Application Name: SHP Viewer

Description: View GIS shapefiles on Android, query attributes.

Publisher’s website: nexti

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.1.03  /  3-8-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2


Android Market (mobile app only)
Android Market (browser)

Note: Also requires the Adobe Air framework; Android Market link (mobile app) , Android Market link (browser).

There aren’t a lot of vector GIS data viewers currently available for Android; actually, as of the time of writing, I could only find one such app, SHP Viewer, reviewed here. After installing the app, copy the .shp, .shx and .dbf files to the “Maps” directory on your SD card; if the directory isn’t there, you’ll need to correct it. Shapefiles need to be in the geographic projection (latitude/longitude coordinates), WGS 84 datum (NAD 83 is close enough, as are many other modern datums).


After copying the shapefiles over, and starting the app, you’ll need to press the “Refresh” button in the upper right to get them to show up in the file list (the home button at upper left exits the program). Tap on a shapefile in the list to select it.


The initial view will be of the entire extent of the shapefile; you can zoom in either with the zoom control at right, or multi-touch pinch to zoom. Tap and drag to pan the map.


SHP Viewer supports polygons, polylines and points; I’ve test it with all three, and it seems to work with all of them. Here, a polygon map is loaded. If you tap on a polygon shape …


… you’ll get a popup window listing all the attribute values for that shapefile.

Other issues: Small shapefiles (< 1 MB) drew quite quickly. Tried a 13 MB polygon shapefile, and that was a bit slow to show up (20 seconds), but it did work. Then tried a 250 MB polygon shapefile, and crashed the app so completely I had to reboot. So don’t try shapefiles that are too large.

The app could really use two additional features:

  • GPS option, so that you can display your position on the shapefile map display
  • Thematic display, i.e. different colors or symbols depending on a shapefile attribute.

Final thoughts: Not a lot of choices yet for GIS data apps on Android, but they’re coming. For now, SHP Viewer is a reasonable stopgap

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