Shpescape – The easiest way (yet) to put Shape on the Web

Have you ever wondered how to make your GIS data available over the Web? No don’t think about setting up an ArcGIS server and publish services from your Geodatabase. ESRI recently pushed their online platform ArcGIS online, where you have the possibility to create a global account and upload map data and layer files for mashup with other services and base maps. This is a suitable way which will allow to publish geographic data very quickly.

Another way is to use SHPescape. This is a web application, which transforms shape files (still the most common exchange format in the GIS industry) to Google Fusion tables. With this solution you do not relay on ESRI at all.

Google Fusion tables make it easy to import and visualize data from spreadsheets and KML. It has a robust support for spatial data and allows on the fly visualization of simple spatial primitives. SHPescape was developed by Josh Livni, an Engineer working at Google utilizes Google’s App Engine.
The user can upload a zipfile containing all files related to the shape format. After the upload is verified as valid, it create a shapeUpload object, which is processed separately so the end user can view a reloading page with updated status.

The conversion attempt of the author is pretty straightforward:
  • Attemp to get the projection of the shapefile (from the .prj)
  • For each feature, get it’s KML and attributes
  • Upload ‘em to Fusion Tables, ensuring a max of a few hundert, or <1MB, at a time (the API can handle at most 500 rows and 1MB per POST)

The author has open sourced the code if you are interested how it works.