Frequently Asked Question: How do I load shapefiles?

This has come up a few times now.  Multiple questions deserve at least one answer, right?

First, Microsoft has not produced a shapefile loader (or exporter).  If this is important to you, here’s the Connect item to hit.  (And yes: we do listen to Connect!)

So, what are you to do?  There are a few options:

  1. If you are a user of one of our partner GIS vendors---Autodesk, ESRI, Intergraph, Manifold, or Pitney Bowes (MapInfo)---they probably have support for loading shapefiles already.  You’ll have to ask them, though: I’m not an expert in their products.
  2. If not, and if you aren’t interested in a real GIS, then you should check out Safe Software: they build spatial ETL software that will take shapefiles (as well as about ~200 other formats) perform transformations on the data, and load into SQL Server.
  3. If you’re looking for a free solution, then there are a few popping up in the wild.  Morten Nielsen has had his tool available for some time now, which has both a command line and GUI interfaces.  Scott Ellington has created a command line tool as well, but I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet.
  4. You could build your own.  I suggest using the sink/builder API---you can find plenty of examples in our Codeplex project.

Hopefully one of these solutions will work for you.