March 14, 2011
File Geodatabases Join Shapefiles in Cross Platform Support
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Each GISWeekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting.

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Industry News
File Geodatabases Join Shapefiles in Cross Platform Support
By Susan Smith



The shapefile, created by Esri, has been a defacto standard for geospatial and GIS data transfer and exchange for the past 20 years. Of course it has had its limitations, as is today associated with Esri’s older products, wherein now more than ever there is the need to be able to run applications on computers that do not have an ArcGIS or ArcObjects license.

Now with the beta release of the highly anticipated Esri File Geodatabase API developers can improve the interoperability of applications. According to the press material, the API allows developers to create applications that can interact with a file geodatabase without using ArcObjects so that applications can be run on computers that do not have an ArcObjects license.

“Not only are we putting out a specification, we are putting out an API that goes along with it,” explained John Baleja, Esri senior product manager. Esri hopes that users replace their shapefile implementations with the File Geodatabase API only where appropriate so they can take advantage of the additional capabilities of the file geodatabase. The company is continuing the support the shapefile format and have no plans to halt support or development of the shapefile format.

The idea behind File Geodatabase API is that its adoption will be as widespread as that of the shapefile as a data transfer, in this case, between various GIS systems.

The file geodatabase does not support some of the RDBMS related features of the enterprise geodatabase, such as versioning, replication, and archiving. Also, it can support multiple editors, as long as they are working on separate datasets. Please see for more information.

This API enables organizations to interact with the  File Geodatabase outside of the ArcGIS system. “We are hoping the File Geodatabase will become a defacto standard as well,” said Baleja.

The File Geodatabase API will invariably allow those who don’t have Esri software to be able to work with data within the File Geodatabase. For example, a customer of Safe Software or open source, who doesn’t want to use ArcObjects which is the underlying development environment for the ArcGIS system, to access data, can do it through the API.

Developers themselves are probably going to use the ArcGIS database unless they are using  one of the open source GIS projects. “Several of our competitors are already in our beta program,” said Baleja. “We also have a few large organizations who have a number of large GIS systems and want to be able to exchange data. This gives them a way to do that.”

Esri customers who need to share data with their outside contractors who may not have ArcGIS software or the open source GIS community, competitors, and data transfer companies like Safe Software, have been big advocates for this release.

Previously for open GIS software projects to be able to access data in the File Geodatabase, they would have to buy a copy of ArcGIS. With this API, these developers can build something into their app that would be able to read in data from the File Geodatabase. Safe Software with their ETL software can actually now have an API that they can actually include as part of their package.

The File Geodatabase is to be made available free of charge to anyone. The final release is set for late March or early Arpil.

“These are out of cycle products so they’re not tied into a specific ArcGIS system release,” Baleja pointed out. “I’m expecting we’ll get one out as requirements come in and we add new features, but we have a much more flexible schedule, and it will be downloadable from our File Geodatabase resource page. Anyone with a Esri Global ID can download it.”

ArcGIS users will use the API to build their apps as it is a full development environment that allows you to build apps that will have the reach and capabilities of the ArcGIS system enterprise geodatabase.

Baleja said that since the press release they have released a 64 bit version for Windows, and have two new platforms. For the second update of the beta they extended support to 64 bit, and then they had a third update that extended support to 32 bit Linux systems. “We plan to eventually support 64 bit Linux,” said Baleja.




The File Geodatabase API is a C++ library that allows developers to
  • Create, open, and delete file geodatabases.
  • Read the schema of file geodatabases.
  • Create and edit schema for simple feature objects within a file geodatabase.
  • Read, edit, and delete simple features in a file geodatabase.
  • Perform attribute and limited spatial queries.

The API only creates and supports file geodatabases from ArcGIS 10 and is only supported on Windows and Linux. Esri still recommends using ArcObjects, a library of software components that form the foundation of ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, and ArcGIS Engine, to create and interact with file geodatabases.

For more information and to download the API, visit the Geodatabase Resource Center at Geodatabase Resource Center.


Top News

Real Estate Portal USA, a provider in Web-based real estate information for searching and mapping parcels, announced  that its national coverage now includes more than 100 million parcels (property boundaries), encompassing more than 70 percent of the United States population.


TomTom announces multiple partnership agreements with business listing providers. These partnerships further TomTom’s goal to roll out a pan-European service to make it easier for users to choose and find their destinations. The partnerships cover sharing of data as well as distribution of their high quality business listings via TomTom Places.

Cityworks | Azteca Systems, Inc. announced the integration of Cityworks and SeeClickFix, a mobile application for citizen requests.  This integration is currently being utilized at the City of New Haven, Connecticut, with great results. 

Securus, Inc. announced  that its wholly-owned subsidiary has acquired substantially all of the assets of Zoombak, LLC from TruePosition, Inc. Zoombak is a leading seller of personal GPS tracking devices that help people track the things that are most important to them, from teenage drivers to employees and automobiles.

NAVTEQ announced  that it has established a reseller agreement with Tango Management Consulting, LLC (TMC), a full service management consultancy providing technology solutions for retail, commercial and corporate real estate clients.

Telmap, pioneers in mobile location-based services,  announces that it has partnered with Das Örtliche, Germany’s leading local directory to integrate Das Örtliche’s local businesses database into Telmap mobile location companion to provide richer points of interest (POI) information in Germany.

PCI Geomatics announced that the company has been awarded a contract valued at over $520,000 (CAD) through the Canadian Space Agency's Earth Observation Applications Development Program (EOADP).

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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