RFC 29: OGR Set Ignored Fields

Author: Martin Dobias

Contact: wonder.sk@gmail.com

Status: Adopted


To improve performance when fetching features, this RFC proposes a way how to tell OGR which fields are not going to be required in subsequent GetFeature() / GetNextFeature() calls. Such fields will be ignored by the driver and their value will be kept null. The RFC counts also with the possibility to ignore feature geometry and style.

Common use cases:

  1. the client renders the layer: all (or most) fields can be ignored, only the geometry is required

  2. the client shows attribute table: all fields are required, the geometry can be ignored


A new function will be added to OGRLayer class to allow the client to set which fields will not be fetched:

virtual OGRErr OGRLayer::SetIgnoredFields( const char **papszFields );

and an equivalent call for C API:

OGRErr CPL_DLL OGR_L_SetIgnoredFields( OGRLayerH, const char **papszFields );

The argument is a list of fields to be ignored, by name, and the special field names "OGR_GEOMETRY" and "OGR_STYLE" will be interpreted to refer to the geometry and style values of a feature.

Passing by field name has been chosen so that we could handle OGR_GEOMETRY, OGR_STYLE and possibly some other special fields in the future. Instead of specifying "desired" fields, it has been decided to specify "ignored" fields so that we wouldn't accidentally drop things like geometry and style just because they weren't explicitly listed in a desired list.

Passing NULL for papszFields will clear the ignored list.

The method will return OGRERR_NONE as long as all the field names are able to be resolved, even if the method does not support selection of fields.

The drivers supporting this method will return TRUE to OLCIgnoreFields ("IgnoreFields") capability.

The method will be implemented at the level of OGRLayer class: it will resolve indexes of the fields and set the following new member variables which indicate what should be ignored. The flags will be stored within OGRFeatureDefn and OGRFieldDefn classes and available with these getter functions:

bool OGRFieldDefn::IsIgnored();
bool OGRFeatureDefn::IsGeometryIgnored();
bool OGRFeatureDefn::IsStyleIgnored();

The getter member functions will be complemented by setter functions for use by OGRLayer. Setting the "ignored" flags directly by clients will be forbidden.

Optionally the method SetIgnoredFields() can be overridden in driver implementation if the driver has some special needs.

Implementation in drivers

The implementation of drivers will require small adjustments in order to support this RFC. Drivers not making use of this addition will simply continue to fetch also fields/geometry/style that are not requested by the caller.

The adjustments in driver implementation will look as follows:

if (!poDefn->IsGeometryIgnored())
  // fetch geometry
if (!poDefn->IsStyleIgnored())
  // fetch style

for( int iField = 0; iField < poDefn->GetFieldCount(); iField++ )
  if (poDefn->GetFieldDefn(iField)->IsIgnored())

  // fetch field


This change is fully backwards compatible: OGR will continue to fetch geometry, style and all fields by default. Only applications using the proposed API will experience the new behavior.

Initially, only some drivers (Shapefile and few others) will implement this RFC. There is no need to modify all existing drivers when adopting the RFC - drivers that do not consider the ignored fields will simply fetch all attributes as before. To check whether a driver supports this RFC, OLCIgnoreFields capability can be checked.

ogr2ogr command line tool will make use of this RFC in cases it receives -select argument with a list of required fields. Other than the specified fields will be ignored.

Voting History

  • Frank Warmerdam +1

  • Tamas Szekeres +1

  • Daniel Morissette +0

  • Howard Butler +0

  • Even Rouault +0