All CMaps Analytics tools, including CMaps Plugin (formerly GMaps Plugin), supports direct connectivity to ESRI Shapefiles (.SHP) which provides instant display of custom territories, polygons, administrative areas, shapes, thematic maps, or linear assets.
Shapefiles in CMaps Analytics are loaded independent of your business data. Instead, CMaps Analytics automatically blends data from Shapefiles with your business data to create visualizations like heatmaps.
What is a Shapefile?
The ESRI Shapefile or simply a shapefile is a popular geo-spatial vector data format for geographic information systems (GIS) software. The standard was developed and regulated by ESRI as an open specification for data interoperability among ESRI and other software products. The benefit of a shapefile is that it is highly compressed and portable, enabling software applications to load large volumes of binary, geographic data.
Shapefiles are made available with many popular GIS solutions. There is a lot of data made available on the web, most commonly from organizations like CDC, or local governments. In many cases, boundary files are freely available on the internet. If your organization currently uses a GIS solution like ESRI or MapInfo, you can consult with your GIS solution expert. If there are specific shapefiles that your organization requires for development, please contact support.
When obtaining your Shapefiles, you will typically get a minimum of 3 files:
- SHP- The SHP file contains the data required to plot data points that make up the shapes. The .SHP file is linked directly to GMaps Plugin, where it is rendered as a layer.
- DBF- Database file table contains all of the meta data that describes each individual shape in the .SHP file. The DBF is extremely important because the SHP file does not contain any meta data required for labels in your map.
- SHX- Index file used to combine SHP and DBF file for GIS solutions. This file is required to maintain the integrity of the files when used with GIS solutions. GMaps Plugin does NOT utilize the SHX, but it is important to keep all 3 files together in case if you need to edit the shape data within a GIS solution.
Learn more about Shapefiles from the ESRI Shapefile Specification
Shapefile Requirements for use with CMaps Analytics
- CMaps Analytics only supports the Polygon, Polygon-Z and Polyline shape types.
- Shapefile projection should be WGS 84
- Shapefile sizing should be less than 2MB for the best dashboard or application performance
At Centigon Solutions, we have prepared common geo-data and collected resources for you to locate and download geo data in Shapefile format.
Where to Find Shapefiles?
While there are free resources on the web for Shapefiles, we have pulled together the basic resources you need to rapidly access, connect, and progress forward on your analytics project.
TUTORIAL: Editing Shapefiles with Quantum GIS
Creating your own Regions and Territories
Most organizations operate with custom territories or geographic regions. Shapefiles provide the perfect base for editing and compiling custom regions. Quantum GIS basic GIS capabilities for merging and saving Shapefiles. CMaps Region Creator, provides automation to the region/territory creation process.
View CMaps Region Creator
To visualize one or multiple shapefiles into your dashboard, you will first need to upload your shapefiles onto any web/application server. This needs to be a web application server that is accessible via HTTP. Ultimately, you need to be able to access the shapefile as a URL (http://yourwebserver/yourfile.shp). If you are publishing your dashboard (SWF) to a web server, shapefiles are only accessible via HTTP and will not work if the shapefile is on your local computer or file share.
Product Specific Instructions:
Define Shapefile and Data Order Keys
A Shapefile has a very specific data index/order that will NOT match your business data queries. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that your business data or query will contain all of the locations inside of a Shapefile. Built into CMaps Plugin and GMaps Plugin is a simple Data to Shape Linking & Visibility feature that simplifies this connection. You will first bind Shape File Order Keys which is a definition of all shapes inside of your shapefile. Then you will link corresponding column of data with your business data with corresponding keys.
US County Toggle
Global Drill to State / Province
Drill from State to County with Shapefile Keys
Regions & Admin Areas with Shapefiles