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Open Source GIS 101, Part 7: GDAL/OGR

Part 7: GDAL/OGR – (Geospatial Data Abstraction Library/OGR Simple Features Library)

There are times when we need to leave behind the world of point and click for the power and flexibility of the command line. This is especially true if you want to run geoprocessing tasks without waiting for your resource-hungry GIS map rendering engine to open up.

GDAL is a library for reading and writing raster geospatial data formats, and OGR provides similar capabilities for working with vector data. Though OGR is considered separate from GDAL, they are typically bundled together and live in the same source tree.

In 1998, Frank Warmerdam began development of GDAL. He says the correct way to pronounce it is “goodle”, because “Object Oriented” was once part of the original project name. Today, these libraries are maintained by OSGEO.

These libraries are extremely popular and are used in a number of places. Geoprocessing programs and scripts are often created using C/C++ or Python, but command line batch files using FWTools are more common.

Because of the relaxed nature of the particular open source licensing used by GDAL/OGR, these libraries are packaged into several proprietary software applications, including ArcGIS.

Next, Part 8, A Few Notes About Map Projections…

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