9 GIS Data Formats

When using digital boundary datasets and other data in GIS you need to be aware that geographical information comes in a variety of different data formats. An analogy can be made to writing a text document. When you write a text document you author that text document in a specific piece of software that results in the data being stored in a particular data format. Some of these text data formats are more open than others.

Here we have a famous quote from George Bernard Shaw.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

Using different Text Information Systems (!), we can save the text data in different document formats. Here we see 4 different text data formats: that we have created using different text editing applications. Viewing each of the files in specific applications (Microsoft Word; Open Office; Adobe Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Notepad) we can see that we have the same information:

Here we see 4 different text data formats:

Image 23: Here we see 4 different text data formats:

4 Files

Image 24: 4 files

The same applies when it come to geographical information. Here is our geographic data – a digital boundary dataset consisting of 3 polygonal features:

a digital boundary dataset consisting of 3 polygonal features

Image 25: a digital boundary dataset consisting of 3 polygonal features

 The same geographical information can be stored in different geospatial data formats and useable in different GIS software applications. Here we have the same digital boundary dataset stored in 3 different GIS data formats, as an ESRI Shapefile, as a Mapinfo MIF/MID, a DXF file for AutoCAD and as a zipped KML (KMZ) file for use with Google Maps or Google Earth.

Image 26: The same geographical information can be stored in different geospatial data formats and useable in different GIS software applications. Here we have the same digital boundary dataset stored in 3 different GIS data formats, as an ESRI Shapefile, as a Mapinfo MIF/MID, a DXF file for AutoCAD and as a zipped KML (KMZ) file for use with Google Maps or Google Earth.

Here we see the 4 datasets viewed in different geospatial applications, clockwise from top left. The Zipped KML file in Google Earth, the DXF file in a CAD application, the Shapefile in ArcGIS and finally the MIF/MID file in MapInfo Professional.

Image 27: Here we see the 4 datasets viewed in different geospatial applications, clockwise from top left. The Zipped KML file in Google Earth, the DXF file in a CAD application, the Shapefile in ArcGIS and finally the MIF/MID file in MapInfo Professional.