Cartographica is commonly used to provide visual interpretations and facilitate analysis of geospatial data. Most data that is analyzed in Cartographica is not created or produced internally. Instead, users typically add data into the maps that have been previously obtained from entities like government agencies or private businesses.

Cartographica imports data from many sources. Using algorithms created by the ClueTrust team and by the folks who create, maintain, and contribute to Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (GDAL), Cartographica is able to bring in data from an enormous number of sources, including (but not limited to):

  • ESRI┬« Shape Files
  • MapInfo┬« MAP Files
  • USGS DEM and DRG files
  • Ordnance Survey and GML files
  • ESRI Personal Geodatabase
  • GPX files
  • KML files
  • ESRI File Geodatabase

The types of files you will use as source data will vary depending upon what you have available and what specific needs you have. The general kinds of data that Cartographica can import are:

Vector Files

Files that contain referenced data in numeric form that can be scaled up to the resolution of the data. Vector data includes data such as points, lines, and polygons.

Raster Files

Files that contain picture information (such as an orthophoto) or data sampled at a specific resolution as point sources. Raster Data includes data such as pictures or satellite images, as well as sample grids and height or depth data.

Text Files (or Table Data)

Text files can be used to bring in simple geospatial data (such as points) or to merge in adjunct information, and usually contain lists of values (or fields). Table data include comma separated values (csv) and tab separated values (tsv). Text/Table import supports a variety of character sets, including UTF-8, WindowsLatin1, and others. If you are using a non UTF-8 character set, it's best to set that when opening the file.

GPS Data

GPS Devices provide location information sampled at a particular point in time. For most purposes, these are waypoints (point sources marked by the GPS User) and tracks (timestamped record of the device's travels).

Database Information

Databases can contain many of the types of data already described above. Although they usually most similarly resemble Text Files (fields of data and possibly simple geospatial data), some database formats contain complex geometry.

Common File Types

For many applications, a single Cartographica Map Set will contain multiple layers loaded from more than one type of file or other data source. For example, vector data is often used with an underlying raster image in order to show it in the context of an aerial photo.

With Version 1.2 of Cartographica, we have introduced the ability to use dynamic maps as well as the static maps that we have described so far. These can take on a number of different forms, including vector data and raster imagery and can come from a variety of sources.

BingTM Maps

Bing Maps provides images for use as background maps in Cartographica (and other programs as well as many web sites). The images available include satellite imagery, roads, and a hybrid combination of the two. Access to the Bing data requires an active support license for Cartographica.


OpenStreetMap is a service and an informal protocol. Although the original OpenStreetMap is a service run from the UK which provides street-level map data which has been put together on a volunteer basis around the world, the URL pattern used by OpenStreetMap has now become an ad hoc standard and is also used by other providers.  Cartographica can support any tiled data source that uses the OpenStreetMap URL pattern.

Web Map Servers

Web Map Servers are servers that use the WMS protocol, defined by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). This protocol is widely used in private and public systems and a growing amount of data is available using it. WMS data is by nature raster data, meaning that it carries no attributes with it. It is most commonly used as background imagery or to offload complex overlay tasks to a server so that clients do not need to merge multiple layers.

Web Feature Servers

Web Feature Servers are servers that use the WFS protocol, also defined by the OGC. This protocol is widely used in private and public systems and a growing amount of data is available using it. Unlike WMS, WFS serves data which is, by nature, Features and therefore vector. Data from these types of services may be used in analysis and more flexibly understood.

Server-Based Formats