Problems opening TAB files in Google Earth

Product Affected: MapInfo Pro, Google Earth (64-bit) or earlier


There might be one of the two potential problems opening a TAB file in Google Earth:

1.  The TAB cannot get opened at all and the following error occurs in Google Earth:

Google Earth
this does not look like a E00 file: does not start with a EXP header.

2. The table is just displayed partially so not all features are shown.



Google Earth uses an extremely out of date third-party MITAB library to read TAB files.
The following reasons cause Goggle Earth to fail opening *.tab files:
  • The MITAB library does not support the MapInfo Extended file format at all. This is causing the first error to occur that the file header cannot be read. 
  • Google Earth expects data in Lon/Lat WGS84 projection. If a table is in Popular Visualization CRS then the outdated MITAB probably does not support this coordinate system. 
  • Even NATIVE Tables (MapInfo (*.tab)) created in 15.x x64 and later use a 16K block size in the map file for read\write, storage, and display optimisation. The outdated MITAB library expects the original 512 block size in MAP files, so that library is failing to read the .MAP file correctly. 


UPDATED: December 6, 2019
To ensure that the outdated MITAB library of Google Earth can read a TAB file properly you need to save and change the table with the following 3 pre-requisites:
  1. Use "Save Copy as" in MapInfo Pro to save the table in MapInfo (*.tab)
  2. During Save change the projection to Longitude/Latitude WGS84 projection
  3. To change the blocksize of the table the following statement must be executed in the MapBasic window of MapInfo Pro: 

Example: Commit Table Planung As "C:\Temp\Planung2.TAB" TYPE NATIVE Blocksize 512

Note: MITAB library has been recently updated by some third-party and shared with Google Earth, so check with Google Earth so see if there is a new version of Google Earth out there that makes use of the updated library. 

As a service we did also create a small tool which will open a table and save a copy of it with changed blocksize to 512.
Please find a MapBasic script (*.mb) attached to this article.
Note: This needs to be compiled in the same version MapBasic (click to download) that you have of MapInfo Pro and then just double click the *.mbx file to start it up.