What vector formats can GDAL write that ArcGIS for Desktop can read without the need for its Data Interoperability extension?

I do not plan to use either Personal Geodatabases or Shapefiles

  • no shapefile is not acceptable - mainly because of the dbf database which accompanies it.
    – nickves
    Jun 16, 2013 at 13:19
  • 1
    Did you have a particular Open Source GIS product in mind? Otherwise this question for which you have not yet accepted an answer remains quite open-ended.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 25, 2013 at 10:41
  • mainly formats that are supported by the gdal library. The problem arises when I create datasets and arcgis refuses to operate on them without the interoperability extension. For better or worse it is still being used in the industry (and only) sector. - I not 'accepting' yet a solution in the hope someone with some experience in the problem can submit an answer :)
    – nickves
    Jul 25, 2013 at 13:33

4 Answers 4


One good option is storing your data in a spatial database like PostGIS.

You can read and write to this database from most OpenSource Applications. ArcGIS 10.0 and above can read this data directly.

If you need to write to PostGIS from ArcGIS, that is also possible by using third party extensions.

  • 2
    See also ideas.arcgis.com/ideaView?id=087300000008Ci1AAE ("Add support for SQLite/SpatiaLite and PostGIS geodatabases")
    – markusN
    Jun 16, 2013 at 17:04
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    ArcGIS can write to postgres if you have an ArcGIS Server license and enable geodatabase (the workgroup license is around 3k). With SQL Server Express, you can enable geodatabase read/write without an ArcGIS Server license, if you have standard or advanced desktop license. Also, the file geodatabase (which is separate from personal Access mdb) is actually the default vector format.
    – awesomo
    Jun 17, 2013 at 17:25

A promising vector format for this purpose is SQlite/Spatialite. ArcGIS users can access Spatialite files through AmigoCloud's GDAL/OGR Plugin for ArcGIS.


ArcGIS 10.2 supports SQLite, and appears to be imminent/available, so SQLite could be a good option for you.

You can connect from ArcGIS to an SQLite database to create maps and perform spatial analysis on your data.

You connect directly to the SQLite database file from your ArcGIS client.

  • at last they added sqlite support. next step spatialite :)
    – nickves
    Jul 25, 2013 at 22:09
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    @nickves - it looks like spatialite support is included. From the link in PolyGeo's answer: To store and work with spatial data, you must have either the Esri ST_Geometry type or SpatiaLite installed in your database.
    – user2856
    Jul 26, 2013 at 5:14

If your vector data is point format than you could use .csv files to go between Arc and open source applications (as long as you have a x/y or lng/lat columns).

Also, you may consider using kml.


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