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Learning GIS (geographical information systems) requires training in cartography, database management, and spatial analysis. But once you've built a solid foundation in the basics, how do you approach GIS challenges in the real world? Dr. Jason VanHorn is here to help you master practical GIS scenarios, and answers the 7 most common questions he receives from other GIS professionals, including: Where can I get quality data? How do I create projections? What's an inexpensive solution for collecting geospatial data? and Where can I find a GIS job?
The second data model offered by Esri is the shapefile. And it was introduced in ArcView in the early 1990s. Just like the coverage file, the shape file is a geo-relational format meaning that there are several layers that are associated together to visualize the geo-graphic feature. Take, for example, the cartographic boundary file we downloaded earlier from the census bureau. Let's take a look at that in ArcMap together. I'm going to load a new map document to start fresh. The file we downloaded earlier is in my downloads file. I'm going to add it now. Here are the census tracts for the state of Michigan.
Notice that if we look at the properties for this layer and the source tab, we can see the data type is a shape file. Now, when looking at this file in the Windows format, for the folders, we'll see many different files associated with it, which show us the geo-relational model. Let's do that now. Here within the Windows environment, we can see that same shape file. Notice over here you can see it in the table of contents and ArcMap. So here are the different associated geo-relational files. In this case we have a dot dbf file, a prj, a dot shp, a lockdown shp which is right here.
Dot shx. And then we have this xml file. All of these files together constitute a shape file. Technically, you really only need the dot dbf, the dot shp, and the dot shx files. Because they are required for every shape file, the prj file for example is a projection file which helps define the projection when we load it into our ArcMap. However, when we go to Arc catalog, we don't see this file structure. Let's do that. When we open up our catalog and go to our downloads folder.
And look at this particular shape file. Notice here it is as one file. We can also see the dot XML file associated with this particular shape file. The dot XML file is also an optional file, associated with shape files. If we copy this shape file, to another location, it's safe to do so in catalog. And it's the recommend method for copying files such as these. If you have geo-relational data, you should use the catalog to copy files.
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