Adding Land Use, Boundaries, and other GIS Information to TNP

Importing publicly-available ESRI Shapefiles as Overlays

Terrain Navigator Pro has the ability to import ESRI Shapefiles as overlays. A shapefile is a set of GIS data that can contain all sorts of geospacial information. These data files are commonly available from the GIS departments of local, county, and state governments. Generally speaking, you can Google what you need, then import it into Terrain Navigator Pro as an overlay.

For example, a Google search of "Colorado Public/Private Land Ownership Shapefile" will yield:

On this web page a download is available for Surface Ownership data. Download this file and unzip it. Note that a "shapefile" consists of a collection of files. These are matching individual file names, but with .shp, .shx, .dbf, and .prj extensions. Ensure that all four of these files are placed into a single directory. If one or more of these files are missing, please check with the provider of that GIS data set.

Start Terrain Navigator Pro. Open the File menu and choose Import, Overlay. Open the .shp file (the other files in the set will automatically be imported as well.) Then, open the Layers menu and choose Overlays. Here you can specify how you wish the GIS data to be displayed and labeled.

The majority of GIS data that you will want to import will be in Shapefile format. Some data may be in .DXF or .KML/.KMZ. These too can be displayed as overlays into Terrain Navigator Pro - just select the appropriate file type when importing the data.

While some may prefer that Terrain Navigator Pro distribute pre-compiled and certain GIS data sets, this would be impractical to accomplish. Instead, Terrain Navigator Pro’s overlays allow you to import whatever information that best suits your needs.

I am trying to import an ESRI Shapefile encapsulated in a .ZIP archive. How do I proceed?
Terrain Navigator Pro will not load all of the component files found encapsulated in a .ZIP file archive. Instead of attempting to access the archived file using TNP's Import Overlays, unzip the archive using Windows (or a Zip application) into a new Windows folder. This new folder should contain all the components of the ESRI Shapefile, such as GISDATA.SHP, GISDATA.PRJ, GISDATA.DBF, and GISDATA.SHX. Once extracted, use TNP's Import Overlays to select the .SHP file component from the new extracted folder, rather than the .ZIP archive.

I am trying to import a .SHP ESRI Shapefile. Why am I being prompted to choose a coordinate system?
GIS data contained in an ESRI Shapefile is made up of several individual component files. One of those component files has the extension .SHP. However, for Terrain Navigator Pro to accurately import GIS data from an ESRI Shapefile, ALL component files must be included and present in the same directory. Thus, to import a particular GISDATA.SHP file, the matching GISDATA.PRJ, GISDATA.DBF, and GISDATA.SHX files must also be present in the same folder.

If one or more of those files are missing, TNP will do its best to import the .SHP data alone. If the .PRJ file is missing - you will need to supply the correct projection/coordinate system (see this article). If the .DBF file is missing, no metadata will be included.

Video Tutorials Available

On the TNP YouTube Channel, there is a video on Using Overlays with Projects.

An extensive video has been published by Don Ferguson, an expert in SAR and GIS integration, in using TNP with ESRI Shapefiles (IGT4SAR-ArcGIS.) You can find it at:

Quick Guide for Importing Overlays

Rick Hood, a private instructor available for consultation on TNP, put together this quick reference guide for importing overlays into TNP. He has graciously made it available below.

Download Link: Overlays Quick Reference Sheet
286 KB
Released 04/18/2013
Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

Related Articles

Importing GIS Data with Projections and/or Missing Coordinate Systems

Feedback and Knowledge Base