CHGIS Software Overview Chinese Characters Opening and Using GIS Files
CHGIS working draft map, showing historical boundaries and dates of validity

Software Overview
ESRI

The shapefiles on this CD-ROM may be opened with:

MAPINFO

The MapInfo Tables on this CD-ROM may be opened with:

OTHER OPTIONS

  • Geomatica Freeview free viewer works with shapefiles AND MapInfo tables, along with dozens of other formats. Handles Chinese characters well.

  • Manifold handles many data formats, versatile and inexpensive

  • Maptitude Mapping Software handles many data formats, and Chinese characters well
The free viewer clients, ArcExplorer, ProViewer and Geomatica Freeview can view Chinese Characters using NJStar Communicator. However, keep in mind that the functionality of the freeware is extremely limited. (ArcEplorer allows auto-labelling by choosing a field. ProViewer has the annoying feature of using the first column as default label and does not allow you to choose your own default label, nor does it allow auto-labelling.)
Viewing Chinese Characters

CHGIS has been tested on English Windows systems. The current optimal configuration is to use the GBK Shapefiles on Windows XP and with the Global Options / Language Settings for Simplified Chinese PRC as the DEFAULT language. This will allow the Chinese to be viewed in ArcGIS 9.x Software, without any additional Chinese Interpreter program. In addition, the Characters may be edited or input using Global IME in the attribute tables of the Shapefiles.

For older versions of Windows, CHGIS has been tested on English Windows Operating Systems using the Chinese Viewing Software NJStar Communicator. On the English Windows platform, the Characters are NOT viewable without Chinese Viewing Software. We have also tested the layers on PRC Windows, which do not need viewing software for the GBK versions.

Testing has been done with NJStar Communicator only, because it is widely available as a free demo version, and because Harvard University users have an unlimited site license. Other Chinese Viewing Software which may work for you include RichWin, TwinBridge, ChinaStar, UnionWay or others. We do not know what the results will be for any of these Chinese Viewers, but encourage you to contact us and let us know if you have any knowledge you would like to share about specific configurations!

It is important to consider that the ArcView application has NOT been consistent in handling Chinese Characters. ESRI seems to have finally solved the problem in the new ArcGIS 8.X platform, which has been tested with the shapefiles on this CD-ROM. Please see the following chart for the results of our testing. Your system may behave differently, so please use the following information as a guideline for your best option in using CHGIS data.


TESTED CONFIGURATIONS FOR VIEWING CHINESE

Platform Software Correct Files to Use Characters OK? Notes
Windows 98 & NT (English) ArcView 3.1 ArcView 3.2 shape gbk, shape utf YES Limitations: autolabel and some other tools may not work. Cannot EXPORT to DBF without corrupting characters.
Windows 98 (PRC Chinese) ArcView 3.1 ArcView 3.2 shape gbk YES
Windows 2000 (English) ArcView 3.1 ArcView 3.2 shape gbk, shape utf NO ArcView 3.1 and 3.2 were not written for the Win2000 platform. This configuration does NOT work.
Windows 2000 (English) ArcView 3.3 shape gbk, shape utf NO ArcView 3.3 WAS written for the Win2000 & XP platforms. Alas, this configuration STILL does NOT work.
Windows 2000 (PRC Chinese) ArcView 3.1 ArcView 3.2 shape gbk YES
Windows XP (English) ArcView 3.1 ArcView 3.2 shape gbk, shape utf NO ArcView 3.1 and 3.2 were not written for the WinXP platform. This configuration does NOT work.
Windows 2000 (English) ArcGIS 8.1 ArcGIS 8.2 shape gbk, shape utf YES Attribute Table, Labeling, and Identify functions are ok for Characters.
Windows XP (English) ArcGIS 8.1 ArcGIS 8.2 shape gbk, shape utf YES Attribute Table, Labeling, and Identify functions are ok for Characters.
Windows 98 & NT (English) MapInfo 6.x MapInfo 7.x mapinfo USA YES Note: when exporting tables, select NO CHARACTER SET CONVERSION option to preserve characters.
Windows 2000 & xp (English) MapInfo 6.x MapInfo 7.x mapinfo USA YES Note: when exporting tables, select NO CHARACTER SET CONVERSION option to preserve characters.
Windows 98 & NT (Chinese) MapInfo 6.x MapInfo 7.x mapinfo PRC YES
Windows 2000 & xp (Chinese) MapInfo 6.x MapInfo 7.x mapinfo USA YES
Windows 2000 (English) ArcExplorer shape gbk, shape utf YES funtionality is limited to viewing, altering symbology, searching
Windows 2000 (English) ProViewer mapinfo USA YES funtionality is limited to viewing, altering symbology, searching. Drawback: uses first field ONLY as label default.
Windows 2000 (English) GeoMatica Freeview shape gbk, shape utf, mapinfo USA YES funtionality is limited to viewing, altering symbology, searching.
Windows XP (English) ArcGIS 9.x shape gbk YES funtionality: viewing, altering symbology, searching. NJStar NOT needed!