[R] reading in mdb and outputting to sql (GIS application)

Frank E Harrell Jr f.harrell at vanderbilt.edu
Fri Aug 14 18:27:11 CEST 2009

The R Hmisc package interfaces these tools - see its mdb.get function.


Marc Schwartz wrote:
> On Aug 14, 2009, at 10:29 AM, stephen sefick wrote:
>> I have a geodatabase and would like to import it into GRASS, but it is
>> in .mbf.  I use mac and linux, and don't have access to access on the
>> machines that I normally use.  I do have access to access at school,
>> but I would like to find a way around this if possible.  Any thoughts,
>> comments, or suggestions would be welcome.
>> thanks,
> I think that on Linux and OSX, from an open source perspective, the only 
> option is to use MDB Tools, though I have seen mixed reports of success, 
> including some threads in the R-Help archives. It also appears that 
> there has been no development on the package for about 5 years, as the 
> current version (0.6pre1) dates from 2004. That may suggest limited, if 
> any, compatibility with recent versions of Access file formats.
> You can download the source tarball here:
>  http://sourceforge.net/projects/mdbtools/
> For OSX, it is available via MacPorts:
>  http://trac.macports.org/browser/trunk/dports/databases/mdbtools/Portfile
> and for major Linux distributions, there are typically pre-compiled 
> binaries available via the standard repos and installation tools (eg. 
> yum and apt-get).
> There was also some work by the OO.org folks a while back to embed MDB 
> Tools in OpenOffice, but I am not aware of the current state of the 
> project or if it is even active any longer.
> There is a commercial option from Actual Technologies:
>  http://www.actualtechnologies.com/product_access.php
> which appears to provide an ODBC driver for Access on OSX. The page 
> focuses on the use of either Excel or FileMaker Pro with the driver. 
> However, you may be able to get it to work with RODBC.
> I use Actual's ODBC driver for Oracle on OSX via RODBC, since Oracle has 
> not seen fit to provide a free one as they do for Linux and have been 
> very pleased. It was easy to install and configure, so take that for 
> what it's worth.
> HTH,
> Marc Schwartz
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Frank E Harrell Jr   Professor and Chair           School of Medicine
                      Department of Biostatistics   Vanderbilt University

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