Is FGDB ready as a universal masterplanning datransfer/datastore format? @ESRI

Sadly no.

The shapefile format is an increasingly archaic format.

The decision by ESRI to make FGDB open source was great news and more and more programs support it – though sadly still not Bentley for example directly.

The ability to store BIM data in geodatabases to my mind has been the news of the year.  The future of CAD and GIS being to use a spatial database to store and organise every aspect of a project from city scale down to every last screw.  On large projects you soon realise the world isnt flat as out of the box CAD assumes, and over several sq km you need to respect the projection or you run into serious errors.

FGDB also has some technical advantages over SHP.  For example it can store lines and curves not just lines, essential in use of road data.  

Increasingly I have been testing FGDB as THE datastore for masterplanning projects.  All kinds of problems.  Firstly FGDB cant understand anything other than arcs and straight lines, not clothoids.  With roads you need transition curves to stop cars and trains flying off corners from centrifugal force when you change speeds into curves.  So they come in as lots of points arrrrgh.  Secondly it just isnt robust.  As FGDB files enlarge they become corrupt.  You can restore them but the new files loses all structure and much data is lost.

Lets hope as ESRI cooperates with Autodesk (and one hopes Bently my own tool of choice) they can develop a robust and universal spatial database solution with the robustness we see for example in the new pool based file storage solutions from Apple and Microsoft.

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