RFC 60 : Improved round-tripping in OGR

Author: Even Rouault

Contact: even.rouault at spatialys.com

Status: Adopted, implemented

Implementation version: 2.1


This RFC defines how to improve better round-tripping in conversion of vector formats, in particular for GeoJSON extensions.


Some formats have concepts that are not well modeled by the OGR abstraction, but that are desirable to be preserved in transformation scenarios involving reprojection, spatial/attribute filtering, clipping, etc... where the target format is the source format.

Various extensions exist above the core GeoJSON specification: at the FeatureCollection, Feature or Geometry levels.

See https://github.com/mapbox/carmen/blob/master/carmen-geojson.md,

    "type": "FeatureCollection",
    "query": ["austin"],
    "features": [
            "type": "Feature",
            "id": "place.4201",
            "text": "Austin",
            "place_name": "Austin, Texas, United States",
            "bbox": [-97.9383829999999, 30.098659, -97.5614889999999, 30.516863],
            "center": [-97.7559964, 30.3071816],
            "geometry": {
                "type": "Point",
                "coordinates": [-97.7559964, 30.3071816]
            "properties": {
                "title": "Austin",
                "type": "city",
                "score": 600000790107194.8
            "context": [
                    "id": "province.293",
                    "text": "Texas"
                    "id": "country.51",
                    "text": "United States"



  // REQUIRED. GeocodeJSON result is a FeatureCollection.
  "type": "FeatureCollection",

  // REQUIRED. Namespace.
  "geocoding": {

    // REQUIRED. A semver.org compliant version number. Describes the version of
    // the GeocodeJSON spec that is implemented by this instance.
    "version": "0.1.0",

    // OPTIONAL. Default: null. The licence of the data. In case of multiple sources,
    // and then multiple licences, can be an object with one key by source.
    "licence": "ODbL",

    // OPTIONAL. Default: null. The attribution of the data. In case of multiple sources,
    // and then multiple attributions, can be an object with one key by source.
    "attribution": "OpenStreetMap Contributors",

    // OPTIONAL. Default: null. The query that has been issued to trigger the
    // search.
    "query": "24 allée de Bercy 75012 Paris",


  // REQUIRED. As per GeoJSON spec.
  "features": [
    // OPTIONAL. An array of feature objects. See below.

or https://github.com/geojson/draft-geojson/issues/80#issuecomment-138037554 for a few examples.

{ "type" : "GeometryCollection",
  "geometries" : [
    { "type" : "LineString",
      "extensions" : [ "time", "atemp", "hr", "cad" ],
      "coordinates" : [



Two new members will be added to the OGRFeature class, m_pszNativeData (string) and m_pszNativeMediaType (string). m_pszNativeData will contain the representation (or part of the representation) of the original feature, and m_pszNativeMediaType the media type

The following methods will be added to OGRFeature class:

    const char *GetNativeData() const;
    const char *GetNativeMediaType() const;
    void        SetNativeData( const char* pszNativeData );
    void        SetNativeMediaType( const char* pszNativeMediaType );

Thus, in the GeoJSON case, nativeData would contain the full serialization of a GeoJSON Feature. m_pszNativeMediaType would be set to "application/vnd.geo+json" The writer side of the GeoJSON driver would start from the nativeData if present (and if nativeMediaType = "application/vnd.geo+json", replace its properties member with the content of the OGR fields and patch its geometry to include additional JSON objects.

The OGRFeature::Clone() and ::SetFrom() methods will propagate nativeData and nativeMediaType.


A dedicated metadata domain "NATIVE_DATA" in which there would be a "NATIVE_DATA" and "NATIVE_MEDIA_TYPE" items would be used. In the GeoJSON case, this would contain JSON members at the FeatureCollection level (excluding the features array of course).

Driver open options and layer creation options

Drivers that support nativeData on read should expose a NATIVE_DATA boolean open option, and disable it by default so as not to impact performance. ogr2ogr will by default turn this option on.

Drivers that support nativeData on write at the layer level should expose a NATIVE_DATA string and NATIVE_MEDIA_TYPE string layer creation options, so that ogr2ogr can fill them with the content of the NATIVE_DATA metadata domain of the source layer(s).


The following functions will be added:

const char CPL_DLL *OGR_F_GetNativeData(OGRFeatureH);
void OGR_F_SetNativeData(OGRFeatureH, const char*);
const char CPL_DLL *OGR_F_GetNativeMediaType(OGRFeatureH);
void OGR_F_SetNativeMediaType(OGRFeatureH, const char*);

SQL result layers

Both OGR SQL and SQLite SQL dialect implementations have been modified to propagate the content of the NATIVE_DATA metadata domain of the source layer (the one of the FROM table) to the target layer, and NativeData and NativeMediaType from source features are copied into target features.

SWIG bindings (Python / Java / C# / Perl) changes

The new functions will mapped to SWIG as GetNativeData(), SetNativeData(), GetNativeMediaType() and SetNativeMediaType()


The GeoJSON driver will be modified to implement this RFC, in read and write, and thus will* :

  • declare a NATIVE_DATA open option to enable storing layer and feature native data.

  • and NATIVE_DATA & NATIVE_MEDIA_TYPE layer creation options so as to be able to write native data at FeatureCollection levels

  • use OGRFeature nativeData on write.

The effect of this is that ogr2ogr will be able to preserve the members marked between *** in the below snippet:

  "type": "FeatureCollection",
  ***"extra_fc_member": "foo",***
      "type": "Feature",
      ***"extra_feat_member": "bar",***
      "geometry": {
        "type": "Point",
        ***extra_geom_member": "baz",***
        "coordinates": [ 2, 49, 3, ***100, 101*** ]
      "properties": {
        "a_property": "foo",

Other drivers like ElasticSearch and MongoDB drivers, that use a _json OGR field for round-tripping could potentially be upgraded to benefit from the mechanism of this RFC.


ogr2ogr will be modified to automatically copy nativeData at layer and feature level. A -noNativeData flag will be added to avoid doing so, when this is not desirable.

By default, ogr2ogr will open datasources with the NATIVE_DATA=YES open option so that drivers that can store nativeData do so. And if the output datasource supports the NATIVE_DATA and NATIVE_MEDIA_TYPE layer creation options, it will feel them with the content of the source layer NATIVE_DATA metadata domain.


All new methods/functions are documented.

Test Suite

The GeoJSON and ogr2ogr related tests will be extended

Compatibility Issues

Nothing severe expected. Potentially existing scripts might need to add -noNativeData to get previous behavior.


The implementation will be done by Even Rouault (Spatialys) and be sponsored by Mapbox.

The proposed implementation lies in the "rfc60_native_data" branch of the ​https://github.com/rouault/gdal2/tree/rfc60_native_data, in pull request https://github.com/OSGeo/gdal/pull/75

Voting history

+1 from HowardB, KurtS, TamasS, JukkaR and EvenR