For current cause I’m posting about the GeoPackage file format today.
Some of you may have asked yourself: ‘Why should I use GeoPackage?’, ‘Is GeoPackage better than Esri Shapefile?’ or even: ‘What is GeoPackage?!’
To cite Wikipedia: ‘An OGC GeoPackage (GPKG) is an open, non-proprietary, platform-independent and standards-based data format for geographic information system implemented as a SQLite database container.’
As you may have noticed, QGIS 3 switched from Shapefile to GeoPackage as default in most cases. Thus, rendering gets really fast. Loading, panning and zooming feel way more quicker with GeoPackage than with Shapefiles.
I tried to make a list with the cons and pros of both: GeoPackage and Esri Shapes. Perhaps it is more appropriate for you to switch to GeoPackage in the future.
- OGC standard
- Broadly implemented (GDAL, QGIS, R, Python, Esri, …)
- More lightweight than a real geodatabase, but as fast as a geodatabase
- Everything is contained in a single file -> easier file management with GeoPackage than with Esri Shapefile
- Faster work-flow than with Shapfiles.
- There are nearly no limitations
- Relatively young (Encoding Standard (1.0) adopted by OGC in 2014). (But honestly, that’s not a real con…)
- Raster support is relatively limited (personal experiences in QGIS)
- It’s a defacto standard and well established
- It’s iconic (Shapefiles Twitter)
- It is proprietary (closed and controlled by Esri)
- It’s relatively sluggish
- It’s a multifile format (.shp,.dbf.,.shx,.prj, encoding, other indexes, etc.) (everybody knows the problem with GIS newbies sending you solely the .shp… 😉 )
- Attribute names are limited to 10 characters
- No ability to store topologies in the files
- Uses Esris WKT. Can result in inconsistencies
- File size is restricted to 2 GB
- Can only contain one geometry type per file
- No real 3D support
As you see, there is no real reason to use still Shapefiles. Perhaps I could convince you to use GeoPackage instead of Esris stuff in the future. Personally, I would like to see more people I’m working with using GeoPackage. Of course, it’s not always useful to go with Geopackage; e.g. if you have huge datasets and want real DBMS capabilities, I would recommend to use PostGIS.
If you like GeoPackage, than share this information with your coworkers and collaborators!
The next days I will give you a short tutorial on how to use GeoPackage in QGIS properly. So see you next time!
UPDATE, 2018-03-16: Thank you Andreas for the note. Similar or overlapping arguments can be found at schwitchfromshapefile.org (aka ‘Shapefile must die!’). If you are interested in other geodata formats compared to Esri shape, like GeoJSON, OGC GML, SpatialLite, CSV and OGC KML, also go and visit their site or cooperate with them on github.