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Opening MAP files

Have a problem opening a .MAP file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what MAP files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .MAP file type?

The primary association of the .map extension relates to the original Quake map file format (MAP). A .map file is an uncompiled level map in Quake, a cult legacy first-person shooter game by id Software. A Quake map (.map) is a text-based file that defines the structure and layout of a game level. Before they can be actually used, all Quake level maps (.map) must be compiled into the BSP format, with brightness and visibility maps generated accordingly.

The original Quake map format was taken over to be used in several other 3D game engines (Dark, Torque, Unreal, and others) that were based on the original Quake engine. Thus, MAP level maps are used by several other games that are built on one of those engines. There are multiple level-map editors to work with .map files designed for different games, depending on the engine used.



Along the same line, a variety of computer game titles use the .map extension to denote their map files. Either text-based or binary, a .map file can hold the layout of a game level, a terrain map, a map of special game objects or event triggers, and so on. Some games would use .map files for user-created (custom) levels. Different game titles use their own, often completely incompatible, formats for .map files. Among the games that use or used .map files are Diablo II, Duke Nukem 3D, Halo, Furcadia, Command&Conquer, etc.


Differently, the .map extension is additionally used in conjunction with various debugging symbols files, also referred to as linker address maps. Debugging symbols files are used with several programming languages and environments, e.g. Delphi, Microsoft Visual Studio, etc. In this context, a .map file contains a list of memory location addresses matched with the application's modules, objects, functions, classes, etc. MAP files are generated by the programmer's environment to facilitate software debugging.


Another occurrence of the .map extension relates to the JavaScript Source Map (MAP) file type. JavaScript is a de facto standard client-side scripting language in web development, and a JavaScript .map file is a text-based file that contains mappings between the original and compacted JavaScript source code. Such MAP files allow to reference the original, extensively commented, and easy-to-read source code for debugging purposes, while executing the compacted and/or pre-compiled version of the same code. JavaScript source maps (.map) are supported by all major browsers.


The .map extension is also employed to denote the Reaktor Sample Map File (MAP) file format and type. Such .map files store ordered (keyed) maps of sound samples for Reaktor, a commercial sound synthesizer-engineering software and a complete modular musical studio by Native Instruments (NI). Reaktor MAP files do not contain actual audio data. There are several independent tools to automate sample map creation (like Sample Map Generator).


With reference to the Text Encoding Conversion toolkit (TECkit) by SIL International, the .map extension applies to text-based character mapping files. Such mappings (.map) serve the purpose of preparing legacy (non-Unicode)-to-Unicode font conversion tables. MAP files are usually created with the TECkit Encore2Unicode tool, to be further edited manually. MAP files use a human-readable structured format for review and editing and have to be compiled into the binary TEC format.


Besides, the .map extension is also employed to distinguish RoboMind maps created with the RoboMind Map Editor tool. RoboMind is a visually attractive environment designed by Research Kitchen as an introduction to programming and robotics for school-children and students. RoboMind uses a simple programming language, similar to the earlier LOGO. With a simple text-based syntax, MAP files define maps for the RoboMind robot to operate within.


Additionally, the .map extension serves to denote graphical data map files (.map) with reference to IBM WebSphere Message Broker, an advanced enterprise-level messaging and communications center by IBM. A graphical data map (.map) is a visual representation of any rules and/or transformations applied to a given message flow within WebSphere Message Broker. Such maps can be created with both the Mapping node and the Broker Development view.


Lastly, the .map extension is also conventionally assigned to server-side image map files (.map). A server-side image map is one of the ways of creating hyperlinks in HTML. A plaintext server-side .map file defines a set of differently shaped regions with a hyperlink attached to each of them. The server-side image map technology is largely deprecated and replaced and/or augmented with more modern techniques.

Software to open or convert MAP files

You can open MAP files with the following programs: 

Popular formats