Home > GeoSpatial, SQL Server > GeoSpatial – GIS File Formats

GeoSpatial – GIS File Formats

GIS file formats are the standards that are used to store the Geo-spatial data. These data formats are created by government entities, educational institution, geological information storage and service organization and etc.

There are many popular open source or proprietary formats available. Following are the most popular format which we are using in day today geography data.

  • Raster
  • Vector
  • Grid
  • Others


Raster data type consists of rows and columns of cells and each cell storing a single value. It uses color code RBG.  An external attribute table can be maintained each cell by rows. Raster data can stored in various formats such file-based structure of TIF, JPEG and etc. We can also use RDBMS to store this data as BLOB.


GIS data in vector format contains typical geometry shapes such as points, line, polygon and etc. to represents geological location or regions in the earth. Usually, vector data may also comes with the database that describes the attributes of the shapes. For instance, if we use point on a building the attribute database may have its address, phone number and etc. to provide additional details about that location.

To understand better about raster and vector, it is ideal to have a look at the below given image.

raster-vector-gis-i4Vector GIS has more flexible and simplicity to integrate in to the application. It is more developer friendly and simple to storage and use.

An Esri grid is a raster GIS file format used to represent elevation and it is developed by Esri.

There are two formats available now:

  1. A proprietary binary format
  2. A non-proprietary ASCII format

There are different organization and their software uses different formats to store GIS data. Below given list is taken from Wikipedia.



Other GIS data storage formats

Vector format, WKT and WKB are the useful GIS data storage and manipulation formats in SQL Server. We will learn about that in the next blog post.

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