I'm wondering if there is a way to use ECW images in MapInfo without having to 'register' the image as I bring it in?

I mean, ECW images are already rectified (well the ones I use for GIS are anyway) with coordinate system information embedded into the header of the image. Other GIS applications such as ArcGIS, Quantum GIS, gvSIG etc will load an ECW image generally without any problems... and without trying to rectify, that which is already rectified!

Of course, my valid fear is that by choosing the 'register' option when I open the ECW in MapInfo, I'll alter (possibly for the worse) the geo-rectification already applied to the image. I don't want to do that.

I have a potential client who's already acquired MapInfo and needs to help setting up.

Any thoughts &/or help appreciated.

(Summit GIS and Mapping).

EDIT (27/10/2011): Using MapInfo Professional 11.0

  • 1
    what version of MapInfo are you using? – James S Oct 25 '11 at 12:33
  • MapInfo 11 does read ECW files in natively – Mapperz Oct 25 '11 at 13:31
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    By registering an ECW raster in MapInfo you won't ever overwrite existing (non-MapInfo TAB file) georeferencing as MapInfo doesn't permanently modify the image file in any way, but stores the georeferencing information in a separate TAB file. – Andy Harfoot Oct 25 '11 at 16:49
  • As I've commented below, this is the first time that I've used MapInfo for about 7 years, and I'm most surprised that I can't just add an ECW image to the workspace like I can with ArcMap, Manifold, uDig, QGIS & gvSIG! The ECW already has all the necessary coordinate information embedded in the image header (this can be confirmed using the ECW Header Editor application available for download from the ERDAS web page). – Summit GIS and Mapping Oct 27 '11 at 4:27
  • My experience is that even though ECWs can have georeferencing information (GeoECWs), they don't record the coordinate system. This situation is sufficient for an image to be displayed in ArcGIS and QGIS (not sure about the others in the list), but isn't sufficient for MapInfo, which requires a coordinate system to be specified for every layer. Therefore (again in my experience, happy to be proved wrong) you will always have to provide at least the coordinate system to MapInfo when opening a GeoECW for the first time (probably using the MapImagery plugin) – Andy Harfoot Oct 27 '11 at 11:42

Nicholas Lawrence kindly shared a MapBasic script for creating tab files from ECW files on MapInfo-L: http://groups.google.com/group/mapinfo-l/browse_thread/thread/366d3489343dc1ad

You need to compile this script with a MapBasic compiler and you might also have to add you own coordinatesystem (datum and projection) to the logic of the script

Thanks goes to Nicholas Lawrence for sharing!


There is a free plugin (with a commercial option with more features) that allows MapInfo to read ECWs natively. As I have only used up until MapInfo 8.5, I cannot speak for later versions, but it certainly works with earlier versions back to version 5.0.

Get it here at MapImagery's Ecw for MapInfo

  • That plugin is included on the MapInfo CD, and is probably how the asker was adding ECWs to MapInfo. The documentation at that site indicates that an ECW must be registered (.TAB file created) when first opened. This is what he/she was trying to avoid. – user3461 Oct 26 '11 at 14:45
  • @Kevin, I took "register" to mean re-assign control points. Using the plugin, you have to set the coordinate system on the image, and the TAB is created with this embedded. – Kelso Oct 27 '11 at 3:04
  • @Kevin, Also, in my installation of MI without the plugin, MI asks you to re-register. With the plugin installed, you bypass this step, just selecting a coordinate system. No re-rectification needed (which is what I believe the asker was after). – Kelso Oct 27 '11 at 3:24
  • @Kevin 'the asker' is using a trial version of MapInfo 11.0, downloaded from the Pitney Bowes website, therefore have no CD available to access MapImagery plugin. The most recent download available from the MapImagery website (mapimagery.com/download) is dated May 2010... not very recent. I'm yet to download and trial the MapImagery plugin, but will do so as soon as practicable. This is the first time that I've used MapInfo for about 7 years, and I'm most surprised that I can't just add an ECW image to the workspace like I can with ArcMap, Manifold, uDig, QGIS & gvSIG! – Summit GIS and Mapping Oct 27 '11 at 4:15
  • @Kelso, "I took "register" to mean re-assign control points." I originally assumed the same thing, and posted an answer with a link to the plugin. Once I dug further into the plugin's documentation, I found "register" meant something else. So I deleted my answer, and downvoted/commented on your similar answer. – user3461 Oct 27 '11 at 11:25

MapInfo struggles to read the georeferencing information from ECWs, but you can provide the same information in an accompanying world file (.eww) that will be read by MapInfo. It may be possible to write a script that uses the GDAL library to read the ECW and create the world file, but I'm not aware that such a script already exists.

Update: The NCSFileReporter command line utility that comes with the ERDAS Image Web Server 2011 Utilities produces a textual report containing the ECW georeferencing information that could be restructured into a TAB file using a script, this would allow the extraction of georeferencing from multiple ECW images automatically.

  • I'll look for an example *.eww world file that I can use as a template. I've can read the ecw header info using the ECW Image Header Editor application available from the ERDAS web page, so should be able to use that information to compile as associated eww file. – Summit GIS and Mapping Oct 27 '11 at 4:40

Forgive what may be an obvious question, but are you using the ECW for MapInfo Plugin? It is supposedly found in the Utilities section of the MapInfo install disc.

See my comments in Kelso's reply regarding this plugin, and why I think this isn't a good answer.

  • I downloaded MapInfo v11.0 from Pitney Bowes website, therefore do not have an installation CD. In my opinion, MapInfo shouldn't need a 3rd party plugin to read ECW. ArcMap, Manifold, uDIG, gvSIG etc etc don't need 3rd party plugins to read ECW... and if they do (eg. GDAL is required for QGIS to read ECW), then the required extension/app is generally installed with the GIS application. – Summit GIS and Mapping Oct 27 '11 at 23:18
  • Without the CD the plugin could always be downloaded from the link. But as I commented in Kelso's reply that discussed the same tool, this plugin doesn't answer your question. It does allow you to register a projection in a TAB file so you only have to do it once per image, but I don't believe the plugin is required for that. – user3461 Oct 27 '11 at 23:23

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