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Original author(s)Frank Warmerdam
Developer(s)Open Source Geospatial Foundation
Initial release8 June 2000; 21 years ago (2000-06-08)
Stable release
3.3.1 / 5 July 2021; 4 months ago (2021-07-05)[1]
Written inC, C++, Python
Available inEnglish
LicenseX/MIT Edit this at Wikidata

The Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (GDAL) is a computer software library for reading and writing raster and vector geospatial data formats, and is released under the permissive X/MIT style free software license by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. As a library, it presents a single abstract data model to the calling application for all supported formats. It may also be built with a variety of useful command line interface utilities for data translation and processing. Projections and transformations are supported by the PROJ library.

The related OGR library (OGR Simple Features Library[2]), which is part of the GDAL source tree, provides a similar ability for simple features vector graphics data.

GDAL was developed mainly by Frank Warmerdam until the release of version 1.3.2, when maintenance was officially transferred to the GDAL/OGR Project Management Committee under the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.

GDAL/OGR is considered a major free software project for its "extensive capabilities of data exchange" and also in the commercial GIS community due to its widespread use and comprehensive set of functionalities.[3][4]

Software using GDAL/OGR[edit]

Several software programs use the GDAL/OGR libraries to allow them to read and write multiple GIS formats. Such programs include:

  • ArcGIS – Uses GDAL for custom raster formats[5]
  • Avenza MAPublisher - GIS and mapping tools for Adobe Illustrator. Uses GDAL for coordinate system transformation, format reading & writing, geometry operations, & unit conversion.
  • Avenza Geographic Imager - Spatial imaging tools for Adobe Photoshop. Uses GDAL for coordinate system transformation, format reading & writing, & unit conversion.
  • Avenza Maps - iOS & Android mobile mapping application. Uses GDAL to read metadata information for geospatial maps / data to transform them to WGS84 for offline navigation.
  • Biosphere3D – Open source landscape scenery globe
  • Biotop Invent
  • Cadwork
  • ENVI – Remote Sensing software
  • ERDAS APOLLO - Image Server and remote sensing geo-services
  • ERDAS GeoCompressor - Image compression to ECW and JP2 formats
  • Geoconcept integrated GDAL in its 7.1 release
  • FWTools – A cross-platform open source GIS software bundle compiled by Frank Warmerdam
  • gdaltokmz – A Python module translating from GDAL-supported raster graphics formats to the Google Earth KMZ format
  • GeoDjango – Django's support for GIS-enabled databases
  • GeoDMS - A framework for building spatial calculation models.
  • GeoView ProiOS mobile mapping application
  • Google Earth – A virtual globe and world imaging program
  • gvSIG
  • JMap
  • MangoMap
  • MapServer
  • MS4W - MapServer for Windows, a widely popular installer for the MapServer community, using GDAL for data access.
  • MapWindow GIS - Open Source C++ based geographic information system, ActiveX Control, and application programmer interface
  • Merkaartor
  • NASA Ames Stereo Pipeline, an open-source software package for photogrammetry
  • World Wind Java – NASA's open source virtual globe and world imaging technology
  • Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSSIM) – Libraries and applications used to process imagery, maps, terrain, and vector data
  • OpenEV – Geospatial toolkit and a frontend to that toolkit; to display georeferenced images and elevation data
  • Orfeo toolbox – A satellite image processing library
  • QGIS
  • R – An open source statistical software with extensions for spatial data analysis.
  • SAGA GIS – A cross-platform open source GIS software
  • TopoQuest – Internet topographic map viewer
  • Rolta Geomatica software

Supported raster data formats[edit]

As of version 2.2.3, GDAL/OGR provides at least partial support for 154 raster and 93 vector geospatial data formats.[6] A subset of data formats is supported to ensure the ability to directly create files and georeferencing them with the default GDAL compiling options.

Here follows the list of data formats whose support is, by default, compiled to allow creation and georeferencing.

Raster data format name Code
Arc/Info ASCII Grid[7] AAIGrid
ADRG/ARC Digitalized Raster Graphics (.gen/.thf)[8] ADRG
Bathymetric Attributed Grid (.bag)[9] BAG
Magellan BLX Topo (.blx, .xlb)[10] BLX
Microsoft Windows Device Independent Bitmap (.bmp)[11] BMP
VTP Binary Terrain Format (.bt)[12] BT
Military Elevation Data (.dt0, .dt1, .dt2)[13] DTED
ESRI .hdr Labelled[14] EHdr
ENVI .hdr Labelled Raster[16] ENVI
ERMapper (.ers)[16] ERS
NOAA .gtx vertical datum shift GTX
HF2/HFZ heightfield raster[17] HF2
Erdas Imagine (.img)[18] HFA
Image Display and Analysis (WinDisp)[19] IDA
ILWIS Raster Map (.mpr,.mpl)[20] ILWIS
Intergraph Raster[21] INGR
USGS Astrogeology Isis cube (Version 2)[22] ISIS2
In Memory Raster[23] MEM
Vexcel MFF[24] MFF
Vexcel MFF2[25] MFF2 (HKV)
NTv2 Datum Grid Shift NTv2
PCI Geomatics Database File[27] PCIDSK
Raster Matrix Format (*.rsw, .mtw)[28] RMF
Idrisi Raster[29] RST
SAGA GIS Binary format[30] SAGA
SGI Image Format[31] SGI
GDAL Virtual (.vrt)[34] VRT
ASCII Gridded XYZ[35] XYZ

Supported vector data formats[edit]

GDAL supports a variety of vector data formats as seen here. It is extensible as well.


  1. ^ "Download". GDAL documentation. Current Releases section. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  2. ^ "FAQGeneral – GDAL". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  3. ^ Neteler M., Raghavan V. (2006). "Advances in Free Software Geographic Information Systems". Journal of Informatics. Archived from the original on 2011-08-23.

    Extensive capabilities of data exchange are essential for the daily GIS work. GRASS profits from an external project, the GDAL/OGR library <>. This FOSS library is also used even by global data vendors as well as in some proprietary GIS applications. Many of the raster and vector formats supported for reading can be also be generated.

  4. ^ Mark Wilcox (2009). Porting to the Symbian Platform: Open Mobile Development in C/C++. Wiley.

    In the words of Howard Butler, a director of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, "I see GDAL as the glibc/glibc++ of the geospatial software world. It's open, it provides core functionality, I can't understand how anybody gets anything done without it."

  5. ^ "ArcGIS 9.2 Desktop Help: Supported raster dataset file formats". ESRI. 2007-08-15.
  6. ^ "GDAL Raster Formats". GDAL - Geospatial Data Abstraction Library. 2011-06-05.
  7. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  8. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  9. ^ "BAG - Bathymetry Attributed Grid". Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  10. ^ "BLX - Magellan BLX Topo File Format (available from GDAL 1.6.0)". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  11. ^ "BMP - Microsoft Windows Device Independent Bitmap". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  12. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  13. ^ "DTED - Military Elevation Data". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  14. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  15. ^ "ELAS - Earth Resources Laboratory Applications Software". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  16. ^ a b "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  17. ^ "HF2 - HF2/HFZ heightfield raster". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  18. ^ "HFA - Erdas Imagine .img". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  19. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  20. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  21. ^ "INGR - Intergraph Raster Format". 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  22. ^ "ISIS2 - USGS Astrogeology ISIS Cube (Version 2)". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  23. ^ "MEM - In Memory Raster". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  24. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  25. ^ "MFF2 - Vexcel MFF2 Image". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  26. ^ "NITF - National Imagery Transmission Format". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  27. ^ "PCIDSK - PCI Geomatics Database File". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  28. ^ "RMF - Raster Matrix Format". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  29. ^ "RST - Idrisi Raster Format". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  30. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  31. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  32. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  33. ^ "Usgsdem - Usgs Ascii Dem (And Cded)". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  34. ^ "Virtual Format Tutorial". GDAL. 2003-07-21. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  35. ^ "XYZ - ASCII Gridded XYZ". Retrieved 2014-01-20.

External links[edit]