What format(s) would/should be provided/included with a gis dataset repository?

I know that there is no correct answer, i'd like as many different answers/opinions as possible to make the best informed opinion.

Open data github group has been discussing this:

I'm not sure if it is kosher to cross pollinate github with stack like this, in my opinion it should be, but apologies if this is overbearing.

  • 1
    In my opinion, Shapefiles are still the standard format.
    – Karsten W.
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 10:38
  • 1
    The large European INSPIRE programme pushes geo-data providers to publish 'views' of data as Web Map Service (WMS) and downloads as Web Feature Service (WFS), rather than Shapefiles. I'd be interested in what benefits this has for users, from those that know about this.
    – D Read
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 12:02
  • and a second? or third?
    – albert
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 16:44
  • What type of GIS data? road networks (lines) or telephone poles (points) are much different from raster data (eg, satellite images).
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 23:20
  • 1
    possibly relevant : digitalpreservation.gov/formats/content/gis.shtml
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


I would say that geojson is in the top of my personal list. JSON is really easy to use it with a programming language, especially with Python that I am familiar with. Also, it is easy for conversions. If someone has another system and he has to use the data in another format, he could convert it to that format from JSON pretty easy.

Also, shapefiles are very popular and I feel it would be my second choice.


I'd vote for geojson or geocsv in first instance followed by shapefiles and perhaps topojson if that optimization of geojson was important.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.