Wednesday, October 05, 2005

GDAL/OGR Update Released - Important Changes

GDAL: GDAL Downloads

An important update for GDAL and OGR has been released.

The 2 changes that jumped out at me were:

OGR 1.3.1
ESRI Personal Geodatabase Driver:
- New driver implemented for ESRI Personal Geodatabase (.mdb) files.
- Uses ODBC, enabled by default on win32.

GDAL 1.3.1 [pronounced "Goodle"]
MrSID Driver:
- Updated with proper JPEG2000 support as JP2MRSID driver, including
encoding with ESDK.
- Updated to support MrSID Version 5.x SDKs.

As far as I know, this is the first time Personal Geodatabases have been supported!

This effectively means that the newest version of MapServer will also support PGDBs. For most this may not seem like a big deal. However, one of the staple questions I hear from folks thinking about using MapServer is if it can use ESRI Personal GeoDatabases (Microsoft Access databases). It isn't that they want/need to use a PGDB or that they know what they are. The question is asked more as a test to find a weakness with MapServer and validation in their minds that ArcIMS is the only way to go (you've got to appreciate ESRI's marketing effort and MapServer's lack of such an effort).

With personal geodatabases now supported, a major obstacle (both real and imaginary) to MapServer has been eliminated. Now the answer to the MapServer database support question doesn't have to begin with references to newbie-frightening words "PostgreSQL" and "PostGIS".

I haven't checked around for any documentation on how to use a PGDB in MapServer (considering this was just released yesterday, I'm not expecting any quite yet). However, if you know of examples or other doc material, please post a comment with a link.

- Windows users that want standalone GDAL/OGR functionality will want to download FWTools, which is a packaged, pre-compiled kit of GDAL, OGR and other utility apps.
- MapServer (Windows, OS/X, Linux) users can download the latest build (binary/pre-compiled), which should include these new libraries very shortly (if they don't already).

TIP: GDAL and OGR are 2 libraries the function together. OGR is usually included in GDAL. GDAL (with OGR inside) is then included in MapServer. If you download a pre-compiled (binary) version of MapServer, it will already contain both GDAL and OGR - just check the README or other documentation to determine which version(s) it contains.


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