Formats and Data Sources


Formats and Data Sources

This chapter provides notes on various file formats and data sources to which Manifold can connect.   Manifold can read virtually every format and data source in existence.   See the Big List of Formats and Data Sources topic for the huge list.   


There are so many formats and data sources that Manifold can read that most do not have their own topics.   A partial listing of formats documented within individual topics follows:


DBMS Data Sources - Notes

A topic that captures technical notes from engineering on using DBMS packages such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, DB2 or other DBMS packages.

Big List of Formats and Data Sources

A more or less comprehensive list of all formats and data sources Manifold can handle, in addition to those for which the following individual topics are provided.  

000, S57

Used for nautical charts, especially for ENC electronic chart displays used in shipping.


ADF files can contain raster data, ESRI TIN data or vector (drawing) data.

BIL, ESRI Band Interleaved by Line

BIL is an ESRI format used for raster data.

BNA, Atlas BNA

Atlas BNA format, a legacy vector format used with Atlas GIS packages.


BWx is a legacy US Census Bureau TIGER file format.


Comma Separated Values (CSV)  and similar formats for text files, where each line is a record and the values for fields are separated by a character such as a comma (CSV), a | "pipe" character (Pipe Separated Values, or PSV) and similar.   Includes the File:csv type when creating a new data source.   

CTG, LULC Grid Cell

LULC (Land Use Land Cover) data from USGS in CTG (Composite Theme Grid) raster format, also known as Grid Cell files.


US government SDTS (Spatial Data Transfer Standard) format using file names that end in a three-letter DDF extension.   DDF files can store raster or vector data.


DDR files as used with Log ASCII Standard (LAS) format used for well logging data. This is a legacy format different from the LAS format used for LiDAR data.   LAS is a format originally developed by the Canadian Well Logging society in the late 1980's.     DDR files are most often encountered with older raster data from archival sites providing satellite images recorded by earth observation satellites in the 1990's.  

DGN, Intergraph

A legacy vector format used with Intergraph and Bentley Microstation GIS products.

DNG, Adobe

DNG is an Adobe raster image format similar to TIF.  It provides no projection information and is primarily used for photography and non-spatial graphics arts.


AutoCAD DWG format, a spatially-unaware CAD format that saves neither database information nor projection settings.  


AutoCAD DXF format, a spatially-unaware CAD format that saves neither database information nor projection settings.  


ESRI .e00 is a complex legacy format used with ESRI's ArcINFO GIS product. It is capable of storing different types of data, including images and surfaces ("grids"), but is most often used for drawings.


ERMapper, ERDAS format.  A high performance, more modern technology for raster compression using wavelet algorithms.  Manifold can link or import ECW and can export to ECW as well.

GDB, ESRI File Geodatabase

File geodatabases are ESRI's recommended geodatabase format.  Manifold's GDB dataport includes numerous features to facilitate read/write use of ESRI file geodatabases.


GDAL / OGR is not a single format but a collection of open source libraries that can read many formats, including many formats that Manifold can directly read.


Files providing spatial data using GeoJSON, a "geographic" format using text written in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON).  Manifold automatically reads TopoJSON when a GeoJSON file contains TopoJSON.  Geometry collections are expanded automatically.  Manifold's GeoJSON dataport automatically recognizes GeoJSON content in files that end with either a .geojson or .json file extension.

GIRAS, LULC Vector Format

LULC (Land Use Land Cover) data from USGS in GIRAS (Geographical Information Retrieval and Analysis System) vector format.


ERDAS .gis or .lan formats are often used for raster images, for example, from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite imagery.


GML uses XML-like text to encode spatial data.


The OGC GeoPackage format for storing vector and raster spatial data within an SQLite database container within a single .gpkg file.  As an interchange format, clearly superior to ubiquitous, but obsolete, shapefiles.

J2K, JPEG 2000

A compression format using wavelet compression similar to ECW and MrSID.  

KML, KMZ Google

Text based format introduced by Google.   KMZ is the same thing that is compressed using "zip" compression.

MIF, MID  MapInfo

MapInfo mid/mif, an interchange format for vector drawings.

SHP, Shapefiles

Notes on ESRI shapefiles, including exporting drawings to shapefiles.


A format for raster compression using wavelet technology that was popular with government agencies in the early 2000's. Manifold directly reads MrSID format as a built-in format.

TAB, MapInfo

MapInfo TAB "table" format consists of multiple files, usually five files, referenced by a controlling .tab file. TAB format can result in drawings, labels, and raster images.


Adobe Tagged Image File Format (TIFF or TIF) that is so universally used few people know it is a Adobe format.  The GeoTIFF form of TIF includes tags providing projection information.  Manifold reads GeoTIFF info and always writes TIF files with internal tags that make them GeoTIFFs.