SLYR: the ESRI to QGIS Compatibility Suite

The conversion tool targets numerous ESRI specific binary file formats, and is designed to allow seamless use of these files within the QGIS desktop application:

  • “.style” databases: These database files store libraries of ESRI symbols (markers, lines, and fills), alongside other associated style objects such as color palettes, color ramps, legend presets, and text formats. SLYR supports conversion of .style marker, line, and fill symbols, color palettes, color ramps, text formats and label settings to QGIS style databases
  • “.lyr” files: These files contain both a layer’s definition (including the file or database path to the layer’s source data) and the associated symbology and layer settings to apply to that layer. LYR files can be added to an ArcMap document to automatically load and style data in a single step. Within QGIS, the “QLR” file format offers an equivalent functionality. SLYR adds direct support for LYR files within QGIS, and adds tools for automated conversion of LYR to QLR.
  • “.mxd” and “.pmf” documents: These map document files contain groups of layers, their styles, and print layouts for exporting the layers. The QGIS equivalent is a “QGS” project file.
  • “.dat” bookmark files: These files contain a set of ArcGIS spatial bookmarks. The SLYR tool allows them to be directly opened within QGIS and converted to QGIS spatial bookmark formats.

All formats are proprietary, ESRI specific binary formats. No specifications describing the formats have been publicly released, and the only currently available tools for working with these formats require access to an ArcGIS installation. Additionally, current tools are severely limited in their conversion functionality and require outdated ArcGIS software installs.

North Road have successfully reverse engineered these binary formats and created custom tools for extracting and converting these file types. These tools are available in our QGIS “SLYR” plugin, which is available for QGIS versions 3.4 and later.

The SLYR plugin offers rich integration within the QGIS application, by adding common functionality like support for direct drag and drop of ESRI style, LYR, MXD and DAT files to the QGIS application window.

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