3.2. Importing Vector Files

Vector files contain geospatial information and often have accompanying reference data that describes the data in the files.

Importing Vector Files

  1. Choose File  >  Import Vector Data….

    The standard file chooser will come up

  2. Select the vector file to import and click OK

    If you have more than one file to import, you can either select multiple items during this import.

    The projection of the map will be set by the first layer added, and projections of each file will be recorded as loaded to make sure each layer is reprojected correctly.


    Vector imports are quite straightforward and usually do not require any additional decision making, but in the event that your data is in a non-standard character format, you can override the automatic character format detection and select it explicitly. Data loaded from these files is inserted into the Cartographica system as points, lines, or polygons (as appropriate) and any per-feature data is added as necessary.

  3. Once you have imported the data, choose Layer  >  Set Layer Projection… to confirm that the coordinate system of the data is accurately selected

3.2.1. Characters and Encodings

For shapefiles, Cartographica attempts to figure out what kind of encodings are used in the files by first checking for a ".cpg" file (which will be written by ESRI's products when attempting to write out files that don't conform to specifications in the DBF format), then looking at the LDID inside of the ".dbf" file itself.

If that fails, the presumption is that the data is in ISO Latin 1, which is the default for older files. We have confirmed success working with UTF-8 and many other character sets, but since not all characters are represented in the schemes other than UTF-8, there is the potential for losing some data when exporting to other character formats.

In the case of GML and KML, the imported data is presumed to be Unicode UTF-8 (unless specified otherwise in the file itself, since there exist ways to do that in these XML-based formats). Other file types may use specific characters set in the import window.