health sciences consultancy that works with its clients to manage their most challenging environmental, health, and safety issues and attain their sustainability goals. Dr. Campbell has twelve years of experience in the application of GIS and biological services in conjunction with the implementation of environmental policies and compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. He has extensive experience collecting, mapping, and analyzing geospatial data on projects throughout the United States. He holds a PhD in geography from UCLA, an MS in plant biology from Southern Illinois University—Carbondale and a BS in environmental biology from Taylor University. He has been an adjunct professor of GIS and physical geography courses at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Santa Monica College,
Michael Shin is an associate professor of geography at UCLA. He is also the director of UCLA’s professional certificate program in Geospatial Information Systems and Technology (GIST) and cochair of the Spatial Demography Group at the California Center for Population Research (CCPR). Michael earned his PhD in geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) and also holds an MA in geography and a BA in international affairs from CU as well. Michael teaches Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, Intermediate GIS, Advanced GIS, and related courses in digital cartography, spatial analysis, and geographic data visualization and analysis. He was also recently nominated to receive UCLA’s Copenhaver Award, which recognizes faculty for their innovative use of technology in the classroom. Much of Michael’s teaching materials draw directly from his research interests that span a range of topics from globalization and democracy to the social impacts of geospatial technology. He has also worked with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and USAID to explore and examine food insecurity around the world with GIS.