Spatial Reasoning for Effective GIS


Joseph K. Berry, Colorado State University


(1995, John Wiley Publishers)


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Online information at 



available for purchase online from and (about $95) 


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Most desktop mapping and GIS applications have focused on mapping and spatial data management for viewing and geo-query of mapped data.  Map analysis and GIS modeling involve entirely new spatial reasoning concepts and procedures that are not reflected in our paper map legacy.  This book discusses the new breed of map analysis tools and how they can be used to better characterize and communicate spatial relationships. Spatial Reasoning and its companion book, Beyond Mapping: Concepts, Algorithms and Issues in GIS (Berry, 1993), are based on Joe Berry’s popular "Beyond Mapping" columns in GIS World magazine.  The books are written for GIS professionals, as well as novices, in a witty style that entertains as well as informs. 


Spatial Reasoning explores the basic concepts of map analysis and discusses the fundamental elements of GIS that make it different from traditional map structure, content, processing and use.  The book encourages the reader to extend the historic role of maps telling us “Where is what?” to “So what?”  It is an invitation to consider the expanded capabilities of GIS and relate them to current operations thereby fostering an appreciation of GIS as an effective analytical tool in solving many complex spatial issues.  GIS is a new technology, and as such it presents new opportunities as well as new pitfalls.  This book engages the reader through incisive and relaxed discussion that investigates why GIS technology is “as different from as it is similar” to traditional map processing.


The book also contains an extensive resource appendix and a glossary of GIS terms written by Bruce L. Kessler, originally published in the Journal of Forestry.



The MapCalc software by BASIS provides hands-on exercises supporting the topics in this book.  Professional and Developer versions of the software are in development.  The Educational version, MapCalc Learner and support materials are available for free download from, see “Software” item.




-         MapCalc Learner with MapCalc and Surfer* tutorial systems, exercises/databases, and application examples; constrained 100 x 100 analysis frame; licensed for educational use.  Free download.


-         Instructor Materials containing lecture PowerPoint’s, additional exercises and exam questions/answers; multiple seat license for single computer lab; educational use only; two CD set; US$45.00 plus shipping and handling.


*Surfer is a popular surface modeling and 3D display package by Golden Software, Inc.  It is bundled with the educational version of MapCalc and provides complementary exercises.  For more information on Surfer, link to




Spatial Reasoning for Effective GIS


This is a collection of Joe Berry’s popular "Beyond mapping" columns published in GeoWorld from 1993 to 1996. In this compilation, Berry explores the development of geographic information systems (GIS) technology from maps that simply answered the question, "Where is it?" to systems that help us answer the question "Why is it?"  Spatial Reasoning further develops understanding of mapped data, data analysis procedures and the uses of maps.  This second book in the series keeps a reader moving beyond basic mapping.  The material presented in Spatial Reasoning is cross-referenced to the companion GIS Concepts Digital Slide Shows (gCON) and Tutorial Map Analysis Package (tMAP) software.  The gCON system is designed for self-learning map analysis concepts through slide sets demonstrating GIS procedures and applications.  The tMAP software program is designed for self-learning map analysis concepts through "hands-on" experience.

Note: The original gCON Digital Slides Shows have been replaced by the online MapCalc Description and Examples document and the tMAP software has been replaced by the MapCalc Learner software (free download at, under “Software”).



The Spatial Reasoning for Effective GIS book can be purchased online from and

For more information about the Spatial Reasoning book and supporting materials, contact:

 Berry & Associates // Spatial Information Systems (BASIS), Fort Collins, Colorado

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