Different data formats used by GIS applications

16.4.2014 Fabian Rendon

There are various formats available in GIS for storing information. These include, Digital Map Formats, Raster File and Vector file formats, Software file formats and Information Types.

Since every geogrphical information system has its own formats to store data, the importance of these formats cannot be underplayed. A format can be described as prescribed and standardized method of storing information, in a GIS generated file. When you have to find certain data and a system does not support it, you have to convert it to the format which opens up the information.

At times you may have to migrate to an entirely new GIS applications to find the data you want.  The formats are meant to store the information for ensuring optimal efficiency and most of the time these formats may be proprietary, with designs prohibiting use outside the particular GIS application. Though, conversion of file formats are supported in many GIS application or can be done by third party tools.

A number of GIS applications use vector technology, thus these vector files are very commonly used. Though they are common in usage, they are also complex systems, since the coordinates, attribute linkages, attributes, etc. are used for databases and displaying stored data. There are more than a dozen such vector data formats, and the number is growing.

Image data is stored usually in raster files, and such images included aerial photos, images that are scanned and modified for future use, etcetera. Raster files are useful in storing airborne images and satellite captured data. These are known as remote sensing data in common parlance. While other raster files make use of cells remotely sensed data, displays image in terms of meters, indicating the area of the ground covered by each individual cell. Even Raster file systems are of many types.

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