If you are going to develop a GIS application based on Microsoft .NET Framework, there are 2 two free/open source libraries which you can use out of the box. The first one is DotSpatial and the second one is Easy GIS .NET. Both of them offer complete features and easy integration in your Microsoft .NET application.
Both DotSpatial and Easy GIS .NET are able to render ESRI .shp map files and manipulate the data to be used and customized on your .NET application. So if you’re going to develop your own customized GIS application, then they are good companion to start with.
DotSpatial is a geographic information system library written for .NET 4. It allows developers to incorporate spatial data, analysis and mapping functionality into their applications or to contribute GIS extensions to the community. DotSpatial provides a map control for .NET.
More information: http://dotspatial.codeplex.com/
Easy GIS .NET
Easy GIS .NET is a suite of LGPL open source GIS and mapping .NET 2.0 controls and components written for developers. Includes mapping and .NET Shapefile Controls for use in Windows Forms and ASP .NET applications.
More information: http://www.easygisdotnet.com/
Which one is the best for me? DotSpatial offer more complex and more complete feature in GIS, and it is also better designed library to:
- Display a map in a .NET Windows Forms or Web application.
- Open shapefiles, grids, rasters and images.
- Render symbology and labels
- Reproject on the fly
- Manipulate and display attribute data
- Scientific analysis
- Read GPS data
But Easy GIS .NET offer simpler basic feature than DotSpatial and offer library for ASP.NET so it can be used online (on a web-based application). For you who are the first timer in GIS (like me), then Easy GIS .NET is a good start. If you are an expert in GIS and wanting more exploration challenge in .NET GIS programming then DotSpatial is more suitable.
Don’t forget, both libraries are requires Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (.NET Framework 4.0). So, if you have Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 or older, then you may have to upgrade to Visual Studio 2010 before you’d be able to use them. Happy Coding!