Problem: Some European characters appear as question marks after loading shapefiles in a Windows OEM 850 CMD environment


Some European characters such as Œ, �, �, and € appear as question marks in ArcCatalog preview when the shp2sde command tool is used to load shapefiles on ArcSDE. In the original shapefile, these characters appear correctly in the ArcCatalog preview.


On the Windows platform, most applications, including ArcGIS, set the default code page for shapefiles to Windows-1252 (also know as CP-1252).

Code page information is set in the .dbf file header. The code page information that is set in the .dbf file header takes precedence over the code page settings in the .cpg file and at the operating system level.

Loading a Windows-1252 shapefile with certain European characters into a Windows OEM 850 CMD environment results in incomplete coverage during code page conversion. In this situation, missing characters are converted to question marks.

It is a known limitation that the shp2sde command tool only supports OEM code pages, such as CP850, on Windows.

Solution or Workaround

Use ArcGIS Desktop to import the shapefile to ArcSDE. This action retains the missing characters from Windows-1252 code page.

Alternatively, on Unix-like platforms, set native_codepage to ISO8859-15 before running the shp2sde command.

setenv LANG=iso8859-15
shp2sde -o create ...