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Original author(s) Frank Warmerdam
Developer(s) Open Source Geospatial Foundation
Initial release 8 June 2000; 16 years ago (2000-06-08)
Stable release
2.1.3 / 20 January 2017;
3 months ago
Written in C, C++
Platform Cross-platform
Available in English
Type Library
License X/MIT

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.4 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:

Supported raster data formats[edit]

As of version 1.9.0, GDAL provides at least partial support for more than 120 raster geospatial data formats.[6] The next version is expected to provide up to 200 drivers.[7] 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[8] AAIGrid
ADRG/ARC Digitalized Raster Graphics (.gen/.thf)[9] ADRG
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


  1. ^ Rouault, Even (2017-01-20). "GDAL/OGR 2.1.3 Release Notes". 
  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. ^ Even Rouault. "Geo tips & tricks: Welcome to the 200th GDAL/OGR driver !". Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  8. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  9. ^ "Various Supported GDAL Raster Formats". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  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]