Shapefile Viewer

The Research Workspace (RW) allows you to view, style, and share shapefiles that you’ve uploaded to a project through a built-in shapefile viewer. The shapefile viewer allows you to select the appropriate projection for your files, configure how they are displayed, and share the results with your collaborators.

Viewing Shapefiles

To view your shapefile, follow these steps:

  1. Upload your shapefile (SHP) and its associated files to your project.
  2. Wait for the hourglass icon to become a globe icon globe_icon.
  3. Click on the name of the shapefile.


In order to be viewed, each shapefile needs to be accompanied by a DBF and a SHX file. Additionally, you can include a PRJ file that specifies your shapefile’s projection or select the projection yourself.

Selecting a Projection

In order for your shapefile to display properly, the viewer needs to know what projection your shapefile is based on. If you’ve included a properly-formatted PRJ file, your projection will be set automatically based on that file. Also, in some cases you may want to adjust the projection from how it is currently displayed. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open your shapefile.
  2. Click on the gear icon gear_icon near the top right corner of the window.
  3. A pop-up menu will appear.
  4. Begin typing the name of the desired projection in the drop-down menu.

Configuring Shapefiles

You can configure how features in your shapefile will be displayed by selecting colors, gradients, and patterns for lines and shapes for different variables, as well as changing how various layers are displayed and adjusting the bounding box.

Fill and Stroke

One of the basic ways to configure your shapefile is to change how lines and shapes are displayed by adjusting their fill and stroke settings. For example, if your shapefile represents track lines of research cruises, you could color the tracks differently by vessel, year, or other values. This works for numeric as well as categorical values. To configure fill and stroke, follow these steps:

  1. Select the value you’d like to style from the Select comlumn to style on: menu near the top right corner of the window.
  2. Select a color from the fill-color selector, or enter the color’s hex value in the box to the right.
  3. Choose the opacity for the color using the fill-opacity slider (further left for more opaque).
  4. Select a color from the stroke-color selector, or enter the color’s hex value in the box to the right.
  5. Choose the opacity of the color using the stroke-opacity slider (further left for more opaque).
  6. Choose the stroke width using the stroke-width slider (further right for thicker).

Set Bounds

Setting the bounds for your shapefile allows you to focus in on the most meaningful content. To set the bounds, follow these steps:

  1. Using the + and - zoom controls in the top left corner of the window, zoom to the desired view.
  2. Click on the gear icon gear_icon near the top right corner of the window.
  3. Select Update Bounds to Screen.


You can share the view of your shapefile with other RW users by selecting the URL in your browser’s address bar. The bounds, fill, stroke, and other configurations you’ve selected will be preserved when the other user follows the URL.