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Thread: .shp versus .mxd

  1. #1
    Dawn Nelson
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    Question .shp versus .mxd

    My working knowledge of ArcMap is quite limited, and my task is to merge multiple county maps (.mxd) into one state level shapefile. I have multiple .mxd files with geocoded information and am not sure how to proceed to get the desired outcome (one shapefile). Please advise! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Joe Borgione

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    Default Re: .shp versus .mxd

    A lesson in nomenclature:

    A true shape file is made up of at least three component files.

    <name>.shp, <name>.shx and <name>.dbf
    The .shp file is the spatial feature class in the form of points, lines, or polygons. The dbf holds the attribute data and the shx is the middle man that indexes the propr record (row) in the dbf with the proper feature.

    A lot of people use the term shape file like Kleenex and bandaid. There are other ways to store spatial data as feature classes in a geodatabase. There is a tendency to call these shape files when technically they are not.

    A mxd file is often times referred to as a map document. This document holds things like where feature classes are stored, how they are rendered, etc.

    My suggestion is to google 'what is GIS' or look at the arcgis help files to get a better perspective of the journey you are about to take.

    Please excuse any typos, I'm using an iPhone while riding a high speed commuter train to reply.

    Hope this helps.
    Joe Borgione
    AlpineGeographic

    If the suggestion I provide helps solve your problem, please feel free to give it a favorable review by clicking the up arrow. That's only only reward I get for sharing 20 + years of professional GIS experience.

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    Default Re: .shp versus .mxd

    Hi Joe,

    I liked your response to this question and am wondering if you can explain to me what are the benefits to using a file geodatabase as opposed to just using shape files in an .mxd. I will explain, I am creating maps for oil and gas companies, the data I receive is not represented well so I pull it and create my own shape file (Pipelines.shp) this way I can move the lines slightly so they are better displayed on the map and I also add more attribute data. Would it be better if I had this and the other data in a file geodatabase?

    Holly




    Quote Originally Posted by jborgion View Post
    A lesson in nomenclature:

    A true shape file is made up of at least three component files.

    <name>.shp, <name>.shx and <name>.dbf
    The .shp file is the spatial feature class in the form of points, lines, or polygons. The dbf holds the attribute data and the shx is the middle man that indexes the propr record (row) in the dbf with the proper feature.

    A lot of people use the term shape file like Kleenex and bandaid. There are other ways to store spatial data as feature classes in a geodatabase. There is a tendency to call these shape files when technically they are not.

    A mxd file is often times referred to as a map document. This document holds things like where feature classes are stored, how they are rendered, etc.

    My suggestion is to google 'what is GIS' or look at the arcgis help files to get a better perspective of the journey you are about to take.

    Please excuse any typos, I'm using an iPhone while riding a high speed commuter train to reply.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Joe Borgione

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    Default Re: .shp versus .mxd

    Quote Originally Posted by bhtserge View Post
    Hi Joe,

    I liked your response to this question and am wondering if you can explain to me what are the benefits to using a file geodatabase as opposed to just using shape files in an .mxd. I will explain, I am creating maps for oil and gas companies, the data I receive is not represented well so I pull it and create my own shape file (Pipelines.shp) this way I can move the lines slightly so they are better displayed on the map and I also add more attribute data. Would it be better if I had this and the other data in a file geodatabase?

    Holly
    Holly- Shapefiles first hit the scene sometime in the mid to late 90's, and they were all that and a bag of chips. That was then. This is now. You can still use them; I do occasionally to email feature classes.

    A file geodatabase acts as a container for your data. Since it's the native data format for ArcGIS, it's optimized for robustness and speed. A feature class in a geodatabase also provides a way establish topological relationships, network analysis and other gis analyses.

    If I'm working on a particular project I like to create a geodatabase just for that project and add the appropriate feature classes. Everything in one place. My mxd points to one data source. Simple. Easy.

    Here is a link to another thread that discusses this same topic. Derick and Vince from ESRI two of the top guys if terms of geodatabase knowledge and skills on this forum. When they talk, I listen, and they have helped me out of a jam more than once.
    Joe Borgione
    AlpineGeographic

    If the suggestion I provide helps solve your problem, please feel free to give it a favorable review by clicking the up arrow. That's only only reward I get for sharing 20 + years of professional GIS experience.

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