[gdal-dev] OGR drivers written in Python

Even Rouault even.rouault at spatialys.com
Thu Apr 27 05:38:40 PDT 2017


> The sketch of the Python interface for drivers looks fine to me. Some of
> the function signatures could be more Pythonic, but these are not going to
> be called from Python code (correct?), 

Yes, this is driver code that is mostly dedicated to be called from GDAL core itself. That could 
potentially be also called externally for unit testing, who knows, but with some caveats, like 
the gdal_base module containing the base classes being a built-in module inside GDAL. But it 
can be easily mocked up as being essentially a no-op. Currently the only thing it has is the 
OGRLayer.feature_count() method that can be called from the specialized feature_count() 
method to ultimately call the C++ base method OGRLayer::GetFeatureCount() that does the 
slow part of iterating through all features and taking them into account if they match the 
spatial and/or attribute filters.

> and that's probably only a aesthetic
> issue.

Your suggestions are welcome to improve that. Note that I did some effort to apply PEP 8 
naming conventions (well I tried at least :-))

> I still don't understand what the problems are that are best solved by
> embedding Python in GDAL. To be frank: I'm dreading the day that someone
> delivers to me a VRT file with a Python script embedded in it. These
> scripts are unlikely to be well tested (what tools would one use?) and very
> difficult to debug when they fail.
> What good is a VRT that only opens with Python 2? Or only with Python 3? Or
> only if Rasterio or ArcPy is installed? How does a VRT with embedded Python
> specify what its requirements are? Specifically, how would a VRT specify
> that it requires Numpy or scikit-learn, or OpenCV, and how would a user
> install the Python or other library other requirements of a VRT? All of the
> above are solved (for some value of "solved") for the Python *extension*
> use case, but are unsolved when it comes to embedding Python in GDAL.

This is a good point, especially regarding VRT. I see those Python capabilities are mostly a 
way of quickly prototyping stuff for your internal needs. And I know at least one user using 
VRT Python pixel functions for such prototyping work (to display the result of the simulation 
of some physical processus in QGIS)

Regarding drivers themselves, this could be the same use case. You have that custom in-
house format for which you don't really want to write a dedicated converter to a more 
standard format, because you have too much of that data and can't afford the conversion 
stage. Or because you just need to code the reading part and are happy that ogr2ogr handles 
the conversion to shapefile/GPKG/GeoJSON/whatever for you.
Someone could also write a driver in Python for less esoteric formats, because that's the 
language (s)he masters and/or there's an underlying Python lib that does the hard job of 
decyphering the format and you just need to expose it through OGR formalism. In that case, 
you could potentially publish the plugin as a "proper" Python module with adequate 
requirement specification through your favorite Python distribution & packaging system. Like 
"pip install ogr-myoddformatdriver" or "apt-get install python-ogr-myoddformatdriver". In 
the pip use case, that would probably require addition in GDAL core of some logic to know 
where to find those modules since I don't think you can constraint a file to be installed in the 
same directory as files from other packages (can you?). In the apt-get install case, that would 
mostly require to express package dependencies in the .deb formalism and installing one of 
several files in /usr/lib/gdalplugins/2.3

Or perhaps there isn't any valid use case after all. I just tried it for fun and because it could be 
done :-)


Spatialys - Geospatial professional services
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