Convert CSV to Shapefile in ArcView 9.3

This is so I don’t forget, since I’m an infrequent ArcView user.  I had a CSV file (text file with comma-separated values) that I wanted to convert to a point Shapefile.

Before I tried ArcView (because it is complicated) I tried a free tool called CSV to Shapefile Converter 2.0.  See below for more on that.

The ArcGIS docs tell you it can be done, but then describe how to import a text file with just 2 columns of data for X and Y point values.  You could do some shenanigans with OIDs and creating a separate table with the attribute fields, then joining them somehow.

Turns out there is an easy way to load the coordinates and the attributes all in one shot.  (I’m using ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1.)

My input data looks like this:

x, y, z, name, tmapname, tmapsize, rlevel
40.778975, -111.899080, 1296.846000, slca_0434, R0_region_019, 2948400, 0
40.778956, -111.898698, 1297.241000, slca_0435, R0_region_019, 2948400, 0
40.778969, -111.898482, 1297.195000, slca_0436, R0_region_019, 2948400, 0
40.778753, -111.898620, 1297.972000, slca_0437, R0_region_019, 2948400, 0
40.777677, -111.898004, 1300.5800 ...

In ArcCatalog, navigate to your file, right mouse on it and select Create Feature Class -> From XY Table…

Then specify which columns become the X, Y, and optionally, Z coordinates of your points.

(Note that I put the y value for X and x for Y because my x is latitude and y is longitude.)  Then click the Coordinate System of Input Coordinates… button to specify the coord sys (WGS-84 in my case) or projection.  Specify the output path, and click OK.  Done.

CSV to Shapefile Converter 2.0

This tool had exactly the features I wanted, and a very simple user interface, so I was excited when I found it.  You can download it from here.

The GUI looks like this:

…but when I hit Convert, I immediately get an error message:

I suspect that it may be an incompatibility issue with my 64-bit Windows 7.  I don’t have time to try to solve it right now, but I hope the tool eventually works, because it is very straightforward to use.

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11 Responses to “Convert CSV to Shapefile in ArcView 9.3”

  1. harley Says:

    Great Idea… looks like you forgot to change the z value to one that only has numbers in it. rlevel is a text field in your csv file.

  2. harley Says:

    line 0 or near there, is where it stopped.

    Is that a “.” period you are using for a delimiter or a “,” comma ?

    if the delimiter for the data is a period your columns are not going to match the data columns and you have too many columns for the headers provided and the z value would get passed text.

    However, the software should determine if the first row is a header for the field name, then the field names should use the same delimiter. however, it looks like you could use a different delimiter in the header than in the body of data.

    which you could test by replacing the header delimter with a semi colon and try using a “,” for the delimiter. then if it processes the data you will know it.

    otherwise, just change the delimiter to a comma.

    If you actually did use a “,” comma… then I just wasted my breath… errr… ink… binary data the fills in the blank space with digital ink…. or whatever it is.

  3. ellery Says:

    It actually is a comma in the dialog box. I think it may be a Win7 incompatibility, or an install problem. It actually came with a sample .csv file, and that wouldn’t load for me either. Maybe you could try it and tell me if it works for you.

  4. harley Says:

    I’ll need to wait until I’m back in the office. but when I can I’ll try. Just a note on the 32 vs. 64 bit apps: for our web apps on the 64 bit servers, we had to enable “32 bit mode” or something like that. certain things would not work right at all. So, you checked and the however, I am disappointed that I couldn’t provide a quick solution for you. oh well.

    hey, I need to compliment you on your choice of wordpress themes.

    very nice.

  5. Neskie Manuel Says:

    I use a tool called ogr2ogr to convert csv to shapefiles. I followed instructions online and created an VRT file which is really easy to do, and then it converted quite nicely.

  6. ellery Says:


    Thanks for the good advice. I have used ogr2ogr for other conversions (like .shp to .kml) but I didn’t think of it for converting a CSV file.

    For others, here’s a link to some ogr2ogr info on CSV and VRT.

  7. fevisis dev team Says:

    Hi all,

    We have a converter to convert Google Earth’s KML file to Shape file(kml2shp). This converter can convert any type of KML to the Shape file format as per the standards. With this converter, you get the advantage of having your own shape file for any area of the world thus relieving your need to search or purchase the Shape file . This converter proves to be a User Friendly one as its GUI is so simple that you don’t need to specify anything for conversion.

    You all get this for a very minimal one time cost. If you like to have your own converter for generating shape file, reach us at

    Best Regards
    fevisis dev team



  8. ellery Says:

    I’m against having advertising posts on my blog, but I allowed this one for two reasons:

    because it is (marginally) related to the topic, and
    because you look like you are just trying to start a business, and I know how difficult that can be.

  9. Varun Saraf Says:

    I am facing a similar issue. The tool used to work flawlessly on my previous computer which had Windows 7 32-bit. I currently have a 64-bit machine and it gives me the exact same problem as yours. I am not sure if its the .NET framework as 2.0 won’t work on 64 bit and if this program is compatible with the 3.5 framework. Let me know if you found a solution.

  10. ellery Says:

    Hi Varun,

    I ended up doing the conversion with ogr2ogr.

    If you have ArcView, you could also try the Table to Table tool or the Copy Rows tool.

  11. TonyM Says:

    I think this is a plug-in for MapWindow – Tony

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