The shapefile, or ESRI Shapefile, is an old and popular file format that's supported by most desktop GIS systems, but is rarely used directly in web maps. Shapefiles can be a moderately efficient way to transfer larger amounts of spatial data, but they have quirks and limitations that you should be wary of:

  • A shapefile is not one file, but a collection of files - typically .shp, .dbf, and .prj, but there are more than 10 different files that are often also included in the group.
  • The data attached to a shapefile, contained in the .dbf file, limits the length of attribute names and values to 255 characters.
  • A given shapefile can only contain one kind of feature, whether point, polygon, or linestring.

Placemark supports shapefiles as a .zip file containing .shp, .dbf, and .prj, or as those files dropped or selected into the map in one operation.


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