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Can anyone give me a nutshell explanation of the Geographic Data Files format, or post a few URLs I might find enlightening?

I get the sense (although I'm not sure) that GDF implies building certain topological relationships, frictions, rules, etc into the spatial database. I don't quite get certain facets of what I've been reading so far though. It looks as though the format is mostly relevant to routing-typed applications like pipelines, hydro networks, fleet navigation routing, etc. Is this not something best done with an extension like Network Analyst, or is this something that's done with scripting or programming languages.

Why the "stand alone" environment outside of GIS applications. I can't find anything that's leading to the answers I'm after. Can anyone give me the "for dummies" version? Why would there be any reason to do this "outside" of a GIS environment. From what I've read, it looks as though the final product is delivered in some sort of "textual" framework.

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The Wikipedia article states "GDF is commonly used for data interchange... [It] is not intended to be used directly for any large scale geographic application and normally requires conversion into a more efficient format." Doesn't this answer your question? – whuber Apr 16 '11 at 19:59
Looking at the Wikipedia page and a sample file, it's an old fixed record length format that was developed to fill a need at a time before GIS had really taken hold. It looks similar to the NTF format. So it's place outside GIS is because it is was developed for a few proprietary systems and has stayed locked within those systems with no commercial pressure to integrate it into a GIS. A competent programmer could knock up an OGR driver for it, but obviously that will cost. A quick, non-exhaustive Google turns up no ready-made converters sadly. – MerseyViking Apr 16 '11 at 21:04
GDF (basically designed for Automotive navigation) but these days more widespread is the adoption of GML - – Mapperz Apr 16 '11 at 22:41
@ whuber - No actually. The Wikepedia blurb did not answer my questions. I wanted great detail and accurate information without spending all day searching the net for answers. The links provided below by Chethan however, were exactly what I was after. – Dano Apr 18 '11 at 13:52
Since the databases are proprietary using this, you can only get an export as a product but not a version of the database using this standard, just the featureset you are buying. A good example of the product is ESRI streets network and they have relevant documentation as to features and editing standards and topological standardizations and specifications that are relevant. Prime examples of companies that develop data to this standardization are TomTom and Navteq. ESRI streets have traditionaly been supplied by one or the other. – lewis Jan 29 '13 at 15:30
up vote 5 down vote accepted

GDF is the European Union Geographic Data File standard for transport systems.

References for GDF - Geographic Data Files

  1. ISO 14825:2004 - Intelligent transport systems -- Geographic Data Files (GDF) -- Overall data specification
  2. This page has 'Documentation and Manual' for GDF 3.0 with examples, information on how to specify a GDF Map, GDF and location georeferencing and several reference materials in the form of PDF Documents.
  3. Specification of the GDF format and a sample GDF file
  4. Usage of Data in this format is supported by leading Data Interoperability software FME. Here is the page.
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Thank you Chethan. – Dano Apr 18 '11 at 13:53

Here is a link to the free version of the spec. If you have specific questions I have worked extensively to this model.

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