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New Shapefiles

12.08.2016 | Frederik Ramm

For years, the Geofabrik download server has been, and still is, the go-to resource for anyone wanting OSM data neatly sliced up in country or even smaller bites, and for those not into OSM tools we’ve also offered free shape files to open OSM data quickly and easily in tools like ArcGIS, QGIS and so on.

The shape files have always been “quick and dirty”, in a way, designed more for a quick preview than for serious use. We kept them simple because we wanted to be able to refresh them daily, and also because we get some income from selling more complex shape files with a fuller feature set.

One of the main shortcomings of the free shapes was that they didn’t support multipolygons – a data type that is becoming more and more frequent in OSM, being used not only for large forests but also for buildings that have a courtyard or other comparably smaller structures.

We’ve now come up with a new structure for our free shape files that is a slightly reduced version of the shape files we sell for money, but still one that has all the major objects and properties, nicely sorted into layers, and support for multipolygons.

Starting today, you’ll find “preview” links to the new shape files on our download server. We’ll keep the old files around for a while though because we know that many people are used to them. Here’s more info on the move and here’s the detailed layer description for the free shape files.

The paid shape files also receive an upgrade (from v0.6 to v0.7), covering more features and more properties than before, and also for the first time exporting routes on a separate layer. Here’s the new detailed layer description for the 0.7 shape files.

Because of the similarity between the free and paid shape files, it will now be easy for someone working with the free shapes to upgrade to the paid version if they want more features or properties, or if they need a larger area (the free shapes are only available for smaller areas).