[Freegis-list] Re: [gislist] Translator for ESRI geodatabase format

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Thu Oct 13 22:28:32 CEST 2005

On 10/13/05, Bill Thoen <bthoen at gisnet.com> wrote:
> Is there anyone working on an open source translator for ESRI's
> geodatabase format, or is there a tool out there already that can read
> this format? It appears to be an Access file with embedded OLE objects
> (Shape files, etc.) but unless you have the proper licensed ArcGIS 9.1
> components on your computer you can't extract the shape files.
> Seeing as I'm too cheap to want to purchase several thousand dollars
> worth of ESRI software just to translate GIS data into what I use, I'd
> sure like to hear that there's something available. If not, is there
> anyone able to do this and willing to open source a translator, if I can
> find enough funding to make it worth their while?


A consortium of uses recently funded me to implement read-only
support for ESRI Personal Geodatabases.   All you need is the
normal Microsoft Access ODBC driver - no ESRI software.

This is built into the latest FWTools builds from:

You could translate all the layers in a personal geodatabase
to a directory of shapefiles like this (from the FWTools Shell):

  ogr2ogr out_shape_dir mydata.mdb

Some info on the driver is available at:


The "Shape" column is reported as an OLE object but if read
as a BLOB it matches the geometry format that appears in the .shp
file of a shapefile.

PS. Thanks for asking the question in a public forum.  It gives
me an excuse to "toot my own horn".

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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