Error: # shape records of unknown type

Error Message

When running SHAPEARC, the following error message is returned:

"187 shape records of unknown type in E:\DEMO\STREAM
Unsupported shape type: 23.
Coverage streamcov not created."

The unsupported shape type number could be 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 23, 25 or 28.


The SHAPEARC command does not support the conversion of Z or M shape type features.

The shape types supported by SHAPEARC are 1 (point), 3 (line), 5 (polygon) and 8 (multi-point).

Use one of the following methods to convert the Z and M shape type features to a supported shape type.

Solution or Workaround

  • Option 1: The shapefiles containing Z or M shape can be converted to coverage format using the Shapefile to Coverage tools provided in ArcCatalog or ArcToolbox.
  • Option 2: In ArcInfo Workstation, use the defined layers commands LAYER DEFINE and LAYEREXPORT to convert the shapefile.

    Usage: LAYER DEFINE <defined_layer> SHAPEFILE <shapefile>
    <POINT | LINE | POLYGON | NODE | REGION.<subclass> |

    Arcplot: layer define streamlayer shapefile stream.shp line

    Usage: LAYEREXPORT <defined_layer> COVERAGE <cover> {feature_class} {DEFINE}

    Arcplot: layerexport streamlayer coverage streamcov line
    Exported 187 features from 'streamlayer' into streamcov

  • Option 3: Use ArcView to create a new shapefile with the Z and M features converted to supported shape types.

    1. Download the 'Strip Zs and Ms' extension from the ESRI ArcScripts page. See the Related Information section.

    2. Un-zip the STRIPZM.ZIP file and save the STRIPZM.APR to a location of your choice.

    3. Start ArcView and load the 3D Analyst Extension.

    4. Open the STRIPZM.APR project file.

    5. Add the shapefile containing the Z or M features to a view in the project.

    6. Click the 'Strip Z and M' button which has been added to the end of the button bar.

    7. In the dialog, specify the View and Theme containing the shapefile to be stripped and the name of the new shapefile to be created.

    8. Click the 'Strip Z and M' button in the dialog to create the new shapefile.