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American Society of Landscape Architects


April 2005 Issue

Software You Can Play With
Open source software can be useful for landscape architects.

By James L. Sipes, ASLA

Software You Can Play With
Mark Shaver/

When my daughter, who was in kindergarten, came home one day and proudly stated, “Today we learned about sharing!” I was reminded of the title of a 1986 book, All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Apparently, my daughter was not the only one who learned that lesson, because a new generation of software developers believes that sharing is a good way to do business. They are promoting the concept of open source software, which is distributed under a license that guarantees the right of users to read, redistribute, modify, copy, and use the software freely. The basic idea behind open source software is that it will evolve and develop because of the input from everyone who uses it. “I think landscape architects could do most of what they need with open source. There are programs very similar to the ones we are used to using, but open source has so many advantages,” says Joe Blalock, ASLA, a landscape architecture professor at Ball State University in Indiana.

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