After a big bunch of bureaucracy we have been giving green light to request government geodata. The requested data includes mostly seperate landplots, roads and rivers.

We originally were told we'd receive the data in DWG, but we've found out that the government agency is using ArcGIS.

We're using QGIS, and we were going to import/convert the DWG's again - that's double work. Therefore we'd like to reform our request by asking for ArcGIS data rather than DWG's.

Local bureacracy won't allow us to sit down with the actual people doing the export. We have to write down our request.

What do we ask them? What method would be easiest for them to export (ArcGIS) and for us to import (QGIS)?

1 Answer 1


The EASIEST way is to ask for shapefiles, which is a native ArcGIS format and can be used directly in QGIS (read and write). The problem with shapefile is that it is quite old (be careful if you have large dataset), but otherwise it has simple feature (points, lines OR polygons) that are interpreted by most software (it is an open format). Also make sure that you receive all the files that make the shapefile (at least .shp, .shx, .dbf and .prj).

Note that the file gdb from ArcGIS 10.x are also supported by the recent QGIS versions, but this will require more data handling from your side.

  • If the data is already in shapefiles asking for them is fine, but if they're in enterprise or file geodatabase to start, use of shapefiles could truncate column names, clip long string fields to 254 characters, change numeric nulls to zeros, strip timestamps to day resolution, lose BLOB columns entirely,... I'd think requesting "File Geodatabase (10.0 or higher)" would be less work (on both sides of the fence) than trying to salvage a mess of shapefiles.
    – Vince
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 14:31
  • I agree, but still think that shapefile remains easier for now. And could handle what was stored in DWG previously.
    – radouxju
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 15:03

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