I work with an acronym of my own invention: LINIQES. Elegant, yes?!? No, clumsy as heck. But here's what it stands for.
If you can do these seven things with GIS (or Google Earth, or any piece of software, really), you're good to go. We're going to work through LINIQES several times this session until you've got a grip on GIS.
To help, I'm going to work back and forth between Google Earth and My World GIS. You know these concepts in Google Earth already; now you're going to see them in the new environment of GIS.
LOAD My World by launching the program; load some data (e.g., US Counties) by doing a click-and-drag from the "Data Library" column into the "Layer List" column
INTERFACE: How does this thing look? What's the logic of its parts?
- See zones, compare to Google Earth
- See tabs, compare to...?
NAVIGATE: How do you move around the dataset?
- Try the hand tool
- ...+/- magnifying glasses
- ...draw a box with a magnifying glass
- ...flip forward / backward to previous extents
- ...go to layer extent
INSPECT: How can you learn more about what you're looking at?
- Click on the "Visualize" tab, if you haven't already.
- Find the little "i", find Lehigh and Northampton counties, Philadelphia county, plus any other counties you love. (Don't forget to select the correct layer in the left-hand stack! That's how it know which dataset to look at.)
- You can also look at the whole spreadsheet of data; just click on the icon that looks like a table.
QUERY: I don't just want to look at it, I want to get fancy! Analyze this sucker! Make it tell me a story!
- Go to 'Analyze' tab, Select by value, counties whose State contains Pennsylvania. I recommend always saving as a new layer, at least until you know what you're doing.
- But can also do analysis of sorts on the Visualize tab: Do Fill Color by Population
- ...and back to Analyze, do a population density
EDIT: I like this data, but...I want MOOOOOOOORE DATA!!!!! How do I get more data in here?
- (I'm actually going to do this later. For right now, just look at the Edit tab and what can be displayed; we'll come back to this)
SAVE: This has been fun. How can I save this so I can go away and come back to it later?
- As you would expect: File > Save Project As. (I always recommending saving versions of projects as you go along.)
- Something you didn't expect: See what happens when you un-click "Compress Into a Single File"
That was our first run through LINIQES. Since doing it once isn't enough (and since I didn't do the whole thing, we'll do it again, in the next step.