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ILWIS is Open Source! Get the sources at our GitHub repositories:

What is ILWIS
ILWIS User Interface

ILWIS (The Integrated Land and Water Information System) is a Windows-based, integrated GIS and Remote Sensing (RS) open source software supporting:

  • Educational platform for teaching GIS and RS
  • Visualization of raster, vector and tabular data
  • Interactive retrieval of attribute information associated with spatial data
  • Manipulation of raster, vector and tabular data
  • Implementing/developing algorithms for air/space borne image data processing
  • GIS analytical tools
  • Python script language for automation of repetitive procedures
  • Modeling dynamic spatial systems behaviors using modeler tools
  • Calculations on raster and tabular data using Python command lines
  • Direct access to spatial and tabular data of any format (via connectors)
  • Multitask operations

ILWIS functionality for raster data: distance calculation, generating a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), calculation of slope/aspect, deriving attribute maps, classifying maps, crossing maps and mathematical manipulation of maps pixel values are few of many ILWIS functions. For satellite imagery it includes: sampling and classification, filtering, multi-band statistics. Moreover, ILWIS provides editing tools for spatial and tabular data calculation on data via integrating ILWIS objects in Python and connecting to external data and operations via source and operational connectors. Vector functionality is more limited but includes spatial transformatios, conversions (both ways) between raster and vector, vector set operations and spatial selections (a.o.).


In late 1984, ITC was awarded a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be spent on research benefiting land and water development in developing countries. ITC decided to concentrate these funds in a single multidisciplinary research project. This project investigated the methodology of a Geographical Information System which could be used as a tool for land use zoning and watershed management studies.
By the end of 1988, the project resulted in the official release of the DOS version 1.0 of the Integrated Land and Water Information System (ILWIS). ILWIS was launched commercially two years later. At the same time, ITC started up a distributors network to distribute ILWIS and to support its users worldwide. ILWIS 2.0 for Windows was released at the end of 1996. It was the first windows based version (windows 3.1) and had a radically different design from the earlier (1.0) version. With ILWIS 3.0, a more evolutionary step was taken. It ported the code to Win32 and contained many enhancements. It was released by mid 2001 and is still the core of the current ILWIS (3.8).
ILWIS was designed to respond to user demands of the ITC community and its network, to be low-cost, low-entry level and application oriented. Thus, entirely meeting one of ITC's main objectives, i.e. transferring appropriate technology to developing countries. After 2000, the development of ILWIS software was reoriented and ILWIS became more integrated into the ITC research program with the aim of enhancing ITC's research capacity and position. Active development of ILWIS was gradually reduced in 2002, because software development for a single ITC-unique project was no longer seen as sufficiently important to warrant the investment. The decision to release ILWIS as an open source product, in order to create better opportunities for the reuse and deployment of GIS functionality in a wider community, was made at the end of 2006.
As of July 1, 2007 ILWIS Open 3.X is available as 52°North free and open source software (GNU GPL). ILWIS is currently being renewed and transformed into a more modular platform called ILWIS-Objects along with a redesigned plug-in platform, APIs, and a desktop client (ILWIS 4).

ILWIS info

Latest version:
ILWIS 4 Alpha


Rob Lemmens, Martin Schouwenburg, Bas Retsios, Diana Chavarro Rincon, Willem Nieuwenhuis

Contact address

ILWIS, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)
PO Box 217,
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

General information


Bug reports:
Please send your remarks, suggestions and dicovered bugs to: