With the explosion of applications being built with some form of mapping or spatial capability, developers are looking for techniques to work with, store and exchange mapping data. The ESRI shapefile format is a de facto standard format for spatial data, widely supported by most popular mapping applications and a popular choice for many developers for use in their own applications. Yet the shapefile format is, by some, considered to be ancient in comparison to more modern and sophisticated technologies such as XML and SQL. So why might a developer choose to use shapefiles, what do they do and what are they like to work with?

In this podcast Elvin will talk about some of technical aspects of shapefiles, the limitations and the benefits, particularly in portability both between applications and across platforms, including mobile operating systems such as Windows Phone, Android and iOS. Elvin will also compare the use of shapefiles with other formats such as XML and SQL databases, the performance and capability differences and the resources available to developers for adopting shapefiles in their own applications.