I'm working through some of the ESRI tutorials on Data Interoperability and it briefly mentions the issue of data conversion being a lossy process.

Some questions that come to mind are:

  1. What is being lost?
  2. Does the degree of lossiness depend on data type and format?
  3. Which conversion combinations are most affected?
  4. Is there situations where conversion should be avoided at all costs?
  5. What techniques are used to determine the degree of lossiness?

Feel free to add to the list or express any other concerns.

  • Could you be more specific about what kinds of data you have in mind? The questions are relevant to all data, but the answers might vary depending on the type. An especially prominent distinction is between spatial and attribute data. Spatial data undergo special transformations ("conversions," arguably) involving reprojection, resampling, and generalization which do not apply to other kinds of data. – whuber Jan 8 '12 at 22:49
  • I framed the question with the gerneal GIS contractor in mind, the ones who deal with a multitude of data formats and have to navigate the maze of data interoperability. I can see how the question is too broad as there are hundreds of spatial data formats and, the combination of conversions being endless. I primarily work with ESRI geodatabases, shapefiles, DEM's and CAD files, so I would be interested lossiness from CAD to Shapfile and or Geodatabase. I would also like to hear of other peoples experiences on the subject. – dchaboya Jan 9 '12 at 19:44

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