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SHP File Format

Shapefile spatial data format (used by many GIS programs)

SHP is a file extension for a Shapefile shape format used in geographical information systems (GIS) software. SHP is short for "shape." 

A shape file contains geographical reference data as individual objects such as a street, a river, a landmark or a zip code area. Features exist as objects and their attributes within the SHP file. 

GIS is a computer-based technology composed of hardware, software and data that is used to capture, display and analyze spatial data information.

The SHP file format was developed by ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) as a predominantly open specification to promote interoperability between its products and other GIS software products. SHP files open in many GIS programs. 

Other Shapefile file formats include the SHX file extension for spatial index files and the DBF attribute format. The SHX and DBF files must accompany SHP files to complement their information. 

Other file formats that use the SHP extension include the AutoCAD shape file for text fonts, 3D Studio's DOS shape files and a 3-D modeling format.

 

Learn more about SHP files:

Knowledge@Wharton explains the promise of GIS for a broader information revolution.

Elisabeth Horwitt discusses how ERP and GIS integration bring a spatial dimension to key business apps.

Wikipedia has an entry about Shapefiles.

For a detailed description of SHP files, see ESRI's technical document.

This was last updated in July 2010
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