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Interoperability and standards support
ESRI openly publishes and shares a number of its data and web formats as presented in this topic.
A Shapefile is a data file format for storing points, lines, polygons, and associated attribute information. This is a very simple, openly published format defined and supported by ESRI -- originally for use in ArcView Version 2 and 3. Shapefiles have been widely used for data interchange across heterogeneous systems due to:
- Their broad use and adoption by many GIS users and organizations as a data sharing format
- Their simplicity
The ESRI shapefile format specification can be found at:
Geodatabase XML represents ESRI's open mechanism for information interchange between geodatabases and other external systems. ESRI openly publishes and maintains the complete geodatabase schema and content as an XML specification and provides example implementations to illustrate how users can share data updates between heterogeneous systems.
XML interchange of geospatial information to and from the geodatabase is greatly simplified using the geodatabase XML specification. External applications can receive XML data streams including:
- Exchange and sharing of full (as well as portions of) geodatabase schemas between ArcGIS users
- Exchange of complete lossless datasets
- Interchange of simple feature sets (much like shapefile interchange)
- Exchange of change-only (delta) record sets using XML streams to pass updates and changes among geodatabases and other external data structures
Geodatabase XML is the primary interchange mechanism for data sharing among ArcGIS users as well as external users.
To access a white paper on the Geodatabase XML Schema, see XML Schema of the Geodatabase
Support for the ISO standard for SQL spatial types
ArcSDE geodatabase storage for all DBMS's uses the OGC and ISO standard for a SQL spatial data type. This provides full geodatabase support and access as well as a SQL interface to feature class geometry. This enables you to write SQL applications to your DBMS that you can use to access feature class geometry and perform SQL operations and queries. The spatial type for SQL is supported in all DBMS's for ArcGIS Version 9.3 and beyond. This includes support in:
- IBM DB2
- IBM Informix
- Microsoft SQL Server
In addition to the SQL storage options provided by ArcGIS in each of these DBMS's, Oracle and PostgreSQL have other options that are supported.
- For Oracle, you can optionally use the spatial type delivered as part of Oracle Spatial and Oracle Locator to store and manage feature geometry.
- For PostgreSQL, you can optionally use the PostGIS SQL type to store and manage feature geometry.
In all geodatabases, you can decide on a feature class by feature class basis which storage option that you want to use from the available types that are supported in each DBMS. A summary of all storage options that are available for each geodatabase are described here
For more information on the SQL interface to spatial, see An overview of working with the geodatabase using SQL
for more information.
Schema for geodatabase storage in Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, Informix, and DB2
ESRI documents how geodatabases are stored in relational tables in each DBMS. It also describes how we utilize OGC and ISO simple features and how feature and raster geometry are stored in each DBMS. This includes a description of ArcGIS support for ISO/OGC spatial types in various DBMS's.
For more information, refer to How geodatabases are stored in a DBMS
ArcGIS Server SOAP and REST API's for web programming
Among its many capabilities, ArcGIS Server is used to publish a range of GIS-based web services -- for example:
- Map services
- 3D globe services
- Geodata services
- Image services
For information about the SOAP XML programming interfaces to ArcGIS Server, see Working with the ArcGIS Server SOAP API
ArcXML is the primary XML specification used by ArcIMS for mapping and metadata web services. For example, ArcIMS Feature and Image services are defined on the server using an ArcXML map configuration file.
ArcXML was one of ESRI's original extensible markup language (XML) specifications for publishing maps, data, and metadata. It was developed prior to the W3C SOAP specification for web services that more recent ESRI software uses.
In ArcXML (often referred to as "AXL"), map configuration files contain information regarding map properties, such as a list of layers, spatial information, and layer-rendering instructions. ArcIMS Map Server services use ArcXML for communication between the ArcIMS Server and related client applications.
For more information, see the ArcXML Programmer's Guide