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I have come across several scripts and tools to import and export KML into ArcGIS Desktop.

Is there a one tool that:

  • Imports/Exports KML into ArcGIS Desktop at v10
  • Does not cost money
  • Ideally maintains attributes between the packages
  • Ideally does not require additional software to be installed

I would also like to be recommended tools that people have had 1st hand experience with. ArcScripts, Google, and the blogs I read all talk about a number of methods, but would like to identify a recommended one.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

A "Clear Winner" is too subjective of a question. Since you indicated cost as a criteria, here are some free (or built-in) options:

KMLToLayer tool is available in ArcGIS 10 which puts the data straight into a file geodatabase.

KMLToLayer_conversion (in_kml_file, output_folder, {output_data})

Your question is closely aligned with this one: How can I convert KML to ESRI's shapefile format? which has options that get you to shapefile: ogr2ogr How can I convert KML to ESRI's shapefile format?

ET GeoWizards: How can I convert KML to ESRI's shapefile format?

And there are others (go to How can I convert KML to ESRI's shapefile format? and +1 the good answers).

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Thanks Jay Have revised Q. Will check your links and reports back –  Simon Apr 5 '11 at 10:27

Arc2Earth has a good KML importer and the free version allows you to import up to 100 placemarks at a time. The Pro version has unlimited placemark imports, GroundOverlay to image/world file and KML Description Schema parser so you can import attribute values that may be hidden or buried in complex description text. Also, if your Placemarks have unique IDs, the importer will update existing features instead of creating new ones (making it a decent tool for round-tripping data between ArcMap and GE)


cheers brian

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While I do use the ArcPy importer, I have to agree with Brian here. If you really want to work with KML/KMZ and ArcGIS, invest in tools that really get it done. –  James Fee Apr 5 '11 at 16:10

Free version of Arc2Earth is now deprecated, and full version is $600 so no longer fulfills the needs of the original post (free, but retains attributes).

I also have a similar problem where user-created attributes from a tablet app are being stripped away when imported by the KML to Layer geoprocess tool. I hear the Data Interoperability extension has the Quick Import tool which should retain the attributes, but that again does not fulfill my needs (free).

I looked into QGIS/OSGeo4W and have read forum posts which say it should retain attributes based on GDAL 1.9.2-2 but after grabbing the latest OSGeo4W install today and trying it, I am still not seeing those attributes show up.

I have run a trial of FME and Arc2Earth and both were able to retain the custom schema on conversion, but both of those software packages are prohibitively expensive for a one-trick-pony need of KML->SHP/GDB.

So the original question still stands; how can user-created attributes in KML files be brought into ArcMap v10.0 for free?

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This is not an answer, please remove. Marked answer still applies and does not require Data Interop. KML To Layer in Conversion tools. –  Simon Sep 18 '14 at 13:48
forestGIS this is a new question, or a bounty on an old one. Please ask separately, e.g. "How to get QGIS KML import/export to keep attributes". @Simon the accepted answer appears not to apply, note "user-created attributes from a tablet app are being stripped away when imported by the KML to Layer geoprocess tool." (or perhaps you have info to fold into accepted answer for how to make it work?) –  matt wilkie Nov 4 '14 at 23:13

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