Alberta Soil Information Viewer Mark Up Tool Tip: Importing and Exporting Geographic Data

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 Introduction | CSV and XLS Formats | GPS Format | SHP Format | KML Format

The Alberta Soil Information Viewer now has the capability to import local, geographic data sources, and export client supplied or modified geographic data occurring in an Alberta Soil Information Viewer session. Importing geographic data can be accomplished in four standard formats:

    1. Comma delimited coordinates and labels (CSV).
    2. Global Positioning System way points, tracks, and areas (GPS) .
    3. esri Shape layer format (SHP) or
    4. The Google keyhole markup language (KML)

Exporting geographic data can be done in three standard formats:
  1. Comma delimited coordinates and labels (CSV).
  2. The Google keyhole markup language (KML) or
  3. esri Shape layer format (SHP).

The purpose of this document is to show how to access this capability in the viewer and where it makes sense to do so, give working examples of the formats.

The import and export capability is located in the tool bar across the top of the map area of the viewer in an icon known as the "Mark Up Tool widget":

The CSV and XLS Formats

These formats store columns and rows of data in a text file or spreadsheet. They consist of a line or row of cells defining the column headings and subsequent lines
or rows following the headings that contain the spatial data and labels or columns of soil information. The first line is often referred to as the "header" of the file or
spreadsheet. The data that can be stored can be both numeric or character in nature. The software consuming a CSV or XLS formatted file usually decides on how to
class the data type by evaluating each column of data. In the case of the CSV format, if the column of data has only numeric values and the header label has no double
quotes surrounding it then that column will be handled as numeric data. If the column of data has any character data in the column the data will be handled as a

In the case of the CSV file, the Alberta Soil Information Viewer is looking for a header structure that looks like:

x,y, label1name,label2name ,labelname3,...

The "x" and "y" fields containing longitude and latitude coordinates must be numeric, decimal degree values. Further to this it is important that the "x" or "longitude"
value is specified as a negative decimal degree value. To illustrate the previous statement, if the example CSV file, available for download, had a positive
longitude value the site would be located in the Yablonovyy Khrebet Mountain Range in far eastern Russia north east of Lake Baikal, This location is
approximately 8,300 kilometers west of the site's actual location in Athabasca County, just south of the Lesser Slave River. Would the soils and climate information
be the same at these two sites? Potentially, but not likely...

The remaining label data can be either text or numeric.

The XLS spreadsheet format is only used to export Soil Information contained in the viewer. The header of this spreadsheet looks like:

The GPS Format

The Global Positioning System (GPS) format chosen as the standard for import data into the Alberta Soil Information Viewer makes use of the GPS eXchange (GPX) format. GPX files can contain: waypoints, tracks, or routes.
GPX is a form of the Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Example GPS files, in GPX format, available for download are:

The SHP Format

The esri Shape layer format (SHP) is another way to import local data. A shape layer can store geographic features as points, lines, or polygons. A shape layer can not store mixed groups of features. Point, line or polygon features have to be stored in separate esri Shape layers. The Alberta Soil Information Viewer expects to find the constituent files that make up an esri shape layer in the form of a compressed zip archive. A valid esri Shape layer contains at least four individual files that are named the same but have different file extensions and functions:

  1. Sample_Sites.shp: provides the spatial data contained in the shape layer.
  2. Sample_Sites.dbf: provides the tabular attributes associated with the shape layer.
  3. Sample_Sites.shx: provides the linkages between the spatial and tabular data.
  4. Sample_Sites.prj: provides the map projection information in which the shape layer's spatial data is stored.

Further information regarding the esri Shape layer format (SHP) can be found at the following URL:

The KML Format

The Keyhole Markup Language (KML) format is a variation on the Extensible Markup Language (XML). The KML was originally developed by a software company called Keyhole Inc. This company was acquired by Google in 2004. Google Map and Google Earth were the first internet mapping platforms to adopt the KML format. Like the GPX file format described earlier, KML files store their instructions in a text file format . If there are a lot of spatial features to be stored, KML files can become very large. Large KML files can be compress into a zip compressed (KMZ) file to save disc space. This zip compressed KML file is characterized by a file extension of ".KMZ".The Alberta Soil Information Viewer consumes KML files that have been zip compressed and have a file extension of "*.KMZ".

Further information regarding the KML format can be found at the following URL:

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For more information about the content of this document, contact David Spiess.
This document is maintained by David Hildebrand.
This information published to the web on January 16, 2013.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 19, 2015.