Real-World GIS
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding shapefile data


Real-World GIS

with Jason VanHorn

Video: Understanding shapefile data

The second data model offered by Esri is the shapefile. I'm going to load a new map document to start fresh. The file we downloaded earlier is in my downloads file.
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  1. 3m 20s
    1. Welcome
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      1m 15s
    3. Using the exercise files
    4. Using the challenges in this course
  2. 3m 31s
    1. The seven most common GIS questions
      3m 31s
  3. 44m 3s
    1. Exploring GIS trends
      5m 8s
    2. Exploring GIS data with the National Map Viewer
      7m 11s
    3. Finding imagery data using EarthExplorer
      6m 8s
    4. Working with US Census data via TIGER products
      9m 24s
    5. Exploring agriculture with CropScape
      3m 34s
    6. Accessing data in proprietary formats
      4m 45s
    7. Accessing data in catalog formats
      7m 53s
  4. 19m 32s
    1. Understanding the type of data you have
      2m 26s
    2. Understanding coverage data
      4m 47s
    3. Understanding shapefile data
      2m 24s
    4. Understanding geodatabases
      4m 33s
    5. Raster data model history and formats
      3m 43s
    6. Sharing GIS data
      1m 39s
  5. 24m 26s
    1. Working with scale and graticules
      5m 41s
    2. Exploring developable surfaces
      2m 50s
    3. Using geoids, spheroids, and datums
      4m 55s
    4. Putting it all together in ArcGIS
      11m 0s
  6. 34m 22s
    1. Collecting geospatial data
      2m 48s
    2. Adding map data to a spatial database
      5m 8s
    3. Adding scanned images to a spatial database
      12m 32s
    4. Adding GPS data to a a spatial database
      2m 14s
    5. Advanced collection techniques in GPS
      5m 36s
    6. Exploring open-source approaches to GIS data
      6m 4s
  7. 10m 45s
    1. Challenge: Get the data
    2. Solution: Get the data
    3. Challenge: Visualize the data
    4. Solution: Visualize the data
    5. Challenge: Isolate the data
    6. Solution: Isolate the data
      1m 36s
    7. Challenge: Attributes of the data
    8. Solution: Attributes of the data
      1m 11s
    9. Challenge: Analysis of the data
    10. Solution: Analysis of the data
      1m 0s
    11. Challenge: Build new data
    12. Solution: Build new data
      1m 9s
    13. Challenge: Import new data
    14. Solution: Import new data
      1m 5s
    15. Challenge: Convert your data
    16. Solution: Convert your data
      1m 0s
  8. 13m 56s
    1. Understanding ArcGIS for Server
      3m 56s
    2. Connecting a client to a GIS server
      3m 0s
    3. Working with
      5m 29s
    4. Using efficiently in the client
      1m 31s
  9. 8m 22s
    1. Exploring the types of GIS jobs
      3m 11s
    2. Portals for GIS jobs
      1m 37s
    3. Preparing for general interview questions
      1m 52s
    4. Preparing for specific interview questions
      1m 42s
  10. 1m 0s
    1. Next steps
      1m 0s

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Watch the Online Video Course Real-World GIS
2h 43m Intermediate May 08, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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?

Topics include:
  • Exploring GIS trends
  • Accessing data in proprietary and catalog formats
  • Understanding GIS data formats
  • Working with scale and graticules in projections
  • Collecting geospatial data
  • Building a GIS project from scratch
  • Mastering GIS job interviews
Jason VanHorn

Understanding shapefile data

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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