I have long lived in the desktop realm of ESRI, and expect ESRI products to be a part of my workflow for a long time to come. But, the time has come to delve in deeply with Quantum GIS. I’ve read from many sources that it has come of age as a desktop GIS. I tried it 4 years ago, along with its competitors in the Open Source desktop GIS world, and was unimpressed. Consider me convinced.
So why now? Why try QGIS again? I had a unpaid side project (church volunteer work). Unpaid one-off projects inspire the use of FOSS tools. That said, the tool is likely to now be part of my paid work flow as well. It was easy to use, easy to compose a decent looking map in very little time, had nice tools for labeling and line rendering, as well as sane and useful defaults. The one flaw I found was for a large format print (I wanted 24″x36″) the exported PDF was prohibitively large (158 Mb). As I was working on a Mac, I simply printed to PDF with fine results and a reasonable file size (1.6 Mb).