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ESRI Shapefile

The ESRI Shapefile or simply a shapefile is a popular geospatial vector data format for geographic information systems software. It is developed and regulated by ESRI as a (mostly) open specification for data interoperability among ESRI and other software products.[1] A "shapefile" commonly refers to a collection of files with ".shp", ".shx", ".dbf", and other extensions on a common prefix name (e.g., "lakes.*"). The actual shapefile relates specifically to files with the ".shp" extension, however this file alone is incomplete for distribution, as the other supporting files are required.

Shapefiles spatially describe geometries: points, polylines, and polygons. These, for example, could represent water wells, rivers, and lakes, respectively. Each item may also have attributes that describe the items, such as the name or temperature.


KML, or Keyhole Markup Language, is an XML grammar and file format for modeling and storing geographic features such as points, lines, images, polygons, and models for display in Google Earth and Google Maps. You can use KML to share places and information with other users of Google Earth and Google Maps. You can find example KML files on the KML Gallery and Google Earth Community site that describe interesting features and places.

A KML file is processed by Google Earth and Google Maps in a similar way that HTML and XML files are processed by web browsers. Like HTML, KML has a tag-based structure with names and attributes used for specific display purposes. Thus, Google Earth and Google Maps act as browsers of KML files. Learn more.


Google Maps can only display certain features of KML. For more information, see this Google Maps Help topic


XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a general-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages.[1] It is classified as an extensible language, because it allows the user to define the mark-up elements. XML's purpose is to aid information systems in sharing structured data, especially via the Internet, [2] to encode documents, and to serialize data; in the last context, it compares with text-based serialization languages such as JSON, YAML and S-Expressions.


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