I was pretty confused over why I needed ArcGIS Layer Packets, I mean, what is wrong with putting it in a zipfile and emailing it? That was until I realised what ESRI had really done….With the Layer Packet (.lpk) format, the user is forced into providing some small, general amount of metadata and the file which the end user recieves is attributed and symbolised, saving the need to send over icons or RGB values.
BUT did you know that you can open the Layer Packet in winzip? It’s true! I found this trick when I had already sent a subconsultant a Layer Packet of a site boundary, only to find that he was using QGIS…
To open the file in winzip, rename the .lpk suffix to .zip (for example, roads.lpk becomes roads.zip) and then you should be able to open the file in winzip!! Inside the folder you will find the shapefiles and layer information along with the metadata created! So you CAN batch a load of Layer Packets to users and not have to worry about those using QGIS…You only have to consider providing symbology details…..
Also…do you have a lot of ArcGIS 9 (or earlier) .mxt files which you think you can’t use? Did you know that you can use them in ArcGIS 10 & 10.1? Again, this is just a case of adjusting the suffix of the filename. If you change the .mxt suffix to .mxd (for example, world.mxt to world.mxd) it should work fine!
There were some issues in ArcGIS 10 sp1- sp4 with this method of changing .mxt’s but I recently went and changed 5 ArcGIS 9.3.1 templates over to ArcGIS 10.1 with no issue whatsoever.