After some years working along with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) experts -I’m not- I decided to do my first steps in this amazing world.
So, to get a record of this, here is a step-by-step procedure of what I did to start on the GIS world.
I’ve chosen the QGIS as main GIS software. Why? It’s opensource, cross-platform, allows python scripting and has a good community of users.
I’ve downloaded some shapes and rasters from http://www.naturalearthdata.com/
A shapefile is a popular geospatial vector data format for geographic information system (GIS) software. It is developed and regulated by Esri as a (mostly) open specification for data interoperability among Esri and other GIS software products. The shapefile format can spatially describe vector features: points, lines, and polygons, representing, for example, water wells, rivers, and lakes. Each item usually has attributes that describe it.
A raster image is a dot matrix data structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium (to clarify, is a common uncompressed georeferenciated -needed for GIS- image)
In this case, I get a cross-blended hypsometric tints raster image of the world, with EPSG:4326 – WGS 84 coordiate reference system (same as shapefiles to get the geospatial matching) and shapefiles of the roads, countries, populated spaces and urban areas.
You must create a new project on QGIS, add new vectorial and raster layers, change the layer properties (style, color, transparency, etc, …) and voilà!