Simplify your Shapefiles

As mapping professionals, we often want more detail – the more accurate the better. But occasionally we need to simplify our maps (specifically our shapefiles) for presentation purposes or to speed up web map applications. Now you can very easily simplify your shapefiles online using MapShaper. I’ve used it and it was a breeze. Here is some info directly from their blog: “MapShaper is a free online editor for Polygon and Polyline Shapefiles. It has a Flash interface that runs in an ordinary web browser. Mapshaper supports three line simplification algorithms: Douglas-Peucker, Visvalingam-Whyatt, and a custom algorithm designed to smooth convoluted coastlines and spiky features.  The MapShaper project was conceived in 2005 by Matthew Bloch and Mark Harrower at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Geography Department. A paper [pdf] from the 2006 AutoCarto conference describes how MapShaper works “under the hood.”” Since it is a web application, you upload your shapefile, tell it what simplification program to run, and let it go. Thanks Matthew and Mark for a very nice app.

2 replies
  1. g barlow
    g barlow says:

    really like your programme. I have a 1.4gb file I want to simplify. Any way I can do that please as your current online option has a limited size

    • drjill
      drjill says:

      Unfortunately, MapShaper has file size limits and I don’t know of another program that is similar in ease of use, results, and online access. Please not MapShaper.org is a project of Matthew Bloch and Mark Harrower at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Geography Department. Let me know if you do find something – I’d love to see it!

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