How would you explain what a shapefile is to someone who is not already a GIS-professional but is interested in learning more?
Shapefiles are one of the most common GIS data storage formats. However shapefiles are as I have understood not really a single file but instead a set of files, containing as a minimum a
- .shp-file storing the actual geometry features (Point, Polyline, Polygon, and Multipoint) addressed here for example.
.dbf-file storing the so called "attributes" (and being a database file format developed in the 80'es if I'm not mistaken).
.shx-file being kind of an index putting all of these attributes together with the
Moreover each shapefile (set of files) only contains a single type of vector GIS data being either of the type Point, Polyline, Polygon and Multipoint and hence I suppose it is common to work with several shapefiles simultaneously when manipulating them in for example ArcGIS or QGIS.
I find all of this a bit confusing and therefore my question.