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Conversion Tool: Convert from archaic formats to modern formats

06-06-2023 10:17 AM
Status: Open
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MVP Regular Contributor

With the upcoming retirement of ArcMap, a lot of users and organizations will lose access to it entirely.

With this loss also comes the loss of access to a whole bunch of data in older formats, such as coverages or personal GDBs.

I would like to have a conversion tool that grabs whatever data is in these now-unsupported formats and places them into a file GDB, similar to how we can import MXDs.

Without a tool for this, a bunch of people are going to get stuck with data that they can't even read to find out what it is. Please help users prepare for the transition by providing them with tools to manage it.


... and I would include PC ArcINFO coverages in that list of archaic formats to handle.  Seriously.  Eons ago (late 90's), I worked as a GIS Analyst for a non-profit planning commission that dealt with huge data sets, especially environmentally and cadastrally related, like land use/land cover and parcels.  Non-profits like that could not afford ArcINFO Workstation, but PC ArcINFO was an affordable (if ill-fated) solution.  Most of the planning commissions used PC ArcINFO (but, yes, were in the process of switching over to ArcView GIS), and the bulk of data sets created to that point were in PC ArcINFO coverages.  Those data included digitized information going back 50+ years or more in some cases.  I know for a fact that a lot of those PC ArcINFO coverages weren't converted to shapefile or ArcINFO coverages at the time:  no money or time to do so.  I also know for a fact that those PC ArcINFO coverages still exist (at least at my former place of work), archived and copied forward for posterity over all the intervening years.  They are a treasure trove for historical analysis.  Access to those data should be maintained.  Really, all you would need is read access and the ability to write out to a current format.

(... [Edit:]  or as someone just reminded me, there is FME.  FME reads PC ArcINFO.)


I agree with this. Occasionally we are asked to update a document from the 1990s and it can be a hassle to get the data (which we do still have) into a workable modern format.


The Data Interoperability extension shares FME's ability to read coverage data.


@BruceHarold Very good point.  Hadn't thought of that.  I have always been lucky enough to have FME available to me, so I haven't used Interop recently.  Makes complete sense, though; the tool is already there, if one has Interop.


Thanks everyone for your comments.  I'd like to point you to a blog that folks finding themselves here might find useful.  This blog, and others in its blog series, provide users some insight as to why these formats are no longer supported, and provide script tools to help migrate data from older formats to more modern file and mobile geodatabases.


Check it out and let us know if they help your process.  If there are additions to the tools or questions about them, be sure to let us know in the comments of the blog. 


Migrating Data: Tools to migrate a a personal geodatabase to file geodatabase or mobile geodatabase 


Thanks for the link and the tools.

Part 2 of that blog series, Bridging Data: Create and use OLE DB connections in ArcGIS Pro (, mentions being able to read the tabular data of personal gdbs. I was able to open up the mdb and see all the tables, but attempting to open the tables, see their fields, or see their properties caused Pro (2.9.5) to crash. Is this a version issue?

I also have to point out that the tool to migrate from personal GDBs only works in ArcMap, which, as I said, will no longer be available to many people (e.g. government) next year once it enters mature support.

(Also, although coverages are mentioned three times in passing in that article, the article doesn't actually address them. Is that going to be covered in Part 4?)

I'm not asking to be able to use the files in Pro, but to be able to convert them to something useable.

I think the data interoperability extension works, but that's an added cost that not everyone can afford, and frankly, appears to be much more powerful than what I'm asking for here, which is a blind conversion: Stick in a file path to a gdb or data and get the converted files.


We need the old Interchange Tool from ArcMap to still breakdown old data formats.

Conversion Tools > To Coverage > Import from E00

I can provide the workflow to get these to work if you email me.