the FE 'tkGooies' subsystem


(especially Outline data)

for the 'MAPtools' group
of 'tkGooies'

(FE = Freedom Environment)

Corner of a PNG image of Turkey (one of many country map images),
made from very high-resolution outline data at

FE Home page > FE Downloads page > FE 'tkGooies' Download page > 'tkGooies' Description page >

'tkGooies' 'MAPtools' CODE menu > This 'Data Sources' page

! Note ! More links to sources of maps data (esp. ASCII-text outline data) may be added
--- as 'MAPtools' scripts are tested and developed for the FE 'tkGooies' subsystem.

< Go to Table of Contents, below >


The 'MAPtools' subgroup of the FE 'tkGooies' system is intended to facilitate making 2D maps of several different kinds, including:

  • 'outline' maps --- based on pairs of x,y coordinates --- such as longitude,latitude pairs, in decimal degrees format

  • 'image' maps, usually built up from image 'tiles' --- available from sites such as the site

  • (eventually) 'topographic' maps, with contours indicating elevation levels above the 2D coordinates of the map

And the 2D 'MAPtools' group of utilities may eventually be augmented by 3D map-generation tools --- such as terrain generation tools --- in the '3Dtools' menu of the FE 'tkGooies' system.

Comments on OUTLINE-DATA availability :

It is nice that U.S. government web sites (such as a plethora of NOAA and USGS web sites) offer no-cost or low-cost map data that was tax-payer financed --- BUT, their web sites and web pages and data formats seem to go through continual 'churn':

  • web pages (that WERE sources of map data) frequently go 'dead':
    Here-today-gone-tomorrow web pages and lots of dead links --- and a maze of menu pages, at a dizzying variety of web sites; menu pages (or your 'bookmarks/favorites') leading ultimately to lots of dead links --- making it very difficult or impossible to find the data that you are looking for.

  • web pages (that present map data) use more-and-more complex user interfaces:
    They continually 'update' to different Javascript interfaces that are not likely to work as intended, unless you are working on a computer configuration (monitor and web browser) like the ones they used to develop the web pages.

  • data formats getting more complex:
    They seem to be continually migrating data to new or proprietary (or hard-to-parse) binary formats --- and formerly available longitude-latitude data, in simple human-readable ASCII (text) format, is no longer easily available.

  • favored data formats for storing map data change almost yearly:
    Multi-file government or corporate data formats keep arising, often requiring software costing thousands of dollars in order to read the data files.

      Even ASCII/text longitude-latitude data --- which used to be available in simple columnar format --- is being stored in 'busier' formats --- surrounded in XML-like markup language --- such as GeoJSON and KML text file formats. And the decimal-data-pairs are often stored in extremely long records (in a format depending on who packaged the data), instead of sticking to a simple 2-column ASCII format.

In short, it is a real 'slog' trying to find simple longitude-latitude 'outline' (sequence-of-points) data in a simple ASCII (text) file --- simply containing 2 columns of decimal numbers.

For most of the 'MAPtools' tkGooie scripts that involve map outlines, the latitude,longitude data in the input data files are assumed to be in simple 2-column ASCII format, NOT binary.

Since map boundary/outline data is not easily found in this simple format (any more, since about 2012), one must often find a more complex ASCII format and 'massage' it.

Popular ASCII outline-data formats   (in the 2012-2016 time frame)

There are many country, continent, and state boundary/outline data files on the internet in *ASCII* (text, not binary) format.

BUT the data is often wrapped in Markup Language --- in a variety of formats within the files: FROM longitude-latitude data in short records, one data-pair per record-line --- TO thousands of data pairs in extremely long record lines.

Example ASCII formats:

KMZ (and KML) files seem to be many times more likely to be found on the internet than GeoJSON files --- perhaps because they are used with Google Earth (and Google Maps?) --- and with some GPS navigation devices from various manufacturers (like Garmin). HOWEVER, many of those KML files may be path files (or points-of-interest files) which do not contain outline data.

    Another source of ASCII map-outline data is ESRI ASCII Shape Files which are sometimes written from the complex, mostly-binary ESRI GIS (Geographic Information System) databases. However, it is more difficult to find ASCII ESRI Shape Files on the internet than to find GeoJSON or KML files containing outline-data. Most '.shp' shape files exist in a 'bundle' of files, in BINARY format. The ESRI ASCII export files are typically named with a '.e00' suffix.

    The ASCII ESRI Shape files may have the string 'ShapeFile' (in square brackets) in the first record of the file --- but, when ASCII shape files do exist, they may be in a zipped (compressed) format so that the 'ShapeFile' string is not immediately obvious.

    For more information on ASCII Shape files, you can try a web search on keywords such as shapefile ascii export.

KML documentation

Here are some PDF files containing info on KML files:

NOT ONLY MAPS :   (also outlines of cartoon characters, silouettes, text, ...)

The outline data in the input files of the FE 'MAPtools' utilities do NOT have to be latitude-longitude map data.

The data could be pairs of x,y coordinates that provide an outline of almost any object --- for example, a person or an animal or an insect or a fish.

OR, the data file could provide an outline of a logo --- or a group of letters in one or more font styles. OR, the data file could provide vertex coordinates of a geometric figure like a pentagon or hexagon or octagon.

OR, a more complicated geometric figure could be defined by the points in the file --- such as a fractal-like geometric figure, like the 3rd or 4th level of a 'Koch Snowlake'.

In fact, the outline data could depict a snowflake --- or flower petals --- or the outline of a leaf --- or the outline of tree branches. Use your imagination.

Linux vs. Apple vs. Microsoft line-end conventions

The ASCII-text outline-data files presented here were generated on Linux and thus the line-endings are denoted by a single, ASCII line-feed character code (8-bit, hex '4A', decimal 74).

On Apple and Microsoft operating systems, a different line-end convention is used:

  • Apple: carriage-return-character-only (hex '4D', decimal 77)
  • Microsoft: both carriage-return-AND-line-feed characters

If you need to convert these outline-data files to a different format, for use on these proprietary operating systems, you can probably find a text editor that does the conversion. Then read an outline file into the editor and save it in the desired line-ends format.

One such text editor is the 'scite' text editor.

The Line-End-Characters menu of the 'scite' text editor GUI
--- which can be used to change from LF to CR or CR+LF.

Enough Intro

Enough of this introduction to ASCII outline/boundary data considerations --- for the FE 'tkGooies' 'MAPtools'.

Following is a 'Table of Contents' that provides links to 'local' pages of links to 'locally-stored' ASCII outline/boundary data files --- at various levels of 'resolution'.

These data files can be used to facilitate making maps (and other outlines) in various colors --- using the tkGooie 'MAPtools'. And you can add various features to the maps (such as text overlays, in various fonts) --- using tkGooie 'IMAGEtools', like the 'TitleBlock' tkGooie utility.

You can add even more items onto an image --- items such as curved lines, straight lines (with optional arrow-heads), and flowchart-like symbols such as diamonds, rectangles, and ovals --- with the 'wheeeDiagram' tkGooie utility.

Table of Contents:    (links to local web pages, with links to data files)

End of Table of Contents.

Some EXTERNAL LINKS to information on OPEN SOURCE map data

Open Source Projects and Standards Organizations :

Data Format Information   (open-source and 'semi-open-source', incl. non-ASCII) :

Open Source Data Management and Processing Systems :

Open Source Browsing and Rendering Services :

Open Source Desktop 'Client' Software :

Geodatabases :

For more information on 'open source' outline/boundary map data files (in an ASCII-text format), you can try a web search on keywords such as open source map data outline boundary ascii longitude latitude .

For more information on 'open source' map data using image 'tiles', you can try a web search on keywords such as open source map data tiles.

You can see some examples of how to make maps with OSM (Open Street Map) tiles at this Open Street Map 'example-maps' page. You can see the 'page source' of those web pages to see how the maps were constructed from tiles using HTML 'image-source' statements.

Bottom of this page of 'Map Data SOURCES'
--- a page of links (mostly) to ASCII-text 'outline'
data files--- especially map data files containing
longitude-latitude coordinates in decimal degrees
--- for use with 'MAPtools' scripts of the FE 'tkGooies' system.

To return to a previously visited web page, click on the
Back button of your web browser a sufficient number of times.
OR, use the History-list option of your web browser.
OR ...

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >
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Page was created 2016 Nov 10.
Page was changed 2016 Dec 06. (Added a 'non-map' outlines option, in
        the 'Table of Contents' --- a place-holder for a future outline
        data sources page. Added a note on line-end characters.)
Page was changed 2016 Dec 08. (Added an 'External Links' section.
        Also added info on ESRI Shape files, binary and ASCII.)
Page was changed 2016 Dec 10. (Added a web search link.)
Page was changed 2017 Sep 15. (Fixed a broken link and added several
        tkGooie links and a web search link.)
Page was changed 2017 Sep 18. (Added a 'NON-Map outline files' link.)