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An explanation of How Esri Shape files and ERSI DBF files are related.

Though Esri shape files can have many other files associated with them, this article is about SHP and DBF files.

Basically, for every object in the shape file (point, polyline, polygon etc.) there is a record in the database "inside" the DBF file. The .SHP and the .DBF files have the same name (apart from the extension) and are in the same directory.

So programs which load a California.Shp know to look for California.Dbf in the same directory. Here is another example, Waterways:

Shape and Shp and DBF files

The DBF file can be quite big, with many columns:

Example DBF file for a Shape file

Here is a graphical representation of the connection between records in the DBF file and objects in the SHP Shape file:

How DBF file records correspond with  shape file objects

And here is a zoomed part of a DXF file created from the shape file:

Viewing a shape file as a DXF file.

In the above example I've decided just to show two columns in the DXF file, Company and Depth.

The choice of which columns to insert into the DXF file, and if any of them should be used as a Z or elevation value, is done when you first open the shape file or if, later, you click on the settings icon: Shp To Dxf Settings Icon.

You'll get this dialog:

Slecting columns in a DBF file for viewing in a shape's DXF file

If you double click on the word Company in the dialog you'll be able to decide the presence, layer, layer color, and text height of the data in your DXF file:

Change a shape/dbf field column settings.

In ShapeToDxf "column name" and "field" are used interchangeably.

As one customer said:

"I'm a Land Surveyor, and I wanted the ability to be able to take the authority's GIS shapefiles and put them into AutoCAD in Lat/Longs and State Plane Co-ordinates. Being able to bring the text in with the linework is fantastic. I figured a few tens of $ to you rather than thousands to ESRI seemed the best way to go as I really don't need ArcGIS."

Try the free demo by clicking on the button below:

The full version costs $49.99.





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See also DXF from XYZ files.



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