I work for a company that creates software for multiple listing services and real estate agents. We're expanding our coverage area into a new market, and I've been given some files for two different counties which they are calling their "shapefiles". One file is an access database, and the other is a fixed width column text file. Is there some way for me to convert these files to actual ESRI shapefiles?

Here are some examples -

Here's what I'm given in the fixed width file for the "vector" column (from Palm Beach county, Florida):

A0CL10D10L12D40R24U40L2U10 A4L30D2L2D6R2D14L2D6R2D7D11L7D14L14D20R26R8U6L8D6U6R8D11R17U14R5U6L5D6U6R5D6R8D6R14U38L14D12L8CL5D7R5U7 A1L24D12L5D10R5D28R12U4CR22U20L10D10L12D10

I have no idea what the above could be. If you want to see the file here's a small sample: sample.txt

The Access file (from Broward County, Florida):

The access file just says "Long binary data" for the geometry columns. It has a lot of tables named GDB_xxxx (GDB_SpatialRefs, GDB_GeomColumns, etc). I'm guessing this has something to do with Microsoft's spatial format.

Any help you guys can give would be greatly appreciated!


1 Answer 1


The MS Access mdb is likely a Personal Geodatabase.

It can be read directly into ArcGIS and exported as a shapfile.

Just use the original file and make no changes in Access.

As for the top one the file you need is at ftp://pbcgis:[email protected]/PAO/PARCELS.zip

On the sample you sent the first group of digits before the comma are the Parcel ID. In the shapefile I just sent they are listed as the PARID. You can join if you want but it is not necessary. Just use the zip file I sent.

This should fix them both. You now have the shapefile for Palm Beach in the link above and just right click on the mdb (do not make changes in Access) and you will get a convert to shapefile option. If you do not have ArcGIS QGIS can open a geodatabase (mdb).

  • I am importing the Palm Beach file now, thanks for your help. I do not have ArcGIS, so I am downloading QGIS.
    – slim
    Aug 7, 2013 at 19:02
  • this will show you what to do in QGIS. gis.stackexchange.com/questions/4076/… (look at the answer with most votes, it is better for you not the accepted answer).
    – user17614
    Aug 7, 2013 at 19:09

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