Log in links for this page

MassGIS standard for digital plan submission to municipalities

This standard enables municipalities to avoid the costs and time consuming process of developing their own digital submission standard.

The standard’s key provision is requiring submittal of a Standard Digital File (SDF). The SDF contains features extracted from the source computer aided design and drafting (CADD) file used to produce the plan for a proposed development. The standard will facilitate the use of such digital submissions in a GIS.

Version 2.0, Released October 2007


Many cities and towns are aware that plans submitted for development review are usually produced using CADD software. Many communities now require, or are planning to require, that copies of the CADD files from which plans are printed be provided to them. The motivation for this requirement is facilitating maintenance of map features and other information commonly found in municipal GIS databases (e.g., parcel boundaries, pipe infrastructure, building outlines, etc.). All benefit when GIS data are better maintained. Rather than having each community develop its own unique requirements for digital plan submittals, it makes sense to have a state-level standard. Therefore, in creating this standard, MassGIS has two purposes:

  1. Enabling municipalities to avoid the time consuming process of developing their own digital submission standard and to avoid the risk of creating a standard that is flawed because they lack sufficient expertise in the issues involved.
  2. Enabling those in the surveying and civil engineering communities to standardize their work processes, if this standard is being used. To the extent that communities implement this standard, standardized requirements for digital plan submittals will save time and money.

Many people reviewed and contributed to developing this standard. They included many representatives from the surveying and engineering community, through the Massachusetts Association of Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers (MALSCE). In addition, reviewers and contributors included municipal GIS staff, regional planning agency GIS staff, and staff from GIS consultants.

Please note that in implementing this standard municipalities will be obtaining a digital version of boundaries and locations. However, MassGIS reminds anyone implementing this standard that, regardless of the sources of the information they include in their GIS databases, the authoritative determination of boundary or other physical locations remains the purview of the professional land surveyor. Obtaining data from a municipal GIS database is not a substitute for the work of a professional land surveyor.


Full document  - Updated October 2007 (includes Appendices A and B; 244 kb, PDF format)

Appendix C - Copyright Issue Advisories from legal staff of the Massachusetts Information Technology Division concerning copyright protection for digital plan submittals (169Kb, PDF format)

Appendix D - Compilation of Comments on Draft #1 - A fuller understanding of the issues involved and of the standard's content can be gained by reading the comments to the first draft. (209Kb, PDF Format)

Implementation Guidance - This document includes discussion of Implementing the standard through a by-law or through subdivision or other regulations; what level of the standard to implement; creating guidelines for developers; a suggested explanation for describing why you want to create a by-law or change your regulations; and suggested language for a by-law or regulation.

Download Template SDF File: DWG Format or DXF format - both in AutoCAD 2000 versions of these formats.

MassHighway Department Local Datum Conversions - If a local vertical datum is required when implementing the standard, the municipality is required to provide a conversion factor. (481Kb, PDF format)

Contact   for MassGIS standard for digital plan submission to municipalities

Help Us Improve Mass.gov  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.