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Introducing Boundless Desktop 1.1 GIS Software

Every GIS software release is a labor of love (and sweat glands, and coffee makers).

After nine months of hard work from our very passionate Boundless development team, I’m proud to debut our latest version of Boundless Desktop, 1.1. GIS software.

For those less familiar, Boundless Desktop is our professional, commercially supported desktop GIS. Its mission: make desktop GIS simple, affordable, and open. Our users work with Desktop to manage, visualize, analyze, and share geospatial data across operating systems and apps.

More technically, Desktop mapping software is a supported bundle of mature open source projects (QGIS and pgAdmin, to name a few), and extra tools, content, and analytical services through Boundless plugins. We offer this collection of tools in a single, simple install; and together with a central location for discovering geospatial content, you can be more productive working with less friction.

Our main goal with this release: integrate Desktop with other Boundless and partner technologies to give a seamless experience you’d expect from a modern GIS. To that end, we’ve added connectors to Planet imagery and Mapbox basemap services to make it easy to discover premium data without leaving QGIS; a Mapbox GL style library for seamless styling between the desktop and the web; and tighter integration with the Boundless Connect portal, among other improvements.

Boundless GIS Desktop Packaging

Here are some release highlights in more detail:

Desktop 1.1 includes the latest long-term release of QGIS, version 2.18. This QGIS release includes many enhancements to styling, labeling and processing, with thousands of QGIS project commits contributed by the Boundless GIS Desktop team. QGIS 2.18 is the last officially supported release of the QGIS 2.X series before the major upgrade to QGIS 3.0.

We’ve also updated the Connect plugin interface to make it simpler to search our ecosystem for knowledge, basemaps, and plugins (and we have plans for more goodies to come!).

Boundless Connect Learning & Lessons  

Esri Data Interoperability

QGIS 2.18 natively reads Map and Feature Services published by ArcGIS Server in Esri REST format. Esri data interoperability leverages your investment in ArcGIS Server, while migrating to Boundless Desktop on the front end.

Boundless GIS Adding ArcGis Map Server Layer

Geospatial Imagery

We’re laser-focused on adding geospatial imagery support over the next several releases to make it easier to discover and work with GIS data in one place. At version 1.1, this includes monthly basemaps from Planet and an imagery basemap from Mapbox.

Desktop 1.1 also introduces a new Image Discovery plugin. The plugin makes it easy to search for GIS imagery from any image catalog endpoint (local or remote) based on area, date acquired, off-nadir angle, cloud cover percentage, and sensor type.

Boundless Desktop Geospatial Imagery

GIS Basemaps

Boundless has partnered with several GIS basemap providers, and now includes easy access to geospatial basemaps through the Connect plugin.  Search for your GIS basemap in the Connect plugin, and add it to your display to quickly get started.

At Desktop 1.1, users can load the Mapbox Streets layer into your QGIS project by default upon startup. This makes it easy to get started with your GIS project without needing to track down data first.  

Boundless Desktop Bundles MapBox GL Style Library

In an effort to standardize symbology across the Boundless ecosystem, Desktop 1.1 now bundles the MapBox GL Style library.  This styling library is becoming the defacto library across the geospatial community, and Boundless is implementing it across its entire product line.  This makes it easier to publish a map from Desktop, to Server, and into a web or mobile device without style loss due to conversion of styles between applications.

Terrain Analysis Toolbar

Desktop 1.1 introduces a new Terrain Analysis toolbar, which moves commonly used terrain analysis tools (hillshade, slope, viewshed, etc) onto a single toolbar for easy access. This makes it easier to find and use tools needed for terrain analytics when you’re doing repeatable work.

Boundless Connect Lesson

We’ve added a Boundless Connect lesson that shows how to login, search, browse, and visualize Boundless Connect content, including loading the Mapbox Streets basemap.

Web App Builder (WAB)

At Desktop 1.1, the WAB has been updated to automatically compile web apps from the desktop using a new SDK compiler service. This compiler services removes the need to have to install SDK locally to use web applications created with the WAB.

Boundless Desktop Security

Our latest enhancement includes Boundless Desktop security. Users working in secure environments will notice Desktop 1.1 includes several enhancements to PKI support, so Desktop works in more PKI-enabled environments.

We have also packaged a Master Password Helper, which removes the need to enter the Master Password each time you log into QGIS. While useful as a keychain for all your secure services, we think most people shouldn’t need the master password enter it after every QGIS launch. Now, enter it once and the Helper stores it on your machine. You won’t be prompted again.

…We’ve been busy, and we’re looking ahead — please share your ideas with us on our Ideas portal – you just might see yours in our next release!


Alison Drain

Desktop Product Manager

Alison is passionate about making GIS simpler and user-focused. Her roots are in using Desktop GIS and if she can make one person's life a little easier, she's done her job. And in her next life, she's playing more tennis.