[gdal-dev] Re: Looking for advice on finding neighboring features

Christopher Barker Chris.Barker at noaa.gov
Wed Dec 3 12:29:35 EST 2008

I'm no expert, but I have some thoughts.

A) this really isn't a GDAL issue -- GDAL is about reading ant writing 
the data -- you're interested in processing. you might want to look at 
the geos lib.

> In order to get this profile, I want to do a spatial query on DEM
> shapefiles

DEMs are usually gridded data -- a shapefile is odd for this. Is it gridded?

> someone gives me a large shapefile, e.g. that of a whole country, I
> don't know if computationally it's reasonable to perform a proximity
> check on every single feature in the shapefile. I suppose this would
> be O(2), which could get quite expensive/long for a microprocessor or
> some kind of embedded platform.


What you need is a spatial index. I think shapelib has one built in -- 
you load the shapefile, index it, and then these sorts of neighbor 
queries are fast. (order logN, I think).

You could also use:


and there are python bindings for geos and rtree:


which may be helpful for prototyping.

> What I was hoping to discover is whether shapefiles have some field in
> a feature that says what other features share common points.

nope -- they are pretty simple, really.


Christopher Barker, Ph.D.

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Chris.Barker at noaa.gov

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