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I'm just learning about GIS and shapefiles. I am a total newb right now. I'm probably going to get into some SQL Spatial stuff and I'm just reading about what shapefiles are.

I keep on seeing a lot about endianness. I realize it has something to do with byte order. My question is why do I need to know this information?

I'm looking for some context.

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Do you plan to write low-level code to read shapefiles or rasters at the binary level? You might be interested in a closely related thread, Oddities in the Shapefile Technical Specification. – whuber May 24 '13 at 16:50
A very simplified explanation: big and little endian differ in reading order, left to right versus right to left. – gm70560 May 24 '13 at 16:56
See Endianess in wikipedia. – Kirk Kuykendall May 24 '13 at 17:51
up vote 9 down vote accepted

You only need to bother about Endianness if you are planning to develop your own Shapefile reader or writer application. If you only want to work with the data using existing tools, you don't need to lose sleep over this.

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