[Qgis-us-user] Newbie question about importing shapefiles and layers from Arcmaps

karsten karsten at terragis.net
Thu Mar 3 13:47:23 PST 2022

Hi Judith,
in order to load a shape file you have to select the *.shp file e.g. if you
have one shape file building you should have (as a minimum) 3 files:
building.dbf  (attributes . this is the old dbase format table)
building.shp (geometries)
building.shx (index to join geometries and attributes)
in addition you could have the projection file:
All other files you mentioned like building.cpg etc. have been produced by
ArcGIS and are not read by QGIS and also not needed at all (those are for
internal use in ArcGIS ...)
Read about shape file here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shapefile
So there many ways to load a shape file into QGIS
1.) drag and drop the file with (windows ) explorer or your operating file
manager not QGIS (only select the building,shp, the other will give you an
That is one correct way to load all information also the info contained in
the dbf  , shx  and prj files ! Nothing is lost with that procedure
2.) use browser panel in QGIS and double click the shape file -> will load
3.) use Menu Layer > Add Layer > Add vector layer , select desired shape
file , ok -> will load
> >>  Similarly, the New York State Orthographic imagery has .aux, .j2w,
.jp2, and .tab
When I bring in a file, I can bring in .aux, but QGIS flags it as having a
Read Block error,, and .jp2, which seems to be fine, shows the data just
like it looks in Arcmaps, and seems to contain coordinates. For the other
file types (.j2w and .tab), I get an invalid data type message.  >>>
Same thing only load the *-tif or *-jp2 
option 1: drag and drop via file explorer 
option 2:  use Menu Layer > Add Layer > Add raster layer select desired
raster file (*tif or jp2 e.g.) , ok -> will load
Do not try to load *aux or such files ... 
 >>> The question is: am I losing any data that is contained in the
"invalid" files? Do I need all three of the kinds of shapefile subfiles that
seem to work? They all have the same attribute table contents. Why would
ESRI use 8 different subfiles for a "shapefile"  
See explanation above , really needed are shp, dbf  , shx  and prj , in fact
all other can be safely deleted !
 and the NY Ortho use 4 (evidently needed for Arcmaps) if they contain only
redundant information? Am I safe just using one of the ones that work, such
as .shp and .p2, and not worrying about the rest?
Exactly when you managed to load the shape and tif or jp2 and the loading
correctly then you are done :) 

 >>> It would be lovely to just be able to import my Arcmaps work instead of
rebuilding everything. I understand SLYER is expensive. I found an open
source plugin, Mxd2Qgs, that suppsedly would import my map packages, but I
don't understand the documentation. Suggestions? 
Transferring styles between programs is difficult . If you can have someone
export from ArcGIS the *.lyr styles as SLD format ( see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styled_Layer_Descriptor ) as is possible with
some ArcGIS extensions then go that route (least trouble). 
I could not find the Mxd2Qgs plugin so far...
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