Vector Data file formats list in GIS

In GIS, we require some data formats to express the geographical features, which mainly are of two types Raster and Vector data formats. These data sources also has multiple file formats in them which are often used to express the geographical features. In this post we are looking forward to see the List of Vector Data file formats in GIS. Vector considers the geographical features as geometrical shape and express them by different types of geometry.

List of Vector Data file formats in GIS

You can also have a look at Raster data source in my previous post Raster data file format lists in GIS. Vector Data is mainly split into three types of geometry according to the geographical features :

  • Points:

    Zero-dimensional points data is most commonly used to represent nonadjacent features and geographical features that can be expressed by single point and to represent discrete data points. Points have zero dimensions, therefore you can measure neither length or area with this dataset. Examples would be schools, points of interest, wells, peaks. Points features are also used to represent areas when displayed at a small scale and abstract points. For instance, point locations could represent city locations or place names. Measurement is not possible by using point data.

  • Line:

    Line (or arc) or Polyline data is used to represent linear features. Common examples would be rivers, railroads, trails, streets and topographic lines. Liner features are displayed at a small scale and it only have one dimension and therefore can only be used to measure length.  Line features have a starting and ending point. Common examples would be road center-lines and hydrology. Line features can measure distance.

  • Polygon:

    Two-dimensional polygons are used to represent areas such as the boundary of a city (on a large scale map), lake, or forest.  Polygon features are two dimensional and therefore can be used to measure the particular area and perimeter of a geographic feature. Polygon features are most commonly distinguished using either a thematic mapping symbology (color schemes), patterns, or in the case of numeric gradation, a color gradation scheme could be used. Polygons convey the most amount of information of the file types. Polygon features can measure perimeter and area.

Both line and point feature data represent polygon data at a much smaller scale and Each of these geometries are linked to a row in a database that describes their attributes. They help reduce clutter by simplifying data locations. As the features are zoomed in, the point location of a auditorium is more realistically represented by a series of building footprints showing the physical location of the campus. Different geometries can also be compared.

Now let us see the List of Vector Data file formats in GIS :

  • Shapefiles

    The Shapefile format is a popular geospatial vector data format for geographic information system (GIS) software for storing the location, shape, and attributes of geographic features. It is developed and regulated by Esri as a (mostly) open specification for data interoperability among Esri and other GIS software products.
    A Shapefile is stored in a set of related files and contains one feature class. The Shapefile is BY FAR the most common geospatial file type you’ll encounter. It’s become the industry standard. you’ll need a complete set of files that are mandatory to make up a Shapefile.

    The required files are –
    .shp is a mandatory Esri file that gives features their geometry. Every Shapefile has its own .shp file that represent spatial vector data. For example, it could be points, lines and polygons in a map.

    .shx are mandatory Esri and AutoCAD shape index position. This type of file is used to search forward and backwards.

    .dbf is a standard database file used to store attribute data and object IDs. A .dbf file is mandatory for shape files. You can open .DBF files in Microsoft Access or Excel.

    .prj is an optional file that contains the metadata associated with the shapefiles coordinate and projection system. If this file does not exist, you will get the error “unknown coordinate system”. If you want to fix this error, you have to use the “define projection” tool Which generates .prj files.

    .xml file types contains the metadata associated with the shapefile. If you delete this file, you essentially delete your metadata. You can open and edit this optional file type (.xml) in any text editor.

    .sbn is an optional spatial index file that optimizes spatial queries. This file type is saved together with a .sbx file. These two files make up a shape index to speed up spatial queries.

    .sbx are similar to .sbn files in Which they speed up loading times. It works with .sbn files to optimize spatial queries. We tested .sbn and .sbx extensions and found that there were faster load times When these files existed. It was 6 seconds faster (27.3 sec versus 33.3 sec) compared with/without .sbn and .sbx files.

    .cpg are optional plain text files that describes the encoding applied to create the Shapefile. If your Shapefile doesn’t have a cpg file, then it has the system default encoding.

  • ArcInfo Coverage

    This is a data model for storing geographic features using ArcInfo software. A coverage stores a set of thematically associated data considered to be a unit. The ArcInfo coverage GIS format is a georelational data model that stores vector data. It has no extension, just a set of folders. Coverages use feature classes, stored as points, arcs, polygons or annotation. Feature attributes are stored in the ArcInfo Coverage’s .adf or INFOb files. It is stored as a directory. Each feature is identified with a unique number. These feature numbers are a way to link attribute data with each spatial feature.

  • E00 ArcInfo Interchange

    This file format intended to support the transfer between ESRI systems of different types of geospatial data used in ESRI software. This GIS format is used to conveniently exchange GIS coverage files. It has the extension E00 and increases incrementally (E01, E02…) with individual coverage files. Export functions in ESRI software assemble all the data and definition files relevant to a particular coverage, grid, or TIN (triangulated irregular network) into a single logical file.
    Although convenient for interchange, you need to process the data before you can add it to ArcGIS. Run the ‘Import from E00’ in the Conversion ArcToolbox in order to access the data.

  • Spatial Database engine (ArcSDE)

    ArcSDE serves data in a centralized way over an entire organization using a relational database management system. GIS users can seamlessly access spatial data using Esri ArcMap, ArcEditor, ArcInfo and other products.
    ArcSDE facilitates versioned editing with multiple users over the same network. Users can easily publish to the web. ArcSDE geodatabases with several DBMS storage models including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, IBM Informix and PostgreSQL.

  • Digital Line Graph (DLG)

    DLGs are topologically structured for use in mapping and GIS applications. DLGs are distributed by the government, and its features are in separate files that most GIS packages will import, although extra data manipulation is often necessary. DLG is a cartographic map feature represented in USGS digital vector form. DLGs consist of line work with the contours removed, therefore elevation is not available. DLGs comes with optional and SDTS formats.

  • GeoJSON

    GeoJSON is a lightweight format based on JSON, used by many open source GIS packages. GeoJSON’s feature includes Points, line strings, polygons and multipart collection of these types. therefore it represents addresses, locations, streets, highways, countries, tracts of lands and many like this. GeoJSON features doesn’t only represent physical world but mobile routing and navigation apps also describe their service coverage using GeoJSON.

  • AutoCAD DXF

    AutoCAD Drawing Interchange File (DXF) is an exchange format for content of AutoCAD Drawing Files (DWG). The DXF format specification is maintained and has been openly published by AutoDesk. DXF coordinates are always without dimensions so that the reader or user needs to know the drawing unit or has to extract it from the textual comments in the sheets.  It does not have topology, but offers good detail on drawings, line widths and styles, colors, and text. DXF is typically constructed in 64 layers. Each layer consists of different features; allowing the user to separate features.

  • Keyhole Markup Language (KML)

    This GIS format is XML-based and is primarily used for Google Earth. KML was developed by Keyhole Inc which was later acquired by Google. KML is an XML notation for expressing geographic annotation and visualization within two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional browsers.
    KML has its own zipped version KMZ (KML-Zipped) which replaced KML and now is the default Google Earth geospatial format because it is much compressed version. KML is an international standard of OGC. KML specifies an interesting set of feature like place marks, image, polygons, textual description and many for displaying in many geospatial software. KML comes with an extension .kmz .


    TIGER stands for Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing. TIGER is a vector data format used by the USCB to describe land attributes such as buildings, roads, lakes and such areas like census tracts. GIS can be used to merge census demographics with the TIGER files to create map and conduct analysis. It includes geocoded block faces with address ranges of street numbers. This means than that they include topology and can address match. The maps are a combination of DLG and DBF/DIME files.

  • Vector Product Format (VPF)

    Vector Product Format (VPF) is a military standard for vector-based digital map products produced by the U.S.DOD. It has been adopted as part of the Digital Geographic Exchange Standard (DIGEST) in the form of Vector Relational Format (VRF), so VPF can be considered to be an international standard as well.

  • Esri TIN

    Triangular irregular networks (TIN) are a digital means to represent surface morphology. This format can spatially describe elevation information including breaking edge features. TINs are a form of vector-based digital geographic data and are constructed by triangulating a set of vertices (points). The vertices are connected with a series of edges to form a network of triangles. Each points and triangle can carry a tag information. A TIN stored in this file format can have any shape, cover multiple regions (e.g. islands) and contain holes (e.g. lakes).

  • Geography Markup Language (GML)

    The Geography Markup Language (GML) is an XML grammar defined by OGC for expressing geographical features. The GML specification defines (a) a language for expressing application schemas for feature types and (b) predefined properties and schemas commonly required to describe geographical features, such as polygons, curves, points, coordinate reference systems, units of measure, observations, coverages, etc. GML serves as a language for geographic systems as well as an open interchange format for geographic transactions.
    GML has the ability to integrate all forms of geographic information, including not only conventional “vector” or discrete objects, but coverages and sensor data.

  • SpatiaLite

    SpatiaLite is an open source library intended to extend the SQLite core to support fully fledged Spatial SQL capabilities. It is similar to PostGIS, Oracle Spatial, and SQL Server with spatial extensions, although SQLite/SpatiaLite aren’t based on client-server architecture: they adopt a simpler personal architecture. SpatiaLite is smoothly integrated into SQLite to provide a complete and powerful Spatial DBMS (mostly OGC-SFS compliant). It isn’t necessary to use SpatiaLite to manage spatial data in SQLite, which has its own implementation of R-tree indexes and geometry types. But SpatiaLite is needed for advanced spatial queries and to support multiple map projections.

  • OSM (OpenStreetMap)

    OpenStreetMap is the largest crowdsourcing GIS data project of the planet Earth.
    The GIS format .OSM is OpenStreetMap’s XML-based file format. The more efficient, smaller PBF Format (“Protocolbuffer Binary Format”) is an alternative to the XML-based format.
    The data interoperability in QGIS can load native .OSM files. The OpenStreetMap plugin can convert PBF to OSM, which then can be used in QGIS.

  • Scalable Vector Graphics

    An SVG is an image that is an extension of the XML language. Any program that recognizes XML can display the SVG image. The scalable part of the term emphasizes that you can zoom- in on an image and not lose resolution. SVG files also have the advantages of being smaller, and arriving faster, than conventional image files such as GIF, PDF, and JPEG.

  • National Transfer Format (NTF)

    It is now the standard transfer format for Ordnance Survey digital data. It is designed for the transfer of spatial information.

  • SOSI

    SOSI is stands for Samordnet Opplegg for Stedfestet Informasjon
    (Coordinated Approach for Spatial Information). It is a spatial data format used for all public exchange of spatial data in Norway. It includes standardized definitions for geometry and topology, data quality, coordinate systems, attributes and metadata.

  • MapInfo TAB format

    The MapInfo TAB format is a popular data format for GIS software. It is developed and regulated by MapInfo Corporation as a proprietary format. MapInfo Professional data set should relate to the two basic environments for working in MapInfo; “Browser View” and “Mapper View” as a basic file component. This environment provides storage of attribute or object data and is represented like a spreadsheet. In this simplified scenario, no geographic information is available. And the minimum files required for the basic MapInfo environment are .TAB and .DAT .

Raster data file format lists in GIS

This post will describe you about the Raster data file format lists in GIS. In Geographical information system there are only two methods which are used to store data for both kinds of mapping references i.e Raster and Vector Data GIS files. And in this post we are going to talk about the various Raster data file formats in GIS.  Raster data is  very useful for analysis. Raster data represents the world as a surface divided into regular grid of cells.

Raster data models are useful for storing data that varies continuously, as in an aerial photograph, a satellite image or an elevation surface. There are two types of raster data: continuous and discrete. Raster stores the data in the type of digital image represented by reducible and enlargeable grids and these grid of cells contains a value representing information, such as temperature, discrete data represents features such as land-use or soils data.

Raster data provides a matrix of cells with values representing a coordinate and sometimes linked to an attribute table and it is much simpler for many layers combinations. Raster data is very easy to modify or program due to simple data structure.

Now coming to the main question how many file formats does Raster data have?  and here we  are going to look for the answer as Raster data file format lists in GIS showing all the data format lists.

Popular Raster data file format lists in GIS

    • Portable Network Graphics (PNG)

      Provides a well-compressed, lossless compression for raster files. It supports a large range of bit depths from monochrome to 64-bit color. Its features include indexed color images of up to 256 colors and effective 100 percent lossless images of up to 16 bits per pixel.

      Single file—extension *.png
    • Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG2000)

      Open-source raster format. A compressed format, allows both lossy and lossless compression. JPEG 2000 is a non-proprietary image compression format based on ISO standards, and typically uses .jp2 as the file extension. It’s advantages are that it offers lossy and lossless compression, and world files (.j2w) can be used to georeference an image in GIS software. Compression ratios are similar to MrSID and ECW formats.

      Single file—extension *.jp2, *.j2c, *.j2k, or *.jpx
    • JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF)

      A standard compression technique for storing full-color and grayscale images. Support for JPEG compression is provided through the JFIF file format.

      Single file—extension *.jpg, *.jpeg, *.jpc, or *.jpe
      World file—extension *.jgw

      ArcCatalog only recognizes the .jpg file extension by default. To add .jpeg or .jpe files to ArcMap without renaming them, add those file extensions to ArcCatalog or drag those files from Windows Explorer into your map.

    • Multi-resolution Seamless Image Database (MrSID)

      Multi-Resolution Seamless Image Database (by Lizardtech). A compressed wavelet format, allows both lossy and lossless compression. MrSID is a proprietary format of LizardTech’s GeoExpress software for imagery compression, and is commonly used on orthoimages. The MrSID file extension is .sid. A companion file with a .sdw extension and the same prefix name as the .sid is used as a world file for georeferencing a MrSID image.
      Most greyscale TIFF images are compressed with MrSID to 10:1 or 15:1. Color images are usually compressed to 30:1 or 40:1. GeoExpress is also commonly used to create image mosaics.
      Most recent GIS software, including ArcGIS, are able to read MrSID compressed images without any additional extensions. ArcView 3.x, however, requires a MrSID Extension for image access. Plugins for other software, such as AutoCAD and Photoshop, may or may not be required.
      Supports generations 2, 3, and 4.

      Single file—extension *.sid
      World file—extension *.sdw
    • Network Common Data Form (netCDF)

      netCDF file format with CF medata conventions for earth science data. Binary storage in open format with optional compression. Allows for direct web-access of subsets/aggregations of maps through OpeNDAP protocol.
      It is the machine-independent data formats that support the creation, access, and sharing of array-oriented scientific data.
      The netCDF libraries support multiple different binary formats for netCDF files:

      • The classic format was used in the first netCDF release, and is still the default format for file creation.
      • The 64-bit offset format was introduced in version 3.6.0, and it supports larger variable and file sizes.
      • The netCDF-4/HDF5 format was introduced in version 4.0; it is the HDF5 data format, with some restrictions.
      • The HDF4 SD format is supported for read-only access.
      • The CDF5 format is supported, in coordination with the parallel- netcdf project.
    • Digital raster graphic(DRG)

      Digital Raster Graphic is a raster file format. From scanning a paper USGS topographic map for use on a computer a digital image is created called DRGs. The DRGs which are created by USGS are typically scanned at 250 dpi and then the DRGs are saved as a TIFF file in the server. The Raster data image usually includes the original border information, referred to as the “map collar”. The raster map file is projected by UTM and georeferenced to the surface of the earth.

      • ARC Digitized Raster Graphic (ADRG)

        ARC Digitized Raster Graphics is a standard National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) digital product. ADRG is designed to support applications that require a raster map background display.
        ADRGs are the digitized maps and transformed charts and The intended exchange medium for ADRG is a compact disk (CD-ROM)
        The ADRG’s charts transformed into a specific georegistration framework and acccomplnied by ASCII encoded support files. ADRG is geographically referenced using the equal arc-second raster chart/map (ARC) system in which the globe is divided into 18 latitudinal bands, or zones. The data consists of raster images and other graphics generated by scanning source documents.

        Multiple files
        Data file—extension *.img or *.ovr
        Legend file—extension *.lgg
      • Enhanced Compressed ARC Raster Graphics (ECRG)

        Enhanced Compressed ARC Raster Graphics (ECRG) file is an Enhanced Compressed ARC Raster Graphics. ECRG is geographically referenced using the ARC system in which the globe is divided into 18 latitudinal bands, or zones. ECRG uses JPEG 2000 compression.
        Distributed by the NGA. CADRG/ECRG is geographically referenced using the ARC system. The data consists of raster images and other graphics generated by scanning source documents. CADRG achieves a nominal compression ratio of 55:1. ECRG uses JPEG 2000 compression using a compression ratio of 20:1

      • Compressed ARC Digitized Raster Graphics (CADRG)

        CADRG is a comprising computer-readable digital map and chart images. they are also the file formats of Raster data. CADRG files are usually physically formatted within a National Imagery Transmission Format (NITF) message. It supports various weapons, C3I theater battle management, mission planning, and digital moving map systems. CADRG data is derived directly from ADRG and other digital sources through downsampling, filtering, compression, and reformatting to the Raster Product Format (RPF) Standard.The CADRG Reader can read CADRG files with or without the NITF message wrapper. The CADRG Writer can create CADRG datasets with or without the NITF message wrapper.

        CADRG achieves a nominal compression ratio of 55:1. ECRG uses JPEG 2000 compression using a compression ratio of 20:1

        File extension is based on specific product. You can specify 	which products you want ArcGIS to recognize (Customize > ArcMap Options > Raster > File Formats).
    • Raster Product Format (RPF)

      Raster Product Format, military file format specified in MIL-STD-2411. RPF is a standard data structure developed in 1994 as a U.S. Military Standard for geospatial databases. RPF’s database is composed of rectangular arrays of pixel values (e.g. in digitized maps or images) in compressed or uncompressed form.
      It was designed as a adaptable format to encompass raster data products in compressed or uncompressed form. The intent was to enable application software to use the data in RPF format on computer readable interchange media (e.g. CD-ROM) directly without further manipulations or transformation.
      The underlying format of CADRG and CIB.
      Single file—no standard file extension

      1. Compressed ADRG – Compressed ADRG, developed by NGA, nominal compression of 55:1 over ADRG (type of Raster Product Format)
      2. CIB – Controlled Image Base, developed by NGA (type of Raster Product Format)

    • Binary file

      An unformatted file consisting of raster data written in one of several data types, where multiple band are stored in BSQ (band sequential), BIP (band interleaved by pixel) or BIL (band interleaved by line). Georeferencing and other metadata are stored one or more sidecar files.
      The Binary Terrain format was created by the Virtual Terrain Project (VTP) to store elevation data in a more flexible file format. The BT format is flexible in terms of file size and spatial reference system.

      Single file—extension *.bt
      Projection file—extension *.prj
      • Band Interleaved by Pixel (BIP), Band Interleaved by Line (BIL), Band Sequential (BSQ)
        This format provides a method for reading and displaying decompressed, BIL, BIP, and BSQ image data. By creating an ASCII description file that describes the layout of the image data, black-and- white, grayscale, pseudo color, and multiband image data can be displayed without translation into a proprietary format.
        BIP and BIL are formats produced by remote sensing systems. The primary difference among them is the technique used to store brightness values captured simultaneously in each of several colors or spectral bands.
        Multiple files

        Data file—extension *.bil, *.bip, or *.bsq
        Header file—extension *.hdr
        Color map file—extension *.clr
        Statistics file—extension *.stx
    • Enhanced Compressed Wavelet (ECW)

      A compressed wavelet format, often lossy. ECW is a proprietary format of ERMapper for imagery compression. It is a more recent format than MrSID, but is gaining popularity because of free compression utilities available from ER Mapper’s website. ECW is a propriatary format. It is a wavelet-based, lossy compression, similar to JPEG 2000.
      It is a proprietary wavelet compression image format optimized for aerial and satellite imagery.
      This format can be used for Desktop, but when publishing, you require the ECW for ArcGIS for Server extension license.

      Single file—extension *.ecw

      ESRI grid – proprietary binary and metadataless ASCII raster formats used by Esri. A proprietary Esriformat that supports 32-bit integer and 32-bit floating-point raster grids. Grids are useful for representing geographic phenomena that vary continuously over space and for performing spatial modeling and analysis of flows, trends, and surfaces such as hydrology.

      color map file—extension *.cl
    • Extensible N-Dimensional Data Format(NDF)

      Format used for storing data representing n-dimensional arrays of numbers, such as images. Uses container files (directories containing files and directories) to manage the data objects.

      Directory—extension *.sdf
    • GDAL Virtual Format (VRT)

      This is a file format created by the Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (GDAL). It allows a virtual dataset to be derived from other datasets that GDAL can read.

      Single file—extension *.vrt
    • Tagged Image File Formats (TIFF)

      This format is associated with scanners. It saves the scanned images and reads them. TIFF can use run length and other image compression schemes. It is not limited to 256 colors like a GIF. Widespread use in the desktop publishing world. It serves as an interface to several scanners and graphic arts packages. TIFF supports black-and-white, grayscale, pseudo color, and true color images, all of which can be stored in a compressed or decompressed format.
      BigTIFF is supported.

      Single file — possible file extensions *.tif, *.tiff, and 	*.tff
      World file — extension *.tfw

      ArcCatalog only recognizes the .tif file extension by default. To add .tiff or .tff files to ArcMap without renaming them, add those file extensions to ArcCatalog or drag those files from Windows Explorer into your map.

    • Geo Tagged Image File Formats (GeoTIFF)

      TIFF variant enriched with GIS relevant metadata, As part of a header in a TIFF format it puts Lat/Long at the edges of the pixels. GeoTIFF driver supports reading, creation and update of internal overviews. Internal overviews can be created on GeoTIFF files opened in update mode (with gdaladdo for instance). If the GeoTIFF file is opened as read only, the creation of overviews will be done in an external .ovr file. Overview are only updated on request with the BuildOverviews() method. The GeoTIFF format is fully compliant with TIFF 6.0, so software incapable of reading and interpreting the specialized metadata will still be able to open a GeoTIFF format file.

    • Graphic Interchange Format (GIF)

      Graphic Interchange Format. A file format for image files, commonly used on the Internet. It is well-suited for images with sharp edges and relatively few gradations of color. A bitmap image format generally used for small images.

      Single file—extension *.gif
      World file—extension *.gfw
    • Digital Elevation Model (DEM)

      The representation of continuous elevation values over a topographic surface by a regular array of z-values, referenced to a common vertical datum. DEM is sometimes used as a generic term for DSMs and DTMs, only when DEM representing height information without any further definition about the surface.
      A DEM can be represented as a raster data(a grid of squares, also known as a heightmap when representing elevation) or as a vector-based triangular irregular network (TIN). When you look at a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) on a map, you don’t see a cell matrix. Instead, you see a layer symbolized by a color ramp.

      • Digital Elevation Models or DEM have two types of displays
        The first is 30-meter elevation data from 1:24,000 seven-and-a-half minute quadrangle map. The second is the 1:250,000 3 arc-second digital terrain data. DEMs are produced by the National Mapping Division of USGS.
      • Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS)  digital elevation model (DEM)
        The Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS) was created by the USGS. The purpose of this format was to transfer digital geospatial data between various computer systems in a compatible format that would not lose any information.

        Multiple files—extension *.ddf

        The actual elevation file that ArcGIS reads is named *CATD.DDF.

      • United States Geological Survey (USGS) digital elevation model (DEM)
        This format consists of a raster grid of regularly spaced elevation values derived from the USGS topographic map series. In their native format, they are written as ANSI-standard ASCII characters in fixed-block format.

        Single file—extension *.dem (need to change .dat extension to .dem)
    • RS Landsat

      Landsat satellite imagery and BIL information are used in RS Landsat.  In one format, using BIL, pixel values from each band are pulled out and combined. Programs that use this kind of information include IDRISI, GRASS, and MapFactory. It is fairly easy to exchange information from within these raster formats.

    • ArcInfo Grid

      An ArcInfo Grid does not have an individual file extension. Instead it is composed of two folders within a “workspace” which each contain multiple files. One of the two folders carries the name of the grid, and contains a number of various .adf files. The other folder is an “info” folder, which typically contains .dat and .nit files for all the coverages and grids in the workspace. The best way to manage (copy, move, delete, rename) ArcInfo Grids is with ArcCatalog or ArcInfo Workstation (command line).

    • Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR) Polarimetric

      AIRSAR is an instrument designed and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). ArcGIS supports the polarimetric AIRSAR data (POLSAR).

      Multiple files with an L, C, or P in the file name followed 	by .dat. For example: mission_l.dat (L-Band) and 	mission_c.dat (C-Band).


  • Bitmap (BMP), device-independent bitmap (DIB) format, or Microsoft Windows bitmap

    BMP files are Windows bitmap images. They are usually used to store pictures or clip art that can be moved between different applications on Windows platforms.

    Single file—extension *.bmp
    World file—extension *.bpw
  • BSB

    This is a compressed raster format used in the distribution of raster nautical charts by MapTech and NOAA

    Multiple files—extensions *.bsb, *.cap, and *.kap
  • Controlled Image Base (CIB)

    Panchromatic (grayscale) images that have been georeferenced and corrected for distortion due to topographic relief distributed by NGA. Thus, they are similar to digital orthophoto quads and have similar applications, such as serving as a base or backdrop for other data or as a simple map.

    File extension is based on specific product. You can specify which products you want ArcGIS to recognize (Customize>ArcMap 	Options>Raster>File Formats)
  • Digital Geographic Information Exchange Standard (DIGEST)

    DIGEST datasets are digital replicas of graphic products designed for seamless worldwide coverage. ASRP data is transformed into the ARC system and divides the earth’s surface into latitudinal zones. USRP data is referenced to UTM or UPS coordinate systems. Both are based on the WGS84 datum.

    Multiple files
    Main raster image—extension *.img
    General information file—extension *.gen
    Georeference file—extension *.ger
    Source file—extension *.sou
    Quality file—extension *.qal
    Transmission header file—extension *.thf
  • File geodatabase

    The geodatabase is the native data structure for ArcGIS and is the primary data format for representing and managing geographic information, such as feature classes, raster datasets, and attributes.

    Raster datasets stored within *.gdb folder
  • ENVI Header

    When ENVI works with a raster dataset it creates a header file containing the information the software requires. This header file can be created for multiple raster file formats.

    Header file—extension *.hdr
    Multiple data files—extension *.raw, *.img, *.dat, *.bsq, 	etc.
  • Golden Software Grid (.grd)

    There are three types of Golden Software Grids that are supported: Golden Software ASCII GRID (GSAG), Golden Software Binary Grid (GSBG), and Golden Software Surfer 7 Binary Grid (GS7BG).

    Single file—extension *.grd
  • GRIB

    The gridded binary format is used for the storage, transmission, and manipulation of meteorological archived data and forecast data. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is responsible for the design and maintenance of this format standard.

    Single file—extension *.grb
  • Hierarchical Data Format (HDF) 4

    A self-defining file format used for storing arrays of multidimensional data.

    Single file—extension *.h4 or *.hdf
  • HGT

    Raw SRTM height files containing elevation measured in meters above sea level, in a geographic projection (latitude and longitude array), with voids indicated using -32768.

    Single file—extension *.hgt
  • High Resolution Elevation (HRE)

    HRE data is intended for a wide variety of National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency (NGA) and National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG) partners and members, and customers external to the NSG, to access and exploit standardized data products. HRE data replaces the current non-standard High Resolution Terrain Elevation/Information (HRTE/HRTI) products and also replaces non- standard products referred to as DTED level 3 thru 6.
    This data format is similar to NITF.

    Multiple files
    Raw image—extension *.hr*
    Metadata—extension *.xml
  • Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS)

    ISIS Cube format as created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for the mapping of planetary imagery. Versions 2 and 3 are supported.

    Single file—extension *.cub
  • Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM)

    The HGT format is used to store elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). SRTM-3 and SRTM-1 v2 files can be displayed.

    Single file—extension *.hgt
  • Terragen terrain

    The Terragen Terrain file was created by Planetside Software. It stores elevation data.

    Single file—possible file extensions *.ter, *.terrain
  • MAP

    PCRaster’s raster format.

    Single file—extension *.map