What is a shapefile in GIS


OpenStreetMap shapefiles

If you need OpenStreetMap data in the form of shapefiles for your further processing, you are at the right address at Geofabrik. The Geofabrik produces shapefiles in all sizes, shapes and colors. A selection of simple, free shapes that is updated daily can already be downloaded for free from http://download.geofabrik.de.

We offer our customers a shapefile export, which is once again significantly richer in features and in which we have already fixed many of the peculiarities (and in some cases errors) of OpenStreetMap, which make further processing of the data in GIS systems more difficult.

These extended shape files follow our standard OpenStreetMap Data in Layered GIS format, which we are constantly developing. Here are two sample shapefiles for download (the files each contain all layers, not just the ones shown):

Dresden: land use, buildings, railroad tracks.
Download: approx. 34 MB; all layers.

Toulouse: roads, rails, waterways.
Download: approx. 63 MB; all layers.

Routable shapefiles

For graph analysis (e.g. route calculation or accessibility analysis by programs such as Network Analyst) we also offer special routable shape files that only contain the road network. With this data, streets and paths from OpenStreetMap are split up in a separate preprocessing step at each intersection, so that the resulting shape file only contains path segments. This preprocessing is different depending on whether a routing graph is required for motor vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians. On request, we can already determine the expected travel time on each segment and add it to the shapefile. Here is an example of such a routable shapefile.

Inquiries and orders

Shapefiles from the Geofabrik are not a mass product that falls out of a machine. We create the shape files for you from up-to-date data, check the results and are of course there for our customers even after delivery if there are any questions or problems. Decide for yourself what you need:
What section - individual countries, continents, the whole world?
Which dates - a thematic selection or everything that OpenStreetMap has to offer?
What structure - do you take our standard, or do you have a predefined structure?
Special requirements - should your shapefiles not exceed a certain size, have a special character set or be limited to a certain number of features? Do you need simplified geometries or names in a special language?
How often - is it a one-off delivery, or would you like to receive an automatic update on a regular basis?

The Geofabrik calculates a flat rate for these services, which is based on the estimated effort; let us make you an offer! In Europe you can expect the following prices for a single delivery:

areaData volume roughlyStandard shapefilesroutable
City State1 GBEUR 200EUR 300
whole country or some neighboring countries5 GBEUR 300 - EUR 500EUR 500
whole continent30 GBEUR 500 - EUR 1,000EUR 750
whole world75 GBEUR 1,800EUR 1,500

These prices are processing costs plus VAT, not a license fee - OpenStreetMap data is under the ODbL license, which allows you to continue using the data as you wish without license costs.

Special shapefiles

In addition to the free and paid shape files, we also offer thematic shape files. These include, among others:

  • Electricity (contains power plants, wind turbines, high-voltage lines)
  • Postal code areas (where available in OSM), optionally also simplified geometries
  • Administrative boundaries as polygons, optionally with information on the hierarchy, simplified geometries and optionally without territorial waters (documentation, examples)
  • local public transport

The prices for these shapefiles are based on the amount of work. Let us make you an offer!

Paid vs. free shapefiles

You might be wondering why we offer free and paid shapefiles.
Our free shapefiles are created daily in an automated process. We cannot respond to special requests, and the number of layers we can offer is limited because otherwise we would not be able to recalculate half the world every day. For the same reason only contain a reduced selection of layers. Nevertheless, they are quite suitable for simple applications; after all, they contain, for example, the complete road network, many POIs and many areas from OpenStreetMap. We offer this free data preparation to make OpenStreetMap better known and thus to win new project members in the long term. For details on the differences between free and paid shapefiles, please refer to Chapter 7 of the documentation for free shapefiles.

Our fee-based shape files not only contain significantly more data (see OpenStreetMap Data in Layered GIS Format,); they are also prepared in such a way that further processing in common GIS systems is as simple as possible, for example, in that planar POIs are automatically provided as center points and in many places OSM objects that mean the same thing but are modeled differently in OSM have been grouped together .

With the chargeable shapes, we can respond to almost any customer request, e.g. in the selection of features and attributes, the conversion into shape files, the regional division. We make sure that you get data that you can actually use.

Both our free and paid shapefiles are generated from OpenStreetMap data that is updated daily and contain multipolygon areas.

Geofabrik: right at the forefront

The Geofabrik has a complete copy of the entire OpenStreetMap database that is no older than a few minutes. This means that we can always produce up-to-date and complete extracts of this data, even at short notice if necessary. The Geofabrik employees are active in the OpenStreetMap project themselves on a daily basis, and if something changes in the project or there is a problem somewhere, the Geofabrik is among the first to know. Benefit from our expertise: We know what we are doing.