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Getting started with OS OpenData

Find out how to get started using OS OpenData – our free to use digital map data. You'll need GIS software to get the most from it.

When you receive your order or download for OS OpenData you will be supplied with either

  • images (also referred to as raster),
  • feature outlines (referred to as vector), and
  • common data formats such as comma separated values (CSV) and ASCII text.

The the sections below explain how to work with these formats or take a look at our getting started videos and masterclass materials on how to perform simple tasks using OS OpenData.

Working with Raster Datasets

The following OS OpenData datasets are supplied as raster:

If you want to view just one tile of raster data, you can use a simple image viewing product, such as MS Paint.

If you want to view more than one tile, you will need to load them in correct geographic relation to the National Grid and to each other. This is called geo-referencing.

Geographic information software (GIS) typically provides geo-referencing as part of their functionality, but for each set of tiles it is still necessary to provide the information on how the tiles should be positioned geographically. This information is supplied in the data folder with your order and is available in both Pitney Bowes Mapinfo TAB and ESRI World files. These will work with all GIS software.

Note: by virtue of the file format, GeoTIFF, in which we release OS VectorMap District, you do not need to use geo-referencing files with this dataset.

The geo-referencing files should be stored in the same directory as the map data files for GIS to read them correctly.

If you do not have any GIS software, you can download open source software (such as Quantum GIS) to use our data.

Working With Vector Datasets

The following OS OpenData datasets are supplied as vectors:

You will need GIS software to work with this data. Simply open your GIS and open the data file in your relevant system. Then view, edit and use your data.

If you do not have any GIS software, you can download open source software (such as Quantum GIS) to use our data.

Working with common format Datasets

The following OS OpenData datasets are supplied in common formats:

Data in these common formats, can be looked at using a number of common software packages, such as Microsoft Excel.

If you want to unlock the real potential of these datasets, to help you create look-up services, you will need specialist geographical information system (GIS) software.

If you do not have any GIS software, you can download open source software (such as Quantum GIS) to use our data.

See also

Getting started guide

There's a section in this PDF for each OS OpenData product.

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