Easy Tip! What you need to know to e-mail a MapInfo table

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Easy Tip! What you need to know to e-mail a MapInfo table
User-added imageIf you need to share a MapInfo table with another person, including e-mailing it to them, you will need to know all of the files that compose the table.

Occasionally a new user of MapInfo Pro might send a TAB file to another person with the expectation that the recipient will be able to open the table. This will not work because the TAB file is a sort of placeholder for a table, it does not contain the actual data.

The quick answer 

A MapInfo table can consist of up to five files. The quick answer to the question of how to e-mail or otherwise share a table with another user is be sure to include all of the files associated with the table name. 

As an example, the screenshot below shows the files that make up the large scale country table from the WorldInfo dataset. 

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To share the above table with another person you need to provide them with all five files.

Also note that not all tables will have all five of these files but any table will have at least two files. One is always the file with the .TAB extension. The second file will have data or an image in it.

Want to know what these files are for?

These files operate "behind the scenes" and aside from knowing they are there so you can share them, you generally don't need to interact with them directly.

But in case you are curious, here is a description of the role of these files.

Filename.TAB - this file contains the structure and other information about the table. Note that it does not contain the actual data of the table 

Filename.DAT - this file contains the tabular (row and column) data of the table. A .DAT file is the native MapInfo format. As MapInfo Pro supports a number of data formats, instead of a .DAT file you may have a different file in its place. This can be a .DBF, .XLS, .MDB, .TXT, .WK*, .CSV, .SHP, .XML or .SQLITE file.

Filename.IND - this file will be present if any columns in the table are indexed. The purpose of this file is to make it easy to search a column in the table for a specific value. The more columns that are indexed, the larger this file will be. 

Filename.MAP and Filename.ID - these two files will be present if the table contains map objects. Or as we sometimes say if the table is mappable. The .MAP file contains the map objects and the .ID file is an index of the spatial objects. The behind the scense purpose of the .ID file is to make it easy to find and zoom the map to a given record in the table. 

Filename.TIF, JPG, PNG, BMP, etc. If your table is an image or grid file, then instead of one of the data file types listed above you will have an image format file. MapInfo Pro supports a large variety of image formats. Only one image file will be associated to the .TAB file. If your table is a raster image or grid table you will only have a .TAB file and the associated image file. There will not be a .MAP, .IND or .ID file. 

What about sharing a whole workspace?

The information in this article will help you to e-mail or otherwise copy and share a table with other MapInfo Pro users. This might lead you to the question as to how to share an entire workspace.

There is a tool included with MapInfo Pro called Workspace Packager. This tool is the subject of its own article in this journal. 

Article by Tom Probert, Editor of "The MapInfo Pro" journal 

When not writing articles for "The MapInfo Pro", Tom enjoys talking to MapInfo Pro users at conferences and events. When not working he likes to see movies with car chases, explosions and kung-fu fighting.
UPDATED:  September 30, 2019