Gis Fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems Paperback – Jun 30 2007
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GIS Fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems, 3rd edition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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 Lo and Yeung's is good and clearly written, although a bit out of date.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.
The writing is very dense. And it isn't dense in a good way. The author will go over simple concepts in excruciating detail meanwhile glossing over more complicated material. I suppose it was written in this way to build a good foundation with the basics while touching upon more advanced concepts. In regards, to completing assignments though, I find myself going on the internet to clarify confusing concepts rather than using the book and often times I find contradictory information.
The figures in the book would be helpful if they had a bit more explanation in the narrative.
This book also suffers from poor editing. Charts and graphs use Comic San font (which isn't the most professional font out there and it has gained some chuckles from our classmates). There are many typos and the index might as well not exist. Instead of drudging through the dense material looking for a particular concept, I usually just turn onto the internet because the index is not helpful at all.
If you're new to GIS, this book might not be helpful. However, if you already have some background in programming this book may serve as a good reference. Otherwise, I would pass this text up.