15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been a GIS professional for > 12 years, and I don't think there is a better book if you want to know what you are actually doing in GIS operations, particularly at a cost that appears to approximately half or less than alternative basic books. I use ArcGIS every day, and ArcGIS/ESRI books are fine for learning the software. I've found these kind of books useful, but only for telling me how to do things, rather than what I should do, or to troubleshoot problems or understand data I get from various sources. The Arc books have a short shelf life, because the buttons to push and menus to access change with each version of the software (anyone living through the 3.3 to 8.x to 9.x to 10.x knows what I'm talking about), and ArcGIS focused books aren't too useful for the half the market that uses different softwares (QGIS, MapWindow, Manifold, IDRISI, etc. users out there). More importantly, most of those books don't tell you why you're doing something, or how to choose among the various method you might apply.
Bolstad's GIS Fundamentals book is a pretty complete summary of all the important background material you need to use GIS intelligently, e.g., to figure out why your state plane data don't line up, or the difference between an international foot and a survey foot, or when you should use a convex hull vs. a kernel-based influence area. Sure it is a basic book, and you'll have to follow the references to really understand some of the more arcane nuances of GIS, but this book provides a solid foundation. There are chapters on basic data structures, map projections, GPS, images, and digital data which are quite helpful, and a good description of tables and tabular data queries, with great chapters on the basics of vector operations, raster, and terrain analysis. I find myself using this as a reference at least each week. Beware of differences in editions, there are at least three out there, and the latest is always the best.
There are other books I own that are about as good, but I don't find myself using for various reasons. Heywood, Cornelius, and Carver is pretty clear and complete, but with a British focus, and a bit more expensive. Lo and Yeung's is good and clearly written, although a bit out of date. Andy Mitchell's books on spatial analysis are pretty good, but there are holes in both combined (nothing on data entry, little on DBMS), and they are somewhat ESRI-centric. Clarke's book is a bit too introductory, with incomplete coverage for a reference book, and the various offerings by Chang, Kennedy, and the ESRI Press focus more on the software, and less on the ideas behind it.
Every GIS professional that wants to understand what they are doing should own a few basic books, and I find GIS Fundamentals to be complete, clear, and inexpensive to boot, great for helping a beginner understand the basics, and as a reference on any professional's bookshelf. You will probably still need to buy a training manual for the specific software you use, but given the generally low price of this 640 page book, GIS Fundamentals is well worth it.