QGIS has gained significant momentum over the last few years and has now become a serious contender on the desktop GIS solution front. In fact, although I have access to the latest fully loaded version of ArcMap, I am almost exclusively using QGIS on a daily basis. I am excited to see what new plugins will emerge as the software moves from strength to strength.
If you have not already done so, download a copy of the latest QGIS release, I guarantee you will be impressed.
One of my favorite plugins is the OpenLayers plugin, it is listed under plugins and takes seconds to install, it then appears under the web menu item in the top tool bar and enables you to add your favorite base map to the view. Choices include the likes of Apple, Bing, Google, OSM and Yahoo.
A while back I was searching for a QGIS plugin alternative to ArcScene as many folks are reporting software crashes and associated frustrations. I came across one or two plugins but they appeared to require a lot of work on the setup side and I knew this complexity would be enough to deter users from making the switch.
Recently, I revisited my search and came across the Qgis2threejs plugin by Minoru Akagi who is also responsible for the TileLayer plugin. From the plugin about section:
Qgis2threejs plugin exports terrain data, map canvas image and vector data to your web browser. You can view exported 3D objects on web browser which supports WebGL. This plugin makes use of three.js library.
I was blown away by the simplicity of the GUI and the quality of the output. Highlights for me were the ability to drape OpenLayer coverage over a DEM and because the output is viewed in a web browser which supports WebGL, it is possible for people to view the output independently of QGIS. With the first version having been released in Dec 2013 and the most recent version in May of 2014 it appears to be sitting stable. My biggest criticism is of the plugin is its icon, which is a dark blue polygon on a light blue background, but, with a plugin as good as this, the associated icon aesthetics can be overlooked.
The Qgis2threejs plugin is an outstanding QGIS plugin, please try it and get the word out there, I hope we see a lot more from Minoru Akagi in the near future.