The GIS Interchange File

All too often we have to request people resend datasets to each other because they get blocked by email, one important file gets left off or systems just don’t recognize a file type. I’ve run into a problem today where a company FTP site is rejecting a shapefile because it doesn’t recognize the .shp, .shx, .dbf extensions. I thought I could get around by zipping the data, but it appears to scan the zip file for extension types. So the “solution” was to zip the shapefile, change its extension to .doc and tell the recipient that they need to change the extension back to .zip.

This kind of stuff happens way too often. Personal Geodatabases have the problem of the .mdb extension that is rejected outright by most email systems and other formats aren’t readily usable by folks systems. The “old days” were easy because we all used coverages and shared them via the .e00 format that was almost always acceptable by everyone. Amazing how we take such steps back over time and you’d think data sharing would be easier than it was in 1995.

How do you folks share data? KML, GML, Etch A Sketch, e00, zip, web services, etc?

Update: Jason Birch has some ideas about using SQLite as an interchange format. Well worth the read.

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