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Whats a Shapefile?

Whats a Shapefile?
Credits: Survey of India

A shapefile is a data format used in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for storing geospatial information. It contains both geometry and attribute data, often used for mapping and analysing geographic features like points, lines, and polygons. Shapefiles commonly consist of a set of files with extensions like .shp for geometry, .shx for index data, and .dbf for attribute data. These files work together to accurately represent and store spatial data for various applications, ranging from urban planning to environmental studies.

A shapefile stores nontopological geometry and attribute information for the spatial features in a data set. The geometry for a feature is stored as a shape comprising a set of vector coordinates. Because shapefiles do not have the processing overhead of a topological data structure, they have advantages over other data sources such as faster drawing speed and edit ability. Shapefiles handle single features that overlap or that are noncontiguous. They also typically require less disk space and are easier to read and write.
Shapefiles can support point, line, and area features.

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