SAGA GIS is a stand alone program for processing geospatial data. It can be added to Qgis as a plugin under the Sextant tool bar in the options menu. In order for it to work in Qgis you need to have SAGA installed. SAGA is available for Windows and Linux users only at this time. The code has been released under FOSS or Free and Open Source Software so if you own a Mac and have experience with coding you can create this program for a Mac.
SAGA was started in 2001 by J. Böhner and O. Conrad and the University of Hamburg. SAGA stands for System for Automated Geoscientific Analysis. If you want to read more about the history and development you can check out the homepage.
For the remaining screenshots I will be using Ubuntu 13.04
When I open SAGA this is what is looks like. Pretty much a blank page with some menu options at the top and a message bar at the bottom.
Customization is fairly easy. Under the window you can choose what windows you wants open.
In the screenshots here. I have the windows all open within SAGA and the other I moved them outside. They will stay outside but if you move them too close to the main program they will snap back. The windows open are “Workspace” or the tools available. This is confusing because under the menu bar the same information is called modules. Then the file locations. And then a window that houses the most recent tool run.
The types of files you can load into SAGA are .CSV, .TXT and .shp files. It will also allow you to create projects.
It will allow you to bulk upload as many files as you need and once you do they appear in your workspace under the data window. There is not visual of the data in the main window. You can select thumbnail to see it. When clicking on different .shp files the open files window will update.
In this next graphic I did a lot of things. I used a point layer and ran the module Tin Tool>Shapes to Tin. It created a TIN file. Just to be clear it used triangular irregular network. I double clicked to have the image come up in the main window. You can look at the attribute table, change the color all from the top window. Note: The layers are saved using SAGA’s own extension, but there is the option to convert them if needed.
SAGA is something that could take forever to know %100 percent. At first glance this is a very powerful stand-alone GIS tool. I say stand-alone because it works great by it’s self. You have more tools in the module that anyone one person is ever going to need. Need a few simulations on the effect of human population, lightning analysis, and point clouds it has you covered. You have the option to add map layers and even create maps for printing. In Qgis by enabling the SAGA plugin you have some of the functionality. I did noticed a few tools missing. SAGA is not for the light user of any GIS system, it has one purpose and that is to analyze data.
A few resources/tutorials on using SAGA.