Converting and Distributing Map Shapefiles

The Graphboard Template Chooser allows you to create map visualizations from the combination of a visualization template and an SMZ file. SMZ files are similar to ESRI shapefiles (SHP file format) in that they contain the geographic information for drawing a map (for example, country borders), but they are optimized for map visualizations. The Graphboard Template Chooser is pre-installed with a select number of SMZ files. If you have an existing ESRI shapefile that you want to use for map visualizations, you first need to convert the shapefile to an SMZ file using the Map Conversion Utility. The Map Conversion Utility supports point, polyline, or polygon (shape types 1, 3, and 5) ESRI shapefiles containing a single layer.

In addition to converting ESRI shapefiles, the Map Conversion Utility allows you to modify the map's level of detail, change feature labels, merge features, and move features, among many other optional changes. You can also use the Map Conversion Utility to modify an existing SMZ file (including the pre-installed ones).

Editing pre-installed SMZ files

  1. Export the SMZ file from the Manage system. See the topic Managing Templates, Stylesheets, and Map Files for more information.
  2. Use the Map Conversion Utility to open and edit the exported SMZ file. It is recommended that you save the file with a different name. See the topic Using the Map Conversion Utility for more information.
  3. Import the modified SMZ file into the Manage system. See the topic Managing Templates, Stylesheets, and Map Files for more information.

Additional Resources for Map Files

Geospatial data in the SHP file format, which could be used to support your mapping needs, is available from many private and public sources. Check with local government web sites if you seek free data. Many of the templates in this product are based on publicly available data obtained from GeoCommons ( and the U.S. Census Bureau (

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