November 2013
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Open Source GIS 101, Part 9: A File Geodatabase?

Part 9: An Open Source Alternative to the File Geodatabase (Sort of)

Several GIS users enjoy the convenience of using personal geodatabases (.mdb format) to manage maps and tables in a single disk file.

For those who would like to venture into an open source answer to geodatabase functionality, let’s look at SQLite and SpatiaLite.

Spatialite is a spatial extension of SQLite, and SQLite is a relational database management system that lives in a local file on your desktop. With its source code in the public domain, SQLite is widely deployed, and numerous tutorials and community support are available, including what you will find in the home site. SQLite is included in the Python Standard Library, and some GIS users may use the simple command-line utility to practice building SQL expressions.

SpatiaLite’s home page provides a small collection of command line and GUI tools and a quick tutorial, but I like this Almost Idiot’s Guide, hosted by BostonGIS.

Please note that powerful open source relational database systems like PostGIS deserve honorable mention. QGIS has limited support for personal geodatabases, and the ESRI File Geodatabase (.gdb) remains an ESRI-readable proprietary format. Spatialite and SQLite were discussed here because I feel they are important components to an introduction to Open Source GIS for the desktop.

Next, Part 10: OSGEO, The Organization…

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