MapWindow is a Microsoft .NET based, extensible, open source, geographic information system (GIS) for the desktop. It has an active user community, and has been releasing new versions at a regular pace. It's plugin model allows developers to quickly create powerful, custom tools that can be streamlined for specific business purposes at a fraction of the cost when compared to more robust systems.
MapWindow is an excellent GIS package for those who want some basic GIS functionality. I find myself using MapWindow much more often than ArcMap for my day-to-day GIS work. It's just much quicker to start up and getting going with for my run of the mill GIS work.
The most recent 4.5 candidate offers a number of new plugins that are making MapWindow even better. Among them are:
- A Great Metadata creation, viewing, and editing tool.
- A GPS connection and tracking plugin.
- A connection to PostGIS data
- Google Geocoder Tool.
- Enhancements to the Shapefile Editor
These are in addition to a number of other plugin extensions that have already been made available.
And, of course, there is the Shape2Earth shareware plugin that converts GIS data to KML for viewing in Google Earth and Google Maps.