What are the similarities and differences between Shapefile and Feature Class?

It has always been a popular question – What are the differences between shapefile and feature class? Here, are differences and similarities between Shapefiles and Feature class.

What are feature classes?

A feature class is a collection of geographic features that share the same geometry type (such as point, line, or polygon) and the same attribute fields for a common area. Examples: streets, well points, parcels, soil types, and census tracts etc. A feature class can contain only one kind of geometry—point, line, or polygon and should have unique names. Feature classes can be stored in several different formats. Some formats contain only one feature class, whereas some store multiple feature classes and are called feature datasets.

Check “What are Feature Classes?” to learn more about feature classes, the basic rule to set feature classes, and types of feature classes.

What are Shapefiles?

Shapefiles are spaghetti data models containing a features class composed of points, lines, or polygons, but never a mixture. The attributes are stored in dBase file. Shapefiles can store multipart features, in which a single feature includes multiple objects.

Check “What are Shapefiles?” to learn more about shapefiles, shapefile components and limitations of shapefiles.

What are similarities between Shapefile and Feature classes?

As names suggest, a shapefile is a feature class because they are both collections of common features having the same spatial representation (Point, Line, Polygon, etc).

What are differences between Shapefile and Feature Class?

The differences between Shapefile and Feature Class are tabulated below:

Feature ClassesShapefiles
– Contain an x,y tolerance like geodatabase feature classes– Do not contain an x,y tolerance like geodatabase feature classes
– Spatial queries (such as selecting features within a polygon) is quicker– Spatial queries (such as selecting features within a polygon) take longer
– Parametrically defined curves(also known as circular arc curves) are supported– Parametrically defined curves(also known as circular arc curves) are not supported–If you export a geodatabase feature class containing circular arc curve features to a shapefile, the curved features are transformed to simple line features with closely spaced vertices to capture the curved shape.
– Can store both a date and time in a field.– Cannot store both a date and time in a field.
– Null values are supported feature class –– Null values are not supported in shapefiles. If a feature class containing nulls is converted to a shapefile, or a database table is converted to a dBASE file, then the null values will be changed as described in the table below.

2 thoughts on “What are the similarities and differences between Shapefile and Feature Class?”

  1. Pingback: Want to become GIS expert: Master these 20 Essential GIS Skills. – DINESH SHRESTHA

  2. Pingback: Top 29 GIS Interview Questions that can help you land your dream job!!! – DINESH SHRESTHA

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: