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Ok I don't need anything advanced, I just don't know anything about this GIS business. I'm trying to get local parcel information and the government site states it is in "ESRI geodatabase format." I've tried Google and get a wiki article that seems to be an advertisement and an that won't load a single page... so I'm stuck for information. I don't know what software I would need, and I'm really not hoping to plunk down some ridiculous amount of cash for a proprietary format our lovely gov't reps decided to use...

Really, I just want to be able to correlate parcel listings with a location on a human (me) readable map. An added [super helpful] bonus would be the capability to feed in a large listing of parcels and see their locations at the same time, as an overview.

Any ideas/help?

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Does it specify if it is a File Geodatabase or a Personal Geodatabase? – Kevin Mar 1 '13 at 23:05
It just reads "ESRI geodatabase format," nothing about "personal". Though, knowing there is more than one format is helpful- gives me something to call and ask about. – credo Mar 1 '13 at 23:11
Do you have the url to the gov't site? – Kirk Kuykendall Mar 1 '13 at 23:22
up vote 7 down vote accepted

To determine which type the data is provided as just download a copy and look at the extension. If it ends in .mdb it's a personal geodatabase, which is really just a Microsoft Access database. If you want you can open it up and poke around in the tables, you may be able to find what you need there. If it shows up as a folder with .gdb at the end of the name then it's a file geodatabase and you can only access its contents with some GIS specific software.

The good news is that there is free software that can open up either format and let you use it. The learning curve is a bit steep, but that's true whenever you delve into an entirely new area. The software is at:

I, unfortunately, am not very adept at using QGIS so I can't offer specific instructions on how to open a geodatabase with it. But, I hope that gives you a starting point that will be of some use. This site undoubtedly has some old questions that will get you off the ground. The keywords you will want to search with are 'QGIS', 'Geodatabase'. You can also find tutorials if you poke around on google:Google Search for Accessing ESRI Geodatabase with QGIS

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Thanks, unfortunately I can't just download and play. The government actually sells this data (taxes aren't enough I suppose) so I'm unable to experiment freely (yes it is a .gov). I also didn't want to pay for it then find out I'd have to drop quite a bit more just to open it. At least now I can go in with some knowledge of where to start. – credo Mar 2 '13 at 0:26
Don't forget one thing about the FileGDB format. Unlike a Personal GDB (ends in .mdb), you can only open an ESRI FileGDB (ends in .gdb) in QGIS if it's >= v10. This is a limitation in the FileGDB API (that Open Source GIS software, like GDAL, uses to get access to ESRI File GDB's). Example: You can't open a v9.x FileGDB in QGIS. ESRI PersonalGDBs don't have this limitation. So in the end, ask the data provider what version their ESRI FileGDB is to be sure. – SaultDon Mar 2 '13 at 1:14

You can also download esri's ArcGIS Explorer. It's free and will open the geodatabase.

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