Setting up a development environment

Build requirements

The minimum requirements are:

  • CMake >= 3.10, and an associated build system (make, ninja, Visual Studio, etc.)

  • C99 compiler

  • C++11 compiler

  • PROJ >= 6.0

  • SWIG >= 4.0.2, for building bindings to other programming languages, such as Python

  • Python, for running the test suite

A number of optional libraries are also strongly recommended for most builds: SQLite3, expat, libcurl, zlib, libtiff, libgeotiff, libpng, libjpeg, etc. Consult Raster drivers and Vector drivers pages for information on dependencies of optional drivers.


If SWIG 4.0.2 is not provided by system package manager, it can be built and installed from source using the following commands:

export SWIG_PREFIX=/path/to/install
export SWIG_VERSION=4.0.2

mkdir /tmp/swig/
cd /tmp/swig/
wget${SWIG_VERSION}/swig-${SWIG_VERSION}.tar.gz/download -O swig-${SWIG_VERSION}.tar.gz
tar xf swig-${SWIG_VERSION}.tar.gz
cd swig-${SWIG_VERSION}
./configure --prefix=$SWIG_PREFIX
make install

The path to the updated version of SWIG can be provided to provided to cmake using -DSWIG_EXECUTABLE=$SWIG_PREFIX/bin/swig.


Vagrant is a tool that works with a virtualization product such as VirtualBox to create a reproducible development environment. GDAL includes a Vagrant configuration file that sets up an Ubuntu virtual machine with a comprehensive set of dependencies.

Once Vagrant has been installed and the GDAL source downloaded, the virtual machine can be set up by running the following from the source root directory:

# VAGRANT_VM_CPU=number_of_cpus
vagrant up

The source root directory is exposed inside the virtual machine at /vagrant, so changes made to GDAL source files on the host are seen inside the VM. To rebuild GDAL after changing source files, you can connect to the VM and re-run the build command:

vagrant ssh
cmake --build .

Note that the following directories on the host will be created (and can be removed if the Vagrant environment is no longer needed):

  • ../apt-cache/ubuntu/jammy64: contains a cache of Ubuntu packages of the VM, to allow faster VM reconstruction

  • build_vagrant: CMake build directory

  • ccache_vagrant: CCache directory

Building on Windows with Conda dependencies and Visual Studio

It is less appropriate for Debug builds of GDAL, than other methods, such as using vcpkg.

Install git

Install git

Install miniconda

Install miniconda

Install GDAL dependencies

Start a Conda enabled console and assuming there is a c:\dev directory

cd c:\dev
conda create --name gdal
conda activate gdal
conda install --yes --quiet curl libiconv icu git python=3.7 swig numpy pytest zlib clcache
conda install --yes --quiet -c conda-forge compilers
conda install --yes --quiet -c conda-forge \
    cmake proj geos hdf4 hdf5 \
    libnetcdf openjpeg poppler libtiff libpng xerces-c expat libxml2 kealib json-c \
    cfitsio freexl geotiff jpeg libpq libspatialite libwebp-base pcre postgresql \
    sqlite tiledb zstd charls cryptopp cgal librttopo libkml openssl xz


The compilers package will install vs2017_win-64 (at time of writing) to set the appropriate environment for cmake to pick up. It is also possible to use the vs2019_win-64 package if Visual Studio 2019 is to be used.

Checkout GDAL sources

cd c:\dev
git clone

Build GDAL

From a Conda enabled console

conda activate gdal
cd c:\dev\gdal
cmake --build build --config Release -j 8