Announcing Legacy Data Abstraction Library (LDAL)

NOTE: This post was an April Fool’s joke.

It’s happened to us all – tucked away in the dusty corners of our attics or closets is that box with a serial port Zip drive and a dozen disks. Curiosity usually gets the better of us and, after a few downloads and a couple of kernel recompiles, we have that drive working and begin to pore over whatever those disks contain. The ASCII art that once graced the header of our GeoCities site, the dBase files that managed our book collections (and, if we’re lucky, the FoxPro project along with them), and the VRML file of that dancing baby from Ally McBeal. You could shift-delete all of that data and trash the Zip disks and the drive, but what’s the fun in that? To address this issue, the Legacy Data Abstraction Library (LDAL), an open-source library for migrating data between legacy formats, is now available.

Inspired by the Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (GDAL), LDAL is designed to simplify handling of legacy formats by implementing a consistent, well-understood pattern. Instead of focusing exclusively on spatial data formats, the goal of LDAL is to handle the ever-expanding inventory of legacy digital data formats. Whether ASCII files with complex layouts, or once-innovative VRML, or the shapefiles that were once in wide use in the GIS community, LDAL offers a seamless translation between multiple legacy formats.


This initial release of LDAL provides drivers for the following formats that were once widespread but are now of waning relevance:

  • ASCII Files (for those complex layouts)
  • dBase (.dbf)
  • WAV (compressed audio’s vintage couture)
  • IFF (Interchange File Format)
  • CGM (Computer Graphics Metafile)
  • RLE (Image Run-Length Encoding)
  • BMP (Bitmap Image File)
  • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) Specific Formats
  • XDR (External Data Representation)
  • VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language)
  • SHP (GIS data, not AutoCAD fonts)
  • FGDB (File Geodatabase)
  • VSAM (Virtual Storage Access Method)


In the age of big data and AI, why look back? The answer is simple: understanding our digital heritage is crucial. LDAL isn’t just about accessing old files; it’s about connecting with the history of digital innovation, learning from past design decisions, and ensuring that they are not repeated.

Getting Started

Getting started with LDAL is easy:

  1. Clone or fork the GitHub repo.
  2. Check out our Quick Start Guide, which will have you converting data formats like a digital historian in no time.
  3. Join our community forums to share your experiences, ask questions, and connect with other legacy data enthusiasts.

With LDAL, no data format is ever truly obsolete, even if it should be.