10 utils to make opensource gis that little bit easier

In the same vain as my other ArcIMS thread, here are my top 10 utilities (ok so its not really ten) for making my life with OGC apps that little bit easier. If i have missed any which you recommend, please let me know. I have tried to cut the list down to what i think are useful, as there are unfortunately a lot of applications which are not worth the trouble or are incredibly outdated (sorry freegis.org, but the list needs culling guys).

My first and most important tip when getting into opensource GIS …. do not give up. Yes, the documentation is poor most of the time, finding information or help is often frustrating but you will get there. Just the other day i found a solution to a problem i have been having in mapserver in a 2 year old newsgroup post. The information is there, you just gotta dig a little. Carn devs, lets move to a more web based forum instead of increpid old mailinglist applications please.

Desktop Clients
GAIA A free .NET based application capable of consuming WFS / WMS / GML (variety of versions). Suffers from some apparent memory leaks, but otherwise is a great app to debug services.
CADCORP SIS An excellent WFS / WMS / WMC / GML desktop client with all the bells and whistles you could want, short of doing it yourself of course :)

Web Clients
Mapbender A PHP/JS frontend quite similar to mapbuilder, but in my eyes, a lot easier to play with / setup. Recommended for customisability and quick setup
Chameleon A highly customizable and adaptable environment for deploying and managing Web mapping applications
Ka-map A frontend that utilises XMLHTTPRequest and mapservers tile generation technology to create a responsive interface much like other AJAX apps such as Google maps or Yahoo maps

Server Applications
Mapserver A CGI (compiled c) application that leverages off existing opensource utilities such as GDAL / OGR and the PROJ4 library. Very quick, well supported.
Geoserver A J2EE application that supports WFS / WFS-T and WMS. Leverages off another opensource package, GeoTools. Excellent web-based configuration frontend, although suffers from lack of WMS features such as raster and SLD support. Highly recommended for WFS and Transactional WFS (WFS-T), WMS support gaining momentum at every release
Deegree Another Java based app, with support for nearly all the major OGC standards. I have only had the pleasure of using the deegree WMS server, but their iGeoPortal product definately looks interesting.
PostGIS Adds support for geographic objects to PostgreSQL. Its a free, opensource alternative to Oracle Spatial / ESRI ArcSDE. Unfortunately i have had little background in using PostGIS, but it comes highly recommended if you do not have the $$ or would like an alternative spatial rdbms, get this.

Server Application Utilities
CITE A test suite is designed to exercise WFS and WMS servers against the requirements in the technical specifications. Its quite funny (or sad) how difficult it is to find the developers CITE results. They might say they are compliant, but trying to find the evidence is another matter.
Maplab Another product in the maptools.org line, maplab assists in the creation, editing and deployment of mapserver mapfiles. The web frontend for creating map files is great for newbies, or for checking changes as you go. The deployment app. (using ROSA) isnt too bad for a quick job either.
Open Geospatial Where would my list be if i didnt list the consortium that gave birth to these standards. Word of warning, the server applications whilst maybe being OGC compliant, often have their own methods of implementing them and or, can also include a lot of extra features. Remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat :)

Conversion utilities
ESRI ArcMap -> UMN Mapserver Similar to GIX, but can convert MXD to mapserver map files instead. Again, be wary. Converting can sometimes be time saving but never assume its going to work straight out the box. Some editing will always be required.
ESRI Arcview -> UMN Mapserver GIX is a great tool for converting arcview projects into a variety of formats (including .map files). Unfortunately the project is not updated as frequently as the mapserver application so it does convert redundant or incorrect syntax. (Still quicker to edit, than to create it from scratch). It also creates referenced reference images and retains any symbology or class definitions. Great tool to have in the belt

… and most important of all, a decent text editor. I recommend ultraedit or textpad. Do not skimp on this, as this is your holy grail. A poor text editor will surely give you headaches in the road ahead :)

If you are having any troubles with anything OGC please get in touch. If i cant solve it, i will hopefully be able to point you in the right direction.

As for those who are interested in the status of Mapserver vs. Geoserver performance benchmarks, they are proceeding nicely. Hopefully we will have some publically available documents for everyone to have a look at soon. The results are not nearly as close as i was expecting ..