I have an ESRI File Geodatabase (.gdb) file that I would like to convert to shapefile (or any other non-proprietary format). Are there any Open Source tools to do so?

  • If it is just one .gdb, if you email me I can do it.
    – djq
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 18:43
  • thanks for the offer @celenius! The client was able to send me the data in an alternate format, so I won't need your help. Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 13:45
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    Please see this question for updated answers: File Geodatabase (*.gdb) support in QGIS? Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 4:50
  • @DarrenCope, want to change the accepted answer for this question, to reflect developments? Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 0:34

10 Answers 10


In the geospatial world a directory ending in .gdb is usually the Esri File Geodatabase Format, which has an open API which many 3rd party programs can read -- /, , and GlobalMapper to name the ones I'm familiar with. Gdal/ogr is open source and is included in many other applications like QGIS and SAGA.

Windows end users can most easily get the filegdb driver via the OSGeo4W gdal-filegdb package.

For developers, the gdal/ogr FileGDB driver is not included by default as the Esri SDK needs to be downloaded and installed separately (see build instructions).

A file ending in .gdb is likely the Garmin GPS Database format used by MapSource and Basecamp and the open source can read it, see Batch converting Garmin GDB to GPX?.

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    Can anyone confirm if all you indeed need is the FGDB API SK from Esri and OGR >= 1.9.0 for read/write to FGDBs and NOT a ArcView license as well? I'll try disconnecting from our Esri license server and give it a go, but confirmation from someone not consuming the Esri koolaid would be nice. Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 18:49
  • @ChadCooper, see Can Esri's file geodatabase API be redistributed?. (and I updated the answer to include Osgeo4w's package) Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 18:55
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    @ChadCooper yes. The gdal/ogr-arcobjects driver requires the esri license, the gdal/ogr-filegdb does not require any license. Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 19:14

The next version of ogr will support reading file geodatabases. More info here: http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/ticket/3332

Edit: In the meantime it is present in gdal/ogr: http://gdal.org/drv_filegdb.html

  • Very interesting! However, if I had an ArcView license, this would not be a problem :) Thanks for the update though! Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 12:27
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    An arcview license is no longer necessary to use the GDAL/OGR filegdb driver see gis.stackexchange.com/a/20692/108 Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 15:50

No. .gdb is a proprietary format and ESRI isn't sharing the spec or providing an API.

I believe that some people have been able to hack together something to pull the features out, but none of the relationships, topology, domains, etc.

The best way to get the features out would be to dump the database to a shapefile or a ESRI personal database. The OGR library and tools can read personal geodatabases.

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    Proprietary data formats are the stuff that they put in the Kool Aid that forces you to drink only their flavor.
    – DavidF
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 18:19
  • Thanks DavidF - this is the answer I expected, even though it doesn't help much! I will request that they send the data in another format. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 19:03
  • We are still waiting for the Geodatabase Open API - mentioned over 3 years ago...
    – Mapperz
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 20:40
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    Waiting for .Godot?
    – DavidF
    Commented Dec 6, 2010 at 16:04
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    As Matt Wilkie notes, this answer is now obsolete as ESRI has shared an API for file geodatabases.
    – jvangeld
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 19:00

The API to read file geodatabases out of ArcObjects was promised by ESRI three years ago or so, but still has not seen the light.

There is a question related to this: File Geodatabase Open API? When?


This web app will allow you to get your data out of GDB format:


  • The link is dead.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 5:01

QGIS will read ESRI personal geodatabases- but I don't think anything will read file geodatabases.

  • I have FME (paid) itdoes a nice job of reading and writing about 250 formats.
    – Brad Nesom
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 22:12

I know it does not do File Geodatabase (as we are still waiting for Esri to release the API) but FDO Toolbox is pretty good as far as capability for reading and outputing file formats

Have a look at it here http://fdo.osgeo.org/

as petr k. says also look at the other thread for the release on the FGDB Open API.

You could always use something else like the ST_Geometry (SQL Server Spatial data Type, Oracle Spatial data Type, PostGIS)

Just a thought, CDB


I have tried to use both QGIS and osgeo4W and none of them worked for huge datasets, and i ended with using FME Safe Software.

FME Safe Software

it's not an open source software but it has 30 days free trial with fully functionnal software. It's by far the best converter tool i've ever seen will hundred of formats and easy usage.


Since there is a huge development in OpenSource-GIS there is a new solution. Following steps provided by the images a File-Geodatabase (.gdb) can be loaded in QGIS and saved as a Shapefile.

Choose directory and Type

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Please refer to the following question.This will allow you to add the feature in QGIS . And then over here you can save it as a shapefile

How to add feature class from ESRI personal geodatabase (.mdb) in QGIS

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    that Q is specific to personal geodatabases (.mdb) and this Q is about file geodatabase (.gdb). Unfortunately Esri uses very similar names for them but they are not the same thing, and Qgis uses different drivers for each (and Qgis earlier than v1.9 (Jan 2012) only knows about the .mdb variety). Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 18:54

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