A Short History of the SAGA Development

Most past and current SAGA developments come from the team around J. Böhner and O. Conrad, both are now working at the Institute of Geography, Section for Physical Geography, Klimacampus and University of Hamburg, Germany. and accompanied the SAGA development from its very early beginnings.

The idea for the development of SAGA evolved in the late 1990s during the work on several research projects at the Dept. for Physical Geography, Göttingen. A research focus was the analysis of raster data, particularly of Digital Elevation Models (DEM), which have been used e.g. to predict soil properties, terrain controlled process dynamics as well as climate parameters. This required the development and implementation of many new methods for spatial analysis and modelling. The core group responsible for the development of methods, namely J.Böhner, O.Conrad, R.Köthe and A.Ringeler, was very heterogenous with regard to preferred operating systems, programming languages, development environments, data formats and so on, so that a common development platform with integrated support for geodata analysis promised to be a major enhancement for the whole team. And because there was no really satisfying development platform available at that time, SAGA has been created.

Of coarse it took a while until a first usable version had been prepared, but from that time the system has been contiously improved and it became established within the research team. After many discussions a decision has been made to publish SAGA as Free Open Source Software and to share its advantageous capabilities with geoscientists world wide. Since then SAGA got a growing world wide user community, which also led to many contributions from outside the developer core team.

With the aim to enable a sustainable long-term development covering the whole range of user interests, the SAGA User Group Association, a non-profit organisation, has been founded in May 2005. One of its tasks is the organisation of user group meetings, of which the first international one took place in July 2006 within the framework of the Conference and Exhibition on Applied Geoinformatics, AGIT in Salzburg, Austria.


2001 Begin of the SAGA development
2002-2003 SAGA becomes established as common tool of the team around J. Böhner
2004, February SAGA 1.0 is published as Open Source Software
2004, July SAGA 2 development begins
2004, August SAGA manual of V. Olaya
2005, January Foundation of the SAGA User Group Association
2005, March SAGA 2 runs under Linux
2006, July First International SAGA User Conference (AGIT Salzburg, Austria)
2007, June SAGA 2.0.0 is released

The SAGA Development Team

The research team around J. Böhner and O. Conrad represents still the center of the SAGA development and is located now at the Institute of Geography at the University of Hamburg, Germany, where J. Böhner has the chair for Physical Geography since 2007. Up to today most developments reflect the special research interests of this team, although - if time allows - developments of more general interest are addressed too. The numerous requests regarding SAGA show, that many of its users see a large potential in the software But compared to other software projects the SAGA development and support team is very small, to small indeed to satisfy all wishes of SAGA users for documentation, new features and so on. Therefore any enlargement of the active SAGA team will be appreciated. Have a look at the F.A.Q. for more details on how you can support the SAGA development.