Posted on August 6th, 2019

Free For All – August Edition – Free (Barely) and Easy-to-Use Data Converters

Now that we have covered where to find GIS software and data for free, it is time to discuss data conversion tools that exist outside of a GIS in this edition of the Free For All. Although data can easily be converted within most GIS, for many users it is quicker and easier to do these conversions outside of complicated software. There are several websites and software packages that have the express function of converting data; although with many of the free options users must pay a fee to get full functionality.

The first tool I’d like to introduce is MyGeodata Converter as it supports the most formats and has a variety of payment plans. It offers conversions for all the most common geospatial formats including SHP, KML, KMZ, GeoJSON, GeoTIFF and CSV, as well as transformations for most of the common coordinate reference systems. The free plan is limited in terms of the storage and amount of data you can covert, with only 3 conversions per month and 100 MB storage. However, the standard plan is affordable at $19 per month with 500 conversions and 10 GB storage, as well as full API access and technical support.

The next tool, GISConvert.com, is much simpler, yet more limited in scope as compared to MyGeodata Converter. This online converter has a free limitation of 200 MB per conversion, and up to 10 files per day. Options include AutoCAD to SHP or KML, CSV to SHP or DXF, and GPX GPS to SHP. These options are available for bulk conversion, which costs $25 for a single user or $250 for full licensing. They also offer free downloads of PRJ (projection files, or coordinate reference systems) files to accompany data that is missing a projection – assuming you know the correct projection that is! GeoConverter is one of the only completely free options, but it also only allows for conversion from WMS/WFS/Vector/Raster to basic formats such as SHP, GeoJSON and GeoTIFF.

Although there are many more options for online geospatial data conversion, most of them do not offer free services, so I won’t waste your time. Instead, I’d like to talk briefly about FME Software (i.e. Feature Manipulation Engine). This software automates the process of extracting data from the source, transforming it into another format and then loading it to a final destination. This functionality is available in ArcGIS with the data interoperability toolset, so I encourage any robust ArcGIS user to check it out. By using FME workbenches, users can automate data transformations such as converting coordinates into locations, or LiDAR point data into a DEM.

Many tools for online geospatial data conversion require payment for full access, but simple conversions can be done for free if you find the right website. Rather than paying, I encourage you to explore options for data conversion within a free GIS such as QGIS, as well as the options I just covered above.

Jake Zatz
Social Media Guru

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