The landscape of geospatial software, listed by categories.
GDAL, Geospatial Data Abstraction Library, in C++, raster/vector format translation;
GEOS, C/C++ port of JTS and CGAL;
GeoTools: Java Topology Suite (JTS), geometry processing library;
Coordinate Reference System transformation:
PROJ.4, conversions between geographic coordinates (longitude-latitude) and map projection coordinates (cartesian), also supports datum transformation; (Parameter List; Executable Documentation)
GDAL was originally developed by Frank Warmerdam in 1998, until maintenance transferred to OSGeo in 2006.
GeoTools is an open source (LGPL) Java code library
which provides standards-compliant methods for the manipulation of geospatial data.
GeoTools is used by many Web Feature Servers, Web Map Servers, and desktop applications.
A list of projects provided on GeoTools wiki is:
uDig, Spearfish, Sound Velocity, WorldImageReader, NOAA/NCDC Java NEXRAD Viewer, Virtual GIS village,
Balloon Project, Spatial Data Integrator, AtlasStyler, GeoPublisher.
CGAL (C++ Geometric Algorithms Library) is a software project that provides easy access
to efficient and reliable geometric algorithms in the form of a C++ library.
CGAL is used in various areas needing geometric computation, such as geographic information systems,
computer aided design, molecular biology, medical imaging, computer graphics, and robotics.
Programming Language Support
for markup and tag-based languages: minidom, ElementTree, WKT
GeoNode - Geospatial Content Management System (CMS)
Cartaro - Geospatial Content Management System (CMS)
There's a slew of destop GIS software, but I recommend sticking to the best.
If you are really attempted to see how they differ from each other, here's a Desktop GIS Comparison Matrix nicely curated by Dragons8mycat.
ArcGIS can be used for research, but no commercial use is allowed.
advantage of ArcGIS over Python (svg/xml)
data only available in ArcGIS format
ArcGIS online: Free online GIS software for basic mapping
Leavey Library PCs have ArcGIS & ATLAS.ti [Windows GUI for text analysis].
ST-Links (commercial license):
AlignmentKit - linear reference mapping
SpatialKit - directly connecting to spatial databases
ArcMap/map document (.mxd) contain display properties of the geographic information,
and optional customizations and macros.
ArcGIS layer file (.lyr) stores the path to a source dataset,
and other layer properties including symbology.