I have to create a shapefile but I do not have access to ArcGIS Desktop, only to ArcExplorer, which will not allow me to create a shapefile.

What other way can I do this?

I have GRASS but am not familiar with it.

  • 1
    you could use qgis, openjump or udig? – Ian Turton Jan 19 '15 at 15:23

the solution with the minimum learning time is to install QGIS on your computer. Then you go to "Layer > new > New shapefile layer" and you enter the menu for creating a new shapefile.

select the type (point/line/polygon), the coordinate reference system, and optionnally some attributes.

Then I guess that you will want to draw some new feature, so you must activate the digitizing toolbar (right click on toolbars), toggle editing with the pen icon, and start drawing.

  • I was able to create the shapefile but i need the projection to be in NAD 83 New Jersey State Plane (ft) Coordinate System and the only base layer I found was the Google Satellite Imagery which is in WGS 84 / Pseudo Mercator, How can i get the shape file into NAD83NJ so i can see the shape file has the correct coordinates? This is in QGIS 2.6.1 – rkc1316 Jan 20 '15 at 14:57

If you have coordinates in a CSV file, you could use QGIS and Add delimited text for point data.

Or use the MMQGIS plugin to turn that into a line or polygon shapefile.


If you want to use python, I recommend shapely or the ogr tools.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.


In addition to open source software such as QGIS, there are many open source tools and libraries that can read/write shapefiles:

OGR/GDAL's ogr2ogr command, PostGIS's shp2pgsql and pgsql2shp, ...

These libraries and tools are often exposed via popular programming languages such as R, Python. So there's rgdal, etc. This page lists some of the R packages you can use to read/write shapefiles.

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