I'm familiar with these terms used by ESRI:


  • Stores visual properties (color, symbols,…)
  • does not store data (attributes, coordinates)
  • links to a Feature Class (or raster data)

Feature Class

  • a spatial dataset (attributes, coordinates)
  • collections of points, lines, or polygons and their attributes
  • no symbols (color, …)
  • e.g. stored as shapefile on disk or feature class in a geodatabase

Exist for them terms that can be used for (nearly) all GIS (independent of the manufacturer)?

I think "layer" can be used for all GIS. But "Feature Class"?

I need the terms because I want to describe the functionality of a GIS independently of a manufacturer.


In place of feature class I would use Spatial Dataset in Vector Format initially, and then shorten to Vector Dataset.

I think layer can be considered to be an already vendor independent term.

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