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Developer(s)52°North ILWIS Community
Stable release
3.8.5 / 3 September 2015; 3 years ago (2015-09-03)
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC++
Operating systemWindows
TypeGeographic information system

Integrated Land and Water Information System (ILWIS) is a geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing software for both vector and raster processing. Its features include digitizing, editing, analysis and display of data, and production of quality maps. ILWIS was initially developed and distributed by ITC Enschede (International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation) in the Netherlands for use by its researchers and students. Since 1 July 2007, it has been released as free software under the terms of the GNU General Public License.[1][2] Having been used by many students, teachers and researchers for more than two decades, ILWIS is one of the most user-friendly integrated vector and raster software programmes currently available. ILWIS has some very powerful raster analysis modules, a high-precision and flexible vector and point digitizing module, a variety of very practical tools, as well as a great variety of user guides and training modules all available for downloading. The current version is ILWIS 3.8.1. Similar to the GRASS GIS in many respects, ILWIS is currently available natively only on Microsoft Windows. However, a Linux Wine manual has been released.[3]


In late 1984, ITC was awarded a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which led to developing a geographic information system (GIS) which could be used as a tool for land use planning and watershed management studies. By the end of 1988, a DOS version 1.0 of the Integrated Land and Water Information System (ILWIS) was released. Two years later, ILWIS was made commercial with ITC establishing a worldwide distributors network. ILWIS 2.0 for Windows was released at the end of 1996, and ILWIS 3.0 by mid-2001. On 1 January 2004, ILWIS 3.2 was released as a shareware (one-month trial offer). Since July 1, 2007, ILWIS has been distributed as an open source software under GPL license.[4]

Release history[edit]

This table is based on [1].

Old Version Current Version Future Version
Branch Version Release date Significant changes
3.1 3.1 April 2002
Patch 3.11 September 2002 Direct import of Aster satellite images level 1a and 1b, including all needed geometric and radiometric corrections. This functionality is integrated in the Import Map Wizard.
Stereopair from DTM - Stereo pair from DTM operation creates a stereo pair from a single raster map and a Digital Terrain Model (DTM). These stereo pairs have the same usability as the Epipolar Stereo Pair.
Patch 3.12a August 2003 ID Grid map - creates a polygon map given a coordinate system and an attribute table. The polygon map consists of rectangular grid cells with a unique ID and can be linked to a table with attribute data when sample data is available.
Spherical Distance option was added to the operations Spatial Correlation, Cross Variogram, Nearest Point, Moving Average, Moving Surface, Kriging and CoKriging. This option calculates distances over the sphere instead of in a plane.
Export to ArcPad .PRJ - ILWIS coordinate systems can be exported to an ArcPad .prj file.
3.2 3.2 January, 2004 Spatial Multiple Criteria Evaluation (SMCE)
Hydrologic Flow Operations
Find Datum Parameters Wizard
GARtrip import
Patch 3.21 August, 2004 Extensions in Spatial Multiple Criteria Evaluation - slicing, histograms, aggregated values, and an improvement in class map standardization.
Improvement in calling external executable files - Support for parameter passing, wait-till-finished option and error handling, and inclusion in a script as part of a batch process.
Support for coordinates for images from the MeteoSat-8 satellite.
3.3 3.3 September 2005 The SMCE application extended with overlay of reference maps, combination of spatial and non-spatial MCE, and interactive function graphs for standardization.
Applications for DEM hydroprocessing implemented, like topological optimization, drainage network extraction, catchment extraction, horton statistics etc.
Georeferencing with additional supports up to 8 fiducial marks, sub-pixel precision and 3D coordinate transformations using 7 or 10 datum parameters.
Import and export using the GDAL library.
Projections for geostationary satellites.
Calculation and statistical functions for map lists.
3.4 3.4 Open July 1, 2007 GPL version from 52°North with proprietary components removed.
3.5 3.5 December 12, 2008 Introduction of plug-in system for applications. Started with the Geonetcast toolbox.
3.6 3.6 April 21, 2009 Refactoring of the whole vector system of Ilwis and with that a 25 new applications mainly, but not exclusively, about set operations on vector types. First implementation of the second generation Geonetcast toolbox.
3.7 3.7 March 25, 2010 Added number of new applications.
3.7.1 September 15, 2010 A number of bug fixes to ILWIS 3.7.
3.7.2 24 May 2011 A number of bug (from 3.7.1) fixes.
3.8 3.8 April 7, 2012 Massive rewrite of the whole visualization of maps. This rewrite expanded the tools for visual analysis substantially and improved the overall performance of the drawing process.
3.8.1 September 19, 2012 A number of bug fixes.
3.8.2 January 16, 2013 A number of bug (from 3.8.1) fixes as well as a few new features.
3.8.3 April 15, 2014 This release contains several bug (from 3.8.2) fixes as well as a few new features.
3.8.4 May 23, 2014 Several bug fixes, improvements and a few new features.
3.8.5 September 3, 2015 Several bug fixes, improvements and a few new features.
Layer visualization in ILWIS


ILWIS uses GIS techniques that integrate image processing capabilities, a tabular database and conventional GIS characteristics.[5] The major features include:

  • Integrated raster and vector design[6]
  • On-screen digitizing
  • Comprehensive set of image processing and remote sensing tools like extensive set of filters, resampling, aggregation, classifications. etc...
  • Orthophoto, image georeferencing, transformation and mosaicing
  • Advanced modeling and spatial data analysis
  • 3D visualization[7] with interactive zooming, rotation and panning. "Height" information can be added from multiple types of sources and isn't limited to DEM information.
  • Animations of spatial temporal data stacks with the possibility of synchronizartion between different animations.
  • Rich map projection and geographic coordinate system library. Optionally custom coordinate systems and on the fly modifications can be added.
  • Geostatistical analyses, with Kriging for improved interpolation[8]
  • Import and export using the GDAL/OGR library
  • Advanced data management
  • Stereoscopy tools - To create a stereo pair from two aerial photographs
  • Transparencies at many levels (whole maps, selections, individual elements or properties) to combine different data sources in a comprehensive way.
  • Various interfactive diagramming options: Profile, Cross section visualization, Hovmoller diagrams
  • Interactive value dependent presentation of maps ( stretching, representation)
  • Hydrologic Flow Operations
  • Surface energy balance operations through the SEBS module
  • GARtrip import - Map Import allows the import of GARtrip Text files with GPS data
  • Spatial Multiple Criteria Evaluation (SMCE)
  • Space time Cube. Interactive visualization of multiple attribute spatial temporal data.
  • DEM operations including iso line generation[9]
  • Variable Threshold Computation, to help preparing a threshold map for drainage network extraction
  • Horton Statistics,[10] to calculate the number of streams, the average stream length, the average area of catchments for Strahler stream orders
  • Georeference editors


The next major version of Ilwis will be based on the Ilwis NG framework (in development). This framework aims at being a connection hub between various heterogeneous data and processing sources (local-remote). Integrating them in a consistent way and presenting them in a unified to the end users (at both programming and user interface level). The framework will be cross platform (ILWIS is now limited to Windows only) and will be deployable on mobile devices.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ITC's GIS software ILWIS migrates to open source". 2007-01-30. Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  2. ^ "ILWIS 3.4 Open". 52°North. 2007-03-27. Archived from the original on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  3. ^ "ILWIS in Linux". World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  4. ^ "FOSS4G 2007 : ILWIS and 52°North: From closed source to open source and interoperable image services". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  5. ^ Spiteri (1997). Remote Sensing 96 Integrated Applications (1 ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 380. ISBN 90-5410-855-X.
  6. ^ Wim Koolhoven and Jelle Wind (1996). "Domains in ILWIS: system knowledge about meaning of data". Proceedings of the second joint European conference & exhibition on Geographical information, Barcelona, Spain. IOS Press. I: 77–80. ISBN 90-5199-268-8. OCLC 164762055.
  7. ^ A Partovi (2003). Suitability Study Of ASTER Data Geometry To Digitize Contour Lines In ILWIS (PDF). Master's degree thesis.
  8. ^ J Hendrikse (2000). "Geostatistics in ILWIS". International Archives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.
  9. ^ Nag, S. K. (2000). "Digital Elevation Modeling using ILWIS 2.1 in Parts of Purulia District, West Bengal. India". International Archives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. 33 (B$/2): 726–733. ISSN 0256-1840.
  10. ^ Quan, N. H. "Rainfall-runoff Modeling in the Ungauged Can Le Catchment, Saigon River Basin" (PDF).

External links[edit]