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A client has given me the data he wants visualised in my project - but I don't know what DB format it's in. He's pretty unclear, also..
I have access to the table structures, but don't know how to read it in. It's definitely not a flat file.

There are several files for each dataset:

  • file.dat (biggest by far)
  • (small)
  • file.ind (half the size of *.dat)

The first few bytes in the *.dat file are 03 6E 02 14 14 15 19 00 (in case magic numbers are used).

Do these extensions ring any bells? Is there some software to determine the format?

share|improve this question
What sort of data is it in the files? That may help too. – jcolebrand Jul 6 '11 at 14:14
I'm not sure how your client can provide you files and be unsure what type of files they are. Are they paying you by the hour to figure it out? :) – Josh Bond Jul 6 '11 at 16:16
The closest I can find is MapInfo – Gaius Jul 6 '11 at 18:41
@Josh - actually.. yes :) – DefenestrationDay Jul 6 '11 at 22:34
@Gaius: he should give the credit for the answer to you, because I suppose you wrote before me. Though I can promise that it was an independent search, not inspired by your answer. But you deserve the credits :-). – Marian Jul 8 '11 at 12:06
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I found this thread on a MapInfo Google group. They say that a similar structure in file types (id, ind, dat) was used for MapInfo (later MicrosoftMaps product) databases.

The initial question is: "How to create tab file,map file,dat file,id file,ind file from excel file of site data required in mapinfo. Which application is used and how?"

And the answer is pointing to some ways to create the files.

I'm not familiar with them.. but I hope this helps you a bit :-).

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Yep - that was it. All they knew was it was a list of addresses and their locations. I never would have thought to use a Shapefile point to represent a physical location. Thanks! – DefenestrationDay Jul 7 '11 at 23:32

If you are on a *nix system, you can try using the "strings" command on each file to peek at the contents. A header may give you a clue.


strings file.dat | head

Here's an example run against a quicky sqlite3 database file.

~$ sqlite3 test.db
SQLite version 3.6.12
Enter ".help" for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a ";"
sqlite> create table testtable (id INT);
sqlite> insert into testtable values (1);
sqlite> .quit
~$ strings test.db
SQLite format 3
CREATE TABLE testtable (id INT)
share|improve this answer
Great tip - thanks – DefenestrationDay Jul 7 '11 at 23:32
Also works using Cygwin under Windows. Most *nix text utils are available in Cygwin. – Mike Sherrill 'Cat Recall' Jul 11 '11 at 1:57

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