Ruby for Geographic Information Systems (GIS)


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) involve the capture, storage, analysis, and visualization of geographical data. Ruby, with the help of specialized libraries, can be used for GIS-related tasks, making it a valuable tool for spatial analysis, map generation, and geospatial data management. In this guide, we'll explore how to use Ruby for GIS applications.


Before you start, make sure you have the following prerequisites:

  • Basic knowledge of the Ruby programming language
  • A code editor (e.g., Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text)
  • Familiarity with GIS concepts and data (e.g., shapefiles, spatial databases)

Step 1: Choose a GIS Library

Ruby has several libraries and gems that can be used for GIS applications. One popular option is the "RGeo" gem, which provides geospatial data capabilities and interfaces with popular GIS tools and databases. You can install it using RubyGems:

# Install the RGeo gem
gem install rgeo

Step 2: Working with Geospatial Data

You can use Ruby to work with geospatial data, such as shapefiles and geodatabases. Here's a sample Ruby code to read and display the geometries from a shapefile:

require 'rgeo'
require 'rgeo/shapefile'
# Open a shapefile for reading'path/to/your/shapefile.shp') do |file|
file.each do |record|
# Access the geometry of each record
geometry = record.geometry
puts "Geometry: #{geometry}"

Step 3: Spatial Analysis and Visualization

With Ruby and GIS libraries, you can perform spatial analysis tasks, such as calculating distances, finding intersections, and visualizing data on maps. Depending on your specific project, you can create maps and plots to visualize geospatial data.


Ruby is a capable language for GIS applications when combined with specialized libraries. Whether you're working on environmental research, urban planning, or any project that involves geographical data, Ruby can be a valuable tool for managing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial information.

As you delve deeper into the field of GIS, you can explore advanced topics such as geocoding, spatial databases, and custom GIS applications tailored to your specific needs.

Enjoy your journey in the world of Ruby and GIS, and harness the power of this language to work with geographical data.