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

Marc Schwartz marc_schwartz at me.com
Fri Aug 14 18:06:02 CEST 2009

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:


For OSX, it is available via MacPorts:


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:


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.


Marc Schwartz

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